The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

A new comedy from the director of Shakespeare in Love

An award-winning, all-star cast, led by Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith, lights up this “buoyant comedy laced with genuine emotion.” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) When seven cash-strapped seniors decide to “outsource” their retirement to a resort in far-off India, friendship and romance blossom in the most unexpected ways. Smart, life-affirming and genuinely charming, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a “true classic that reminds us that it’s never too late to find love and a fresh beginning at any age.” (Rex Reed, The New York Observer)

Information

Dev as: Sonny Kapoor
Directed by: John Madden
Written by: Ol Parker & Deborah Moggach (novel)
Other cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood), & Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly)
Release Date: November 30, 2011 (Sorrento Film Festival) | February 24, 2012 (UK) | May 4, 2012 (USA)
Runtime: 124 min
Boxoffice: $136,836,156 (Worldwide)
Critical Acclaim: 78% Rotten Tomatoes | 62 Meta Critics Score

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Production Notes

The need for an actor with just the right blend of believable charisma and comic chops led to the casting of Dev Patel, whose starring role in the international hit Slumdog Millionaire brought him to the attention of the world. “Dev is a spectacular talent,” says Madden. “He’s a comic natural – a sort of Jacques Tati figure, with amazing physical presence and fantastic instincts.” Adds Judi Dench: “He’s a born comedian, and he has the assurance of someone who has been doing this for a long, long time. We were all bewitched by him.”

Patel was taken with his character’s contradictions. “In a nutshell, Sonny is the most disorganized person you’ll ever meet in life, and at the same time, he is extremely eager to please,” he describes. “He photo-shopped the brochure for the Marigold Hotel to make the place look idyllic, and now, he has to try to make the guests believe that it can become all that he has promised. At the same time, he is trying to persuade his very traditional mother that he can succeed. To complicate matters even further, he is in love with a modern girl his traditionalist mother doesn’t approve of.”

What makes Sonny’s hopes for the hotel more than just delusions of grandeur is that they are based on a very real dream- to turn his father’s failure into a meaningful achievement. For Sonny, “there’s a strong emotional attachment for Sonny to the hotel because it is connected to his father, who was desperate for it to be a success, but who nevertheless failed, as he did in everything in his life,” Patel explains. “That’s why Sonny comes up with the idea of creating a place for old people that is beautiful and idyllic, even if that is not yet the reality.”

Patel also had a personal connection to the story. “My mother has actually worked as a caretaker for the elderly,” he notes, “and I was enticed by how vivid these characters are, by their sarcasm and their wisdom. I fell in love with the script because every character shines in his or her own different way and you believe in each of them.”

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