Life – The best teacher!
Director: John Madden
Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, Ramona Marquez, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Lillette Dubey, Paul Bhattacharjee, Tina Desae
Synopsis: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of British retirees who decide to "outsource" their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.
Review: They say first impressions are always the last. Perhaps… however, as we move over from bookish knowledge attained through the years, the thought automatically tweaks itself and presents itself differently. Everything in life is progressive. As youngsters, most sane people aim to have a rather comfortable life when they are older, monetarily amongst other things. Hence, they inevitably become a part of the rat race… but does the moment of truth ever come when we (the people) stop to think and analyse where we are ultimately headed to? Planning and execution then become theories of those management books, things that cannot be applied in real life.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, is a film that showcases human emotions at all stages than just being a film that audiences will watch and may or may not be able to relate with. With a ensemble cast presenting themselves as a group of British retirees looking at living the life they have aimed at, in a seemingly less expensive country, India. For me, it was a more mature version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” – just that this one showed India from a kaleidoscopic vision, that of the director, John Madden’s ("Shakespeare in Love"). Set mainly in Jaipur, Rajasthan, the story was as real as the present moment, all the angles were beautifully shot and hence shown alongwith the colours that the city is all about. Besides, when you have an array of strong and highly acclaimed actors such as Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, you simply cannot go wrong. Add to that, their Indian-born counterparts namely Lillette Dubey, Paul Bhattacharjee and Dev Patel, what you have is a delicious broth called “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.
The film’s story is based on the novel by Deborah Moggach called "These Foolish Things" and expertly adapted by Ol Parker (screenplay) for everyone to see a face of the country the world may know little or nothing about. Especially, (I have to say this) for those who believe that India is only about snake charmers and tandoori chicken.
Philosophically speaking, it’s all about the way you think. While happiness is a state of mind, your thoughts maketh the man you become. The film starts with a brief introduction of the actors before they travel to India seeking a leisurely life and looking to start afresh. Some travel with the hidden agenda to seek redemption, while some want to rediscover love in its various forms, including self-love. The film has been narrated by Judi Dench who also is a regular blogger (in the film), where she pours out her thoughts at the end of each day.
Everyone has atleast one issue to overcome and their rather shocking stay at the hotel teaches them the biggest lesson, the one to let go. Revelations and realisations happen within a given lifetime, the choice is yours, do you want to hold on to the pain and suffering and do you want to set yourself free?
It is a fresh concept, with lessons galore and the glitches don’t seem like blunders when the moral of the story is aptly communicated. While I don’t want to analyse the performance of the starcast ’cause they have been carefully handpicked and brought together, the only person who needs a critical analysis is “Slumdog Millionaire” marvel, Dev Patel, who is proving to be quite the talented and mature man onscreen. However, there was much more he could’ve done to polish his performance for I would’nt like to believe that the presence of seasoned actors in the same frame would have stolen his thunder in anyway. It is a proud moment especially for the Indian audiences to see the actor in Dev Patel go places. All he needs to do is to make that bubble (of fame and admiration from others) stronger. Also, to add, Tina Desae (last seen in Parvin Dabbas’ "Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande"), played her part much convincingly however short her role was.
As Sonny Kapoor in the film, he (Dev Patel) rightly said that, “In India, we believe that everything will be alright in the end… if it’s not alright then it’s not the end.” I leave the thought right there, there isn’t much that could be added to that. One must watch this film with the entire family together. A great balance of drama and humour.
Verdict: For life’s lessons learnt and earned, here’s a thumbs up to the film.