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Book Smart: Oscar Reads “Slumdog Millionaire”

Anyone can see the movie — only smarties read the book. This year, all five nominees for Best Picture are stolen from based on literary sources. We’re giving you a cheat sheet to all of Hollywood’s hippest reads. “Slumdog Millionaire” scored 10 Oscar nods, which means we’re going to get to see M.I.A. wear something insane when she performs her nominated song, “O Saya,” on February 22. The movie focuses on Jamal, a chai-wallah, or tea boy, who wins the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The story is based on Vikas Swarup’s Indian bestseller Q&A. However, more than the title has been changed. After the jump, how director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufroy fiddled with the original …SETTING

  • On Screen: The show is called “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”
  • On Page: Swarup calls it “Who Will Win a Billion?”
  • RELIGION

  • On Screen: The hero, Jamal Malik, is a Muslim whose mother is attacked and killed by Hindus.
  • On Page: Ram Mohammed Thomas is a symbolic mix of Indian, Muslim, and Christian names.
  • EARLY LIFE

  • On Screen: Jamal lives in the Mumbai slums with his mother until she is killed in a raid.
  • On Page: We meet Ram as a baby, when he’s left on the doorstep of a Delhi church.
  • FAMILY

  • On Screen: Perhaps the most complex relationship in the film is between Jamal and his brother Salim.
  • On Page: Jamal and Salim are friends, not brothers.
  • ROMANCE

  • On Screen: Jamal meets and falls in love with Latika, a fellow street kid, as a young child. After they’re separated, he spends most of the movie looking for her, going on TV in hopes she’ll see him.
  • On Page: Ram meets his lover girl as a teenager. She is a prostitute. He goes on TV to win the money to buy her from her pimp.
  • ENDING (Warning: spoilers!)

  • On Screen: Jamal is arrested after the second-to-last question and suspected of cheating.
  • On Page: He’s thrown in the slammer after winning the whole shebang.
  • What does author Swarup think of all these radical departures? “The film is beautiful. The plot is riveting. The child actors are breathtaking.” And paid, like, zero dollars.

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