The Hundred Foot Journey

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It’s a straightforward tale of an Indian family which moves to France and decide to open a 100% true-blue Indian restaurant across a one star Michelin establishment across the road. A minor war of sorts then ensues between Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) and Papa Kadam (Om Puri) and his family. The former is intent on shutting them down, the latter intent on staying put. Among this battle of wills, young Hassan Kadam(Manish Dayal)-a “cook” as he calls himself and Marguerite(Charlotte Le Bon) from across the road forge a bond that is endearing and so beautiful. Madame Mallory and Papa forge one too….but that takes a while.

Things shake down and sort themselves out, with a surprising lack of drama, large amounts of humour and the loveliest of ice-breakers-Food!  Madame Mallory takes Hasan under her wing and his incredible talent for combining flavours helps her get another Michelin star.  It catapults him to fame and success and the bright lights of Paris. But he returns, on the eve of earning perhaps his 2nd Michelin star to his Marguerite, Papa and Madam Mallory (in that orderJ).

A very talented cast. Breathtaking locales. Music by AR Rahman. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose other works include “Chocolat” and “Salmon Fishing in The Yemen”. Great ingredients for a warm film much like your choice of comfort food.

Hassan and Marguerite

Sometimes, the simplest of stories strike a chord and touch us in unexpected ways. They don’t necessarily have to be present on a Booker List or have a nomination for The Academy Awards. They are special for the emotions they have evoked in us. Within them lie parts of own journeys and we hold those memories close to our hearts.

The 100-foot Journey did that to me today. As it wafted gently from a busy market in Mumbai to a serenely beautiful village in France, this story about food and the flavours of relationships left me brimming with a surprising amount of emotion. I cannot perhaps define exactly what it was that has left me so choked up. Was it the busy street which looked so much the market in Dadar, Mumbai? Was it hearing “Béchamel, Veloute, Tomate, Hollandaise, Espagnole” and being transported to a time and place when I learnt to make these five sauces? Was it perhaps seeing a pretty young girl and personable young man become friends and then something more special than that? Was it two lonely people finding companionship? Perhaps it’s because I  found in it, some parts of my own journey that are and some parts that could not be.

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