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Fox Searchlight returns to India

June 2, 2010 |  6:31 pm

EXCLUSIVE: "Slumdog Millionaire" is one of the all-time biggest hits in the history of Fox Searchlight. And "Crazy Heart," a movie that appeals to older audiences, is the company's biggest hit of this past awards season. So combining the two is as logical as a Jamal Malik game-show response.

That's essentially what the specialty division is doing with a new project called "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Based on a novel by Deborah Moggach (originally titled "These Foolish Things"), it's a movie 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.

A number of actors are in talks to play starring roles -- the kind of British actors to whom the word venerable is normally applied, including Julie Christie, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Peter O'Toole. Rounding out the "Slumdog" connection: Jamal Malik himself, Dev Patel, is in talks to co-star.

Producers are also in negotiations with a director who has credibility telling British stories of a certain vintage: John Madden, one of the forces behind the late '90's phenomenon "Shakespeare in Love."

"Marigold" taps into a vogue for Indian-themed movies (Searchlight was the company that recently released Bollywood movie "My Name Is Khan" in the U.S.). And the film's storyline, which is said to play as a kind of dramatic comedy about people in their twilight years (it reminds of Mike Leigh's Cannes movie "Another Year") has plenty going for it. Creatively, there are endearing "Cocoon" overtones. And with baby boomers getting older (and with more moviegoing time on their hands), a specialty movie about aging is about as savvy a marketing move as you can imagine. But then, what do you expect? It's Fox Searchlight.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto in "Slumdog Millionaire." Credit: Fox Searchlight

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