The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On the Darj
Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson in The Darjeeling Limited

AC sleeper class is going global. For Hollywood’s latest Indian-themed film, The Darjeeling Limited, the previous stop was America and the next is London. Directed by Hollywood heavy-hitter Wes Anderson and shot last year in Rajasthan, the movie tracks the adventures of three American brothers on a train across India. On Thursday night it got its UK premiere in London’s Leicester Square, doubling as the centrepiece for the closing gala of the London Film Festival, no less.

Downhearted and virtually estranged from each other after the recent death of their father, the brothers (Jack, played by Jason Schwartzman, Peter, played by Adrien Brody, and Frances, played by Owen Wilson) head to India to make amends and reconnect with life’s, ahem, spiritual profundities. Before long they are awash with pooja garlands, over-the-counter pain killers and pepper spray — not to mention highly attractive Indian women. Somehow they make it into the desert, and there the soul searching begins.

On a rather more frosty night in London for the premiere, hot beverage-searching was more necessary. But that didn’t curb the enthusiasm of the actors as they worked the red carpet: Camilla Rutherford, who has a small part in the film and has previously modelled in India, seemed thrilled with the desi shoot. “India was a great backdrop because of the colours and the scenery and the vibrancy which comes off the land and the people,” she shouted over the screams of a huge crowd.

Amara Karan, meanwhile, a British Asian actress who has never shot in India before The Darjeeling Limited, described the experience as “amazing”, “stunning” and “very erratic”. She plays the film’s (particularly attractive) train attendant. “It was a very spontaneous experience,” she continued, “because, you know, if a cow crossed the track we’d stop filming!”

Though no cows looked likely to be crossing the red carpet, top Hollywood totty was present. Jason Schwartzman (star of Rushmore and I Heart Huckabees and script co-writer as well as actor for The Darjeeling Limited) called filming in India “the best fun I ever had shooting a movie”. Meanwhile “beautiful” was the word used to describe Rajasthan by actor Adrien Brody — who in 2002 became the youngest ever man to win a Best Actor Oscar (for his role in film The Pianist). “I’d been to Rajasthan on my own,” Brody said. “We had this adventure planned for the characters but we (as actors) were actually on the same journey. We shot a feather ceremony on Christmas Eve and we walked 700 steps. When you have an opportunity like that as an actor there’s so much to draw from.”

So was the film more fun than bumping up to Darjeeling, sleeper class' It certainly has a nonplussed charm. Director Wes Anderson is skilled in teasing the comic presence from the brothers’ bereaved depression, and a droll, upbeat rhythm from their plodding melancholia. My only concern is that Indian viewers may find the American accents of some of the train attendants a tad suspect. Sure, India is globalising fast — but have attendants on trains to Darjeeling really been to the US for their Masters' All in all, though, if I was a signal controller at the great global station of journeying celluloid, I would give this one the green light.

Jack Lamport (A writer and part-time actor based in London)

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