The train scenes were filmed inside a moving train traveling from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer and through the Thar desert. Nothing could be fixed to the ceiling, and filming equipment couldn't be more than a meter out of the windows. Wes Anderson and Mark Friedberg went to the Northwestern Railways company and told them they needed ten rail-cars and a locomotive, which they would redecorate entirely and then move around their railway. Northwestern Railways had never gotten such a request, and though it took a lot time and effort, it was eventually evidently granted.
Amara Karan's feature film debut. While she was still being considered for the role, Karan received the script and discovered that Rita smokes cigarettes. She enlisted some friends to help her practice smoking. During a meeting with Wes Anderson, Karan casually tossed a cigarette into her mouth and started smoking, later admitting in an interview "I am sure it must have looked really spontaneous." Anderson did not waste any time before asking her if she would come aboard.
After completing the screenplay's first draft, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman visited India together to see if the fictional world they'd created meshed with the real thing. Subsequent changes were relatively minor. Much of the dialog was excised from the later passages of the film, because Wes Anderson wanted India's natural beauty to speak for itself.
The abbey towards the end of the film was originally the Maharana of Mewar's royal hunting lodge in Udaipur, built during the Rajput era. Production designer Mark Friedberg was inspired by Michael Powell's Black Narcissus (1947) which takes place at an abbey in the Himalayas.
Natalie Portman: as a woman alone in a hotel room wearing a rope and with a towel wrapped around her head. In the short film Hotel Chevalier (2007) the woman is Jack's ex girlfriend who visits Jack at the hotel where he is residing in Paris. In the film, Jack reads a diary entry to Francis and Peter about when he was with his ex girlfriend in his hotel room and quotes "I promise. I will never be your friend. No matter what, ever." Which he says to her in the short film.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The house into which the dead boy is brought was supposed to be the same natural red color as the others. A villager painted the house blue between selection and the crew's return, and Wes Anderson chose to use it anyway.