Lillete Dubey says that unlike Slumdog Millionaire, director John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes a gentle look at India.
“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,” said Lillete who plays a feisty character but doesn’t even get a mention in the opening credit titles.“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,” she added. However the size of the parts played by the Indian actors, including Slumdog Millionaire hero Dev Patel, is borderline or negligible.
Explaining why her name is missing in the opening credit titles, she said: “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 includes 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,” she added.
She, however, admits that 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 Tena Desai is mentioned,” said the 51-year-old.
“I did it (the film) 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 four-and-a-half 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 actor 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.