MUMBAI: John Madden’s ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ which was shot in Jaipur last year featuring a large number of Indian actors, opened this week in Britain and the rest Europe to heartening reviews.
However the size of the parts played by the Indian actors, including ‘Slumdog Millionaire’s hero Dev Patel, is borderline negligible. Lilette Dubey who plays a feisty character doesn’t even get a mention in the opening credit titles.
Yet another instance of Asian actors getting a raw deal out West?
Lilette Dubey tries to stoutly defend her abbreviated part. “it’s not like a Hindi film where one is promised the sun and moon with the stars, and then one ends up with two minutes on screen. All of us Indian actors and that included many players from my plays like Neena Kulkarni and Rajendra Gupta, were told exactly what we had to do. The film is about the British characters. It features stalwarts like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. It would be slightly unrealistic to expect me and the other Indian actors to have pivotal roles.”
At the same time Lilette admits she should have insisted on being billed in the opening credits. “But it’s not their fault. I should’ve put it into my contract. I’ve to admit it’s a bit of a shock to see my name missing in the opening credits when eve Tina Desai is mentioned.”
Not wanting to sound petulant Lilette quickly adds, “I did it for the pleasure of being directed by John Madden and for working with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. They made it memorable. I remember for one scene where Maggie was supposed to give me an off camera cue she sat on her wheelchair in the burning sun of Jaipur for 4 ½ hours. I finally couldn’t take it any longer.I went up to her and told her there was no need for her to be there. She turned around and said it was her job. Just watching an actress like Maggie Smith is so enriching. I don’t regret doing ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ at all. My role may be minuscule. But I derived tremendous pleasure in being a part of the cast.”
The film is expected to open later this month in India. Lilette is hoping that Indian audience won’t be disappointed.
“It’s not like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which showed our country in a brutal light. The ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ takes a very gentle look at our country. Indians audiences may feel we’ve been short-changed. But the Indian actors in ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ are playing exactly what they were promised. No more no less.”