Does anyone remember a small independent film called The Mistress of Spices? It was based on the novel of the same name by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Oh, and it starred Bollywood sensation Aishwarya Rai.
That Aishwarya has a great screen presence and is other-worldly looking is old news. But to be brutally honest, the lady is not exactly famous for her acting skills. However, in Gurinder Chadha-penned tale of this fantastical romance, Aishwarya comes across as a woman who is aware of her character and knows how much of herself does she need to give to the story.
In the Paul Mayeda Berges directorial, Aishwarya plays an immigrant woman by the name of Tilo, who, apart from being a clairvoyant, is also a ‘Mistress of Spices’– a woman who can predict the future and help people through the medium of spices.
In America, Aishwarya’s character opens a ‘Spice Bazaar’ and helps her customers face their daily struggles. However, things turn against her and her friends when she falls for a handsome and kind stranger called Doug (played by Dylan McDermott). What happens next forms the crux of the plot.
The only positive aspect of this mediocre film is Aishwarya’s grace and charm, which draws you in. The actor shines in parts when she tends to the spices whilst handing out gems of life to her customers in her quaint, magical shop. However, even Aishwarya’s magnetic screen presence failed to sustain my interest through the 90-minute film.