Fox Searchlight Wants John Madden To Direct 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' With Dev Patel

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Fox Searchlight wants to go back to India. But this won't quite be a return to a story like Slumdog Millionaire — i.e. the film that made Fox Searchlight a ton of money and generated a few Oscars to decorate the mantle.

This time the company is looking at a film that skews a bit older than Slumdog, which had rather broad appeal, managed to do. That said, Slumdog star Dev Patel is being courted for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which also has a storied cast in talks to take the lead roles, and John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, the My Fair Lady remake) as possible director.

The source would be the novel These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach. The story is part Cocoon, part travelogue. Or, as the LA Times puts it, a story "about a group of British senior citizens who travel to India to live out their dotage — an outsourcing, after a fashion — and find a new lease on life."

Sounds fairly unappealing, actually, and quite a lot like Oscar bait. The novel is relatively well-reviewed in the UK and the cast could potentially enliven the material. Julie Christie, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Peter O'Toole are all in talks to take big roles. Dev Patel is in talks to play a Bangalore local.

Here's the synopsis, via Amazon UK:

When Ravi Kapoor, an over-worked London doctor, is driven beyond endurance by his disgusting and difficult father-in-law, he asks his wife: 'Can't we just send him away somewhere? Somewhere far, far away.' His prayer seems to have been answered when his entrepreneurial cousin, Sonny, sets up a retirement home, recreating a lost corner of England in a converted guesthouse in Bangalore. Travel and set-up are inexpensive, staff willing and plentiful – and the British pensioners can enjoy the hot weather and take mango juice with their gin.

(There's another film called These Foolish Things, with Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall and Terence Stamp. That has nothing to do with this story, which is part of the reason for the title change.)