What I thought of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Before I begin on the story, script, performances, etc, I would like to express my disappointment at the portrayal of India by Western film makers. Such a cliche. Always the dirty roads, the irritatingly inquisitive people, broken english and what not. Ofcourse just to be nice to India, they always throw in a bit of some good Indian philosophy and touch upon the famous hospitality of Indians in general. In this extremely well connected era, its hard to blame this on ignorance. When I express this opinion, it is not to deny the existence of all such matters in India. They do. BUT there are also various other aspects of India which can be used to portray a developing nation in any given storyline. For example, in the movie Eat Pray Love (please note that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the movie), do they HAVE to show a dirty ashram? I am not big on ashram culture but I do know that there are numerous “clean” and “mosquito free” ashrams in this country.

Well coming back to the movie, it was a pleasant watch. Stereotypical plot of putting together in the same place, a couple of people going through one crisis or the other in their lives. They meet and come together to be the light in their dark lives. Some tragedies. Some realisations. Some dreams come true. Some lost confidence is won back. Same old but still a nice watch.

However I was not impressed with Dev Patel’s acting in the movie. An Indian actor who naturally had the Indian accent may have been a wiser choice. Dev Patel puts in way too much effort to deliver what is demanded of the character and the effort stands out in his performance, but stands away from the character. You see more of the actor in Dev Patel than the character itself. I also did not find the sub plot of his character, his relationships and the hotel he runs to blend too well into the larger intent of the movie. It almost felt like a parallel story running to distract the viewers (for what? I dont know) and to extend the length of the movie (2 hrs in total).

Otherwise, the main characters (the elderly hotel guests) with their respective histories, relationships and confidence issues are a delight to watch. Emotionally and financially frustrated wife who realises that at retirement her husband cannot exactly give her the life she wants. Her excessively supportive husband whose sweetness and good manners keeps the marriage going upto a point. A newly widowed wife who realises the importance of sharing in a marriage post her husband’s death. A heart patient who is looking to reunite, even if for one meeting, with an old lover whose life he believed was scarred due to the unpleasant turn their relationship had taken decades ago. A single man and a single woman looking to hook up, even at their age. An old prejudiced maid who is in India to undertake a hip replacement surgery which she could not afford in UK. Predictably her prejudices dissolve slowly as the movie advances.

The script does justice to the unfolding of multiple events affecting all their lives. Through the blog that Judi Bench’s characted maintains in the movie, some profound messages are conveyed via the stories. The movie also has some well scripted humurous moments. Controlled acting by the main characters (other than Dev Patel) does good service to the script.

A feel good movie.

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