10 Winning Facts About Slumdog Millionaire

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

It's been 10 years since Slumdog Millionaire arrived in theaters, and chances are you’ve still got “Jai Ho” stuck in your head. That’s ok. A.R. Rahman crafts incredible music, and his work on Danny Boyle's Best Picture winner is particularly catchy. Dance your heart out.

Yet Slumdog Millionaire almost never made it into our lives—at least not to the global extent that it eventually achieved. In one of filmdom’s most surprising journeys, a movie about an exploited Indian orphan winning a game show and taking on the mob to be with the woman he loves struggled to get traction with studios before sweeping the Academy Awards and winning millions of hearts.

Use a lifeline: Here are 10 facts about the buzzer-beating epic on its 10th anniversary.

1. THEY DIDN’T GET THE ACTUAL HOST OF KAUN BANEGA CROREPATI, BUT THEY DID GET A WINNER.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Danny Boyle originally wanted Shah Rukh Khan to play the part of the game show host Prem Kumar for obvious reasons. One, Khan is probably the most famous Indian actor of the modern era. Two, he hosted Kaun Banega Crorepati (India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) for a season. He turned the production down, so they hired Anil Kapoor who, like Khan, had once been a contestant on the dramatic game show where he won 5 million rupees.

2. IT WAS ALMOST RELEASED STRAIGHT-TO-DVD.

Warner Bros. shut down Warner Independent Pictures, the arm set to distribute Slumdog Millionaire, just as the movie was wrapping production, and there was serious consideration about scrapping a theatrical release in favor of the far cheaper home video purgatory of straight-to-DVD. Fox Searchlight saved it from the bargain bin, and, look at that, it went on to make a ton of money and earn a lot of award hardware. In other words, the movie itself went from abandoned rags to Oscar riches.

3. THEY LEFT A CHOREOGRAPHER’S NAME OFF THE CREDITS SO HE GOT AN OSCAR SHOUT-OUT.

If you enjoyed the end credits “Jai Ho” dance performance, you’ve got Longiness Fernandes to thank. You wouldn’t be blamed for not knowing that, though, because his name isn’t in the credits over which his dance routine plays out. To make up for the oversight, Boyle apologized and thanked Fernandes during his Oscar acceptance speech for Best Director.

4. IT WAS THE FIRST BEST PICTURE WINNER SHOT MOSTLY ON DIGITAL.

Boyle and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle filmed some of the movie on 35mm, but a large portion of it was shot digitally in order to capture the raw immediacy and intimacy of the slums. Mantle and Boyle were both early adopters of digital camera technology, pushing it into the mainstream with zombie film 28 Days Later. It was also the first Best Picture winner since 1928 not to be shot on Kodak film (they used Fuji) and the first Best Picture winner to be sold as non-physical media to fans. A digital copy was included with DVD purchases.

5. COKE AND MERCEDES-BENZ WANTED THEIR LOGOS REMOVED FROM THE FILM.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Getting permission to use brands in your movie can be a tricky proposition, especially when you’re associating global powerhouses with poverty and abuse. Boyle said that Coke refused to give permission for their logo to be used in a scene where a conman is clearly using Coke to lure boys away to lives of exploitation (Coke denies the production ever reached out). Mercedes-Benz, according to Boyle, was happy to see their product next to a mansion, but not “driving ‘round the slum!"

6. IT SHARES AWARD SWEEPS AND TOILET SCENES IN COMMON WITH SCHINDLER’S LIST.

As of 2017, Slumdog Millionaire and Schindler’s List are the only two movies to ever win Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTA Awards. They also both include sequences where a child drops into the waste of a pit toilet, so maybe we’ve found the key to dominating awards season.

7. IT WAS ON THE 2007 BLACK LIST.

Unlike the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1940s, the modern-day Black List—curated by Franklin Leonard—highlights the best-loved screenplays among studio and production executives that have yet to be produced. Simon Beaufoy’s script for Slumdog Millionaire was included in the 2007 version of the list alongside The Book of Eli, The Wolf of Wall Street, Selma, and many other notable films.

8. THE STORY EMERGED FROM THE “HOLE IN THE WALL" EXPERIMENTS.

Slumdog Millionaire was adapted from Vikas Swarup’s 2005 novel Q & A, which was inspired by Sugata Mitra’s social experiment involving an internet-connected computer and a group of children living in a slum teaching themselves how to use it.

“That got me fascinated, and I realized that there’s an innate ability in everyone to do something extraordinary, provided they are given an opportunity,” Swarup said. Mitra joked with Swarup that the movie’s title should have been Slumdog Nobel Laureate.

9. IT WAS NOMINATED FOR 10 OSCARS, BUT NONE OF THEM WERE FOR ACTING.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

    The soaring romance and thrilling interrogation drama that relies so heavily on the charisma and connectivity of its cast didn’t get a single acting nomination despite its otherwise dominance of the Oscars. Following An American in Paris, Braveheart, and others, it became the 11th movie to win Best Picture without garnering a single acting nomination. 

    10. THE OPERA JAMAL AND SALIM WATCH MIRRORS THE MOVIE’S ROMANTIC SUBPLOT.

    Young Jamal and Salim spy a portion of Orfeo ed Euridice from under the bleachers at the Taj Mahal. The opera is based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, who journeys into the underworld to save his wife after she dies, propelled by an undying love. Its inclusion is a nod to the script’s similarities regarding Jamal’s (Dev Patel) quest to save Latika (Freida Pinto) from different gangland—or “underworld”—elements.

    Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

    Five rooms of one's own.
    Five rooms of one's own.
    Allwood/Amazon

    If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

    As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

    You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

    The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

    Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

    Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

    Intrigued? Find out more here.

    [h/t Simplemost]

    This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

    10 Facts About Steve Martin On His 75th Birthday

    Kevin Winter, Getty Images
    Kevin Winter, Getty Images

    Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. To celebrate his birthday (he turns 75 today), here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

    1. Steve Martin was a cheerleader.

    As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Steve Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

    2. Steve Martin's first job was at Disneyland.

    Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just 2 miles away from his home. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

    3. Steve Martin owes his writing job with the Smothers Brothers to an ex-girlfriend.

    Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with late Bob Einstein—Albert Brooks's brother, who is better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Curb Your Enthusiasm's Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

    4. Steve Martin was a contestant on The Dating Game.

    While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

    5. Many people thought Steve Martin was a series regular on Saturday Night Live.

    Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. Though at the moment, he holds the second highest record for number of guest hosting gigs on the show with 15. (Only Alec Baldwin has more, with 17.)

    6. Steve Martin's father wrote a review of his son's first SNL appearance.

    Steve Martin hosts a 1986 episode of Saturday Night Live.Yvonne Hemsey/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. Martin's dad also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

    7. Steve Martin popularized the air quote.

    If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

    8. Steve Martin quit stand-up comedy in the early 1980s.

    Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

    9. Steve Martin is a major art collector.

    As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

    10. Steve Martin is an accomplished bluegrass performer.

    Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Martin is an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

    This story has been updated for 2020.