THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is the expansionist dream of Sonny, and it’s making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina. Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and B...more
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is the expansionist dream of Sonny, and it’s making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina. Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy and Lavinia . Evelyn and Douglas have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel, the keeper of everyone's secrets. As the demands of a traditional Indian wedding threaten to engulf them all, an unexpected way forward presents itself. less
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel's flawless ensemble cast is reason enough to watch this delightful film!”
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There’s something in ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ the sight of which completely took me by surprise. There’s this vehicle model called Honda Street, a 100cc half-moped half-bike, a limited edition model which has gears but no clutch. My family owns a model since 1999 and I still sometimes use it, but even I’d agree that the thing is rather funny. It looks kind of quaint (the production of this model stopped long back, even spare parts are hard to find these days) and as a kid, I used to think of it as a bicycle which was supposed to grow up to be a proper bike but the growth was abruptly shunted halfway through, resulting into this funny hybrid. I’m reminded of that joke from ‘Delhi Belly’ where one character hilariously describes a Tata Nano. So I was quite stunned to spot this almost extinct impoverished-looking model in a Hollywood film. No surprise that it stands as a symbol for one of those typical Indian things which look unfashionable in comparison to their suave American counterparts. But wait, this isn’t quite a Hollywood film. In fact, ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ has all the typical “ingredients” of a grand Bollywood drama, where several love stories come together under one roof and entwine into one another – one is reminded of Reema Kagti’s ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.’ Or Nikhil Advani’s ‘Salaam-e-Ishq’. Most of it is hackneyed drama we’ve seen several times before, but there are moments when the film unexpectedly snaps you out of stupor with an insightful scene or a smart, lively moment. Like when Guy (Richard Gere) casually asks Sonny (Dev Patel) if he can perhaps take the latter’s mother out for dinner. It’s a moment which smartly highlights the contrast between the cultures – while such a thing may be a norm in America, how can Sonny imagine his mother casually dating a guy (as handsome as Richard Gere, no less.) Patel’s performance is mostly annoyingly hammy, but he’s superb in this scene where the personal and the professional pull him in opposite directions. I also found interesting the film’s use of Bollywood songs to a new effect. The “Balma” song from ‘Khiladi 786’ must have been a slog to sit through in that movie, but it works just fine as background score used during the filler shots that connect scenes. The film employs the “Yeh Ishq Haaye” number from ‘Jab We Met’ and the title track of ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ in a distinct way than what we’ve seen before. After all, Bollywood songs are a major part of wedding ceremonies in India and while we often see original wedding songs in movies (“London Thumakda” in ‘Queen’, “Raat Ke Dhai Baje” in ‘Kaminey’, “Emotional Attyachaar” in ‘Dev.D’, just to list a few examples off the top of my head) watching the actors in this film groove to those already established songs carries a fresh flavor of its own. (Incidentally, Dev Patel has done this before – “Aaj Ki Raat” from Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Don’ remake was used in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’) It’s these little things that keep ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ from being a bore. Although I didn’t care about the narrative in the larger sense, every once in a while an interesting little moment pops up to keep you just about interested in the movie. The film has an almost overqualified cast, but most of them turn in gamely performances. The actors’ heartfelt performances somewhat enliven this half-baked, messy film. While pretty disposable in the larger scheme of things, the film has some fine minor moments sprinkled throughout. It’s thanks to these little things that the viewing experience, though not worthy of a strong recommendation, at least manages to be a tolerable one.