Feelgood movie of the year Slumdog Millionaire will lead the way for Britain at the Oscars next month with ten nominations. The rags to riches tale is up for best director for Danny Boyle, best picture and three music nominations for Indian composer A.R. Rahman. It is joined by Kate Winslet, who got a best actress nomination for Holocaust weepy The Reader.
Slumdog retains the number one spot at the UK box office, having taken more than £7 million in its first 13 days of release.
Speaking at the premiere of the film in Mumbai Boyle said he was delighted with the Oscar nominations. He added: 'I'm ecstatic. Thank you to the Academy from the cast and crew here in Mumbai where the film was made and where it's being premiered tonight.
'It feels like you've given us a billion nominations.' Eighteen-year-old star of the feature Dev Patel, a former Skins actor, added: 'It's just amazing.
'For Slumdog Millionaire to be included in the nominations for the Oscars is a huge honour. 'When we first began working on the film I don't think any of us ever imagined that we might end up attending the Oscars ceremony as a result.'
'Slumdog Millionaire' tells the story of Jamal Malik, a poor youth who becomes the champion of India's 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' television program as he searches for his lost love. The gritty movie, which features prostitution, religious violence and maimed beggars, has sparked great debate over whether the film is a blow to India's international reputation.
A protest took place in Mumbai before the nominations involving a couple of dozen slum residents. 'I am poor, but don't call me slumdog,' said Rekha Dhamji, 18, who protested outside the home of one of the film's actors, Anil Kapoor. The cast and director were interviewed by the media in New Delhi.
'The film is going to be a terrific inspiration to kids around India. It's a feel-good film, a film of hope,' said Kapoor, who grew up in a Mumbai slum.
He dismissed claims that the word 'slumdog' was offensive. 'Children from the slums are actually called much worse names.'
The Times of India's film critic told moviegoers to forget 'the twitter about aggrieved national sentiment.' Calling it 'a piece of riveting cinema,' the paper praised the movie as 'a Cinderella-like fairy tale with the edge of a thriller and the vision of an artist.'
The movie was being released both in English and in Hindi and many predicted it to be a monster hit across the world. Writer of Slumdog Millionaire Simon Beaufoy said: 'Secretly - and sometimes not so secretly - this is the nomination that floats in every screenwriter's dreams.
'I am fantastically happy and honoured - not just for myself but for Vikas Swarup's wonderful novel without which I would have never started my journey to the world's Maximum City, Mumbai.' Music composer AR Rahman added: 'I am overjoyed by these nominations and deeply grateful that the Academy has embraced the music of this film. 'Slumdog Millionaire has paid magical dividends for so many people around the globe.
'I am deeply honoured to be a part of a film that has inspired so many.'