Oscar favourite film Slumdog Millionaire was forced to cut scenes of a Mercedes-Benz in a Mumbai slum because the luxury car manufacturer was not comfortable with such an image, according to the film’s director.
The film was the closing night gala entry at The Times London Film Festival on Thursday night and has received critical acclaim. It is based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup, a rags-to-riches tale of a slum boy.
Director Danny Boyle said that a scene where a Mercedes-Benz pulls up in a Mumbai slum, carrying a slumlord, and shots featuring a well-known global fizzy drinks company had to be ditched. Boyle said the corportations did not want to be associated with a Mumbai slum, fearing their brands would be tarnished.
“The thing (you did not see) was the Mercedes logo on that car,” Boyle said during his talk after the screening of the film.
“We had to take that off because Mercedes don’t want to be associated with being in a slum. We wanted to use a Mercedes because this guy, this gangster would drive a Mercedes. But if you use Mercedes then clearly you have to get permission, and we asked for their permission and they refused it,” said the director, who made his name with Trainspotting in the 1990s.
Industry experts in India saw the alleged move by Mercedes and the drinks company as shooting themselves in the foot, and that they have nothing to fear by being shot in a slum in Mumbai.
“Unless it is deliberately malicious, a brand cannot and should not control the manner in which it is used once in the public domain,” said Anand Halve, Co-Founder of brand consultants, Chlorophyll.
“Mercedes is an incredibly strong brand and would not be affected by such scenes. It is an iconic brand and the first thing someone does when they say ‘I am rich’ is go out and buy a Mercedes,” Anand Halvsaid.