Chef, a film by Raja Krishna Menon (Airlift fame), is a great refreshment. It is a remake of 2014 American film by the same name Chef. Raja Krishna Menon has this uncanny knack of handling the complex emotions in a very simplified manner which touches one’s heart. This is what he did with Airlift too, which was a tribute to the human spirits that find path even amidst turbulence, gathers courage in spite of losing everything. In Chef also, Raja Krishna Menon is able to strike the right chord of emotions. His film lets us know that it is not important to be loud, melodramatic to express the emotions and make it reach people. The most complicated emotions of differences in relationships, separations, claiming ownership in relationships, sense of envy, possessiveness, the difference between ‘the need’ and ‘the want’ etc. are so beautifully conveyed in the film. There is not a single scene in the film which is negatively treated. No over the top characters. All characters are so beautifully sketched, one can see ‘self’ in them. Rather, there is so much to learn from every character. Saif’s character lets us understand that relationships are integral part of life, these need to be preserved and not to be taken for granted and be complacent. Saif’s character also facilitates us to understand that how important it is to have work-life balance, align professional success with personal success as well. Padmapriya’s character teaches us resilience and also how high emotional quotient can help us achieve balance in life. The child actor Svar Kamble’s character makes us want to restore the innocence in our lives and at the same time be sharply observant of everything happening in and around us. And the whole theme of the film uses cooking as a metaphor, as cooking food is an art, similarly, living life is also an art. One needs to have the right mix of all the required ingredients to make every moment of life awesome and be alive while living this life. Chef cooks delicious food which would certainly suit one’s taste buds. A beautiful, delightful and tasty film on cuisine of life, which has all ethos, pathos and logos in place.
The film begins with the streets of Chandni Chowk with Saif Ali Khan’s narration in the background. His character is named Roshan Kalra, who even as a 10 year old is instinctively drawn towards food. His nose is one of the strongest sensory organ. He is shown enjoying food as well as having an interest towards cooking food. And like other parents, his father also wanted him to focus on studies and grow up to be either an engineer or a doctor, but Roshan was meant for an altogether different and unconventional profession as a Chef. He chooses to run away from home at the age of 15, and after spending a few years at Amritsar and learning cooking, he reaches America and settles there. The grown up Roshan makes entry in the film as an arrogant, narcissistic but creative Chef. He smashes a customer’s nose on getting a negative feedback about food. This turns out to be very costly for him, the post goes viral on twitter, he first lands up in lock-up and then gets fired at work. Struggling to pick up the jagged pieces of his shattered career, he decides to join his son Arman aka Arry (Svar Kamble) and ex-wife Radha Menon (Padmapriya) at Cochin in Kerala. Although all these while, he genuinely cared about Armaan and Radha, the love of his life is food and his work as Chef. Though not explicitly shown, this is why probably he is divorced and why his spending time with Armaan is just an on and off proposition. This is explained visually through a song that how Roshan and Padmapriya start experiencing emotional absence in their relationship.
It is beautiful to see the ice-breaking happening between father and the son. Radha is a wonderful dancer who is shown training students. Biju (Milind Suman) is Radha’s friend who is very much pally with Arman too. Situations prompt Roshan to start Raasta Café (A mobile food truck). The journey of Rassta Café, right from its inception to execution, become instrumental in Roshan’s undergoing a self-evolution journey. How Roshan’s relationship with Armaan and Priya evolves, how he becomes more tolerant in his life, and how he is finally able to mix the right ingredients to make life beautiful forms the story later.
Saif Ali Khan as Roshan Kalra has really done the role beautifully. His mannerisms and overall screen persona makes the character look so credible and affable. Beautiful Padmapriya brings so much stability to her character through her subtle performance. Her eyes speak a lot, and she has a great expressive face. She brings so much poise and confidence to Radha’s character. Svar Kamble is very good as Armaan. Presence of Chandan Roy Sanyal as Roshan’s colleague and friend ‘Ji raha hoon bas’ infuses his comic sense wonderfully, although one feels like having more of him in the film. Milind Suman brings maturity to his character Biju. Sobhita Dhulipala as Vinnie is also convincing as Roshan’s good friend who does pose questions which finally turn out the reasons for Roshan to think about a different perspective. Rest of the cast also have given good performances.
The film does take a dig at Kerala Trade Union’s interference. In another scene, a policeman’s attempt to pose problems to street vendors and in the process earn is also shown.
Chef’s screenplay packs many powerful moments which is all about how to live this beautiful life. The dance sequence of Saif and Padmapriya is simply awesome.
Music is another highlight of the film. Every song is very meaningful and linked to the screenplay well. Raghu Dixit and Amaal Malik have done great jobs. Raghu does make a special appearance in the film with his power-packed performance.
The film integrates the scenic beauty of God’s own country Kerala with the life of Goa and the hustle-bustle of Chandni Chowk street and Connaught Place in Delhi.
Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef is a great refreshment. The whole theme of the film uses cooking as a metaphor, as cooking food is an art, similarly, living life is also an art. Chef cooks delicious food which would certainly suit one’s taste buds. A beautiful, delightful and tasty film on cuisine of life, which has all ethos, pathos and logos in place.
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)
Cast and Crew Details: Source – Wikipedia Page
Cast: Saif Ali Khan (Roshan Kalra), Padmapriya Janakiraman (Radha Menon), Svar Kamble (Armaan), Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sovhitha Dhulipala (Vinnie), Raghu Dixit (Cameo)
Directed by: Raja Krishna Menon
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Raja Krishna Menon, Vikram Malhotra, Janani Ravichandran
Written by: Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair, Raja Krishna Menon
Based on: Chef by Jon Favreau
Music: Raghu Dixit, Amaal Mallik
Cinematography: Priya Seth
Edited by: Shivkumar V Panicker
Production Company: T-Series, Abundantia Entertainment, Bandra West Pictures
Release Date: 6th October, 2017
Duration: 2 hours 13 minutes