Director of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, John Madden talks to Patricia Vine

Director of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, John Madden talks to Patricia Vine

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the eagerly anticipated sequel to the celebrated film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was such a surprise hit on our screens in 2011.

Director John Madden returns with his star-studded cast and a couple of surprise guests too, for a second visit to familiar characters in Jaipur and transports fans back to experience the colours, sights and smells of an Indian summer.

johnmaddendirectorMadden explains, “The film is all about outsourcing retirement and offers an eccentric answer to the age old dilemma of when and where to retire, and who with.

“It’s about a group of older people who made a bold, left handed choice as to where to live in the latter stages of their lives. Each and every one of them is in favour of a leap into the unknown.”

“When we revisit the hotel Maggie Smith’s character Muriel has now completely transformed her life and turned it round to become part of a family and a community and achieves a sense of purpose and belonging, ironically at a very late stage in her life.”

“There are comedy characters like hers, but despite their appreciation of the banalities of life they too are often in pain, experiencing loneliness, bereavement and a real loss of any sense of identity.”

“Exploring the experiences of older age was a challenge, as these are not common themes. Films that emphasise older people are more often than not likely to portray them as either intimidating or sad – or both!”

“Old age is about experiences of the family as a whole in India and older people are not marginalised in the culture and society. This film is essentially about the liberation of older people.”

Both of these films have undoubtedly uncovered new audiences who have been flocking to the cinema to see them At last it seems that they are able to identify with the characters and themes and see their own life issues more clearly represented and dealt with.

The Second Best Marigold Hotel as a continuation of the first film was a huge success story and a great testament to the power of word of mouth recommendation. It had a limited promotional budget and really didn’t need it.

Madden described how his model for the scenario was a mature Shakespeare comedy which is often set in an upside down world, where romance is thwarted and mistaken identity a common theatrical device. He continued by citing in particular Twelfth Night.

“Set in the Forest of Arden; a strange milieu in which the characters wander in the play, they fall under the spell of an alien environment where the rules of normality are suspended and lives are stripped away. I wanted to use this device and explore it in a modern context.”

Madden adopts and adapts this device in this film, as the characters are intoxicated by the culture and environment of India.

“The success of the second film is entirely due to the audience wanting to know more about how the characters lives developed following their bold decision to live out the remainder of their lives in a crumbling hotel in India. Much of the film is taken up with how they collided with such a different culture and country.

“It tackles the hard to face issue of inevitable mortality with the death of Maggie Smith’s character, which is juxtaposed against the cathartic sense that her life eventually amounted to something and that she had something to pass on and someone to pass it on to.

“The Indian culture endorses the diversity of older ages and the film did not shy away from dealing with the more upsetting aspects of growing older.

“However,” Madden concludes,” I also wanted to highlight that this can also be a joyous part of your life.”

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is out now on digital HD, Blu-Ray and DVD!