The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel cast
The star-studded cast of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Filming is under way in India for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, the sequel to Fox Searchlight's hit 2012 comedy.

Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dame Maggie Smith and Dev Patel will return alongside newcomers Richard Gere, Tamsin Greig and David Strathairn.

John Madden returns as director, hoping to tap into the lucrative older market of film-goers who flooded into cinemas to watch the first film two years ago.

Madden said: "This film presented us with an irresistible opportunity: to continue a story we realised we had only just begun. Not to tell the same story again, but to pursue where the lives of these very different characters lead, with an audience which already holds them in great affection."

The film will continue to follow the exploits of hotel-owners Muriel and Sonny (Smith and Patel) who find their Indian getaway for older folk with a vacancy to fill. Gere and Grieg will play the new occupants but there was no mention in the official synopsis of who David Strathairn's character is or how he will fit in.

For Fox Searchlight The Best Exotic Marigold 2 represents their first ever sequel, and their president of production Claudia Lewis is excited to have the series back.

"We're thrilled to reunite our creative and delightful Marigold Hotel family along with some intriguing new 'guests'," said Lewis. "With John Madden's direction and Ol Parker's original screenplay, we look forward to further exploring our characters' rich stories and triumphs."