Malayali cinema fans, rejoice! The terrific trend that started off with Pranchiyettan and the Saint last year continues! I am still savoring the delectable treat after hours of watching Salt n Pepper. One thing is sure, I'll surely be watching this movie again and again!
The story in short: Kalidasan (Lal), an archaeologist and Maya (Swetha), a dubbing artiste are both working in our capital city and get accidentally connected over food. How they come to do it and what happens later is the simple theme. Food is as much a character in the movie as anyone else - enhancing the emotions, serving as background, connections, memories, even providing the perfect disguise for love sometimes. I fear I would be giving away too much of the movie if I were to go into a detailed description of the roles food plays. In this revolutionary year, we've seen many actors finally breaking out into new areas - look out for Baburaj in the movie! Lal doesn't just play the role with consummate ease - he IS the insecure and lonely Kalidasan. Swetha drops her sex symbol swagger and adopts the slouch of a forty something who is totally blind to her own allure proving that she's an adept in body language. No one gets lost in the movie - each character - from the silent, Mooppan, the beauty parlor owner played by Kalpana, and even KT Mirash (no, I won't explain more, you have to see the movie!)
In short, Salt n' Pepper follows the traditions of good foodie movies - e.g. Cheeni Kum and Julie and Julia in that they all blend food and a good story into a glorious smoothie that goes down well with the audience. It's fun and frolic for 20 somethings, and will bring a lot of nostalgia and empathy to the 30 and much-more-things, I'm sure. There are more layers to it than the French chef Joan's Rainbow Cake. The characters are so much like us - the heroines have chipped nail polish, the heroes have undyed beards and they cannot stomach food in times of turmoil like any other human being. Some dialogs stay in the mind even though I was not taking notes: Meenakshi (on seeing Maya snap at the landlady's kid): "You come away with me - she must have dubbed a family scene today." Meenakshi (about Maya): "Doesn't she resemble a former Miss India?" ((I hope you remember that Swetha came third behind Sushmita and Aishwarya in the 1994 edition))
Salt n' Pepper seems to be getting a lot of publicity since I had trouble getting a ticket for the noon show on a sleepy Sunday in the city. And a lot more were queued up outside in the unseasonably hot afternoon for the matinee. Why it is being screened in the minuscule Sree Visakh when 3 Kings is playing to virtually empty stands in the bigger hall is completely beyond me. Do give yourself a yummy treat and get double helpings of the movie. I know I'm going to!
And if Salt n Pepper is the flavor of Malayalam filmdom now, gimme more!!!!