Dev Patel was just about 17-years old when he was signed to play Jamal, the former slum kid, who becomes a suspect for the police in the hit film Slumdog Millionaire.
While the rest of the cast, including Anil Kapoor and newcomer Freida Pinto, are from Mumbai, Dev is an 'outsider.' Born and raised in London, Patel, who is scheduled to appear on the David Letterman Show tonight, talks about discovering Mumbai, and the joy of working in the city.
How did you prepare for the role?
It was going to be the first time I working in India. I had been to India many years ago to attend a wedding in Gujarat and had returned home with bad memories of mosquito bites and fever. But this time, it was different. I had to learn a lot about Mumbai and was working in a big film for the first time.
But you must have been watching a lot of Bollywood films.
[Chuckles] We watch Bollywood films at home all the time. My grandmother in particular is a great Bollywood fan. My mother could not believe me when she heard I was going to work with Anil Kapoor. She has seen so many of his films. I had to make her promise me that she will not swoon when she meets him at the premiere of the film in London. [laughs]
[Director] Danny Boyle wanted to show a very different kind of Bombay than the one seen in most Indian films. And he was going to shoot much of the film in the slums. He gave me a copy of Maximum City [a Pulitzer finalist by Suketu Mehta]. I am not good at reading books and yet I devoured it.
Text: Arthur J Pais | Photograph: Paresh Gandhi
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