THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
At the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the residents are attended to with a charming
aplomb - and panic -- by the management. Despite the boasts of the hotel's
lavish brochure, this turns
out to be the one-man operation of Sonny Kapoor, an endearingly ambitious
nevertheless is in completely over his head.
The filmmakers knew the casting of Sonny - who comes up with the ingenious idea
"outsourcing British retirement to India" without anticipating the pitfalls -
would be key to the story's
whole chemistry. After all it is only Sonny's can-do attitude that keeps the
residents from fleeing the
moment they arrive!
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
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
Adds Judi Dench: "He's a born comedian, and he has the assurance of someone who
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
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
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."
As for working with Dench, Smith, Wilkinson, Nighy, Wilton, Imrie and Pickup, he
was phenomenal - and that's an understatement. It was amazing for me just to
watch them. I was
nervous with this weighty cast, of course, but John gave me the confidence to be
free. Even the
smallest scenes were great lessons for me."
Patel also enjoyed working with the many Indian actors in the production,
Dubey as Sonny's mother, who disdains the modernization of Indian culture, and
Desae, as Sunaina, Sonny's girlfriend, a typical 21st century Indian girl who
works in a call center.
Dubey is a well-known screen and stage actress in India and Madden notes, "It
Dev was already a little afraid of her!" Dubey immediately empathized with Mrs.
exasperation with her son. "Mrs. Kapoor is a character I know well, because I
come from Delhi
originally. She is an urban, middle class mother, elegant but a bit
old-fashioned, who calls the shots
with her three sons. There's both shading and a lot of humor to her," comments
Desae makes her English language debut in THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL,
revealing her comic skills as a young woman whose forbidden relationship with
Sonny puts her into
compromising positions. Her chemistry with Patel allowed their relationship to
come alive. "When
you see Dev and Tena with each other you root for them to stay together. Tena
held her own against
this highly experienced cast," says Graham Broadbent.
For Desae, the experience was one of a kind. "Everyone was very approachable,
very warm, very encouraging - and most of all, a lot of fun," she confides.
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