The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Hundred-Foot Journey is the story of the battle between two restaurants in a French village: one owned by an Indian family called Maison Mumbai and the other, an upscale Michelin-starred restaurant called Le Saule Pleureur. The film focuses on the rivalry and resolution of the two restaurants and is based in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, France. Based on the novel of the same name, the story is narrated by the protagonist of the story – Hassan Kadam who is born and raised in his family’s Indian restaurant in Mumbai, and has to move to a French village with his family after a mob attacks and burns down their restaurant in Mumbai. The film encompasses Hassan’s journey of becoming a world-renowned chef and celebrating the fusion of two completely different worlds of cuisines.
Cast & Crew
The film features Helen Mirren as Madame Mallory and Om Puri as Abbu Kadam, two stalwarts in their respective industries. Both of them compliment each other so well on- screen that its hard to pick a moment or scene where one overshadows the other. Manish Dayal portrays the role of the protagonist Hassan with utmost sincerity because his passion towards the culinary world seemed genuine and heartfelt.
The Hundred-Foot Journey’s crew is a collaboration of some of the most distinguished names in the industry which include Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, who serve as the producers of the film for DreamWorks Pictures through their respective production companies. The film is directed by Lasse Hallström, known for directing some amazing films like What’s Eating Gilbert, Chocolat and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale has done a great job at showcasing two contrasting cultures in their most authentic forms.
Cinematographer Linus Sandgren deserves a special mention for capturing the soul of the movie through some beautiful food montages, which is the actual highlight of any culinary cinema. Along with food, what also caught my attention were some exceptionally beautiful shots of the French village where the story is set. The soundtrack is composed by A.R. Rahman, who has weaved the theme into the screenplay of the film which brings out the distinct nature of both the cultures so well and so seamlessly. The music brought a flavor of its own to the movie and contributed to the narrative really well.
“Food is memories.”
Isn’t the quote so accurate? Food has such a great quality to revive not just memories but also emotions and feelings. And it is quite natural because food is something that uses all your senses- sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The Hundred-Foot Journey starts with a sequence where little Hassan is being dragged across an Indian market by his mother in the search of sea urchins, and the culmination of the scene is a beautiful moment where Hassan smells and feels the sea urchin, which represents his passion for not just cooking food but also understanding it. I feel that any great culinary film is an artistic endeavor to show the roots and history of a culture, and food is such a great representation of the same. The story of the film also poses a great risk of accurately representing two of the richest culinary cultures – Indian and French, and the makers have very delicately drawn a parallel between both these cultures while celebrating their uniqueness. This parallel is also shown beautifully through the restaurants and their owners. On one hand we have Kadam’s rustic, cozy and colourful restaurant, and on the other side we have Mallory’s classic, simple and vintage restaurant, which also embodies their personalities in the film and how with time they start embracing their differences which is depicted in one of my favourite scenes from the movie where Mallory takes the initiative to clean up the vandalism caused by her employees on the walls of Kadam’s restaurant, depicting their wall of differences being mended for the first time. The film is filled with some lovely sequences and montages of two completely different types of cuisine being prepared with so much love and passion while also depicting the inherent minimalism in French cuisine and vibrancy of Indian cuisine. The protagonist plays a crucial role in not just bringing together two cultures but also making the fusion seem intriguing and believable. The title of the film is a reference to the hundred-foot distance between the two restaurants and over the course of the film this distance is diminished as both Mallory and Kadam walk this road to overcome their prejudices.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.