The Big B would've been the most natural choice for the part of the game-show host especially since he has hosted the show Kaun Banega Crorepati (which forms such an integral part of Slumdog Millionaire) with such spectacular success in real life. So far we had heard that the Big B and Shahrukh Khan who have hosted the globally successful game show, were approached for the host's part.
However, the film's casting director Loveleen Tandon now confirms that the mega-stars were never approached for the character as he is much too villainous. Says Tandon, "In fact the game show host is far more negative in the original novel (by Vikas Swarup). But we changed that. Still, audiences the world over would have been put off if they say Mr. Bachchan playing this game show host who wants the young hero Jamal to lose at any cost."
She continues, "We changed all of that and still found the role unsuitable for Mr. Bachchan. For God's sake, he plays the national icon in the film. We couldn't show him as cunning game-show host. We even thought of changing the identity of the slum-boy's icon from Mr Bachchan so he could play the game-show host."
"We decided against that. Mr. Bachchan is too much of our hero and too representative of Bollywood globally to be sacrificed for a character's sake. We preferred to retain his character of the entertainment badshah and cast someone else as the host."
Anil Kapoor was roped in for the game-show host's role. "But we did need Mr. Bachchan to make an appearance as himself," reveals Loveleen Tandon. It was for a scene where a mass of slum dwellers spot "Amitabh Bachchan ka helicopter" hovering in the air. The icon had to descend and sign the young hero's autograph. "For that," reveals the casting director. "We approached Feroz Abbas Khan, the guy who has made a career out of impersonating Mr. Bachchan. He's uncanny in his imitation of the icon. Even the way the duplicate signs the autograph is exactly the way the original does it."
Speculation about Amitabh Bachchan turning down the role of the game-show host in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire finally comes to an end. The Big B confirms that the offer never came to him. Strange, considering he plays a very important part in the plot as the mega-icon of the all the slum dwellers of Boyle's Big Mumbai Drama.