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Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ is a dish that is less an interesting mix of biryani-and-truffles, more flat soufflé.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: August 9, 2014 10:46 am
The story is based on a novel of the same name. The story is based on a novel of the same name.

Cast: Om Puri, Helen Mirren,  Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon,  Amit Shah, Juhi Chawla
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Rating: * 1/2

Can the coming together of two acting greats in a film brimming with food and feasting be barely edible? We are talking Om Puri and Helen Mirren here, not just any old thesps. Barely a couple of minutes into ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’, you know you are in for a dish that is less an interesting mix of biryani-and-truffles, more flat soufflé.

After a riot, Papa Kadam ( Puri) flees Mumbai with his children. England proves to be ‘too cold’, so they fetch up in a picturesque French village. The family opens an Indian restaurant called Maison Mumbai, right across an established one Michelin star eatery run by the toffee-nosed Madame Mallory ( Mirren), inviting a culinary war.

We know how things will unfold from hereon. Madame Mallory will purse her lips at the Indian interlopers . They, in turn, will crank up the music. And the story will get busy trotting out stereotypes. Indians are loud and cook only curries. The French stir up sauces, and lick spoons while tasting. Puri gets to say this : “I will turn up the heat.” No, I am not kidding. Kitchen, heat, get it?

The romance between the brilliant dishy chef Hassan ( Dayal), the younger Kadam son, and his pretty rival Marguerite ( Le Bon) doesn’t spice up things either. Because this too plays out just as you know it will : they will come together, pull apart, and come back right on cue. He also uses something called ‘Madras Masala’, and wants us to take him seriously.

The story, based on a novel of the same name, rings up other changes that we see so often in these kind of films. Chefs who are lured away by the bright lights will find that ‘molecular gastronomy’ is flim-flam. Not for them blowing into chemistry tubes and arranging tiny slivers on a pretty plate. Home is where hearty cooking is. So what’s new?

Dayal shows promise, but the story doesn’t give him space to maneuver. Chawla is strictly blink-and-miss. Mirren too has to wriggle out from under, but comes into her own half-way into the film. It is Om Puri, solid as ever, who saves this dish from monotony, which comes up with such hooey as this line : `Food is Memories’. And this one : ‘Brakes break for a reason.’ Right.

One and a half stars ( 1.5)


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  1. V
    Sep 4, 2014 at 5:48 am
    I generally agree with most of the reviews by SG. In my opinion, she is one of the best movie critics in India with deeper knowledge than most other Indian movie critics about what goes into movie-making. She understands that it is more than a simple story line and cardboard characters (of most commercial Hindi movies) simply reciting unimaginative or unrealistic dialogues, or a few good songs and (mostly needless) dance numbers. She is astute, articulate and sophisticated in her understanding of movie-making as an art form. Thus, for the most part, I enjoy reading her movie reviews.This review of hers of the The Hundred-Foot Journey floored me. I could not understand where SG was coming from to comment that this movie was predictable and offered mostly standard fair. For me, who went to see the movie knowing nothing about the book or what was it about, found every aspect of the movie as nuanced story-telling. It was charming and beguiling in how the story unfolds so much so that I was pleasantly surprised, for instance, that the young couple actually get together in the end when I did not think they would . I was also surprised to learn that the background music that was subtle and scene-appropriate was written by ARR! While there were a couple of scenes here and there which looked liked they might have come from another food-movie and thus had a ring of familiarity, the movie overall was anything but. I agree that the young actor (Dayal) and Om Puri were a delight as was Helen Mirren (although she, to me, was a bit camp). Charlotte Le Bon as Marguerite was outstanding as someone being both approachable and stand-off-ish, besides being beautiful and measured in her performance. The movie thus to me was an impressive blend of artful movie-making (with breath-taking scenes included and gorgeous background scores as interludes), wonderful acting on part of the most lead actors and riveting story-telling that keeps you guessing what might turn up in the next scene or the story line. It was for me a pure delight to watch and behold. Knowing that I agree with most of the SG's reviews, I was quite sure she would have given this movie at least three stars. She chose not to. But I would give this movie 3 and a 1/2 stars! I would also highly recommend this movie to others for the pure joy of seeing movie such as this.