STARRING: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal
Love and squalor: Patel and Pinto
How’s this for incredible: a chaiwalla (teaboy) in a Mumbai call centre is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on the Indian incarnation of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Self-effacing Jamal Malik (Patel) is an 18-year-old orphan who grew up with his wily older brother (Mittal) and the bewitching, helpless love of his anarchic life (Pinto) in the frenetic squalor of the Mumbai slums. How can he have come so far? The Millionaire host (a showy, snaky Kapoor) is convinced Jamal is cheating and turns him over to the equally suspicious police (Khan and Saurabh Shukla). But as their hands-on interrogation reveals, knowledge can come in unlooked-for forms to a survivor of the streets.
In its ugliness and impetus, Mumbai is a crazily apt habitat for Trainspotting director Danny Boyle’s edgy flair. Working with co-director Loveleen Tandan, Boyle’s approach to Simon Beaufoy’s vibrant tsunami of a screenplay — adapted from Vikas Swarup’s 2005 novel Q & A — is part rock video, part colourised travelogue, part high drama and all-out adrenaline.