New Delhi: Director John Madden, who is back with "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", says the sequel does not "squander" what they achieved with their 2011 film, a melancholy comedy about a bunch of Britishers navigating their post-retirement life in India.
Starring veterans like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy besides Dev Patel and Tina Desai, the original, based on "These Foolish Things" by Deborah Moggach was a dark horse at the box office and the team was happy to revisit India for the sequel, which also stars Richard Gere.
The sequel, being released in India this Friday by Fox Star Studios, is a continuation of the journey that these characters embarked on in the first part.
"It is about people who are at a certain point in their lives. They are full of lost experiences, regrets, roads not taken and aborted hopes. That informs both the comedy and the melancholy in the film," Madden, who was in India to promote the movie, told reporters.
Madden felt the original film touched people for its melancholic tone, a feeling similar to Anton Chekhov's plays.
"They are laughing at one moment and then you find there is something else underneath that laughter. That switch in tone has a Chekhovian quality to it. Chekhov's plays are often farcical, funny and ridiculous but underneath them lurks a terrible sense of longing and loneliness."
Since most of the characters are in the twilight of their lives, they are also grappling with a sense of mortality that Madden juxtaposed with a culture of "extraordinary optimism".
"I will invoke Shakespeare too because there is a sense of mortality in them. And you can set that against this culture of extraordinary optimism. They get a sense that life doesn't need to go downhill towards the conclusion. It can soar uphill. There is an existential quality to both the films."
Instead of going by a notion about India, Madden said they wove their experiences in the script.
"There is a parallel between the experiences we had while making the film and what these characters were going through. We adjusted the script a lot. I wanted to convey a sense of India that I was living in rather than some other notion."