The Mistress Of Spices
Time Out says
First-time director Paul Mayeda Berges’ ambitious but flawed film is based on the novel by American Bengali writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. It’s a near-faithful adaptation with one major change: Tilo is young and pretty, not ‘ugly and old’ as in the book. Presumably, this was to accommodate the casting of the gorgeous Rai, Bollywood’s biggest female star, continuing her quest for suitable crossover material after 2004’s ‘Bride and Prejudice’ (‘Mistress…’ is co-written by that film’s director and Berges’ wife, Gurinder Chadha). This is the film’s fatal flaw: Rai’s limited acting range, and trademark doe-eyed looks are insufficient to engage us and transcend the film’s preposterous ‘Chocolat’-like plot. Consequently, it’s difficult to care about Tilo’s predicament, or any of the other characters, a bunch of NRI (Non-Resident Indian) stereotypes.
While it’s commendable to see the talented ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ husband-and-wife duo making films about the wider Indian diaspora and experimenting with unusual themes, it’s such a disappointment that the end result is a bland, feeble fable.
Cast and crew
Sonny Gill Dulay