'Slumdog Millionaire' has an Indian co-director

Mumbai, Jan 11 (IANS) Not many know "Slumdog Millionaire" is directed by not Danny Boyle alone. Loveleen Tandon is the film's co-director and she says she isn't perturbed by Boyle stealing all the limelight internationally.

"I don't mind at all. I've been travelling non-stop with the film. I've returned home in the last week of December."

Delhi-based casting director Tandon told IANS: "I started off as the casting director. But just before shooting, Danny asked me to hop on board as co-director. I'm there in the credits. But people here don't know about that."

She took on the challenge of co-directing the film because she got to cast three different sets of child actors from three eras to which the film's protagonists belong.

"I had never seen a screenplay where three sets of actors got equal screen time to play the same character. I had to match the three sets of actors in every possible way. Danny refused to shoot until we found all the nine actors.

"I couldn't sleep until I found the right kids. I started casting in April 2007. Danny kept coming down to Mumbai to check out the actors. I got the youngest version of the child actors, who finally grow up to be Salim and Latika, straight from the slums."

Tandon, who has earlier served as casting director for films by Mira Nair and Steven Spielberg, had a lot of arguments over the socio-cultural nuances of Boyle's cinema.

"Specially the fact that the kids had to speak in English. How could kids from Mumbai slums speak in English? It would've become stagey. I suggested Danny turn the kids' dialogues in Hindi. I prepared a scratch tape for Danny with real slum kids."

Tandon wrote about 30 percent of the film in Hindi. "Danny wanted to be culturally correct. He offered me the part of the co-director. I was blown away. I was never meant to be part of the shooting. I didn't participate in the shooting of the scenes at the police station and the sets of KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati).

"I was out directing the second unit. On my own I shot all the scenes showing people shooting KBC all over the country. Also the girl protagonist Latika had very sensitive sexually-suggestive scenes at age 13."

Tandon was summoned to be part of those scenes. " 'Slumdog Millionaire' is a very masculine film. Being part of the directorial team as co-director for 'Slumdog Millionaire' was fine. But now I want to direct my own film. I'm telling you this because I'm getting offers from abroad to be co-director.

"I never intended to be a casting director. Mira Nair turned me into one for 'Monsoon Wedding'. People liked my work abroad and I kept getting offers from abroad. But my first film as a director would be in Hindi. That's the language I think in. There's a subject I've been harbouring for a year and I'll probably write it myself."

Tandon says "Slumdog Millionaire" is a homage to the Hindi commercial cinema. "The writer Simon Beaufoy studied Salim-Javed's kind of cinema minutely."

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