When he came up with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2012, which was about a group of British pensioners moving to a retirement hotel in India, not many gave the film a chance. And even Oscar-nominated director [for the 1998 hit Shakespeare In Love] John Madden admits that the film “went much wider than we thought” it would.
“It has been one of the most unexpected things. It connected with a much larger audience in every way than you’d imagined, larger in the sense that it went beyond its demographic,” says Madden, who’s on an India visit to promote the sequel to his 2012 hit, which features Richard Gere, Dev Patel, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.
While the 65-year-old filmmaker is excited to be back with the sequel of the film, he reveals that he was “very apprehensive” to take up part two. “But not in terms of whether it will work or if we can do it, but because you don’t want to do it just for the sake of it. You don’t want to do it to disappoint audiences that might have enjoyed the first part,” he says.
Madden’s India visit comes at a time when the censorship issue is making big news, especially in the wake of British filmmaker Leslee Udwin’s documentary India's Daughter getting banned in India and Fifty Shades Of Grey also running into trouble with the censor board.“I deplore censorship in any form. It’s appalling that the film isn’t getting a screening in India. Herein, I make more of a claim for documentaries than feature films. I understand that [when] you come into a certain culture, norms are different. But I don’t know if I want to make the same case for Fifty Shades Of Grey that I would do for Leslee Udwin’s film (laughs),” he says.
So, does censorship affect him, especially as a foreign filmmaker? “As a filmmaker, writer or a creative person, you are fighting to express a point of view. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but the audience is owed a point of view and perspective that comes from a place that is intended and is truthful on its own terms. And without apologies, I will fight with anybody who wants to change what I don’t want to change because an audience deserves that,” he says.