Fiery Tandoori chicken versus some pallid, measly portioned French culinary fare. The loud, in-your-face eatery Maison Mumbai versus sophisticated upscale Michelin restaurant Le Saule Pleureur, just across the road. Earthy, pugnacious Papa Kadam (Om Puri), Indian restaurateur versus the snooty, ruthless French restaurant proprietor Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) who clearly is not a great believer in some healthy competition. That in sum is the plot of comedy film “The Hundred- Foot Journey”.
At the heart of the film is Papa's son, Hassan who makes food that is to die for--a skill he picked up from his mother (Juhi Chawla), killed in an arson attack at their family restaurant in Mumbai Seeking asylum in London which the family finds inhospitable and bleak, they eventually arrive at a tiny hamlet Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Papa Kadam decides that the place is a good location for a restaurant. Meanwhile the family meets Madame Mallory's beautiful sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). Hassan is instantly attracted to the young woman who helps him develop a knack for French haute cuisine, goes fishing with him or samples his dishes.
To say any more would make me a spoilsport but just a glimpse: Hassan perfects his skills for turning out French food that is to change the lives of all the characters and much mellow the formidable, yet vulnerable Madame Mallory.
Needless to say Om Puri and Helen Mirren are a perfect foil for each other. Whether they are snarling at each other or romancing, their relationship is delightful as is Hassan and Margurite's growing attraction that is tested when professional jealousy creeps in and Hassan departs for Paris to become a chef for fusion cuisine in a fancy restaurant.
If you are willing to suspend all disbelief and just sit back and enjoy a unique film outing that makes food seem an almost sensual experience, then rest assured, “The Hundred -Foot Journey” turns out great fare.