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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Originally published as These Foolish Things.

Dr Ravi Kapoor is an overworked A&E consultant who has recently hit the headlines because he is held responsible when an elderly patient spent two days unattended on a trolley following a fall. With remarkable restraint he has not mentioned the real reason - "she wouldn't let any darkies touch her"

To add to his woes, his father-in-law has been evicted from his most recent care home placement. Yet again for his unsavoury personal habits, and his "inappropriate sexual behaviour". He has moved in with Ravi and his wife Pauline.

Unable to apply his professional detachment to his home situation Ravi pours his woes into the ear of his businessman cousin, Sonny, who quickly sees a business opportunity and persuades Ravi that a residential hotel for retired people in Bangalore would be a brilliant success all round - the elderly would live a pampered life in a beautiful climate at a much lower cost than in the UK, and they would make a shedload of money. They even look ahead to a whole chain of such places in other developing countries.

Sonny finds a cheap hotel, persuades the owner that it would be to his advantage to have the security of long-term residents, does it up a bit and produces glossy promotional material trumpeting the beauties of Bangalore and the advantages of living cheaply but luxuriously in such a wonderful climate.


We then get the back stories of a number of people, who for various reasons - mostly financial - decide to take the plunge and become residents of The Marigold.

Evelyn needed to move because her current Care Home was closing and the land being developed. Her son had invested her capital badly and she couldn't afford anything decent in the UK. He lived in the US, and her New-Agey daughter spent a lot of her time in India, so there was nothing holding her here. She was shown a copy of Sunny's glossy advert by the Home's manicurist

Dorothy used to produce current affairs programmes for the BBC, Single and suffering from painful arthritis she found everyday tasks in her London flat a struggle, and although she was cared about Adam, a younger gay man she had nurtured in his early career she saw less and less of him. By mistake she receives Sonny's promotional video, which Adam had meant to address to someone else.

Muriel was the lady who had been left on a hospital trolley for two days. She lived in Peckham, had done all her life, although her son Keith kept saying she should move to a better, safer area - to Chigwell, where he lived. but Muriel didn't want to move any nearer to Keith's sarky wife.

Recovered from her fall, and back home, Muriel was mugged while out shopping and had another, less confrontational trip to the hosital. Several hours later she returned home to find that the muggers had used the key from her stolen handbag to enter and trash her flat - and had killed her beloved elderly cat. Unable to raise Keith on the phone she took a taxi all the way out to Chigwell where she found her son's house empty. His neighbour explained that Keith was in trouble with the police and had fled the country in order to find the business associate he held responsible. He is in India,

Norman, Ravi's son-in-law. Following an operation for prostate problems his libido had perked up, and he thought he'd got a better chance of finding a young female companion in India. His daughter Pauline was puzzled by his sudden enthusiasm for the move.

Jean & Doug Ainslie are a globe-trotting couple whose son had sent them the promotional video.

Other residents at the hotel are; Madge Rheinhart beautifully groomed, self possessed and on the lookout for a rich maharajah; cat lover Eithne Pomeroy and Graham Turner, who keeps himself pretty much to himself.

They all gradually succumb to the shabby but cosy atmosphere of the hotel, building relationships amongst themselves, with the staff and with the beggars, children and workers in the neighbourhood. Some have agendas they do not divulge to the others, and spend time hoping or actively seeking to fulfill them. The approach of Christmas, and the planned visits of some relatives, plus a couple of slightly unlikely coincidences, brings both sorrow and happiness to the residents of The Marigold.


At about halfway I was struggling to "cast" the characters in the book with the actors (many my favourites) who starred in the film, so I went and had a look at the Wikipedia page for the film.

I was shocked to see just how many changes had been made - mostly to the back-stories of the characters I had been getting to know. If you have seen the film you probably won't recognise it here, and I might have to think carefully about watching it if it's ever shown on TV.

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Meg, haven't read the book but we found the film really entertaining, have watched it a couple of times.  You might not enjoy it so much having read the book if there are a lot of changes, but there's lots of laughs.

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The film is mildly amusing but spoilt by the usual casual attitude to sex. Also by the presence of Judy Dench who I always find irritating - doesnt matter what role she plays, it's the same matter of fact knowall

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I haven't read the book, but looking at Meg's review just now, I am shocked by how totally different the film is. The plot of the book and the back stories look really interesting; it makes the characters in the film and the story lines quite two dimensional. I can understand why script writers make changes and simplifications but such a wholesale rewrite? And presumeably the author was happy to take the cash and let them get on with it? 

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Good to have you back with us, woofwoof!

many authors have said that once the film rights of their books are sold than they consider the film to be an entirely separate animal. No doubt helped in that  by, as you say, the cash.

 I think that attitude also saves them a load of heartache from seeing their work mangled in the transformation.


A change of title helps to distance the film from the book, but publishers rush to re-issue the book, retitled with the name of the film to get a second chance at monetising it (ghastly term).

So you get two lots of disappointed people, especially if there are vast differences between the two genres.Those who read and loved the book first are unhappy with the film and those who loved a film are disappointed when they read the book looking for characters and scenes they recognise.


The changes made for this film are so sweeping that it really is not recognisable from the original, and the only way to enjoy both is to regard them as totally separate stories.


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