London, Feb 22: Dame Judi Dench teams up with fellow acting legends, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy in director John Madden's comedy, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
The film is about a group of British pensioners who've decided to retire in the sun in India.
They think they're moving into a luxury retirement home, but when they get there they find it's not quite what they had in mind.
Although Indian lifestyle comes as a bit of a shock for some of the characters in the movie, Dench says she was instantly smitten by the country and its people, “India was bewitching, completely, nine and a half weeks. Heaven.”
Dench takes the role of Evelyn, a pensioner who's swapped her plans for a quiet retirement in the U.K. for an exotic adventure into the unknown.
“I hope I am like her insofar as I have that enthusiasm, which I've always had. I get rather overexcited about things and so I don't know that I would be as brave as her, she takes a big leap and goes and I think that's admirable,” she says.
The movie also stars “Slumdog Millionaire” actor, Dev Patel and Bollywood starlet, Tena Desae.
Patel plays an enthusiastic hotel manager who eventually succeeds in opening his guests' eyes to the joys of living in India.
He says working with a cast of screen giants was daunting, but the role was an offer he simply couldn't refuse, “It really ignited this kind of, this interest and intrigue in the country, and passion obviously, so I was dying to get out and film and you know I get sent tons of Indian dude roles, which are not quite what I want to do but this came along and it's just, it's one that you can't. I had to audition for it first of all, but it's one that I couldn't say no to for sure, yeah.”
And he admits that he was more than a little often star struck on set, “That's the weird thing is, the star struck feeling lingered, it just kept on going. There'd be days when I'd be like ‘are you alright Judi?' (Mouths) F***Judi Dench,' you know. Mind my French, it just, it was sometimes it just occurred to me that ‘oh, I'm going to be doing a scene with Maggie Smith or Bill Nighy,'”
But co-star, Desae says everyone in the town of Udaipur where the film was shot, was star struck by him, “I mean ‘Slumdog' was huge in India, but Udaipur is a smaller town and I didn't think they were exposed to international cinema, but when we were walking down the street there was like the chai wallah, which is like you know the tea seller and the cobbler and everybody on the street who recognized him, it was really, I was surprised. They all came up to him and they were like ‘hey, you Slumdog, Slumdog,' and everything so he was really popular, actually mobbed in the middle of the street which is their big circle, it was really swell, so yeah he's very big in India. I was thrilled to be working with him.”