Monday, December 22, 2014

A Lazy Storyline

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (2014)

Produced By: Dreamworks, Reliance Entertainment and others
Director: Lasse Hallstroem
Starring: Om Puri, Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Amit Shah and others
Pros: Makes you smile
Cons: Lazy story, hugely imperialistic and patronizing
Rating: * of 5 (1 of 5)

You hear a lot about Indians in the English World (Canada, the US, the UK and Australia) doing well for themselves. Less heard about are those in Europe, who often go through equally difficult journeys in lands that are not all that open to varied cultures and foreigners. After all, Germany can call multiculturalism a failure, but for the US (as for India) it's a fact of life, not an experiment that can pass or fail. So too for France does multiculturalism collide with 'France for the French'.

And that's exactly the most irritating thing about The Hundred-Foot Journey, a movie that boasts of great awards precisely because it makes such a big deal about an Indian pretending to be French and thus successfully coming out on top. This is not just a story of the underdog (which won Slumdog Millionaire several Oscars, no less), this is the story an underdog who turned into a cat. But of course, Murg Masala and the like are just terrible. But of course, bachamel sauce is the food of the sophisticated people of Europe. And but of course, a sprinkle of cardamom in a 200-year old recipe is just what you need - not a dash of hollandaise in chicken curry! This movie makes all the right noises for a European audience, ensuring them of their high place in the order of civilization while also giving space to the poor natives of foreign lands to successfully civilize themselves and earn their stars in the process! This is imperialistic and patronizing to say the least.

But then, I should've expected it. The movie takes the old route of political violence to explain emigration from India. No understanding of what's happening or why, just 'some election' that led to the natives fighting like the dogs that they are and some of them fleeing to the more civilized lands of Europe (at least they extended their condescension to Britain!). With that sort of a beginning, the end was already known. It may have been an underdog movie that makes you all happy in the right places, but I absolutely hated this movie. It was insulting to India and all eastern cultures. (OTFS)

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