Directed By: Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan
Written By: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) Vikas Swarup (novel)
I’ve ruined movies by reading the book before but I don’t know that any have been quite as dramatic as this one. I loved this movie when it came out and was so happy when it won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Yet I came across the book, Q&A, sometime later and everything changed. I thought this was a beautiful movie until I realized it was just a chopped up and completely rewritten version of something better.
This movie is a love story, and the source material is not even close to that. The book is a story about revenge, and love is simply an afterthought that is only touched on. This movie that I thought was so great changed everything from the theme to the main character’s name. When I read the book I found this appalling and have since barely been able to sit down and watch the movie.
No movie adapts a book perfectly but the thing is I didn’t just like this book I loved it, actually reading it three or more times before all was said and done. When I went back to this film and really got to see it for what it was I was just so disappointed. I wish I could go back to loving it as I did the first time I saw it but I simply couldn’t.
When I first saw this movie I found it eye opening but my eyes were still closed. As rough and hard as this movie seems it doesn’t hold a candle to what was within the book. The book is so much more tragic and dark. If you think you can imagine horrible things happening in your life I challenge you to read Q&A and see how you measured up. The book is one devastating tragedy after another but it still manages to be entertaining and interesting.
It’s been several years now since I read the book and I admittedly can’t remember a lot from it even after multiple readings. I love to read and I loved this book but it was several dozen books ago and I could use a refresher. The change that annoyed me the most at the time was the name of the main character being changed to simply Jamal. It annoyed me because in the book the name of the character was such a focal point for the story.
In the book the character’s name is Ram Mohammad Thomas because as a child he was left on the doorstep of a church and a priest was left to name him. The priest was unsure what to name him because he did not know the religion of the parents whether it was Hindi, Islam, or Christianity. To prevent conflict from the rivaling religions within the country the priest named him with a combination of all three. This was interesting to me because I didn’t realize how religiously diverse India was. It seemed like an awful thing to scrap from the movie because it was something the American audience could learn from.
This movie is rare in that it is a movie that takes place in India and received a wide release in the US. India has their own film industry and there are few American made films that take place there. That gave this movie an interesting opportunity to enlighten a new audience to life in India. The movie does that to an extent but I feel like the renaming of the main character left out an insight that could have been beneficial.
The collective stories from the life of Ram Mohammad Thomas make for a really interesting book and I would encourage anybody who likes to read to give it a whirl. However if you love this movie then I would suggest staying away from it because the movie will never be the same afterwards. I don’t find this movie worth my time anymore but I would still suggest it to anyone else. I enjoyed the movie enough to add it to the collection before reading the book so there is still plenty to enjoy for the ignorant.
NEXT MOVIE: Small Soldiers (1998)