Traveling through the movies – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


This is another in an occasional series of movies that feature interesting locations.

Recently, I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s a movie with an ensemble cast of well known British film stars and takes place mostly in a city in India. It is about a group of senior citizens who, through various financial misfortunes, discover a retirement home in India aimed at British citizens and they decide to move there. The residence is an old hotel that is still in some disrepair and is run by a young man whose mother wants him to give up the hotel, formerly run by her late husband, move back home and marry a nice girl, someone she approves of and has picked out for him. He is in love with a pretty young woman who works in a nearby call centre where one of the retirees finds employment. The rest of the retirees have various reactions to the culture shock they find themselves experiencing, some end up loving their new surroundings and adapting to them, and some not.

The movie was filmed around the cities of state of Jaipur and Udaipur and the general area as the various residents explore their new surroundings. We have actors Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson as the most well known internationally. You’ll spot other familiar faces as well. The cities and countryside are beautiful. The city scenes feature beautiful, rich colours of markets, street life, even the clothes that people wear. The countryside is peaceful and open. It features interesting aspects of modern Indian culture interposed with still-alive traditions.

One way the cross culture is depicted is the staff working in Call centre where they have to pretend to be American or British and they don’t have the culture references right, either so are not believed by their customers when questioned. The question of arranged marraiges vs marrying for love is explored.

India as a travel destination has always been a bit intimidating to me in the past. There is so much poverty and crowding in the larger cities and movies like Slumdog Millionaire depict more of that. For me, a Canadian, the culture is *very* different. Watching this movie does make it seem worth looking into. It may get added to the list but with so many places that are easier to get to, I can’t say if I will ever get there but in the meantime, I can watch movies like this.