Roshan Kalra ran away from home at 16 because his dad wouldn’t let him learn cooking and that was his passion. Many years, one hotel management degree (how?!! He ran away to Amritsar- what about money-shoney, exam-shixam?), one divorce and one 10-year-old child later, he cooks in a restaurant called Galli Kitchen in Amrika but seems to be losing his pot—er plot. He punches a complaining guest on the face, draws blood, lands in jail and then is fired….while he is busy screaming at his own staff for their inadequacies.
He heads back to Cochin, where ex-wife and son reside in a gorgeous house. She is a dance teacher and seems to have a significant other, who raises the hackles of chef in a most dog in the manger-ish manner. (This part was handled much well in the original.)
Significant O and ex-w suggest that he takes over a run-down double-decker bus and turn it into “mobile restaurant”. After taking strong offence, stating that he’s a “chef” and not a “cook” and generally behaving like a completely misplaced prima donna, sense prevails and he agrees to the project.
The rest is about the transforming the bus with young son’s help and driving it from Cochin to Delhi via Goa. What they sell is a “rottza”-a pizza made with rotis. The drive is scenic, the locales breath-taking and this part of the film is thoroughly enjoyable. A superbly danceable number by Raghu Dixit is included here.”Shugal Laga Le” is superb. https://youtu.be/sJTEca51zG8
Roshan Kalra is played by a squarely-rotundish Saif Ali Khan who hams through most of the film though in an odd scene or two-some of his acting does shine through.Padampriya Janakiraman plays Radha-the ex-w. Charming and lovely. Their son Armaan is played by young Svar. Chandan Roy Sanyal plays Roshan’s protégé from New York who follows him to India and joins up with him. Significant O is an almost illegally handsome Milind Soman. Made me want to acquire said bus!
The director turns the original story of Favreau’s “Chef” on its head and makes the Bollywood version about a chef who’s lost his mojo and is quickly unravelling and resorting to breaking his complaining guest’s nose as opposed to the Original which is about a spat with a Critic and a bad review due to being stuck in a rut and his creativity being suppressed by a short-sighted controlling owner.
Given the fact that this film will have only an urban appeal or understanding, the change of story was mystifying and is in fact detrimental to the film. Food critics and the power they wield on Restaurants is very much a part of modern Indian society. Forget critics, an adverse Zomato review strikes terror into restaurateur’s hearts. Also, other parts, scenes and even dialogues have been faithfully adapted and shot, often down to the exact dialogue almost-which actually could have been changes to make them more believable!
Further, for a film straddling North and South India, there is a deplorable lack of mention and depiction of the vast variety of Indian food. Given that the Chef’s original inspiration as a child was chole bhature, his introduction of it to his son is bordering on insipid. The only food he is ever shown cooking is tagliatelle or spaghetti and the rottza. Almost as if he jumped from chole bhature to pasta and landed in a rottza-ignoring all other edibles en route. A missed opportunity for shooting some of our Indian food. Think the 100 Foot Journey. A minor redeeming scene was him making tomato chutney, which will be tried shortly in the home kitchen. Otherwise…..gah. The sizzle of a tadka. The ballooning of a puri. The steam from an idli…..sooo much possibility. But the passion for food missing.
I say that it was enjoyable but nothing to rave about or deserving a full rant. Watchable with some lovely scenes, some oversimplification and tons of mistakes on actual chefs. Home viewing is fine.