Luck and the Lady, too

This region of California is particularly arid, despite its proximity to the coast.  When it rains, native-borns such as I are at ends about what to do with ourselves.  We are accustomed to living out of doors on all but the coldest days of winter (and a particularly cold day is 20 F).  Having taken a much-needed day off from work today, rain did of course pour from the sky continuously.  My husband and I then went to see a film.

Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle, to be precise.

Having read Q & A by Vikas Swarup and now seen the film, I can say with confidence that I found the film only loosely based on the novel.

Both were good.  The book was thoroughly engaging, moving and offered the occasional darkly humorous vignette.  The film was visually honest, suspenseful, and the performances were very good.  But the two resembled one another in the slightest way.  The book was far more emotionally satisfying.  Even the protagonist was a different person between book and film.

I found this more disturbing having read the book while knowing a film had been made from it.  I had imagined the scenes, imagined the darkness and the fear, then imagined Salim’s innocent and beautiful little face and Ram’s disinterested protectiveness and, later, his feelings of guilt.  I imagined Ram’s audacity and his adaptability.  The novel was crafted in such a way that the scenes of the resulting film easily unfolded in my mind’s eye.  Ram’s personal challenges, failures, triumphs, and heartaches could be so easily captured on film and presented in such an interesting manner to the filmgoer.  Ram’s equivocation, impurity, kindness, folly and wisdom made him a whole and interesting person.

But the film was completely different.   Ram was clean, clear, faultless.  Even in childhood he did not waver from his goal, did not question himself or make errors of judgment.  And still I liked it, and yet I left the theater vaguely disappointed that the original artist’s material had been reinterpreted in such a manner as to lose its thematic integrity.

Is this the consequence of my sin, that I read the book before seeing the film?

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6 responses

  1. the last line sums it up very well 🙂

  2. Yes, I believe I will think twice in the future and see the film before reading the book!

  3. just for information, the film has done poorly in Mumbai. which is not surprising. only a Mumbaikar can make a film on our city that we will appreciate – all else is wannabe.

  4. Hi Smiling Dolphin!

    It is as true here as anywhere. If an outsider makes a film about San Francisco, it may be popular everywhere but San Francisco.

  5. Update:
    Slumdog Millionaire won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

  6. oh yes all of india and mumbai were glued to the telly yesterday morning. jai ho, mumbai, and rahman! however, my vote goes to little pinki who slept when her award was called!

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