Officials of the Central Railway’s (CR) public relations department proudly recall their experiences while working with Boyle and the crew of Slumdog Millionaire, which bagged eight Oscars.
Department officials had to permit, supervise and facilitate the film’s shoot in the railway premises. Merely renting out its premises to the film’s unit fetched the CR Rs 33.70 lakh.
“There is a particular spot in Dharavi where Boyle wanted to shoot the riot scene. But it’s too close to the running lines and we just could not put the film’s crew and commuters at such risk,” Vijay Chatla, senior publicity inspector for CR, said. “So the filmmakers decided to take photographs of every inch of the place and recreate it at a Pen village near the railway track.”
The crew created every scene brick by brick, hired a train and shot it there to avoid trouble, said Ganapathy Iyer, the liaison officer from the railways for the movie and also the publicity inspector. “But the way they did it was marvellous. One could not distinguish between the real and the reel Dharavi.”
The movie was registered with the railways as Q&A (taken from Vikas Swarup’s book Q&A on which the film’s based). The shooting for the railway scenes took place between November 7, 2007 and February 16, 2008 at various locations between Apta and Pen, Byculla yard and Mumbai CST station,” said A.K. Jain, spokesperson, CR who coordinated with Boyle’s team to facilitate the shoot.
CR usually charges Rs 1 lakh for an eight-hour shoot and officials admit that the money the CR made from Slumdog Millionaire was the highest ever from a single production house. “Boyle and his team were perfectionists. Every scene was shot again and again till it was perfect, leading to extending the shoot schedule,” said R.P. Barpagga, liaison officer and senior publicity inspector.
“It’s a proud thing for us that the award-winning movie, its sequences and song were shot in our premises,” said S.C. Mudgerikar, CR’s chief spokesperson.