The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a British film about a group of seven British retirees who move to India to spend their golden years. The film takes viewers on a journey from life to death, love to loss, and fear to hope. The movie was nominated for several awards including two Golden Globes and a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film.
I decided to review this movie after watching it on the plane from Mumbai. Although the film is not an Indian-made film, the story is set in Jaipur and Udaipur, popular tourist destinations on the Golden Triangle circuit.
Overall, I like the film. The cast is superb, and the stories show not only the aging process but also the expatriation process. Each character represents a different type of person who comes to India. The most interesting character is Muriel (played by Maggie Smith). Her journey from virulent racism to glowing acceptance demonstrates how India can change even your most basic perceptions of the world.
In this very British cast, even the lead Indian role of Sonny Kapoor is played by Brit Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame. When we first meet Sonny, his accent sounds a false note. But, eventually, Patel seems to find his groove and let go of the ridiculous tone in his voice that resembles Apu from the Simpsons.
Another aspect of the story that struck a false chord is the job hunt by Evelyn (played by Judi Dench). A foreigner in India does not simply walk into a call center, apply for a job, and start immediately. An employment visa would be required, and that visa requires the visa holder to have a job offer in place before ever residing in India. The potential employer must provide significant paperwork justifying the foreign employee’s unique skills. Even if you found a job in India, you would need to leave during the visa processing.
Despite the few plot hiccups, the movie leaves the viewer wanting more. Rest assured, a sequel is in the works with a tentative release date of March 2015.
Fortunately, this film does not condescend to the Bollywood cinematic trope of spontaneous dancing. Instead, Indian instruments provide the foundation for the film’s soundtrack.