The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (seen at The Rex Cinema, Berkhamsted)

I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with two very good friends at our favourite local cinema last Monday, 16th April 2012 and absolutely loved it.  The film is based on Deborah Moggach‘s book These Foolish Things, where the author thought it would be an interesting idea for her elderly characters to travel to India to spend the rest of their years in a residential home there:

It came about because I’d been thinking a lot about growing older, about what is going to happen to us all. The population is ageing – for the first time the over 50s outnumber the rest of us – and it’s getting older. Where are we all going to live? … Our healthcare is sourced from the developing countries…  How about setting up retirement homes in developing countries where it’s sunny and labour is cheap?’ Deborah Moggach’s website

A group of previously unconnected retired people arrive in a hotel in India to spend their twilight years in the sunshine and warm colours of a former beautiful but neglected guesthouse.  As they come to terms with the fact that the hotel isn’t as luxurious as they’d been promised before leaving England, that the food isn’t quite to their taste and that each is coming to terms with what they’ve left behind, they also learn about each other and what led them to be here.  They appear to have little confidence in themselves at the outset, but the longer they spend in India, the more they see that it is slowly changing them, they begin to relax into their new surroundings.   The acting in the film is excellent with a great cast including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie and there was another unforgettable performance by Dev Patel as the young, inexperienced but enthusiastic hotel owner.  Despite the sadness of the death of one of the characters and the difficulties of the marriage of a couple, the film is lovely and uplifting.  It ends with a note of hope.

We are so lucky to have watched this film in The Rex cinema in Berkhamsted.  The Rex is a wonderful cinema for its patrons, decorated in its original Art Deco style with ample, comfortable and plush seats (you can even pick up a cushion or two to add to your comfort, if necessary!) and take your glass of wine with you to your seat, it could not be more civilised!

The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga)

“Meet Balram Halwai, the ‘White Tiger’: servant, philosopher, entrepreneur and murderer. Balram, the White Tiger, was born in a backwater village on the River Ganges, the son of a rickshaw-puller. He works in a teashop, crushing coal and wiping tables, but nurses a dream of escape. When he learns that a rich village landlord needs a chauffeur, he takes his opportunity, and is soon on his way to Delhi behind the wheel of a Honda. Amid the cockroaches and call-centres, the 36,000,004 gods, the slums, the shopping malls, and the crippling traffic jams, Balram learns of a new morality at the heart of a new India. Driven by desire to better himself, he comes to see how the Tiger might escape his cage…”   Nielsen Book Data Online

This Man Booker Prize Winner (2008) also won the  Galaxy British Book Awards: Borders Author of the Year 2009 and was shortlisted for the  John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize 2008, the Heathrow Travel Product Award: Travel Read, Fiction 2009 and the Independent Booksellers’ Book of the Year Award: Adults 2009.  It certainly flew off the bookshop shelves when published!

Mrs Walker, (Mr Walker’s wife), has read and enjoyed the book, and comments thus:

“This book offers an insight into Indian life and culture – contrasts in society; lots of humour;  interesting relationships; great believability.  A brutal, shocking, fantastic journey.  You can enjoy reading it, it’s refreshingly different.”