January 13, 2009 / 2:48 PM / 10 years ago

"Slumdog" too real for Indian film fans

MUMBAI (Reuters) - “Slumdog Millionaire” swept the Golden Globes and is generating Oscar buzz, but the film may not be as warmly received in India where it was shot and where millions live in the squalor depicted in the movie.

British director Danny Boyle (L), British writer Simon Beaufoy (2nd L), producer Christian Colson, and composer A.R. Rahman (R), who all worked on the movie "Slumdog Millionare," arrive for the the BAFTA/LA 15th annual Awards Season Tea Party in Beverly Hills, California, January 10, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

The film, which will be released in India next week in about 300 cinemas, won four awards at the Golden Globe awards Sunday, including one for Indian music composer AR Rahman for best original score.

The win sparked a frenzy in the Indian media, which hailed Rahman as a genius, and predicted an Oscar win for the 43-year-old.

But even the global accolades and Oscar talk may not guarantee a blockbuster when the film about a Mumbai boy searching for love through a TV quiz game opens on January 23.

“Indian audiences don’t like watching poverty and squalor on screen. They see enough of it in their daily lives,” said filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, whose portrayal of street kids in his 2007 film ‘Traffic Signal’ bombed at the box office.

But the film could do well in the big cities and among young audiences, Bhandarkar said.

Young audiences will check out the film because it has wowed audiences in the West, added analyst Amod Mehra.

“It will be considered cool to watch the film,” he said.

Mumbai is home to Bollywood, the world’s most prolific film industry, known for its colorful sets, extravagant costumes and elaborate song-and-dance sequences.

“I don’t expect that someone in a smaller town will watch this film, no matter how good it is,” Mehra said.

A dubbed version in Hindi will help draw audiences, he said, adding he expected the film to do “good business, nothing more.”

The distributor of the film in India, Fox Star Studios, a venture between Twentieth Century Fox and News Corp’s Star, is not perturbed by dire predictions and plans a grand premiere with key cast members.

“This may be an English film, but it was made in India, and has such a Bollywoodish theme,” CEO Vijay Singh said.

“It is a rags-to-riches story that talks about looking for lost love, chasing your dreams, all of which are popular themes with Indian audiences,” he said.

Editing by Rina Chandran and Jeremy Laurence

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