During one of the scenes in the movie,a shocked Roshan Kalra on hearing his son Arman feign ignorance about the existence of a dish called chole batura mildly rebukes him saying that being the only son of Kalra from Chandni Chowk, he just can’t afford to ask such questions. That’s the underlying essence of this movie Chef. Based on a Hollywood movie by the same name by Jon Favreau, the hindi movie sticks to the original script with mild tweaks in between to suit the sensibility of Indian audience.
- Saif Ali Khan (Roshan Kalra)
- Padmapriya Janakiraman (Radha Menon)
- Svar Kamble (Arman)
- Biju (Milind Soman)
- Nuzroon (Chandan Roy Sanyal)
- Vinnie (Sobhita Dhulipala)
Director – Raja Menon
Duration – 2hrs 11minutes
Genre – Family drama
Director Raja Menon, post his last movie Airlift, explores a completely new genre in his latest movie. Chef is the story of three Michelin star chef Kalra whose haughtiness takes over his senses resulting in him getting fired from his restaurant in London. This is the same guy who had run away from his house in Chandni Chowk, Delhi to chase his dreams of becoming a chef. He comes down to India to spend some time with his estranged wife Radha and their only son Arman. At his son’s insistence, Kalra extends his stay in Kochi and gets to meet Biju, his wife’s lover. Biju offers him a double-decker bus, in desperate need of a makeover ,as a business opportunity.The idea is to covert this into a food truck. Though initially offended, he starts looking at it as a second chance to revamp his passion. Soon he is joined by one his juniors Nuzroon from London who confesses to his undying loyalty towards his boss. The trio-Kalra, Arman and Nuzroon set on the new journey together with Raasta Cafe. The relationship of the father and son blooms with the former realizing how much an absentee father he had been to his doting son who openly idolizes him. The climax of the movie is predictable without being overly dramatic.
There are few factors that work in the favor of this movie –
- Saif Ali Khan as Roshan Kalra – It was a pleasure to see the actor don the role of Chef Kalra with aplomb. As a middle-aged, divorced, just fired, ill-tempered guy, he does complete justice to his character. His special moments with Arman will sometimes tear you up . He’s a man with flaws and ready to work on them for his son who adores him.
- The unusually matured relationship between ex husband and wife – One of the rare movies where the emotions don’t go over the top with unnecessary yelling at each other. Two strong individuals who had a failed marriage yet bonded by their son trying to be cordial to each other without being intrusive – that’s how unique their relation is. Kalra’s reaction on seeing Radha with Biju will crack one up.
- Visual treat – The movie captures the picturesque Kochi in a grand way. There’s backwaters, simple yet royally designed houses with great architecture and greenery all over. The journey of the food truck takes us through equally gorgeous locations. Having traveled Kerala exhaustively few years back, I had a strong urge to pack my bags and be on the move again while watching the movie last night.
- Food delight – Chef tickles ones’ taste bud so much that I ended up craving for the roti pizzas that were being served from Raasta Cafe. Yet I would say that this could have been much better visually. The exploration of the main theme in the movie is seen only in bits and pieces.
- The music – The album has seven songs with Tere Mere by Armaan Malik and Jonita Gandhi being the most famous one. Raghu Dixit’s numbers will make you groove. The music is beautiful and soothing to the ears.
What needed improvisation –
- Story – The story is too simple and at no point offers any surprise. It is sort of the bland. Infact during few instances, one can’t help but feel the lack of depth in the situations.
- Detailing – The background of the lead characters, the reason for the collapse of their marriage, Kalra’s relation with his father needed more detailing so as to give insights into their though process and circumstances.
- Predictability -The predictable element throughout the movie leaves the audience asking for a quick ending. At 2hrs 11 minutes, the movie really felt a tad too long. The movie could have been cut short by ten to fifteen minutes making it more crisp.
While Milind Soman is desirable as always, Chandan Roy Sanyal is hilarious, Padmapriya looks gorgeous and acts well bringing out the strength of Radha Menon effortlessly but it is Svar Kamble who steals the show. The teenager’s insecurities, his longing for his dad while being extremely attached to his mom, his desire to bridge the gap between idiyappams and chole bature without being too vocal or nagging about it touches the heart.
There are few clever lines like the subtle reference to the movie Dil Chahta Hai that suddenly makes the film look promising yet the spark is only short-lived. Since this movie was all about food and the evolution of a father son relationship in path of this journey, it definitely leaves asking for more in both. This movie sort of falls short of the expectations in quite a few categories. However, I must say that I had a smile on my lips most of the times while watching the movie. It is easy, it is light and does evoke a feeling of warmth and joy.
My rating would be the same as the number of Michelin stars of Chef Kalra.
3 out of 5
This can be a one time watch on a lazy weekend afternoon. It will make you smile, will make you well up at times yet when the movie gets over, you tend to forget it immediately after. This is where Chef fails to connect with the audience to create an impact despite being one of the best performances of Saif Ali Khan till date. Wish the script did justice to this other likable sweet movie.