I am no film critic. And with absolute geniuses like Bharadwaj Rangan around, why would I even have the courage to take up such a task? But last evening was something that will perhaps never fade from memory. The temperature being 43 deg C as it has been for over a week now, the wife and I (and as it invariably happens, the kids, the in-laws and an aunt) went off to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. And I dont think I have enjoyed a film more.
There is something about the world of the old that has always attracted me. And I am halfway there anyway, with weak back, sciatic legs and dim-visioned eyes. Couple all that with my love for heritage and you know that my life is inextricably bound up with kizha bolts. My closest friends, barring a few like Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Mohan Raman and the young Bhatt, are 75 plus. Let me see, there are VAK Ranga Rao (75?), KV Ramanathan (83) and S Muthiah (83). The average age has come down with people like S Rajam passing on. As for the women, Sarada has always been firmly of the view that my women friends were either dead or eighty plus.
And so, I enjoyed the Marigold Hotel. I think I understood where everyone came from. But what took my breath away was the top-class performance put up by all the veterans – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and the rest. It was mind-boggling. There were emotional highs but there was plenty of humour too. And it ended happily, very much in the style of Jane Austen or perhaps more appropriately Dickens (for there is one death).
The Indian dialogues were poorly crafted (nobody speaks in English that way here) but the acting of Dev Patel and Lillette Dubey were very good. Dev Patel’s holding on to a crumbling heritage hotel hoping to make something out of it was of course something right up my street. I think this movie must be screened for all Government babus (PWD engineers in particular), MLAs and most private builders just to show them that heritage buildings can have happy endings, at least in films.
Food for thought. How does a British citizen get a job in India after coming here on (probably) a visit visa? And did they then come to Delhi and do penance at the Ministry of Home Affairs for getting their stay ratified? But Dickens never bothered with such things and nor must we.