Marigold Memories

If all goes well,Dev Patel will be labelled as a lucky mascot for our desi damsels.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published:January 25, 2012 2:54 am

Model-turned-actor Tena Desae gets chatty about her

first British film,The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If all goes well,Dev Patel will be labelled as a lucky mascot for our desi damsels. After the chartbusting success of Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 with Patel paired opposite Freida Pinto,it’s the turn of model-turned-actress Tena Desae to play his love interest,Sunaina,in the upcoming British comedy,The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Directed by John Madden (who also directed Shakespeare in Love),the movie is based on renowned writer Deborah Moggach novel These Foolish Things. It’s the story of a bunch of British retirees who decide to travel to India,dreaming of a leisurely life in this ‘palace’ of a hotel. “Unfortunately it’s not,and things are the opposite of what they were imagined. Yet,these people carry on,discovering love and life in this part of the world,” explains Desae,who makes her British debut with this film.

But more than that,it’s working with stalwarts such as Dame Judi Dench,Maggie Smith,Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy that’s got her in a chatty mode. “Imagine working with them. They are all institutions in themselves – such fantastic and brilliant actors. Being with them was a blessing,” she gushes,elated to work along side James Bond’s boss M (Dench) and Harry Potter’s Professor McGonagall (Smith).

Already two Hindi films-old — as Arunima Dua,the protagunist in thriller-drama Yeh Faasley,who is in pursuit of truth and justice; and opposite Parvin Dabas in the politicial-satire Sahi Dhande Galat Bande. Desae admits that for the longest time,she had no clue what to do with her life. “My friends had these grand plans for their lives but I was pretty clueless and went about the usual,picking finance and accounting,studying in Bangalore,” she says.

It was eventually modelling that took her to Mumbai. Post a short stint in accountancy,she had realised that it was “acting” she could really do justice to. “I am in love with love,with Hindi romantic flicks,right from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to Kaho Na Pyaar Hai,from Baazigar to Zubeidaa,in awe of actresses such as Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor,” she says.

She chose television commercials as her acting playground,experimenting with various looks,camera angles and lighting. “I never state my age for I am as old as the character I am,” says the actor,who is yet to go to a proper acting school.

Big bad Bollywood,the casting couch stories as narrated by her fellow “strugglers and friends”,she says,are real. “I consciously signed with an agency,and they make sure that they get good projects and accompany me to all meetings,” says Desae.

She says she has grown up looking at her reflection in the mirror,working on her expressions and mouthing famous dialogues. A 101 TV commercials-old (to be precise),Desae has also featured in Asia’s first live play-film titled Bollywood Bang Bang,a spoof on Hindi films,which was a play with a simultaneous live telecast.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a first too in some ways. Produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures,the film releases in the UK on February 7,post which,the date of worldwide release will be made known. “My character faces stiff opposition from Patel’s mother who doesn’t want us to get married,” she lets out this much.

“Witty,moving and hilarious,the film is pure British humour,and I love it for it’s so subtle,” adds Desae.

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