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Tina Desai: My 'Marigold Hotel' co-stars Maggie Smith, Judi Dench defy the stereotype of old age

Tina Desai: My 'Marigold Hotel' co-stars Maggie Smith, Judi Dench defy the stereotype of old age

I am someone who feared old age but when you are with these people there is not one dull moment.

New Delhi: To get to work with masters like Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Richard Gere is no laughing matter and Tina Desai knew it when she took on the role of 'Sunaina' in the first part of 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. Since then the actress has never looked back and says this chance has taken her around the world. In a telephonic Interview with IBNlive she talks about the second part of the franchise 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', her experiences of working with actors who had been working longer than she had lived and her future projects.

What have you been doing since finishing the 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'?

Well, the shooting for the second part finished in March 2014 and I have been working on my other projects since then. I have been travelling all over for a Hollywood television series called 'Sense 8' from the makers of 'The Matrix Trilogy'. We have been filming it in nine countries and it has been the most amazing fun.

Apart from being an exploration of the world it has been an internal exploration for me too. I have, until now, mostly lived with my family and to go out and live alone without the familial supervision is such a liberating experience. I have found out so much more about myself and the world now. All the places we have visited like Mexico, Iceland, Nairobi, Seoul, Mumbai and some other cities in America have such contrasting cultures and to pass through them has been just a surreal ride for me.

After bagging Sunaina's role, how has the journey been for you till now?

It is only natural to have a lot of extraordinary experiences if one gets the chances I got. It has been great form the work I have done to who I work with to the location to the accommodation it has all been exquisite and I constantly touch wood and thank my stars. As an actor one always has a fear of what next and I think it will always be there but for now I am very thankful.

The film talks about the discomfort of old age in the west. You work with a group of senior actors in the film, did you notice while working with them that they really notice this discomfort in their life?

I am someone who feared old age but when you are with these people there is not one dull moment. They have actually given me great examples of how to be old. I have learnt from them how to be old and how to enjoy your old age.

My experience of elderly people, the things I saw growing up, are very different and my co-stars from 'Marigold Hotel' have completely defied that stereotype. First off, all of them are still working and they are masters of their craft. Judi Dench, apart from acting manages her farms. She has race horses and she looks after them, and participates in races and even wins them.

There is this side to them which help me be more fearless about old age and there is another side where Judi Dench, I read in an interview, has admitted that she does not see the brighter side of old age.

How was working with Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench?

The very first thing anyone will notice about them is their laughter, when they are together. It is just pure joy to watch these two Dames, two legends laugh like two 16 year old girls huddled in a corner. The other thing is that they are so into today's age. I just consider myself so lucky to have a conversation with them and to share screen space and dialogues with them is the added happiness of my life. There was this one scene where I had to hug Maggie Smith and it was to be a passionate hug. I asked beforehand that "I am going to come in there with force and she was like bring it on".

How was Dev Patel to work with? What sort of chemistry you share with him since you two are the only young actors in the cast?

Dev is now one of my favorite co-stars ever. He is great company, professionally and otherwise too. He is so good at what he does; I mean you feed of his energy if you are in a scene with him. Every retake he does is different and so as a co-actor he surprises you and you try and give it your best shot too. And this character itself is so energetic and fun that it matched with him perfectly.

This part even has Richard Gere, what were your first thoughts when you found this out?

I was esthetic when I first got to know about it. My mother was even more excited than me. I have grown up watching 'Pretty Women' and 'Runaway Bride' like any other girl of my generation, so I was already in awe of him. But to tell you the truth he is much more charming and loveable than his characters. You can just fall in love with him just like that.

The other great thing I noticed is the difference between the American and the British style of acting, when I saw the stars from both countries working together.

All the older actors have at least had an Oscar or a BAFTA and great theater careers behind them. What have you learned from them and how do you feel at getting such a chance?

Looking at their impressive careers you would think that others have to take queue from them but it is quite the opposite. They taught me, through their work, never to get too comfortable in your skin and change all the time. They observe and modify and collaborate with the energy of the co-stars. At such a level of experience and age they can easily afford to stop but they just don't. Even in difficult conditions they concentrate on their work and how they can improve it.

How was the royal gala to be at? Did you meet the royal family and what did they say about the film?

I was very nervous; all the rules of the protocol are really particular and difficult to remember. But their Royal Highness Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwell are so relaxed and calm so that was a little relaxing. I was like "I hope I remember all the rules and don't mess it up". Price Charles was very interested and was laughing a lot throw the film. The people there complimented my lehenga and it was just like a dream. And they loved the film so that was a bonus.

What are your future Hollywood and Bollywood projects?

For now all I can tell you is that 'Sense 8' is finished and I am busy with the promotions of 'Marigold Hotel' and 'Sense 8'. I am in talks in both places for some other projects but they are very uncertain now to talk about.