Are you surprised by the movie's reception? Armaan Uplekar WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.
Astonished--not just surprised--by the way it has been received, in America especially. I think it's the core values of the film, the underdog who can come out of nowhere and with nothing, and against all the odds he can succeed. And it's a love story in the end, of course. I think all of us want to believe in that story.
Some call Slumdog a British film. Some call it an Indian production. What do you say? Prashant Yelsangi, MUMBAI
It is a Bollywood film in the sense that virtually all the cast and crew are from Bollywood. It's directed by a Brit and adapted by a Brit, from an Indian novel. So it feels like a hybrid of good things working together.
Did you imagine it would spark so much controversy in India? Tomi Obaro, CHICAGO
I was expecting a full-on response because it's a very passionate place. I know some people don't like the film for very complicated reasons, and some people adore it for very simple reasons. I'm very, very proud to have achieved that.
You seem to gravitate toward projects that redefine what a genre movie can be. What's the key to shaking things up as a filmmaker? Ryan McClellan, DETROIT
I have this theory that your first film is always your best film in some way. I always try to get back to that moment when you're not relying on things you've done before.
Are there any movies that your fans might be surprised to find out that you enjoy? Any guilty pleasures? Tom Sexton, WHITESBURG, KY.
My guilty pleasure this year was Tropic Thunder, which I thought was hilarious and brilliant. I love big action movies. I was just watching Die Hard 3 with my kids, which I've seen a ridiculous number of times. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.
How was working with a mainly Indian cast? Any culture clash? Arvinder Singh Walia, KOLKATA
The love of movies is endemic in that country, and it means that everyone's doing loads of films at the same time, so working out their diaries is a nightmare. But the confidence they have because they are so busy taught me how important confidence is to actors, to the risks they'll take with you.
Why did you pick Dev Patel, who was raised in the U.K., to play the lead? Why didn't you reach out to a Mumbai lad? Sree Reddy, PITTSBURGH, PA.
We did. I saw a lot of very talented guys, and the problem I had is that they all looked like heroes-in-waiting. I wanted somebody who looked like a loser. My daughter said, "You want a loser? You should see this guy in this TV show Skins in the U.K." We auditioned him a few times, and he earned the right to play the part.
What is your response to the claims that you are romanticizing poverty in India? Emily Gillespie, EUGENE, ORE.
People we worked with in the slums said, "You're not going to show us as being poor, are you? Because that's what Westerners always do." I tried to make the film with a kind of energy that reflects what the place is like, that it has a vitality despite its poverty.
What do you think can be done to improve the conditions of slum children? Balram Adiga, SINGAPORE
I'm not a politician. There are many people working to improve their lives. The answer will come from India. It's an absolutely extraordinary nation that is charging through the 21st century, and I think they will address their own issues.