The movie starts with a short film featuring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman – it is well done but I could not see the point, maybe someone can explain that to me.
So I will skip to Part II – this thankfully had no Natalie Portman, instead it started with Bill Murray on a madcap hair-raising taxi ride through the town of Jodhpur to the train station to catch the Darjeeling Limited! He misses it but Adrien Brody (Peter) does manage to get on with his numerous bags. He joins his brother Jason Schwartzman (Jack) in a train suite and they wait for their brother Owen Wilson (Francis) to appear. Owen has planned a trip for them to discover their filial feelings and bond as brothers. The madcap journey involves praying at various shrines, having sex with the attractive train hostess who delivers nimbu-pani (lemonade) and savory snacks, drinking lots of cough syrup, consuming heavy duty pain killers, and opiate pain killers dispensed through a dropper, pepper spray and a snake bought at the local bazaar, and engaging in some “mind cleansing” ritual with peacock feathers and chants! The snake escapes, the pepper spray is injudiciously used and the trio with their 14 or so suitcases, a printer and a laminating machine are thrown off the train. Now they are on their own in the desert, trundling their suitcases along and fall into another adventure that involves saving some drowning boys, but not all are saved. A funeral is attended and a sojourn in the village does finally result in the much sought after bonding between the brothers. It is in fact ironic that the brothers who are new to India achieve some measure of peace and acceptance of each other, while the mother (Anjelica Huston) who has run away to a convent in India, actually runs away again to escape from her progeny who are visiting her!
The movie is exceedingly well done – the atmosphere is palpable, and one can almost smell the dust. India is shot au naturel with no glamor but is most appealing due to the personalities shown – some scintillating, some terse, others simply beautiful even when they do not speak much. One such personality is Irrfan Khan – he does not need words to convey his feeling in this film. Owen Wilson is genius as the rich, managing, conniving older brother wrapped up in bandages from his accidental encounter with a mountain. Adrien Brody is the funniest with that oh so serious face, and constantly wearing his dead Dad;s prescription sunglasses. Jason Schwartzman is excellent as the cool ladies-man younger brother who finally has to use the pepper spray!
Most of the music is from Satyajit Ray films and a rare treat. The cinematography is brilliant with no gimmickry, the dialogs quirky and often hilarious, and the movie is infused with the mystical sense of a personal journey that seems like it is going nowhere until things finally click into place.
A must watch for Wes Anderson fans but I think there is much here for all to like.