Danny Boyle is clever. Simon Beaufoy is cleverer.
The formula is simple. Put in the life. Put in the suffering. And then you add enough masala to dissolve the bitterness.
There is nothing in the story that you have not seen before. The street kids- Salaam Bombay. The good brother vs. grey brother- From Deewar to We own the night. The sweetheart guarded by a mean goon- Don’t even get me started.
But Simon Beaufoy juggles the different elements like in a circus. A colourful circus. Look at the opening of movie. In the first 10 minutes the protagonist is one step away from the final question of the game. Also brutally questioned by police due to suspicion of cheating in the contest. And chased by a police man through an air strip, but only around 10-15 yrs earlier. The viewer is engaged. And the story moves on from there like a juggernaut to reach the present.
Biggest lesson is that you can show the slums and the poverty and the suffering and still make a warm gripping drama that is commercially successful…Provided you know how to write a clever screenplay. How many of the released Hindi movies in the last one year were not about the filthy rich? Dance bars, Big bungalows, foreign locations, cruisers, race courses… The scenarios in our cinema have become ruthlessly bizarre. It doesn’t represent India.
It’s sad that we have to see a foreign film to get a taste of the wild and strangely beautiful India.