It is a common pastime for internet maniacs to “spot the film this Friday’s release has been copied from” in India. It is not uncommon for film-makers to be “inspired” by films from different parts of the world – and often the southern states of our own country too. But when they actually give credit, they open their film up for justifiable comparison. Raja Krishna Menon is remaking Jon Favreau’s delicious 2014 hit, Chef, with Saif Ali Khan – he of noble blood and perfect face (and accented Hindi) to play a NRI in Bollywood over and over again. Menon is also retaining the same name of the original film. Wow. He really has the proverbial genitalia to throw himself to the pack of meme hounds.
And he fails miserably.
Favreau’s Chef was a story of falling in love with life doing what you love doing the most – on your own terms. It was a fable about taking risks because living life on your own terms is important – even in your dream job. Menon’s Chef (at least from the trailer) is a story of a man coming back to India to teach his estranged Punjabi-Tamilian son the true meaning of being Punjabi and then spending the remaining run time trying to woo a pretty lady – while putting a food truck together. Talk about missing the point.
Tell me something, Mr. Menon: How many food trucks have you seen in India? I could end the conversation right there and tell you how niche and high brow your film is for the Indian mass. But then you’ll say, “It is not for the mass. Look! I have cast the un-massiest mass actor in the industry.” Cool. So you want to woo the niche-indie-artsy crowd with a feel good film about a man wooing a woman over just one shot of chole-bature and one of spaghetti in “white” sauce?
Here’s Favreau’s original film’s trailer. Count the number of food shots in it:
And here’s Menon-Saif’s Chef’s trailer. Count the food shots in this one. Here’s a clue: Dany originally had these many dragons.
If you cannot adequately cut a food film’s trailer in India, your film has a serious problem.