Jai Ho! 'Slumdog' comes to 'Emmerdale' country

A Slice of Britain: North Yorkshire locals flock from miles around to see Danny Boyle's Mumbai tale at a hi-tech cinema set up in picturesque Arncliffe's village hall. It's all thanks to the UK Film Council – itself now a victim of the cuts

The North Yorkshire village of Arncliffe has many virtues: picturesque buildings, a traditional pub and rolling hills so postcard-perfect that for years it was the location for ITV's soap opera Emmerdale Farm. A multiplex cinema, though, is not one of them.

In fact, there can be few places in the world less likely to boast a state-of-the-art cinema than here. Yet, as I visit, its traditional limestone village hall has been turned into exactly that for a screening of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire.

The village is one of several across Wiltshire, Shropshire and Yorkshire chosen for a mobile cinema scheme launched this month by the UK Film Council. In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Arncliffe is among the furthest villages from a cinema in England.

Richard Harland, 90, has driven here with his wife Elma, 82, from nearby Grassington. His freshly combed shock of white hair suggests the outing may be something of a special occasion. "Going out to the flicks is quite a different experience to watching the telly," he says, smiling enthusiastically. "It's a social occasion. I can't think when it was we last went. The road up from Grassington is very puddly at the minute, but that's better than snow. We don't get out very often unless it's something pretty exciting because it's quite an effort. There's no public transport up here."

Until now the nearest cinema was in Skipton, some 20 miles away. And that's not 20 miles of smooth, wide Tarmac, but mile upon mile of windy, dry-stone-walled, single-track lanes. That may be a trek, but with just 62 people in the village and 220 in the wider valley of Littondale, you can see why Odeon isn't jumping at the chance to expand here.

The Harlands are two of around 45 people from the valley sitting on rows of stackable chairs chatting over the strains of "Jai Ho", the film's signature tune.

The scheme means villages and remote towns can rent professional cinema equipment at a subsidised rate, allowing them to charge a small fee and, hopefully, raise money for the venue.

The results are impressive. One half of the hall is dominated by an enormous screen on stilts, several metres wide. Next to it are two oversized speakers that wouldn't look (or sound) out of place in a nightclub. Standing at the front, volunteers with baskets strapped round their necks are selling tubs of Yorkshire ice cream.

Jennie Routley, 30, known in the valley as Badger, has a particular reason to be grateful for this cinema. "I have Tourette's and I haven't been out to see a grown-up film since Titanic came out, and that's probably '97. I'm always too scared of annoying people or getting kicked out for making noise. Here everyone knows me and nobody will care."

Robin Miller, 68, is sitting near the back. He has been landlord of the village's only pub, the Falcon, since the Seventies, and is struggling to remember the last time he made it out for a film. "Oh 'eck, I really don't know", he says, "10 years? Maybe more? They're not exactly nearby and I've lived here most of my life."

The lights go down and soon everyone is transported more than 4,000 miles away to scenes of children scrambling through the crowded Juhu slums of Mumbai.

Or at least, most people are. About 40 minutes into the film, once loud chase scenes have been replaced by more subdued dialogue, Mr Miller has given his verdict. Head tilted back, mouth cavernously ajar, what begins as a telltale whistle has now become a full-throttle snore. A boy in the row in front starts giggling and it soon spreads. Soon half of the room is more entertained by Mr Miller's snores than anything of Danny Boyle's creation.

Then, as if by clockwork, the snores stop. At five to nine exactly, he adjusts his thick brown glasses, straightens his tweed coat and heads out the door. The film has an hour more to go but he's off to to open up his pub in time for the nine o'clock winter start.

As the hall lights go up, and the sound system is replaced by chatter and the noise of people humming "Jai Ho" to themselves in various keys, what seems like half the village get to work in the kitchen. In keeping with the Indian theme they are serving steaming bowls of home-cooked curry, along with slightly more Yorkshire pints of ale.

Meanwhile, back at the Falcon, Mr Miller gives his verdict on the film, or what he saw of it: "It were all right," he nods, getting up from his spot by the fire to fetch more ale for his four customers. Word has already spread about his snoring and he's taking it in good humour. "Was that you making that awful racket?" he asks, laughing.

For Kate Beard, 38, one of the village volunteers running the project, the night has been a success. "It was brilliant!" she says, as she gathers up the mountain of washing up in the hall's kitchen. "It really brought everyone together."

Her happiness is short-lived, however, as she considers the prospect that their new cinema could be over almost as soon as it began. The project is already under threat, thanks to the abolition of the UKFC under new government budgets. Money has been set aside for the pilot for the next three years, but it will be a fight to keep anything running after that.

"God knows what will happen now the Film Council is going. I hope we'll be able to carry it on. These days everyone is so knackered after work that they just go home and watch a DVD. I think villages are in danger of going the same way as cities: our primary school is closing and hardly anyone goes to church. Without schemes like this, soon we just won't know who our neighbours are."

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before