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Malayalam Movie Review: SaltNPepper - For Foodies & Lovers

Salt N Pepper movie - I heard so much about it from my Twitter friends. I was praying for the movie to reach me here. For those who love food and romance, this movie has IT. With food as the movie's main theme, I was totally glued to the movie's starting point that showed different types of tasty food in different stages of creation and presentation. Colors oozed from the dishes, each distinct from the other. You would have seen the audience licking their lips in anticipation of the next dish, such was the visual delight of the movie when it began.

Aashiq Abu's 'Salt n Pepper' is simple, brilliant and stays in your heart forever. The story revolves around Kalidasan (starring Lal) who is an archaeologist but is more obsessed with food - the scents, the taste and the texture of food that takes him to the past and beyond. Maya (starring Swetha Menon) lives in the same town and works as a dubbing artiste. 

Personally, I have never liked any of Shwetha Menon's movies though she is currently a hot favorite with Malayalis all over the world. In this film, I loved her performance. The insecurities she portrays and struggles to deal with when people constantly remind her that it's time to get married and she has a beautiful room mate who's confidence sometimes totally gets on her nerves. She also has to deal with lecherous men who work with her and show no hesitation to invite her over a weekend for 'just sex.' She portrays the contemporary woman effortlessly. Her way of speaking, walking and dressing are 100% natural. 
A scene that I liked was when she talks to Kalidasan about her mother's cooking - the smell of the food her mother used to make and how she feels that when she is cooking, her mother 's presence and love is constantly around her. Don't we have such moments in our life too?

Another scene I liked again was where she breaks down crying in the beauty parlor, saying she's fed up of life. Every woman, at some point, has said and felt that. Shwetha Menon had the conviction to bring that universal moment onto celluloid with amazing naturalness.

Kalidasan and Maya - the two unlikely couple clash when one of Maya's calls to the local Dosa expert reaches Kalidasan's new mobile. Their quarrels become conversations of memories, family ties and much more. 

Kalidasan's narrative of teaching Maya the secret of baking Joan's Rainbow Cake is one of the best moments of this film. 

The story of Joan is that she is a French soldier's wife who waits for her husband to return as the Second World War goes on. As she waits, she makes a most delicious cake, borne out of her love and longing. It has layers of deliciously fresh strawberries, pistachios and orange - all are carefully placed one on top of the other. Finally,  it is smeared with sinfully glorious chocolate sauce. On that day, in their own homes, Kalidasan and Maya bake their own versions of the said cake and they each taste their love and longing for each other by eating this cake.  that moment is captured beautifully in this film.
Thus, they begin to like each other and decide to meet. Their complex about their age, appearance and so on makes them both hesitant to meet - "What if she doesn't like the way I look?" - that kind of complex sets in. That's when the movie's other characters start rolling into the picture.


Kalidasan's nephew is Manu, a role that's played effortlessly by Asif Ali and the role of Meenakshi who is Maya's roommate is played by Mythili. I am not sure whether there was 'chemistry' between these two young actors. While I liked Asif Ali's performance, I was disappointed by Mythili, who seemed to be 'acting' and not really convincing in anyway. Also, the song they did together didn't seem natural. It looked as though they were uncomfortable with each other.

The role of Kalidasan's brilliant chef is played by Baburaj whose performance is fantastic. He blends in humor, reality and seriousness almost effortlessly even as he goes on to impress us with his culinary skills. Balakrishnan (starring Vijayaraghavan) is Kalidasan's friend and a senior office who, one day, explains that nothing in life is as important as valuing and being with the one you love. 

The film, SaltNPepper ends with the Avial band's totally peppy music number. Director Aashiq Abu has raised great expectations with this film. It's food theme and romance rock! It's a must-watch.


sonees said…
nice write-up.. But I declines with your comments on Swetha... She s a talented artist...
Sensible Whiner said…
Loved the moment when she feels like her mother is beside while cooking. So natural.
Tan said…
I watched the movie...Its a 2-hour entertainer...really loved it :)
Harish said…
Hearing lot of good comments about this one. I think i should watch it.

Previously I had watched Shwetha in Palerimanickyam and TD Dasan Std 6B. In both of them she did outstanding acting.
I am not a Malayalee ( though I am married to one!) but I have always liked Malayalam films. They are not loud like Tamil films and not all glitzy like the Bollywood ones.They remind me in some way of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee films of the 1970s-80s. I MUST see this film. Are the DVDs available?
PS BTW thanks for stopping by my blog. Very thoughtful comments!

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