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April 1 2016


A film and reality TV show have seen British pensioners living in India, now an Indian TV company is set to send old folks the other way…

By Shirina Kalilauhg

AN INDIAN television company is planning to make a ‘reverse’ version of the hugely popular film and TV forms of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.

But this time, instead of Brits going to India to see what life might look like in a retirement home there – this version will feature Indian pensioners coming to Britain to live in an old people’s home here.

The TV company plans to bring at least two Bollywood stars over for the project and says it is looking for six UK-based volunteer carers to help out in the designated home.

Ranika Jhansalia, senior executive producer of the Indian TV company, Mighty Moony Productions, refused to disclose the names.

She told “No at this stage, we can’t say anything – the negotiations have gone on a bit and some keep coming back with difficult demands.

“The Bollywood name we signed, asked for a commodore assistant, and even though she had really signed onto this project, insisted we provide her with one.

“We didn’t even know what she meant – a commodore assistant – was this an IT person?

“We were discussing this, when the chai woman explained she meant ‘commode assistant’.”

“She has one on 24-hour duty at her home in Mumbai; she is very famous – the star, not the commodore – sorry – commode assistant.”

Jhansalia added that the Bollywood name could not bear to be without her and that wherever she went in the world, the commode assistant went with her.

Jhansalia had to explain to the star they might have difficulties obtaining a visa for this commode assistant and that they had tentatively agreed to recruit one locally.

“We have bought time. But yes, if anyone is interested, there is likely to be a position.

“She is very entertaining, a bit rude but you will see why we really wanted to keep her in the programme.”

Jhansalia said that they were planning to bring 12 pensioners in all from India over to live in a home in Hastings, Kent, later this year.

She said its working title is “Golden oldies in the least exotic hotel

“We’re very excited about this project since we got the green light from an Indian broadcaster. It’s taken a while to get us to this point.”

She said the company had found a home in Hastings – an old seaside market town which has seen better days.

“I studied in London many years ago,” explained Jhansalia. “And I was with friends, and we went on this day trip there – we had all heard about the Battle of Hastings.

“It had some unique charm, parts of it were quite run down and you knew it had seen better days but still it had something.

“When we first thought about this project, Hastings kept coming back to me – it’s a bit like the pensioners who are going to be in the programme.”

In the autumn of last year, she travelled to Hastings and located the home known as The Clouds.

“It is quite old, and a little crumbling – it is going to be completely refurbished next year and the residents are moving to temporary accommodation.

“We spoke to the home – and we worked out a deal. We will be there six weeks in November and into December.

“I know Christmas is a special time here and I wanted our people to experience all that – it will also be very cold,” she said, almost relishing the shivering Indian pensioners.

She said she wanted to really recreate the pensioner’s experience as it was for many old UK folks.

“There will be no friends, no family, nothing – just the four walls of the home, TV and their carers.

“We are however going to organise parties, and social events and engage them with the wider community. A Bingo night and pub night quiz are being planned.”

The home will be staffed by many regulars, but Jhansalia said there was scope for volunteers.

“We’re going to run a local campaign to find some volunteers to help out for a week or two at the home. The Clouds management are very excited about this project too.”

Jhansalia who graduated with a degree in Media Studies from the University of East London, is currently in London and talking to other broadcasters.

“It’s all very informal right now. There is interest definitely, but the Indian channel has put the money up front – it wants to produce high quality international content.

“Everyone wants to know who are the Bollywood stars – but until everything and everyone is signed off, we cannot say.”

There have been two instalments of the “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” film, in which a group of intrepid British pensioners try out their retirement in an old people’s home in Jaipur. In the most recent version there was a return for Dev Patel, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The latest version saw a starring role for Richard Gere.

Earlier this year, the BBC broadcast “The Real Marigold Hotel” which showed a group of well-known pensioners, such as actress Miriam Margolyes, ballet dancer Wayne Sleep and singer Patti Boulaye and broadcaster Jan Leeming among others, coping with India and life in a retirement home in Jaipur. The programme was a critical and popular success.

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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