The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming British film released in mid-2012 which portrays the lives of a group of British retirees who move to Jaipur. Each makes the choice to move for different reasons: distressed finances, adventure or to fill a hole in a not quite satisfactory life. None of them move for the love of India. They are all strangers, their stiff formalities ultimately melting into tentative friendships. Their relationships with India are a little more complicated.
I love this film, partly because it’s so great to see a movie that isn’t about angst ridden teenagers or beautiful people in their 20s. It’s about people over 60, people my own age, doing something that I’d love to do. Also, part of it takes place in Udaipur, and it’s wonderful seeing my favorite Indian city on the big screen. This movie reached out and almost touched me recently.
On this visit to Udaipur I was plagued with hamstring pains and had a lot of therapeutic massage trying to get rid of them. I wrote about the Ayur Santushti massage last year when I first started going there. One day after my massage, I was waiting for my rickshaw driver out front when a petite, soft spoken older woman approached the office and inquired about a massage for her adult son. She was very polite and mentioned that she had been here two years ago and had had a wonderful massage. I stared surreptitiously. The woman was Celia Imrie, who had played the character of Madge Hardcastle in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!
I never want to be one of those pain-in-the-ass fans who pester famous people, so I respected her privacy and didn’t say a word to her. The next day, Anita, my masseuse, confirmed the sighting.
“Do you remember the lady who came yesterday as you were leaving?” Anita asked me.
“Yes,” I said.
“She is an actress.” Anita handed me a piece of paper on which Ms. Imrie had written Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
In hindsight, staying silent was a mistake, and I regretted it. Ms. Imrie is not an instantly recognizable celebrity. I doubt she is constantly hounded by fans for autographs everywhere she goes. She might well have appreciated a few words from someone like me who enjoyed her performance and the film. The fact that she told Anita she is an actress and wrote the name of the movie down make me wish I had spoken to her.
That near not meeting led me to do a bit of research after I returned home, where I discovered that Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2 is under way. That was why Ms. Imrie was in Udaipur in February at the same time that I was. The sequel was in the process of being filmed at the time!
I look forward to the sequel, and if I see any other movies stars the next time I’m in Udaipur, I’ll definitely say hello.
Update: The Second Best Marigold Hotel is due to be released in theaters in the U.S. on March 6, 2015.