It’s election season again in India, and with an 80% reduction in Bollyflix released this year (a side effect of the finance crisis), the real action is in political ads. Recently, Congress bought the exclusive rights to play Jai Ho at its rallies for a whole year, much to the dismay of the BJP which objected that “Anyone should be able to use the song. ‘Jai Ho’ should not belong to any one; it belongs to the country.” [link]
Congress wasn’t just interested in playing the original song, it actually redid the whole thing, gutting the original and producing a muzaked easy-listening patriotic version for use in a political ad:
The BJP struck back with Bhay Ho, a dark tale of international terror:
Both of these clips hint at what a mainstream Indian studio would have done with Slumdog, assuming that they had been interested in the concept at all.
In both of the ads the original song, a fairly straightforward pop hit, was replaced by something even sweeter and simpler. So too would the already simplistic original story have been dumbed down still further, with the mild amounts of conflict and tension in the film replaced by saccharine and pablum.
In this swadesi version, Jamal’s life in the slums is minimized and his time in Maman’s orphanage replaced by some benevolent charity or government organization. Jamal will then grow up to be a key member of India’s space program, an exemplar of India Shining.
For dramatic purposes, Salim will have been separated from Jamal during the riots, and experience which embitters him and turns him into a tool for India’s enemies. Jamal, on the other hand, has no idea that Salim survived. When Salim sees Jamal on Crorepathi, he has a change of heart and sacrifices himself to save Mumbai from the terrorists who, working with a gangster, had planted a nuclear device in the city.
Latika would still be in the story, but as a pure chaste virgin, not a gangster’s moll who had once been raped by Salim. She would be a school teacher in the countryside, a representative of the virtues of old India which need to be brought together with Jamal’s brains for the country to be whole.
Add in lots of dance numbers and item girls, and you’ve got a major Indian hit!