The Hundred Foot Journey

It’s not that any film with the  glorious Helen Mirren and the equally glorious Om Puri will automatically be brilliant…well, actually, now you come to mention it, yes, it will, and yes “The Hundred Foot Journey” is.

This is one of those genuinely feel-good movies, and to see it in Delhi (where I live) made it even more special.

The story line is simple.  Indian immigrants, fleeing mob violence in Mumbai, and the death of the family matriarch, end up in the South of France and decide to settle there and open an Indian restaurant.

They end up in the South of France more by accident than by design, since their old rattletrap of a car pretty much makes the decision for them, giving up the ghost just outside a perfectly bijou little hamlet in France.

They find a property and start to rebuild the restaurant they had in Mumbai, before it was burned to the ground.

The only problem is that their chosen venue is right across the road – about 100 feet away, in fact – from a one star Michelin restaurant, owned and run by Madame Mallory, played to perfection by Helen Mirren. I don’t know why I was surprised at the excellence of Ms Mirren’s French. Stupid of me, really.

Throw in yet more racism – tackled head on by Madame Mallory – and oodles of “snobbisme”, and a burgeoning romance or two, and the result is a gorgeous, happy, genuinely feel good film.
Seeing it in India, Om Puri’s muttered Hindi asides (many of them asking advice of his beloved late wife) needed no translation, and the audience clearly loved him and his approach to the patronising snobbery of Madame Mallory.

It was fun watching the crucial (& cross-cultural) masala omelette test. I guessing having lived away from Europe for so, so many years, and having come to expect/require a dash of masala on everything, the idea of experiencing a masala omelette for the very first time is cute –  we dilliwalas certainly enjoyed Madame’s reaction.

There is no great message, no particularly heavy insights to be gleaned from “The Hundred Foot Journey” – so just sit back and enjoy the film.
It is visually lovely, has a feel-good ending, so what more can one ask?

Ms Mirren and Mr. Puri are excellent.

And as for the gorgeous Manish Dayal…well…

image

 

image

My favourite moments of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I hadn’t read the book, though I know I should have.  Have to read it by next week for my Delhi book club, as it so happens, but this review is all about the film.

I loved it –  it is visually fabulous with photography to die for, and filmed with such compassion and open-mindedness, that you leave the cinema feeling moved and saddened at the alienation, yet fully understanding why.

There is little point spoiling your enjoyment of the film by telling you the plot, but suffice it to say it charts the reluctant transformation of an intelligent westernised Pakistani living the American dream who is singled out, questioned, and ultimately alienated by the country he loves, all in the tragic aftermath of 9/11.

So, my best moments ?

1)  Every single visual moment of the film.  The photography/videography is gorgeous, lush, sweeping – oh, every adjective you can summon up.  There is a slightly retro feel to it, and the air of genteel dilapidation that hangs over so many of our subcontinental monuments was brilliantly captured.

2) The music, especially the utterly, thrillingly fabulous “Kangna” which I have promptly downloaded and have been playing non-stop all morning.

I am trying this out for the first time –  giving you a link to an audio clip – so let’s hope this works.

http://www.dhingana.com/kangna-song-the-reluctant-fundamentalist-hindi-latest-37fa849

3) The warmth of Pakistan, which translates just as easily into the warmth of India, where I live.  I loved the moment when Changez goes for chai in the US.  Very moving.

4) The innate dignity and grace of the Pakistanis vs the brasher Americans.

5)  Om Puri, whose acting I have loved for years, asking about his son’s career.

6) Love love love the newcomer, Meesha Shafi.  OK OK, I stand corrected – Ms Shafi is terribly well-known but she is a newcomer to Hollywood, at least, and she dazzles and I wanted to see more of her.

(And, how thrilling –  I googled her, and found out that she will be in the soon to be released Bollywood film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, in which I will be a blink and you miss extra)

And out of all of these fave moments, if I had to choose just one – oh, without a moment’s hesitation “Kangna”.  Too fabulous.