The Challenges Of Filming 'Slumdog Millionaire'

The last scene in 'Slumdog Millionaire' where thousands of people break out in a dance. i i

hide captionThe last scene in Slumdog Millionaire, where thousands of people break out in a dance at the train station, scared line producer Tabrez Noorani "the most," he says. The crew had to film the scene from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. (while the trains weren't running), bring in thousands of extras and place lights between the electrical wires to light six platforms.

Ishika Mohan/Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
The last scene in 'Slumdog Millionaire' where thousands of people break out in a dance.

The last scene in Slumdog Millionaire, where thousands of people break out in a dance at the train station, scared line producer Tabrez Noorani "the most," he says. The crew had to film the scene from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. (while the trains weren't running), bring in thousands of extras and place lights between the electrical wires to light six platforms.

Ishika Mohan/Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

More About 'Slumdog'

Read a review and see what Oscars it was nominated for.

Director Danny Boyle on the set of 'Slumdog Millionaire' i i

hide captionDanny Boyle directs a scene in Slumdog Millionaire, which was a logistically challenging movie to shoot in India.

Ishika Mohan/Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director Danny Boyle on the set of 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Danny Boyle directs a scene in Slumdog Millionaire, which was a logistically challenging movie to shoot in India.

Ishika Mohan/Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

The sleeper hit of the season Slumdog Millionaire opened Friday in India, the day after it picked up 10 Oscar nominations.

The movie also won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. When director Danny Boyle accepted the award, he thanked his three musketeers, including the film's line producer Tabrez Noorani. Noorani was in charge of all the logistics, scheduling and meetings in India.

And shooting a film like Slumdog Millionaire was especially complicated, partly because of the scene locations that were chosen — like the Red Light District and the train station — and partly because the culture is vastly different from Los Angeles.

Noorani says that even if you have all of the necessary permits, you still have to inform the people involved — like the principal at a school — that you'll be there the full day. If you don't, you'll probably be told to leave, he says.

"You can have every single permit and you're unable to shoot," Noorani tells Michele Norris. "A lot of things happen under the table — it's part of the business. It's really not about money, it really ends up being about respect and the way you treat people."

It's also important to go talk to government officials in person to get permits, he says, instead of picking up the phone.

"The very act of you going to them will solve the problem," he says. "And that is why the preproduction is actually usually a lot longer in India than it is in other countries."

Besides dealing with people, there were scenes that were especially challenging to shoot, Noorani says. At the end of the film, the couple kisses and two trains and thousands of people arrive and they all break out in a synchronized dance sequence. That scene was what "scared" Noorani most, he says.

There were six platforms, and each platform needed to be lit. The lights had to be placed in between the electrical wires at the train station, and the electricity could not be cut. And they had to shoot the scene when the trains weren't running, so they were there between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. for about 10 days. They ended up doing about 15 takes.

"It was physically hard to get these thousands of extras, first have them practice somewhere else, then have them come in and get the sequence done over a matter of a few hours," Noorani says. "It was quite an ordeal."

Another scene that was tricky — that "borders on being unsafe," Noorani says — was in the Red Light District where there are gangsters, unruly crowds and "the cops will make it very difficult for you to shoot there." Noorani says he was partly responsible for the crew's safety.

"It's not really a friendly place," he says. "You have a mob mentality that can very very quickly emerge. And we had lots of pushing and shoving, and at some point someone was shoved and one of the English crew retaliated to protect our crew members and that was it, we had to stop shooting ... It's things like that that can very quickly spiral out of control."

In giving advice to Hollywood producers interested in filming in India, Noorani says you must have patience.

"Things are getting so much easier, the government is relaxing a bit, but you need to trust and have the patience to shoot as well," he says.

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