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Dramatised by Ayeesha Menon, from the novel by Vikas Swarup.
Why is a penniless waiter from Mumbai - sitting in a prison cell?
Is it because:
a) he has punched a customer
b) he has drunk too much whisky
c) he has taken money from the till
d) he is the biggest quiz-show winner in history
Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested. For answering twelve questions correctly on Who Will Win A Billion? Because a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school cannot know the name of the President of America, or the location of the Pyramids, or the plays of Shakespeare. Unless he has cheated ....
Rescued from the police cell by a lawyer, Ram reviews television footage of his flawless performance and takes us on an amazing tour of his life – from the day he is salvaged from a dustbin, to his employment with a faded Bollywood star, to meeting a security-crazed Australian colonel, by way of a career as an over-creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal, to falling in love with Nita, a young prostitute. Passed from pillar to post for eighteen years, Ram’s instinct for strategy and survival is infallible.
Stunning a TV audience of millions, he draws on a store of street wisdom and trivia to provide him with the essential keys, not only to the quiz show, but to life itself. Set in modern India, Q&A is a beguiling blend of high comedy and touching melancholy. Cutting across humanity in all its squalor and glory, Vikas Swarup presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle of good against evil, and what happens when one boy has no other choice in life but to survive.
A highly-successful film version of Q&A - Slumdog Millionaire - collected eight Oscars at the Academy Awards ceremony in February 2009.
Ten episodes of approx. 14 minutes each, recorded in India. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama in July-August 2007.
Repeated on BBC Radio 4, December 2008- January 2009.
Leading Roles :
Thomas : Anand Tiwari
Young Thomas : Caran Arora
Prem Kumar : Sohrab Ardeshir
Directed by John Dryden.
Episode 1 : 5,000 Rupees
As he ponders over the first question, his thoughts drift back to his childhood in Delhi. A baby abandoned on the steps of a church, Thomas was brought up by a well-meaning priest, until he was abandoned yet again.
Father Francis : Henry Goodman
Father John : Rajit Kapur
Other parts played by Kenneth Desai, Ashley Cook and Vikrant Chaturvedi.
Episode 2 : 10,000 Rupees
Now 16, Thomas lives in a decrepit slum in Mumbai with his best friend Salim. When Shantaram, an alcoholic scientist down on his luck, moves in next door with his wife and daughter, Thomas has to protect them from his violent outbursts, with tragic consequences.
Shantaram : Kenneth Desai
Mrs Shantaram : Ayeesha Menon
Gudiya : Pooja Ruparel
Other parts played by Rajit Kapur and Nadir Khan.
Episode 3 : 50,000 Rupees
Thomas has to delve back into his childhood in search of the answer to the next question. Adopted from an orphanage by evil gangster Babu, Thomas and his friend Salim are taken to Mumbai where they are to be maimed and put on the streets to beg.
Young Salim : Armaan Malik
Babu : Vikrant Chaturvedi
Other parts played by Satchit Puranik, Kenneth Desai, Jaimini Pathak and Rohit Malkani.
Episode 4 : 100,000 Rupees
The next question takes Thomas to his teenage years. Working as the houseboy of Australian defence attache Colonel Taylor, he becomes embroiled in a spy scandal.
Colonel Taylor : Henry Goodman
Jai : Jaimini Pathak
Other parts played by Ashley Cook, Sarah Sproull and Nadir Khan.
Episode 5 : 500,000 Rupees
Thomas's next question is from the world of cricket. Fortunately, a chance encounter with his best friend Salim, who tells of how he got his revenge on the notorious Babu, provides Thomas with the answer.
Salim : Nadir Khan
Ahmad Bhai : Jayant Kripalani
Other parts played by Ayeesha Menon, Rohit Malkani, Kenneth Desai and Jaimini Pathak.
Episode 6 : 1,000,000 Rupees
With two years of his salary strapped to his belt, Thomas boards a train back to Mumbai, only to be woken up in the middle of the night by bandits. The experience helps him answer a vital question.
Meenakshi : Ratnabali Bhattacharjee
Akshay : Trikash Karkera
Dacoit : Rajit Kapur
Other parts played by Jayant Kripalani, Devika Shahani-Punjabi and Pushan Kripalani.
Episode 7 : 10,000,000 Rupees
Thomas must answer a difficult question about famous Bollywood star Neelima Kumari. Fortunately, he was once her houseboy, witnessing how the tragedies she played out on screen become a part of her real life.
Neelima Kumari : Radhika Mital
Other parts played by Armaan Malik, Rajit Kapur and Nadir Khan.
Episode 8 : 100,000,000 Rupees
Thomas draws on his experience as an unofficial guide at the Taj Mahal. His friendship with another homeless kid leads to a cruel twist of fate and a horrific discovery.
Shankar : Rohit Malkani
Swapna Devi : Devika Shahani-Punjabi
Darshan : Jamini Pathak
Other parts played by Pushan Kripalani, Nadir Khan and Rohit Malkani.
Episode 9 : 100,000,000 Rupees
Thomas is finally stumped by a question. His thoughts lead him back to his first love Nita, a young prostitute he met in Agra. When she is physically abused by one of her clients, Thomas knows what he has to do.
Nita : Radhika Apte
Neeraj : Jaimini Pathak
Utpal : Kenneth Desai
Other parts played by Rohit Malkani, Pushan Kripalani and Nadir Khan.
Episode 10 : 1,000,000,000 Rupees
Thomas is one question away from winning the billion-rupee prize, but the producers can't afford the payout and will do anything to stop him. But Thomas has an ulterior motive for being on the show and he will not leave without getting his revenge on the show's host Prem Kumar.
TV Producer : Jayant Kripalani
Vikas : Rohit Malkani
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