101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

Faced with adapting Vikas Swarup’s episodic novel about an Indian teenager who wins big on a TV quiz show and gets accused of cheating, Simon Beaufoy faced massive challenges—beyond imposing a filmic structure, Beaufoy wanted a different emotional hook. “I just can’t get excited about money as a motivation in a film,” he remarked in 2009. Traveling to Mumbai for inspiration, Beaufoy visited the city’s slums and discovered hope, ingenuity, and joy amid the deprivation. This led the writer to lean into the source material’s notion of a young man who uses the internet to broaden his knowledge, to hinge the film’s narrative on a tender love story—and to conclude his script with a Bollywood-style musical number. Subtlety, Beaufoy reasoned, wasn’t the right approach for this milieu. “Nuance doesn’t stand a chance,” he said, “in the car-horn symphony of a Mumbai traffic jam.” Beaufoy won the 2009 Writers Guild Award for Adapted Screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire.