If you catch whiffs of ‘Chocolat’, you’re not imagining them: this middlebrow culture-clash foodie fable, based on a novel by Richard C Morais, shares more than just a director with that Juliette Binoche confection from 2000. There’s also the quaint, postcard-ready French setting, the heavy-handed musings on the mystical power of spices and a prickly, purse-lipped antagonist butting against change.
The latter, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, in a deliciously salty turn), oversees a starched-linen fine-dining temple in southern France. Her primary concern is securing yet another Michelin star – that is, until thrifty Mumbai import Papa (Om Puri) and his brood move in across the road to open a vindaloo-stirring, AR Rahman-soundtracked eatery of their own, helmed by kitchen-prodigy son Hassan (Manish Dayal).
The movie’s never tastier than when screen vets Mirren and Puri are sparring. But when that rivalry reduces to a low simmer in favour of Hassan’s rags-to-riches rise in the food world, the story turns bland. The film should have taken a cue from its spice-loving subjects and jacked up the heat.
|Release date:||Friday September 5 2014|
Cast and crew
Charlotte Le Bon
Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
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Om Puri and Helen Mirren cook up a storm in the idyllic French village which already boasts a Michelin star restaurant, before it is introduced to traditional Indian cooking by the newly arrived Kadam family. It's when young Hassan turns chef and starts to produce a innovative hybrid of both styles of cooking that the competition really heats up and Papa Kadam and Madame Mallory engage in a passionate battle to employ him in their rival establishments. Hassan also faces competition in the shape of an attractive French sous-chef but Manish Dayal's acting and this parallel relationship never catch fire in comparison. The third star of the film is, in fact, the food which is lovingly filmed in lingering detail. Eat well beforehand or you will leave with your mouth watering!