On May 4th, Fox Searchlight Pictures brought a new movie in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to screens all across the United States. Starring Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame, this movie also stars Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Tena Desae, among others and is both a comedy and drama filled all rolled up in one fantastic film. Directed by John Madden and produced by Graham Broadbent, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is based on the novel “These Foolish Things” written by Deborah Moggach.
Rated PG-13, this movie tells the story of a group of senior citizens from England who travel to Northern India with the aspiration to spend their Golden Years at a rest home run by the young and adventurous Sonny (Mr. Patel). For most, this is their first ever trip to India and experience quite the culture clash. Both funny and poignant, this movie gives viewers a glimpse of what it is like for a group of sheltered elderly people to be uprooted by various life circumstances only to land in a country far different than anything they have ever experienced and to build a new community and home base for themselves.
Mr. Patel plays the energetic young businessman (Sonny) growing from being a boy into his manhood with Ms. Desae (Sunaina) as his beautiful love interest. With twists and turns, this movie takes us through laughs and tears seamlessly and leaves us in awe of India, whether we have never been before or if we have seen her in all her splendor a million times. Be sure to catch this movie, it will certainly be up for many awards later this year!
Laju Shah: What was it like working with the cast?
Dev Patel: The cast is brilliant. It was phenomenal to work with them, and that’s an understatement. They’re just amazing and so on it, so on fire. It’s so hot out here (in Jaipur) and it’s tiring, you know? It’s tiring doing scenes, and they just bring it to the table every time, it’s brilliant to watch.
LS: When you first read the script, what was your first impression? What stood out to you?
DP: I read it and was so enticed by how vivid it was. My mother actually works as a caregiver for the elderly. So, for me, I sort of had that sentimental value. I would read her (my mother) a few lines and she would just chuckle. She could really relate to some of the scenes and that sort of sarcasm they possess and the sort of wisdom in the way they act and things. I fell in love with it, so I was like, ‘I gotta get on to this.’
LS: Tell us about working with director John Madden?
DP: John has been a dream come true to work with. He’s one of the most optimistic, energetic men I’ve ever met. His energy is so infectious. You can never do a bad take, even if you know it’s absolutely your fault, he will make you do it again in the nicest way possible that your ego or confidence or pride has not taken a battering. For me, I really needed that because I came onto this film and I was so nervous. He was so good; he just let me be free. I’m grabbing props on set and flinging them everywhere and that freedom is what makes the character mine and what makes him exciting to play. That freedom just makes the character more juicy and more real.
LS: Tena, coming from Bollywood, what was it like working on a non-Hindi film?
Tena Desae: Well it was big for me in every way. Just to do a film in the West, it was quite exciting. My character is really great and very, very real. It’s exactly how every Indian girl is right now. It was great to play a character that also has a lot of fun but is also so realistic. I was very happy to do a comedy, something that’s lighthearted and fun for the first time. My previous work, my two Hindi films before, were very dark and very intense.
LS: What does the film's story mean to you?
TD: I think that it’s got a message about how you should continue to live your life happily no matter what your age, that you should respect your elders … but it’s told in a funny way. It’s not preachy. Everyone gets the point, but they are also entertained because it’s funny and it’s India, which is such a great setting. There’s just so much happening in India that it’s also very entertaining. I think there are many things that are working for the film, the brilliant actors, all of their performances, I loved the humor, (and) it’s just a lot. On every level, it’s working well.
LS: Is ‘Best Exotic Marigold’ similar to Bollywood films?
TD: You know, it’s a lot like Indian films. Indian films like happy endings, and this has a happy ending. Everyone’s story works out. The message is basically to always have hope and to always believe that you should be happy no matter what age.