The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) was a surprising hit, not least because of its stellar cast of British actors. The makers decided to capitalize on its success and stretch the concept to a sequel with a threadbare idea. Director John Madden and writer Ol Parker have taken forward the twilight-years dramedy, which tracked the stories of seven retired Britishers and their experiences at a crumbling hotel in Rajasthan.

The best exotic Marigold hotel is still run by the over-the-top Sonny Kapoor, played by Dev Patel, who returns with his hammy acting and absurd Indian accent sadly intact. Sonny is a well-meaning manager with lofty plans of creating a chain of hotels for the ageing. He seeks funds for the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny has found a mentor and partner in guest Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith)—caustic, delightful, and with the film’s best lines. Of her visit to the US, she says, “I went with low expectations and returned disappointed."

If the first part said it’s never too late to let go of the past and start afresh, the sequel speaks of letting go and taking chances. The emphasis is on relationships rather than a celebration of the twilight years.

Dame Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle are among the permanent guests at Sonny’s hotel, building lives and relationships and showing that age is just a state of mind. Richard Gere is added to the cast as an American businessman who woos Sonny’s mother.

The action unfolds around Sonny’s wedding to Sunaina (Tena Desae). Among the wedding party is Sunaina’s friend Kushal, who antagonizes Sonny in all sorts of ways. Shazad Latif as Kushal sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise unobtrusive Indian cast comprising Lillete Dubey, Desae, Rajesh Tailang, Subhrajyoti Barat and Sid Makkar.

The British actors hold things together, adding charm, sparkle and mischief to a script that pales in comparison to the original. The title seems to prepare you for that anyway.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel released in theatres on Friday.

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