Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Last Update : 07:27 AM IST
The meals in many Bollywood flicks serve as important subtexts to stories about identity, place, and family. Or, in other cases, food functions as a centre plot meant for a movie. Here are seven of the most food-centric Bollywood films you might want to watch.
#Bawarchi: Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1972 family drama, Bawarchi was an adaptation of the Bengali movie, Galpa Holeo Satyi, which showcased Rajesh Khanna as a cook who enters a dysfunctional family of nine members headed by an old man. Rajesh Khanna masters all the cookery trades to reunite the family. A must-watch if you are a fan of Hrishikesh Mukherjee films. The film was later remade in 1997 as Hero No.1.
#English Vinglish: English Vinglish was the comeback film of yesteryear actress Sridevi which was directed by debutant Gauri Shinde. The film talks about a middle class Maharashtrian housewife settled in the US who takes up an English speaking course after she’s been ridiculed by her husband for only making ‘Laddoos’ at home. Later on her ‘Laddoos’ make her famous overnight.
#Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana: An uppity Londoner named Omi returns to his native village in Punjab and discovers that his grandfather, who runs the family restaurant, has totally forgotten the secret ingredient of the place’s signature dish, Chicken Khurana. Omi teams up with his childhood friend, Harman, to track down the recipe, going through an unimaginable number of chicken thighs in the recipe-testing process and ultimately reconnecting with his heritage. In the end, the secret ingredient is revealed to be…weed. Yes, we were all disappointed too.
#Cheeni Kum: This is essentially a rip-off of No Reservations, the vaguely well-known American film starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart—but instead featuring Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan as Buddhadev, the egotistical chef of London’s most celebrated Indian restaurant (unimaginatively called “Spice 6”). One day, a guest named Nina has the audacity not only to reject chef Buddhadev’s signature Hyderabadi Zafraini Pulao (saffron rice), but to make him her version to try instead (it turns out to be even better than the restaurant’s take). The chef follows Nina out of the restaurant to scold her, and obviously, a whirlwind romance ensues. You leave the theater with a wild craving for spicy, crispy rice.
#Duplicate:Your typical story of an escaped prisoner, Manu, who finds his lookalike (who happens to be a chef), and tries to impersonate him in order to evade the law. The doppelganger chef is a loveable chump named Bablu, making it all the worse when he gets arrested by the police (during a date, no less), allowing Manu to assume his identity. As you can imagine, Manu is a significantly worse cook than Bablu, and the restaurant kitchen quickly descends into chaos — all while Manu is being hunted down by a gang of thugs.
#The Lunchbox: Ila is a sad housewife looking to spice up her marriage, so she decides to make her husband special lunches to take to work. Unfortunately, India’s famous dabbawalla network (a system built to bring home-cooked tiffins to and from offices—known for never, ever screwing up) makes a mistake, delivering Ila’s husband’s lunch to a bored, widowed account, Sajaan. Saajan goes nuts for Ila’s food, and the two start exchanging letters through the packed lunches, sharing intimate details about their lives and falling in love in the process. The two try, unsuccessfully, to meet in person (Saajan chickens out)—but the letters have a powerful effect on them both, with Saajan learning to be more compassionate, and Ila finally getting the guts to divorce her husband. In the end, Saajan decides to go after Ila before she leaves, but the movie ends before we ever find out if he makes it.
#Queen: Queen is an uplifting story about a girl, Rani, who gets left at the altar and decides to go on her European honeymoon by herself. She befriends Vijaylakshmi, a spirited woman who gives Rani the confidence to let loose on her vacation. This includes flirting with attractive restaurant owner Marcello, whom she beats in a cooking competition with her homemade golgappas (a classic chaat dish consisting of puffed rice crackers filled with potatoes and tamarind water). With all her newfound chutzpah, she kicks her fiancé to the curb once and for all, and learns to be an independent woman.