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August 09, 2014

Review: The Hundred Foot Journey

Text by Wyanet Vaz

Providing a calming respite from the usual thundering and SFX on loop, this one’s a mix of heart-warming ingredients that should please your monsoon palate

Movie: The Hundred Foot Journey

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Cast: Manish Dayal, Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon

Verdict: Finger lickin’ good!

Disclaimer: Don’t expect food to fall off the screen like one of Willy Wonka’s devious experiments. Remember that? So, it isn’t a food film. Savour it for the meticulous characterisation.

To the boy who knows. They had me at the mere delivery of that line, made immaculate by a stray vendor with a heavy Indian accent. From there on begins the journey of the Kadam family…and mind you, it’s not just Om Puri as Papa or the crush-worthy Manish Dayal as Hassan, but the entire lot of them who stick out like a sore thumb in the midst of the picturesque Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in southern France. And therein lies its beauty, spotlessly delivering an Indianess that will instigate a giggle at regular intervals. Simply because that is typically how we behave in a foreign country, but are too afraid to admit it. Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren seals the deal with her icy demeanor and French notoriety.  The ingredients include a beautiful location, strong star cast, good storyline and the secret to every winning film – spice, quite literally.

We will, hence, document the film using its very own system of measurement and give you a low down on what captured our attention.

25 feet

Adapted from Richard C. Morais’ best-seller with the same name, the story unfolds with the restaurateur clan running away from a haunting past, in search of greener pastures. Om Puri takes charge as the clever patriarch nailing each scene with crisp dialogue delivery.

In a very Bollywood boy-meet-girl scenario, loaded with the necessary amount of drama, their rickety vehicle breaks down and the dearies in distress are rescued by the perky Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) , as Papa Kadam’s wise words echo, “Breaks break for a reason”, and the heaviness stays on for longer than you expect.

Scavenging the area, Papa Kadam finds the family a home and a rundown restaurant that he believes will revive the successes of the ruined one they left in India. The minor glitch here, is that it is a 100 feet from the fancy Michelin-starred Le Saule Pleurer run by the monstrosity called Madame Mallory, effortlessly played by the suave yet snooty Helen Mirren.

50 feet

Our food-ninjas Papa Kadam and Madame Mallory indulge in schematic plans to bring down each other’s ventures.

In the midst of this fiasco, Hassan finds refuge in Marguerite who happens to be a sous chef at Le Saule Pleurer. The blooming romance is as subtle as a gunshot, and their moments near the lakeside is clearly what sweet dreams are made of.

 75 feet

At this milestone, we cannot discount the predictable turn of events – the dramatic transformation as Madame Mallory’s hearts melts into a puddle, with Hassan cooking up a foodgasm of sorts with pigeon truffles and spice-infused omelettes.

In other news, the entertaining enmity dies off — and with it, any hope of a romantic carnival. You do get to see the helpful Marguerite’s insecure side which is soon overshadowed by Hassan’s glorious win as the underdog.

100 feet

There is a slight slump in the film as it continues to drag on. Hassan reaches for the stars and (like the film at this point) realizes that something seems to be amiss. The secret ingredient surfaces soon enough and the movie ends on a very heart-tugging note.

The undoubted star of the film is Om Puri who delivers a steady performance and adds a deep flavour to every scene. You must have spotted Manish Dayal in 90210 and he charms us again by adding just the right amount of soul to the dealing. A.R.Rahman’s music scores with smooth shifts between regular Indian beats and free-flowing French tunes. Ultimately, the film is more than the sum of its parts, but put them all together and you’ve got a fine meal. Bon Appetit!

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