Life begins at 60… at least for a group of seven ‘old and beautiful’ lot in this British film. Of course, there’s a pretty tough ride they’ve got to first undertake. 1) Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is stuck with her broadband connection since it’s in her late husband’s name. 2) Muriel Donnelly ( Maggie Smith) is on the lookout for a cheap hip replacement. But then the doctor, for her, has to be English. 3 & 4) Douglas and Jean Ainslie (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) who have made their unhappy marriage work just for the fear of society now have a financial crisis to deal with. 5) Retired judge Graham Dashwood ( Tom Wilkinson) wants to get back to India in search of his love. 6) Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) is out in search of companionship, while 7) Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) is all desperate to find someone for a one-night stand. What next? Destination: India calling. To be precise, it’s the Best Exotic Marigold hotel — a hotel for the old and beautiful — at Udaipur.
Now just when you think this one is going to be yet another when-Hollywood-meets-India story, director John Madden proves you wrong. It’s more about hope (Evelyn at 60 is on the lookout for a BPO job). It’s all about the need to keep trying (Muriel not only gives up her wheel chair, but finds a new purpose in life). It’s all about diving into India — a riot of noise and colour (Graham finds true joy in playing galli cricket with the local kids). Needless to say, all this would actually seem been-there-seen-that had it not been for the performances of the seven veterans. So much so, even the subplot of a budding romance, topped with an over-protective mom (Dev Patel-Lillete Dubey) seems unwanted. In fact, you can’t really tell who (amongst the seven) is better than the other. And it’s not just serious stuff we’re talking about. Watch the bonding amidst some heart-felt emotions, dialogues, respective tales, fears… and English wit.
But then, it’s the desi wit with its typical cliches — roads full of camels, elephants; a bumpy crowded bus ride, a photoshop-ed hotel full of pigeons and cockroaches; the untouchable domestic help… that somewhat forces you to ask this: Does this (still) happen in India 2012? Seven people. Seven stories. Seven problems. Seven different reasons to travel to India… a country, as the movie says, where everything will be alright in the end. And alright it is! Now, that (surely) happens only in India!
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