Friday, August 26, 2011

Salt n' Pepper

Director: Aashiq Abu
Cast: Lal, Shwetha Menon, Asif Ali, Mythili
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

This was one of the more interesting malayalam movies to come out in recent times. For a malayalam movie, this one can definitely be called "experimental".

Lal and Shwetha Menon play two unmarried middle-aged people who share a love of food. They "meet" accidentally when Shwetha calls a restaurant to order "thattil koottiya dosa" and gets Lal's phone by mistake. They get into a fierce argument with name-calling and such. They reconcile with an "apology" call. Thus begins a phone relationship where their conversations are primarily food centered.
Lal is an archeologist and Shwetha is a dubbing artist. Both professions are probably new for malayalam cinema protagonists. I can't remember a movie where a character worked in either of those fields. There are a few such new things in this cinema which stoke your interest. For example, there is a scene in the movie where the women are shown getting drunk on the terrace of their house. My favorite sequence, however, was when Lal "elopes" with the male cook of the house during his "pennu kaanal". There are definite gay undertones to the relationship between Lal and his cook, which is a welcome change in my opinion. I hope the next generation of directors will dare to go even further with the exploration of social taboos.

While watching the movie I thought that it dragged a bit and didn't have a solid plot line. But the innocence and vulnerability of the main characters, the freshness of the food theme, and the overall simplicity of the movie made me adore it. I find myself thinking about the movie often even weeks after watching it.

If you're a foodie, you'll love this movie. I'm not into food, but my mother-in-law is. She watched the movie with me, and she would get excited everytime she saw a new dish on the screen (a lot of food is shown during the titles).

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