Film4: Monday 9 November, 9.00pm
Mumbai teenager Dev Patel is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on a TV quiz show. How did that happen to an orphan street kid? And how did Danny Boyle’s surprise hit take the Oscars by storm after almost going straight to dvd? In winning eight of its ten nominations (Bafta turned it up to eleven!), it became the best UK contender since The English Patient took nine in 1997.
The fragile romance of Dev Patel and Freida Pinto gradually emerges from the vibrant backdrop of a teeming city divided by haves and have-nots. Although the most convincing performances come from sleazy quiz show host Anil Kapoor and suspicious cop Irrfan Khan, the delightful Miss Pinto is so quixotically exotic that, since Slumdog, she’s played a Palestinian orphan, an ancient Greek priestess, an American primatologist, and an Arab princess.
In bringing Bollywood conventions to a British production, Boyle turns the desperate lives of exploited street kids into a feel-good fairy tale – Salaam Bombay! The Musical! Before switching back again, of course, to the TV studio for a bit more of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Whichever way you look at it, it’s the softest Best Picture winner since the musical Chicago.