Helen Mirren is a star, of that there is no doubt, but in her latest movie, The Hundred-foot Journey, a much lesser known actor steals the show, making this a must-see.
Every now and again a gem of a movie comes along. There won’t be much violence, any sex is implied rather than forced upon the audience and the cast is often largely made up of unknown actors. Chocolat was one such movie so it’s hardly surprising that Director Lasse Halstrom is also behind bringing The Hundred-foot Journey to the big screen.
Ably assisted by Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Spielberg as producers, Halstrom brings Richard C Morais novel to life. This is largely due to the Hassans, a typical rambunctious and determined Indian family, forced to leave Mumbai after political uprising and settle in Europe, France to be exact. Unwittingly pitching himself and his new restaurant up against Madame Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) Michelin-starred Le Saule Pleureur, Papa Hassan (Om Puri) causes a stir in the usually quiet and picturesque French village, which is now home to his family.
And it is Om Puri who makes this movie so delightful. He plays the stereotypical Indian matriarch without being cringe worthy or offensive. His softer side shows when he speaks to his dead wife, supports his incredibly talented son Hassan (Manish Dayal) achieve his culinary goal and even sees through the hard outer portrayed by Madame Mallory. His one-liners are laugh-out-loud-funny without being cheesy and his realness is a welcome change.
This is a tale of two worlds colliding and not everything runs smoothly. Briefly touched upon is the unwillingness, almost a racial tension, to accept the Indian family into the village, which is borne largely from ignorance. But the belief of Papa and his dogged persistence to do what is best for his family soon wins them over.
Why not watch an interview with Om Puri, in which he talks about the movie?