There is a charm factor when British actors act in what is essentially an Indian, or an India-based movie. And, when the cast is as established as in this movie, then there is a distinct possibility of good acting and voila, a box office hit.
And that is what exactly happened to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” movie.
For the first time, I was seeing a movie in which the cast was almost fully composed of older generation (60 plus), except for the hotelier and his fiance. The movie is driven by the emotions and characteristics of this older set of folks, who have their own challenges, grievances, and dreams. It is sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes reflective of the realities of life. Each character in this older set of actors was probably chosen very carefully, for his or her ability to cause an indelible impact over the course of the storyline.
I generally liked the movie, though I would have preferred to have sub-titles. Sometimes, the English could be challenging and so I had to replay to get the exact words or meaning. The fight between the hotel manager and his mom over his life choices was revealing the extent to which moms will go to “save” their sons from girlfriends’ seduction. The action sequences are sometimes disconnected, jumping from one of the older set to another – in rapid movement, that it could become somewhat confusing, unless one has fully mapped the emotions and motives of the particular character.
I am not sure about the kind of reception the movie had in India, as the British movies continue to focus on the horrible infrastructure that India has – this movie shows the rickety bus, the poor roads, the traffic nightmares, the poorly organized city streets, the huge number of pedestrians clogging the roads, etc., etc., Things have vastly improved over the past five years since the movie was shot. The good thing about India is that things are getting better all the time, while the world passes by at a rapid rate of development. But that is the way India wants it, whether foreigners like it or not.
The thing I liked about the retired Judge in this movie is that he fully well accepts India as it is (probably because he spent his early years in India as per the movie), and works through the system, despite the interminable bureaucratic delays depicted in the movie. He does not shout and throw things, he expects things to work out in the end. As the hotel manager says a few times. “everything will be OK at the end, and if it is not OK then we have not reached the end” ! That is India in a nutshell.
Good movie, worth seeing not for the Indian psyche but for the manner in which these retirees individually tackle their retirement woes and challenges in a rather determined and beautiful way.
1st June 2015