Saif Ali Khan, Padmapriya Jankiraman, Svar Kamble, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Dinesh Prabhakar, Milind Soman
Raja Krishna Menon
Actors are forever praising their film before it hits the theatres, so when Saif Ali Khan called Chef a class product, it was best to take it with a pinch of salt. But two hours, twenty minutes of this Raja Krishna Menon experience, tells me not all actors exaggerate. Chef Ali Khan is a winner alright!
We are all well aware of how Chef is the official remake of Jon Favreau’s 2014 film – CHEF. While the skeleton of the script is the same for both the films, writers Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair and Raja Krishna Menon have completely turned the film around for the Indian audience. So what’s the film about. Well, we have chef Roshan Kalra (Saif Ali Khan) who works at a swanky hotel in New York. He is a 3 Michelin Star chef, to speak in layman language – it means he is amongst the best. He is content with his life, which is basically his work. Till one day the only thing is knows to do, is taken away from him. After an episode of violence at the hotel, Roshan is asked to quit, making him realize just how dispensable he is and in the course of this realization, Roshan does what anyone of us would have done. Takes a break! He winds up at Cochin, South India, where his ex-wife, Radha (Padmapriya Jankiraman) is bringing up their son, Aary (Svar Kamble).
The realization of how little he knows about his own son, and how little his son knows about him, is difficult to come to terms with and before he knows it, his mini-vacation turns into his place of vocation. With the help of his family and friend – Nazrul (Chandan Roy Sanyal) the 3 Michelin Star Chef starts a food truck called Raasta Café. Obviously, food does what food always does – binds people together.
The cinematography by Priya Seth is neat and not over the top. While every frame is picturesque, it is picturesque despite its imperfections, which resonates with the mood of the film, making it all the more beautiful and yet relatable. While you sit in the theatres, you do find yourself wondering if you are losing sight of what is really important to live a full and happy life and yet, there is never once that the film gets preachy. There are no loud confrontational dialogues, despite touching every turn in the labyrinth of emotions between each character, deeply. Full marks to Raja Menon for achieving beauty in simplicity, making the briefest characters blossom! However, the highlight remains the Nawab himself. It is enriching to see how beautifully, he has fit into the character, one that you would assume features nowhere in Khan’s life. And yet, Saif has perfected the nuances of his onscreen persona, leaving us looking at Kalra and forgetting Khan, making us once again believe that he thrives most when he is removed from a typical Bollywood film scenario.The natural acting and the ease with which he has dealt with the situations, is telling. His chemistry with Padmapriya Jankiraman and Svar Kamble is heartwarming. Svar Kamble, who is as important as food in the film, works wonderfully in the film. His character is mostly feeding off Saif’s reactions and dialogues, and Svar does complete justice to it. Given Bollywood doesn’t often deal with kids the age of Svar, it was nice to see how Menon has pitched Svar, his coping mechanisms – which comes in play when Roshan first shows up in Cochin, his approach towards the father who suddenly shows up… is real. There is apprehension, but the insouciance is not filmy…. CHEF is well supported by actors like Chandan Roy Sanyal, Milind Somanand more. All and all, after the 2hours 20mins that you spend with Roshan Kalra and his loved ones, you come out of the theatres with a smile and a hug for your family….