Danny Boyle, director of the award winning Slumdog Millionaire, said he had the highest regard for Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, and so would rather take Big B's blog comments about the film in his stride.
"First and foremost, Slumdog Millionaire is not a documentary," Boyle said while addressing the media with the film's entire key cast in attendance here Tuesday evening.
Boyle found a vehement supporter in actor Irrfan Khan, who plays the role of a probing police inspector in the film.
Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, who also has an important role in the film, thought it better to be diplomatic, choosing not to cross swords with Bachchan over the controversial matter.
Khan, in fact, elaborated on what Boyle left unsaid while addressing the media.
Khan said: "The film is based on (a work of) fiction and it takes a cue from what Vikas Swarup narrates in his book Q&A. It is not that Swarup wrote the book in the backdrop of Mumbai's posh south Mumbai locality and Boyle deliberately set his film against the background of the city's slum in order to run down India's economic progress."
He took a pause and asked: "Anyway, why get jittery about India's poverty and try to hide it? Because, the fact is, we are a poor country and poverty is there for all to see. Is there any harm if it is highlighted in a film for the sake of realism?"
In a bid to make light of the controversy about the film that ensued following Bachchan's recent comments on his blog, Kapoor said: "Anyway, India is a democratic country and everybody here has a freedom of expression. And, besides, in matters of art, it is better that there should be some differences of opinion. Otherwise, what fun is there in art?"
Boyle said: "Slumdog Millionaire should be seen as a film which salutes Mumbai's breathtaking resilence, a city in which poverty is never seen as a curse and the poor hardly ever resent it,"
"Two years ago, when I first came to Mumbai to film Slumdog Millionaire I was not quite sure whether the going would be smooth. But, today, I can say that I had the privilege to make the film in this wonderful city. In fact, while making the film in Mumbai's dark alleys, I never took it as a challenge, but regarded it as an opportunity," Boyle said.
He explained that the film is not essentially about Mumbai, but is based on a story which is universal. "It celebrates the triumph of the poor surviving against all odds. This is why it has been accepted warmly in the US and UK, where it has already been released," he said.
Made on a budget of seven million pounds, the film has already grossed over $50 million at the US and UK box-office.
It will be released in India by Fox Star Studios Jan 23 with 400 prints across 85 centres.
"A portion of the box-office proceeds will be donated to the Slum Welfare Fund of Mumbai," revealed producer Christian Colson.