Indian drama with a side of French charm

SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF: (From left) Dayal and Mirren play rival chefs who become allies in the quest for Michelin stars in this movie set in the French countryside. But both the Indian and French characters speak accented English.


    Aug 28, 2014

    Indian drama with a side of French charm


    Drama/122 minutes/Opens today

    Rating: 3.5/5

    The story:

    Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais, the movie follows the journey of the Kadam family, who move out of Mumbai after their restaurant gets torched.

    They end up in France, where Papa Kadam (Om Puri) decides to set up a restaurant at the perfect location in a quaint village. The catch, however, is that it is right across from a Michelin-starred French restaurant, owned by snooty native Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who does not take very well to the competition.

    A battle of sorts takes place, but it is nothing as fiery as the masala the Kadam family use in their food. This is the kind of movie I would watch on a rainy day, with a mug of Milo in hand and time to waste.

    THE names behind the movie are impressive - it is produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake - but do not expect too much.

    The story simmers slowly and predictably, with a dash of Indian drama, a tablespoon of French charm and a large helping of stereotypes.

    The stubborn, domineering, and sometimes funny father role played by Puri is convincing and shines as the most well-developed character.

    He leads his five children on his own, after his wife dies in the restaurant fire in India.

    His son Hassan, played by Manish Dayal, takes over his mother's role of cooking at the Indian restaurant they set up in France.

    Hassan's talent is unmistakable, as he brings food to life with the spices left behind by his mother.

    His skills know no boundaries, as he is helped by his friend, lover, fellow chef and later rival, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), whom the Kadam family meet early in the movie.

    Marguerite works as a sous chef at Madame Mallory's restaurant, and is Hassan's teacher as he learns how to cook French food.

    The movie has a pinch of romance, but is ultimately for those with a craving for a family drama.

    A food battle ensues which, to me, was the most exciting part of the film, ending in the Kadams' restaurant being torched and vandalised.

    Madam Mallory then holds out an olive branch by helping to wash off the grafitti.

    In the chase for Michelin stars, everything becomes possible, as she discovers Hassan's talent and recruits him, with some resistance from his father.

    While movies are not meant to be realistic, this seems to be out of touch with any reality, with both Indians and French speaking accented English, with only a smattering of their native languages.

    The movie is draggy at times, saved only by musical wizard A.R. Rahman's movie score.

    Apart from a "too good to be true" feel, the movie is heartwarming and worth watching for the amazing French landscape.