Sneak Peek at “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”:
Dev Patel’s Sonny plays a central role this time around, as he struggles to balance expanding his hotel business and preparing to marry his beloved Sunaina (Tena Desae). Meanwhile, Evelyn (Dench) and Douglas (Nighy) continue to fall in love, and Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two suitors. Muriel (Smith) is thriving as the hotel’s co-manager and secret-keeper. The story builds to the wedding, allowing for more scenes featuring the full cast.
"It’s hilarious working with those people," Madden says. "Everybody had worked with everybody, which created a nice, relaxed, utterly disrespectful atmosphere."
Though there was plenty of joking on set, Madden says none of the actors was difficult, even while shooting a party sequence for 12 nights in the frigid Indian winter.
"I had to persuade everybody to wait until I positioned them where I wanted them to be," he says. "It’s a testament to the fact that everybody approached the material in the same way that nobody ever questioned that."
Madden credits India as a key reason for the actors’ contentment.
"You just cannot escape the warmth, the lack of assumption, the positivity of the people," he says. "There’s something transforming about the place."
The new film also adds several prominent actors. Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig (TV’s Episodes) play Guy and Lavinia, two new hotel guests who face a dilemma when they arrive to find only one open spot left. David Strathairn, who worked with Madden in British theater 30 years ago, also makes a brief appearance.
"That’s a strange world to enter into," Madden says. "Richard Gere was completely exemplary. Tamsin knew half the cast anyway. She’s fantastic."
Ultimately, Madden believes these movies connect because their appeal transcends the older demographic, and because they don’t marginalize the elderly.
"It tells a story about a constituency that is used to being dealt with in an overly serious or dismissive way," Madden says. "The sense of loneliness, the sense of mortality, as well as the urge to go on living as powerfully as you can for as long as you can." (x)