Though my acquaintance with cuisine is limited largely to eating it, this delightful little food flick drew me in and held my attention through its somewhat formulaic but whimsically executed plot line.
Indians can poke fun at Indian idiosyncrasies as, well, as only Indians can. There’s plenty of that, almost but not quite to the point of slapdash humor as Samir (Aasif Mandvi)—the emphatically assimilated son of a small-time New York restaurenteur—finds out that Indian cooking is not below him after all. In the process, he finds the success, the love, and the satisfaction that had eluded his pursuit of the American dream, or at least of the New York variation on that theme.
If every good story requires a shadow, life is usually not slow to oblige. Samir’s family lives under the shadow of the unexplained death of his brother and the hold in the hearts of Samir’s match-making mother and legacy-craving father that their late son’s absence has torn.
The star turn in this picture is Naseerudin Shah’s ‘Akbar’, the bohemian taxi-driver cum great chef who probably *has* cooked for Indira Ghandi, just as he’s claimed. He came to his kitchen mastery somehow, and cooking for the Great Ones emerges as at least as plausible as all other explanations as Akbar gains Samir’s respect, teaches him to cook from the soul, and then departs for Akron, Ohio, leaving Samir to do just as his improbably tutor has exhorted him to do.
Hardly an action flick, this little film may well fill up the evening of a viewer who relishes the cultural quirks and nuances that make people-watching one of life’s great sporting endeavors.