December 24, 2008 12:08:45 pm
Loveleen Tandan has a story with a happy ending. It began in the dance schools of Delhi, classrooms of Mumbai and the parks of Bangalore where she searched for kids to act in Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. As casting director, Tandan’s job is putting faces to characters and this was routine work. It, however, ended with a surprise casting by Boyle himself: he asked Tandan, a 30-something Delhiite, to co-direct the film, which has won four Golden Globe nominations and is considered serious contender for the Oscars.
Back in the Capital, before she gets ready to dub the film in Hindi, Tandan speaks about how this lovely twist in the tale happened. “One day I told Boyle that since the movie featured kids from slums, it would be better if their dialogue was retained in Hindi. Next, Danny asked me get on board as co-director,” says Tandan. Eventually, one-third of the movie was made in Hindi.
A Hindu College alumna and mass communication graduate from Jamia Millia University, Tandan started her career as casting director for Mira Nair’s ‘Monsoon Wedding’ and went on to work in Nair’s ‘The Namesake’ and Vanity Fair and Sarah Gavron’s ‘Brick Lane’. Casting for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was challenging, she says. “The film required three characters — Jamaal, Salim and Latika — to be portrayed by nine actors of different ages. It was challenging to match the personality traits of the three characters when played in flashback. Danny had said he would shoot only when we found the right kids,” she says. She was, however, sure of who would play the role of the game-show host. “It had to be Anil Kapoor. He has the flamboyance and the I-am-too-hot-for-the-world attitude that the role required,” she smiles.
Is she shopping to pose on the red carpet at Golden Globe? “The nominations in themselves are a huge achievement. My first reaction was ‘Oh, my God’, but Danny doesn’t let such things get under his skin. He just said ‘we did a good job’!” Recalling Boyle’s encounter with the Mumbai slums, Tandan says the director was blown away by the experience. “He came down to India to check if there was any truth in the script. And right then his romance with Bombay started. He was energetic, hands-on and loved getting in the dust and grind of the work,” she says.
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She doesn’t want to think about the Oscars now — “let’s take it one step at a time,” she says — but is already fantasising about directing her next movie.
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