Chef joins Bollywood's small league of food films: A look at other movies served up over the years
Food and films are two things that Indians swear by. This is why it comes as a surprise that there have been only a few food films in Bollywood. Ahead of the release of Raja Krishna Menon's slice-of-life food film Chef, with Saif Ali Khan in the lead role, we look back at the few times our salivary glands have reacted in tandem with our visual sensors. In other words, we recall Bollywood's best food films on Throwback Thursday.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee was known for his slice-of-life dramas. It was only a matter of time before food became the focal point of one his films. In this 1972 drama, Rajesh Khanna becomes arguably the first lead actor to play a cook at the peak of his career. He uses food, and the incredible charm he pours into it, to reunite a disintegrated family that ironically lives in Shanti Bhawan.
This 2013 film, directed by Ritesh Batra, was widely appreciated as a refreshing epistolary romance of the new age era. But it is fair to say that the protagonists, played by Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur, bonded over not only letters but also the lip-smacking Indian food that Kaur's character prepares meticulously and packs into a dabba to be sent to Irrfan's character.
One clearly remembers Amitabh Bachchan play a chef in a London restaurant and announce in the kitchen, "Khaana banana koi pesha nahi hai" (Cooking food is not merely a profession). R Balki's 2006 film goes on to prove that as he interestingly uses cheeni (sugar) as a metaphor of romance/sex. Amitabh is projected as a 64-year-old character whose life is quite low on sugar (read: romance) and the 34-year-old Tabu serves as just the right dose that he needed at this stage of his life.
Sanjay Dayma's 2005 film had R Madhavan cooking delicacies all the way to London, where he works in an Indian hotel, and masks his immigration status by dishing out delectable paranthas. He also proves that the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach as he woos his love interest, played by Samita Bangargi, through his culinary skills.
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana
Kunal Kapoor's character, among other tasks of winning back lost love, takes it upon himself to restore his late grandfather's restaurant and trace the secret ingredient of his special dish called Chicken Khurana. While he does manage to zero in on that ingredient, he decides not to divulge it to his family. Food here, ceases to be just a unifying force, and extends to the protagonist's discovery of his family's legacy.