Movie Gives Best Exotic Reasons to Travel to India

Wednesday Matinee

Destination: India

Movie: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Article by Jane Boursaw

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Judi Dench and Celia Imrie in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

When you have a movie that combines killer locations, a veteran cast, and a title like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, you’re pretty much guaranteed that it’s going to be a hit. Or at least, a sleeper hit that slowly catches fire as it makes its way through the film festival circuit and into commercial theaters.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tells the story of several retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. When they get there, however, they find a rundown hotel badly in need of an infusion of cash and TLC. But as the days go by, the quirky place becomes “home” to these misplaced folks, and they form a little family that begins to rely on each other for emotional, physical and spiritual support.

If I could pick a dream cast for a movie, this would be it:

  • Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is a recent widow who can’t afford her current home and has never really gone on any big adventures by herself.
  • Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) is a man who’s been harboring a big secret for his entire life. He intends to find some answers in India.
  • Douglas and Jean Ainslie (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) are a bickering married couple who seem to be slowly drifting apart.
  • Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) is a close-minded racist who travels to India for much-needed surgery and has to deal with, you know, Indian people.
  • Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) is a spry optimist determined to resurrect his sex life.
  • Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) is a woman who’s not so sure Norman is healthy enough for said sex life.

None of these actors phone it in. They’re the real deal, and you can tell they’ve been in the acting business for decades. It’s a pleasure to watch such great performances from people who clearly love the craft of acting.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Judi Dench forges her own path in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

As with all the movies I review for A Traveler’s Library, the locations are magnificent. At one point, Judi Dench’s character writes that India is like an assault on the senses, and based on the riot of noise and colors in this movie, I have to agree. It was filmed in India, including the western city of Udaipur, Rajasthan, known as the “City of Lakes,” where The Darjeeling Limited, Octopussy, and The Jewel in the Crown were also shot.

While The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel covers heavy issues of death and dying, sexual orientation, loneliness, overbearing parents, and dysfunctional relationships, there’s a healthy dose of humor mixed in, as well. These actors skillfully walk the line between drama and comedy, delivering lines with perfect timing.

Dev Patel, who plays Sonny Kapoor, the hotel’s ambitious young manager, also has some great lines. I quite agree with this one: “We have a saying in India. Everything will be alright in the end. So if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”

Based on the book These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is produced by Participant Media and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It’s rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

Photos from the film are used courtesy of 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Jane BoursawJane Boursaw is a contributor to A Traveler’s Library, writing about her specialty, movies and TV shows. For us, she finds movies that make you want to travel. Visit her online magazine, Reel Life With Jane.

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8 thoughts on “Movie Gives Best Exotic Reasons to Travel to India

  1. This movie was not only a fantastic story, but the cast was stellar!

    India, in my view, was a metaphor for the world we live in: confusing, foreign, misunderstood.

    The characters represent, in some way or another, us.

    And then, like the characters in the movie, thrown together in a very foreign land, must learn to thrive, get along with each other, and move forward positively.

    I wish more movies were made like this one!

  2. Nicely written article about the movie. I like it.
    I just want to tell you that lines said by Dev Patel in the film, as you mentioned above, “We have a saying in India. Everything will be alright in the end. So if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.” are just English translation of Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan’s famous dialogue “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost”.
    but it’s always good to take inspiration from good things.

  3. This was a fun movie, although I got a bit irked by the young hotel owner whose romance seemed to have been thrown in to interest the younger crowd. I thought Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson were excellent and well worth the price of the ticket. But for the fluffy parts, at least they took place in an amazingly colorful country. I have been so busy I have not been round this blog for awhile. I’m reminded today that I should always read it …

  4. When I saw the trailer for this film and the amazing cast, I knew I had to see it. It’s just come to my town.

    And I agree with Sheryl. If you’re a female actor over 40, you’d better hope if live in England if you want a career. If Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Celia Imrie were Americans, we’d probably never see them.

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