Film: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Cast: Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere
Director: John Madden
You know you're in for a exhilarating ride when Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) says, "Instinct is the nose of the mind and I have a big nose." John Madden's The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel picks the thread from where the first installment ended.
(A bunch of foreigners are living in Jaipur as they believe this is the place where they can find the ultimate peace)
Thanks to Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), the Exotic Marigold Hotel is doing a great job of keeping its guests satisfied, but now is the time for expansion. Sonny wants to do it on his own while his fiancé Sunaina (Tena Desae) and other family members persuade him to go for a partnership with Kushal (Shazad Latif). Trouble is, he cannot stand Kushal for more than a few minutes at a stretch. Meanwhile, the ageing guests of the resort are still searching for their soul-mates and the ultimate source of happiness. Significant or insignificant, important or trivial, every member of the Marigold Hotel is inching towards a closure, or a new beginning. But, is it as easy as it seems? I had liked the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and the sequel looked as promising since it boasted of the same cast back on screen. But one thing was evident from the beginning: Though the sequel takes its premise from the first installment, the story threads are not as precise. This meant director John Madden was going to rely more on the philosophical aspects of Indian sensibilities, something Westerners cherish and think highly of. It also gives them a sales pitch for their product in their niche markets. The actors do it with such perfection that the film becomes a treat to watch, and a commentary on the clash of Indian and Western ideas.
(Sometimes the love that we search in the entire world remains right in front of our eyes)
Evelyn Greenslade's (Judi Dench) enterprising nature prompts her to take up a job at the age of 79, but being fearless is just one part of her persona. Beneath her tough exterior lies a soul craving for affection. Jaipur plays the right foil for her emotional involvement with the surroundings since the city knew the meaning of hospitality. Her decision, however, comes at a huge cost to her, but then who said that money is the most important thing in life for everybody. There is a fantastic scene in the film where Judi Dench goes to Mumbai and meets some business associates only to realise that the famous Indian hospitality is a thing embedded in our nature.
In another scene, a character Madge talks to her unmarried, 40-something driver and goes to visit his home. She has not decided on her best suitor yet and that keeps her mind occupied with negative thoughts, but then she gets into a conversation with her poor driver who can't even speak in fluent English. This is the most charming scene in the entire film.
Madge: Why didn't you marry?
Driver: Never fell in love.
Madge: Didn't stop me though.
When an ever fascinating Judi Dench says, 'it was meant to be about the end, but now it's about the beginning,' you immediately get the resolution.A lot of Bollywood soundtracks are used in the film and that sometimes breaks the narrative's flow, especially when the film deals with emotions of more subtle nature. The storyteller clearly mentions that 'there is no such place as ending, it's just a place where you leave the story,' so his digression to many plot points in a limited time period seems justified, but somehow this restricts any particular philosophy from taking the center-stage.
(All's well that ends well)
As per the film, the question is not about how many new lives we can have. Rather, it is whether 'do we possess the courage to cross the boundaries?'
The OST of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha)