Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Padmapriya Janakiraman, Milind Soman, Neha Saxena. Svar Kamble, Chandan Roy Sanyal. Dinesh Prabhakar.
Director: Raja Krishna Menon.
An adaptation of Jon Favreau’s film by the same name, Chef is the story of Roshan Kalra (Saif Ali Khan) and his search for true happiness and rediscovering his passion in life.
A fight with a diner at the eatery where he is a chef leads to Saif losing his job. He flies to India to spend some time with his teenaged son, (Svar – good choice!). There he meets Bijoy (Milind Soman – looking hot in a Mundu), his ex-wife’s (Padmapriya – beautiful and restrained ) friend and his son’s favourite uncle. Bijoy offers his old, rusty, broken-down double-decker bus to Saif to convert it into a swanky kitchen on wheels and help him get back on his feet and his passion.
The rest of the film is about how Saif bonds with his son, works on the bus, transforms it into a popular eatery on wheels and begins life afresh. Oh, yes, thrown in for some desi tadka (in typical Bollywood-style) is Saif’s reconciliation with his estranged father who had disowned his son for running away from home to fulfil his dream of becoming a chef.
Review: Let me begin by asking if you have seen the Hollywood film, Chef, starring Jon Favreau; the film that revolves around food and the passion that the adorably chubby Jon has for food? If you have seen it, I am sure you enjoyed it immensely, and not once were you not convinced that Jon was not a real chef, isn’t it?
Okay, then, the review of the Indian Chef, is sure going to break your heart, because, our Bollywood Chef is anything but its Hollywood original. Sad, but true. Have you seen Saif Ali Khan’s Salaam Namastey? His character in and as Chef is just an extension of that in Salaam Namastey (SN), with a few changes made here and there, so watch the film at your own discretion.
I hadn’t seen SN when it released back then, but happened to watch parts of the film yesterday on TV. And, the one thing that struck me was the similarity in many a scene from the two movies. Saif was a chef with a bad temper in SN and Saif is a chef with a bad temper in Chef. Saif chopped onions in SN and he chops onions in Chef. He was an unruly kid with an attitude in SN, and he is an unruly kid with an attitude in Chef, with the only difference being that now he has a teenage son, who comes across as much more matured and understanding than the father!
So, that’s Saif’s character in Chef in a nutshell. This review may come across as extremely critical of Saif, but frankly, I expected better things from this actor who wowed the audience with his portrayal of the wicked Langda Tyaagi in Omkara. I also saw shades of his character from Cocktail/Hum Tum and, of course, SN in the Roshan of Chef. I failed to see the passion in his eyes for food, his culinary skills and his maturity as an actor, the kind that I saw in Jon Favreau.
Of course, it is also the director’s fault that he showed Saif preparing just a couple of dishes (pasta and Rottza only) in the entire movie, chopping only onions and chillies and blanching some tomatoes. The scene in the original Chef, when Jon prepares a toasted cheese sandwich for his son is imprinted in my mind, and the memory makes me ravenous! In fact, I drool over every scene that has Jon in his kitchen, at the sight of the food and at the sight of the chubby chef! That so did not happen in our HIndi Chef, and all that disenchantment is the reason this review may not come across as favourable to Saif Ali Khan fans.
There are a couple of songs – the main ingredient in any Bollywood film, but that’s okay, or rather, expected. Padmapriya and Milind Soman come across as patronising; like they have taken it upon themselves to get Saif back on track! I wish Saif had been shown in a better light, standing up for himself and not being treated as a kid with no direction in life!
The scenes between him and his son, the young Svar, make for some warm moments in an otherwise bland plot. But, my main gripe is about the lack of scenes revolving around the main subject of the film. I wish Saif had been shown cooking much more, and with an obsession that I know foodies possess. Yes, he did master the art of chopping and flambeing, but there was a lot more expected from a foodie film.
My verdict: I can watch the English Chef countless times and still drool over it, but not the Indian version. So, sorry Saif, but this film gets a thumbs down from me. I would much rather watch you in Omkara and be in awe of the fine actor that you really can be!
Linking this post to The WriteTribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.