Brilliant chefs but rival Indian brothers Raja (Harish Patel) and younger Jagi (Kulvinder Ghir) fell out years before when a family recipe was sold off, and have not spoken since, even though they each own identically named restaurants on opposite sides of the road in Leicester’s ‘Golden Mile’. The trouble is, Raja is great at starters but not mains, and Jagi specialises in mains, but not starters, so both find they are loosing business but blame each other.
With the arrival of newly engaged Shalini (Amara Karan), Raja’s lawyer daughter and Jagi’s beloved niece who has been away for a while the brothers’ dispute has to be addressed. Shalini announces that she wants both of them to cook her wedding meal or she will not have an Indian wedding to her husband-to-be, surgeon Mark (Tom Mison), and will leave for good. The brothers must put their differences aside to make her dream come true, but can they bury the hatchet?
Gupta’s semi-biographical tale – in that it’s based on his family link of food, family and film – is agreeable enough as it does reflect a personal touch and a hearty celebration of food. There is even an appearance by Indian food guru Madhur Jaffrey herself, judging a competition that further makes it feel like a TV cookery programme at times, but without all the ingredients and steps explained.
Indeed, Patel and Ghir are perfectly cast, but just why the source of the brothers’ feud takes so long to be revealed is distracting. We never seem to know exactly why this particular Indian family holds such culinary geniuses either – maybe it’s best to leave the intrigue intact? Things get even more frustrating at the very end, and even though Gupta wisely doesn’t fall into stereotype with a Bhangra beat finale, it still would have been nice to have everything served up, instead of the ‘mysterious’ tasting session that still fails to mention why this family is best at cooking.
With regards to cliché, the comedy value is naturally so – and perhaps unavoidable. Those of Indian heritage will probably find more personal touches to chuckle at, though this doesn’t spoil the general appetite for the rest. In fact, what Gupta has done is create a story that could be set within any culture where food is paramount, as is pride, so it translates extremely well.
It’s just a shame we get small morsels of subplot to chew on that lead nowhere, such as an excuse to have a colourful Holi celebration with some random best friends (whose significance is never explained but feature prominently in the end titling), a nightclub owner’s dirty tricks that never peak at anything, plus more importantly, why the groom-to-be being white is relevant at all to a story about two Indian brothers feuding and a daughter bringing them together, especially as Mison gives a very stiff, two-dimensional portrayal. In fact, Karan feels wooden at times too; annoyingly perky one minute then unconvincingly aggrieved the next.
Nevertheless, Gupta’s latest tale is a fond one that revels in the love of Indian cuisine so it gets our juices flowing in an altogether welcoming surrounding. It’s just that you do feel like you’re getting half a great feast for your price – like you’ve dined at Raja’s then at Jagi’s, but are still hungry for more facts.