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I was always impressed by Aasif Mandvi who is a regular in Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. So when I learnt that he had starred in a movie as a lead in a movie that had Naseeruddin Shah and Madhur Jaffrey as his co-stars, I was eager to watch it. I finally got around to seeing it after Netflix offered it on their instant streaming.

I found the movie to be utterly charming, funny and mouth watering.  Cookbook author and actor Madhur Jaffrey is great in the role of the mother of the central character played by Mandvi, a chef in the midst of professional and personal crises. Shah as the NY cab driver-turned-chef is utterly endearing.

The movie is about Samir,  a chef and first generation Indian-American who impulsively quits his job, is pressed into service at his family restaurant, finds his cooking mojo and realizes that approach to food is really an approach to life itself. Shah plays the role of Akbhar with sparkling charisma, as a wise mentor whose passion for life is positively contagious to even the most skeptical movie viewer. Likewise, Madhur Jaffrey as Farida is delightful as Samir’s meddlesome and endearingly overbearing mother who is determined to marry him off with the help of an online Indian matrimonial service. One of the highlights of the movie is when Shah and Jaffrey share a scene in the kitchen of the restaurant, where they meet for the first time.  Farida (Jaffrey) has been instructed by Samir’s father(another great performance by Harish Patel)  to check up on the restaurant and ends up meeting the eccentric cab driver/cook who is responsible for turning things around. Shah displays the art of impressing and charming a woman with élan and Jaffrey responds suitably, an endearing moment suffused with warmth.

The film is set in Manhattan and Jackson Heights, Queens, which a New Yorker can easily recognize and identify with. The story is completely predictable and formulaic, but with a film this enjoyable, who cares? Sure, it includes many clichés of dating and family strife but somehow there is a sweetness that tugs at your heartstrings. You don’t have to be an Indian to appreciate the culture clashes and modern drama that the lead character finds himself in; the story has a universal appeal. Overall it is sweet, romantic, sentimental and will make you want to go out for Indian food as soon as you finish watching this movie. Be warned!


Talk To Her is a multi-layered film with the opening scene of the ballet to a night-time recital of Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso to a seven-minute silent film The Shrinking Lover. Although the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar  has specialized in movies about women, two men are center stage here. They share what William James once called "the gift of tears." "Of all the expressions of human emotion in the lexicon of life, weeping may be the most functional, the most deeply versatile. The tears we weep show us our deepest, neediest, most private selves. Our tears expose us. They lay us bare both to others and to ourselves. What we cry about is what we care about. What we have no tears for hardens our hearts."


Through a series of complicated turns in the storyline, the two men, Benigno (the nurse) and Marco (the bald actor) are drawn closer together. A death, a suicide, and a miraculous recovery flow together in the last section of the film. Almodóvar   is an imaginative teacher of emotional intelligence. Talk To Her speaks volumes about the different delineations of love, compassion, and attention.


The extraordinary thing about Talk to Her is that it’s all these things at once—and more: a meditation on the ways in which couples communicate, or don’t. A study in loneliness. A story of friendship based on little but shared longing. The director makes no editorial distinctions between "holy" and "unholy" love where passion is passion, and whatever form it takes is more enlivening than its opposite.

The story is improbable, but in the end it leaves you with a strange yet good feeling. Talk to Her won the Oscar in 2003 and a plethora of awards across the world.

I completely recommend this film. Please rent the DVD.

Rating: 4.5/5.

ps: I would have given a 5, but I can’t believe hospitals will allow a male nurse to give sponge bath to a  comatose young woman, even if he claims to be gay.

Seven Goes Into Twenty-Eight Thirteen Times

Whether you multiply, divide or add, the answer is always 28. Don’t believe it? Watch the video and you will rethink your math!

Its from the 1946 movie, A Little Giant starring Bud Abbott  and Lou Costello released by Universal Pictures.

    George Clooney and Anna Kendrick in 'Up in the Air'

I watched “Up in the Air” on New Year’s eve and I would say its the best film I saw in 2009 – and I still haven’t seen anything that has changed my mind. “Up in the Air” is from Director Jason Reitman who made the wonderfully cute 2007’s “Juno”. His reworking of Walter Kirn’s novel captures the sensibility that Kirn plugged into – the subculture of the constant traveler, in pursuit of frequent-flyer miles, upgrades, perks that accrue to the loyal and regular customer. Reitman has portrayed the perfect character for these times in the US: a courtly and affable grim reaper named Ryan Bingham, embodied by the immaculate Clooney in what could be his Oscar-winning performance.     

Mild Spoiler alert ahead: 

Bingham (George Clooney) works for a consulting group in Omaha, which hires itself to companies that need to lay off groups of employees in one time-managed swoop. So Ryan Bingham becomes the face of downsizing, the one who explains the situation, thanks them for their work and wishes them well on their future endeavors. And no one at the company that’s actually laying off  has to get his or her hands dirty.

He seems to spend weeks on the road at a time, returning home to main office and a bare-bones apartment to change up his stuff. He is really most at home in the airport, on the airplane, in the Admiral’s Lounge, at a hotel, in a rented car – a road warrior, in other words.  

He slips away from his executioner’s life on occasion to deliver motivational speeches, which are titled, “What’s in your backpack?” The intention is to get people to throw away a lot of the baggage they carry around that’s slowing them down in their life and career – but it might as well be a primer about what’s important to Ryan Bingham, which is to be left alone and to travel without distraction or interruption.  

His goal is to join the elite ten-million-miles club, which he is rapidly approaching.  He would be the 7th person to do so if he succeeds. But his whole way of life is threatened when his boss (Jason Bateman) brings in a young consultant bearing the next wave: video-conferenced firing sessions, removing the need for people like Ryan to fly anywhere.  

Her name is Natalie (Anna Kendrick – of the Twilight movies) and she’s convinced that she’s the wave of the future. But Ryan objects to his suave boss Craig (Jason Bateman), saying that eliminating the face-to-face element is, in essence, cutting their own throat and making themselves redundant. That his in-person approach is what keeps the job relevant, necessary and bearable.  

Clooney is perfect in this role: disciplined, under control, funny, smooth and seemingly invulnerable. But this is a movie about a man surprised to discover that he is, in fact, vulnerable to all the things he’s avoided for most of his professional life. And Clooney does a good job, without appearing cocky and playboy-ish as we know him from the Ocean’s 11,12 & 13 series.    

The move is equally sad and funny. I am predicting this movie to be an Oscar pick.  

Recommended: Definitely Yes 

 Rating: 3.5/4

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