Screen International this week reported that Danny Boyle has signed a three year deal with Fox Searchlight and Pathé, the two companies behind the successful distribution of Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog is still making money around the world with theatrical currently showing $358 million and DVD already at $30 million in the US.
Boyle is said to be keen to link up with Indian filmmakers Shekhar Kapur and Anurag Kashyap and has acquired the rights to the book, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta, a collection of essays about the city by a returning former resident. Shekhar Kapur is best known for Elizabeth in the UK, but more importantly he made Bandit Queen (India/UK 1994) with part-funding by Channel 4. This was one of the first films to attempt to marry aspects of British and Indian popular cinema. Anurag Kashyap is a younger (37) filmmaker with wide experience as an actor, writer and director. He has worked with Mani Ratnam and with Deepa Mehta, but it was his own film, Black Friday (India 2004), about the 1993 Mumbai bombings, that Boyle watched in his preparation for Slumdog.
The success of Slumdog means that Danny Boyle will have great freedom to choose his next projects. But it doesn’t mean that he has become a critical success. Anyone who wants to gauge the challenge that Slumdog‘s success has presented to the critical community should look at the last two issues of Cineaste magazine. Robert Koehler wrote one of the silliest reviews of Slumdog I have seen and what was worse he wrote about the film claiming deep knowledge of India and Indian Cinema. Taken to task in the latest issue by Rahul Hamid, Koehler then compounds his folly. I don’t want to rehash all the debates again, but Koehler seems unable to accept that Slumdog is an Indian story about aspects of contemporary globalised Indian life adapted and mounted by Brits and Indians working together and drawing on recent Indian film styles.