The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a coming to age film which shows the after-effects of seven Britishers who come to an alien land (Jaipur in India) to reinvent themselves. It was a beautiful and heartwarming movie, perfect for a nice Sunday afternoon to fill one with the necessary inspiration and giddiness. This was the kind of movie you can take your mother to see with you and though the first impression was one of ‘just another Hollywood meets India’ movie, the movie proves you wrong in that context.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: is the place in Rajasthan in India where these seven Brits head top to make their retirement possible because of the low costs. All the seven characters have a past, a complication and something they are looking forward to. The main characters like Evelyn who has lost her husband and is trying to find a job in a call centre or Muriel who wants to get a hip replacement in India but by an ‘English’ doctor are played by incredible actors who put life into the movie. While Graham is searching for a gay lover, Jean and Douglas are trying to make their marriage work. The Nymphomaniac Grandfather Norman is looking for free sex while Madge wants to hook up with a rich guy. With such interesting mix of characters shoved into a movie together and played by Veteran actors, the result could only have been the charming movie that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel turned out to be.
When the movie began with them crammed up in a bus from the airport, we wondered if it’ll be THAT movie, with everything going wrong and the hotel also turning out to be a fake. But the smoothly crafted piece of entertainment that we got to watch wasn’t what we were expecting. The movie introduced the characters with their past experiences when they were still in England.
On reaching the hotel, they are greeted by owner Sonny Kapoor, but the hotel is far from its advertised self. They were alluded to the place by its profile on the internet which was photoshopped. The real hotel has cockroaches and rats and pigeons, leakages and rooms with no doors. The way the scenes and dialogues were carried out in each frame is what made the movie so delightful to watch. The host himself is going through issues and wants to run the shabby inn that he has inherited from his father after going against her mother’s wishes. How all these stories intertwine themselves and how everyone finds what they were looking for in India is what is there to look out for.
Though the whole cast with Judi Dench as Evelyn, Maggie Smith as Muriel, Bill Nighy as Douglas, Penelope Wilton as Jean Ainslie, Tom Wilkinson as Graham, Celia Imrie as Madge, Ronald Pickup as Norman and Dev Patel as Sonny delivered wonderful performances, it was Judie Dench who stole the show and with good reason. She provided credibility to the otherwise predictable film as she rose above the script with her performance. But not to understate the other actors, the film provided ample rich moments for all of them.
To us, Graham was the most interesting character with his persona and his daily secret mission, exploring India. He instantly opens up to the atmosphere since he had stayed and studied in India since childhood before moving away to England afterwards. His character is a source of curiosity for the audience throughout the film. Entirely opposite from his character is that of Muriel, who hates India and distrusts Indians. She comes to the country for an affordable hip replacement surgery, but slowly we begin to sympathize with the character as her story is revealed to us. Norman who plays the Casanova at the age of sixty adds humour to the equation. His frequent visits to sexologists, Kamasutra poses, smart retorts gave us something to laugh about.
Dev Patel acting as a host was infuriatingly goofy but that was part of the character he was playing which was meant to be over the top irritating. For the most part, the movie remained light-footed but there were certain touching moments as well that left their impact on our hearts. The cheerful moments of when Evelyn goes to look for a job and when the online dating is portrayed it all done in good humour. There is this ‘human’ factor that this movie showcased so marvellously. At times, the movie strayed to the path of being cliché and predictable with its usual portrayal of India with the big crowds and animals, poverty etc. Yet, soon the characters adapt to the surprises and shocks that incredible India brings their way. The country itself emerges as a secondary character in the movie with its quirky and maddening ways. Mostly, foreign directors fail to exhibit a true understanding and showcase the real picture of this country but John Madden has tried his best to stay true to all the multi-faceted aspects of the country.
Even with the deep philosophical moments, the movie never lost its light charm and it is the kind of movie that makes one laugh and cry both at the same time. The movie was basically human-centric and shows that vulnerable side of people which we love to view on a big screen. It made us feel relatable to each and every character despite the differences. It tugged at our heartstrings and that shows the craftiness of the director and brilliance of the actors. The movie did have a good end. There was a fair share of incredible moments in the screenplay by Ol parke, based on the novel ‘These foolish things’ by Deborah Moggarch.We enjoyed this movie and would prefer to re-watch it sometimes in the later years. If you find this even remotely interesting, do watch this feel-good movie about life and how it takes you to various places through various paths and with various people.