Birthday special ranking the talented actor’s diverse body of work
By: Asjad Nazir
The stunning cinema success of Dev Patel has largely been due to the film choices he has made.
With major Hollywood movies on the way like Monkey Man and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, the British Asian actor will continue to be unstoppable internationally. This week he turns a year older and celebrates his 32nd birthday on Sunday (23).
Eastern Eye decided to mark the occasion with a first of its kind countdown of all his movies, not including English dubbed animated features, where he provided the voice or his TV/web work.
13. About Cherry (2012): If there is one film Patel could take away from his filmography, it would likely be this terrible turkey. After three major movies as a lead, he made the odd choice of playing a meaningless supporting role in this story of a woman’s journey towards working in the porn industry. Instead of being an inciteful human drama, his fourth movie seemed like an excuse for X-rated scenes.
12. The Last Airbender (2010): A megabudget movie that promised a lot and was supposed to kick-start a franchise, turned out to be an absolute mess. Although he delivered a spirited turn as the antagonist in the big screen adaptation of a popular animated series, the movie was a critical and commercial disaster, which killed off plans for a trilogy. Patel deeply regretted his second movie and stayed away from large franchise films
11. CHAPPiE (2015): Another special effects-laden movie that promised a lot but didn’t work, was this dystopian science fiction action drama. The Johannesburgset story of an artificial intelligence law enforcement robot captured by gangsters didn’t get out of second gear. Although Patel’s performance was appreciated, his poorly written seventh movie wasted interesting characters and a unique setting.
1O. The Wedding Guest (2018): With huge successes in subcontinental stories, this action thriller set in Pakistan and India looked like a winner. Unfortunately, the British star’s 11th movie ran out of steam after an interesting build-up. Solid performances from him and Radhika Apte weren’t quite enough to save an atmospheric movie, which could have been special with a better director and more well-rounded screenplay.
9. The Road Within (2014): The actor’s relatively low budget fifth film was about three young people dealing with specific mental health issues in a behavioural facility, who go on an unexpected trip together. A movie with its heart in the right place was driven by a formulaic story that didn’t make an impact. But that was balanced out by committed performances from the cast.
8. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016):
The actor’s eighth film perhaps doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The biographical drama based on an acclaimed 1991 book of the same name, saw him play real life mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, who grew up poor in India and became a pioneer after gaining admittance to Cambridge University, during World War I. The compelling story wasn’t commercial but had enough to keep you engaged and enabled Patel to deliver another standout performance.
7. Hotel Mumbai (2018): The action thriller based on the 2009 documentary Surviving Mumbai was inspired by the 2008 terror attacks on the city. The multistarrer with parallel stories, saw him portray a waiter in a five-star hotel under attack trying to survive and guide guests to safety. The hard-hitting film had edgeof-the-seat tension and lots of drama.
6. The Green Knight (2021): The epic medieval fantasy adapted from a 14th century poem received rave reviews and saw Patel become the first person of colour to play a lead character in such a film. His 13th film as a lead was particularly praised for his multi-layered performance, which broke new ground for south Asian actors. Although some thought it was too niche and not commercial enough, it had unique storytelling.
5. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015): The colourful sequel to his
super hit 2011 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had plenty of entertainment value. Patel returned as the young owner of an Indian hotel filled with ageing British pensioners, looking to expand his business. His sixth film saw the story carried on smoothly from part one, and once again had him play a loveable role that connected with audiences.
4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019): The comedy-drama
with colourful characters is perhaps the most unique and progressive adaptation of a Charles Dickens classic. Patel’s Golden Globe-nominated performance in his 12th film shattered a huge glass ceiling, as he became the first non-white actor to play a title role in such a film. The novel’s clever reinvention was described as wonderfully entertaining. It was also refreshing, funny, and utterly charming.
3. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011): The critical and commercially successful movie, which spawned a sequel, saw the actor play loveable hotel owner Sonny Kapoor. He starred opposite a host of acting legends in the story of white British pensioners relocating to India and starting a new life in a retirement hotel. A film that has cross-generational appeal was charming, thoughtprovoking and entertaining. The actor’s third film would later inspire a successful stage adaptation, which is currently on a UK tour.
2. Lion (2016): For many this is the best movie Patel has starred in so far. The brilliant biographical drama based on an extraordinary true story revolves around a lost Indian child adopted by a couple in Australia, who uses Google Earth to track down his birth mother in a small Indian village, 25 years after being separated from her. The deeply emotional story starts with the struggle of a lost child and ends with him as an adult going on an amazing journey. Its many accolades include six Oscar nominations.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Whether it is box office success, entertainment, or the many awards it received, including eight Academy Awards, the actor’s debut movie remains his best. The story loosely based on 2005 novel Q & A tells the story of a teenager, played brilliantly by Patel, who goes on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. When accused of cheating and arrested, he tells an extraordinary life story that led to his correct answers. The multi-layered story took the world by storm and introduced us to his brilliant talent, which is still going strong.