Sunday, June 26, 2022

Author Deborah Moggach: “I’d Write Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Again”

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I I think it would be difficult to write the book or make the film now, in this day and age,” said Deborah Moggach, author of the book, which became the 2011 hit film The best exotic Marigold hotel. “But I wrote it from a position of love and a certain familiarity, having lived in India, and if I had to write it again I would do it the same way whatever the world would think.”

Moggach’s story about a group of elderly Britons who move into a run-down retirement hotel in Jaipur, India for economic and ill health reasons, has been adapted with an all-star cast that includes Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie and Penelope belonged to Wilton. It proved that there was a huge market in the underserved older age group.

“The film marked a kind of radical shift in how we feel about love and life in later life, and tapped into the book’s message that it’s never too late to have another adventure,” says Moggach, peering out from her straw-colored shoulder . long hair who looks decades younger than her 74 years while wearing huge, bright red glasses.

But despite the film’s feel-good factor, the Indian characters – including the inept hotel owner Sonny – play along Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel – came across as racist stereotypes.

However, the 2004 novel, originally titled Those stupid things“More than the film, explores the contradictions and complexities of all the characters – Indian and British – because that’s what novels do: it’s about the thoughts and dreams in people’s minds,” says Moggach.

“We’re in a pretty weird phase right now,” she continues. “But it will adjust. And people will realize that the whole purpose of fiction is to expand our empathy for those around us through the characters. We should be free to write about things we haven’t experienced.”

But she notes that right now, “There’s a big debate about cultural appropriation — and I don’t want to get into that.”

Moggach is by no means a one-hit wonder. Her 2005 screenplay for Joe Wright’s adaptation of pride and prejudicestarring Keira Knightley, was nominated for a Bafta, and her 1999 bestseller, tulip feverabout a love triangle in 17th-century Amsterdam, was filmed with Alicia Vikander, but more on his fate later.

Undeterred, she writes about family life, divorce, children and the ups and downs of relationships – a recurring theme is love in later life.

It’s an issue close to her heart — as of 2020, she’s freshly divorced from her second husband after eight years of marriage. “I haven’t given up my spurs or anything,” she admits of dating. “I just haven’t met the right one yet.”

Her latest novel, 2021 The Black Dress about 69-year-old Pru, who ruthlessly picks up newly widowed men at funerals, had positive reviews: The audience praised her “openness when discussing sex and aging; It is important that this still unpopular topic is brought to the fore”.

It also features prominently in her slightly dated, recompiled short story collection, fool for lovewith works from two previous collections, to smile (1993) and change babies (1995), some others previously unpublished in book form. With intriguing titles like How to Divorce Your Son, Sex Objects, and A Pedicure in Florence, the stories are easy to dive into: approachable and like Jackie Collins, but less lewd, with nice little twists.

In “Summer Bedding,” a woman in her 60s is “bedded” by a Belgian man who accosts her while she is conditioning at London’s St. Is it always like this? I’d never done that before, you know.” In Sex Objects, about a man who doesn’t want to have sex, she writes, “How could he explain to his wife that the thought of watching a porn video with her made him dizzy , filled with exhaustion? Even more – with a kind of cosmic despair? He stood up. “I’ll make a cup of tea.” ‘Typical!’ She said…”

In Blind Date, she writes with cliché flourishes: “I want to unwrap my own husband for Christmas, all to myself. I want him to get a divorce if possible…I want someone to stand up to the plumber if he overcharges me.”

The stories, some of which date back to the 1980s, were all written before “#MeToo, climate change and trans rights” were “even a glimmer on the horizon,” she points out in the book’s introduction.

Rereading the stories, she said she felt “protective of my characters, who had no idea how the world was going to change and how they were going to deal with it, just like we had no idea then.” had”. But she adds, “However, human nature never changes.” Neither do romantic relationships for the over-70s. “We are all the same people we have always been. We’re just a little wrinkled, you know, we have the same loves, jealousies, resentments, fears and joys.”

Her own life was full of drama and tragedy. In 1994, her second partner in 10 years, cartoonist Mel Calman, died of a heart attack while they were watching Carlito’s way at the Empire Leicester Square. “It was incredibly terrifying and shocking. And just incredibly tragic. They stopped the film and evacuated the theater – it was horrible.” Her love for Calman was the reason for her split from her first husband Tony Moggach, with whom she has two children – Tom and Lottie, now 47 and 45 respectively.

Three months later, she fell in love with a Hungarian artist, Csaba Pásztor, who was 17 years her senior. He moved into their home in London with his new wife, who did not care about his relationship with Moggach. “If she had conflicting feelings, she kept them to herself because she’s incredibly well-mannered. I adore her. We lived together for a long time after the breakup,” says Moggach.

Both of Moggach’s late parents were writers – her father, Richard, specialized in maritime history, while her mother, Charlotte, wrote illustrated children’s books.

In 1985, Moggach’s mother was jailed for helping a terminally ill friend kill herself. Moggach regularly visited her mother in prison after she was convicted of attempted murder at the Old Bailey – for which she was sentenced to nine months and served six months. “They gave her the lightest sentence they could and were glad to get him shot [the case] after changing her plea from not guilty to murder to guilty to attempted murder,” Moggach recalled. “Everyone felt good. If she hadn’t changed her plea, she could have been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.”

“My mother really did visit this woman as a courtesy,” says Moggach. “She told my mother she wanted to end her life. My mother would sit with her, and she had all the machines… all the pills and orders not to resuscitate. And she said to my mother, ‘If I don’t actually die if I go into a coma, would you put a plastic bag over my head?’ That’s a pretty big deal to ask someone you don’t know very well,” says Moggach.

Her mother “rather reluctantly” walked up to her in the middle of the night and sat with her while she took the pills. But after four hours, the woman was still breathing. “So my mom put a plastic bag over her head and tied the ribbon around it until she stopped breathing, and then she put the bag away and left.”

Her mother didn’t hide it. “It appeared on the front of the evening standard because my mother was very indiscreet,” says Moggach, adding, “She shouldn’t have gone to jail.” Moggach is a patron of Dignity in Dying and is campaigning for a change in the law on assisted suicide.

In another chapter of her life, Moggach was hiding in a hotel room at the Savoy with Harvey Weinstein while they were watching 2017 tulip fever — the film she co-wrote with Tom Stoppard, adapted from her book of the same name and produced by Weinstein. “I was way too old for him anyway, I mean he didn’t move. But he was a terrible bully,” she says.

The film was “rather wrecked” by the scandal following a string of sexual assault cases against Weinstein. “It was spoiled by Harvey – differentpaddington 2, they didn’t remove his name from it. It was supposed to hit theaters pretty much right around the time everything was exploding,” she says.

Moggach eventually hosted her own low-key premiere for friends at Screen on the Green. “It was such a shame that there wasn’t going to be a real premiere,” she says.

“We raise our glasses to all the people who make films that aren’t the big stars and the big directors.” On a set visit at The best exotic Marigold hotel in India she felt a similar appreciation.

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