Any dedicated moviegoer would know that when a film is about food, the food plays an important role itself. Consider the 1992 film, Like Water for Chocolate. The protagonist, Tita, uses her cooking to influence people's emotions. When she's not allowed to marry the man she desires, the sadness creeps into her recipes and all the wedding guests are overcome by grief during the wedding banquet.
It is true that there hasn't been a dearth of food movies in the west. But, if you thought there aren't any Indian movies about food, you need to reconsider that.
In this article, we have listed five Bollywood movies where food plays a fundamental role:
Dawaat-e-Ishq celebrates not only love for food, but also love over food. It revolves around Gullu (Parineeti Chopra), a Hyderabadi girl who is frustrated with dowry-seeking men. She meets Taru (Aditya Roy Kapur), a charming chef from Lucknow who has the ability to churn out delicious recipes.
Given all the mouth-watering dishes on display, this film is a complete foodie fest. Besides, it also focuses on love, betrayal and questions pertaining to dowry.
The Lunchbox (2013)
In The Lunchbox, we have Ila (Nimrat Kaur) a wife who tries to please her husband by cooking delicious food. Her dabba, however, is delivered to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a man she doesn't know. As a result of appreciation for good food, the two develop an epistolary relationship.
This film gives the cinematic glutton so much. From the whiff of tadka in a hot kadhai to the nuanced details of Mumbai and the disparities it is crammed with.
English Vinglish (2012)
The Sridevi starrer, English Vinglish, might seem like a film that is just about an Indian homemaker trying her best to learn English to boost her self-confidence and to earn respect from her family who mocks her for the lack of command over the language. However, there is more to it.
English Vinglish, despite its title is more than just about English. Here we have a homemaker whose laddoo making skills help her try her hand at entrepreneurship. Even when her family demeans her, her cooking is the one superpower that keeps her afloat. English Vinglish also highlights the predicament of the person whose personhood is dismissed by a refusal to value the work they do.
Stanley ka Dabba (2011)
Stanley ka Dabba is a film that easily takes us back to the time when our tiffin box was a prized possession. The film is about Stanley (Partho Gupte), a boy who doesn't bring lunch to school and his khadoos teacher's insatiable lust for food.
Throughout the movie we encounter delicious food packed in tiffin boxes. In the end, we see a dhaba where little Stanley works. It is here that the depth of his hunger in realized. While he has food all around him, he has none to take to school.
Ramji Londonwaley (2005)
Sanjay Dayma's film, Ramji Londonwaley, is the story of an upper caste vegetarian Indian chef who ends up in London jobless and nowhere to go. While in London, food steps in as a saviour for Ramji (R. Madhavan). It helps him land a job, make friends and even impress the ladies!
The film does convince us that the love for food is universal. It also focuses on how adaptation of food habits to meet the demands of a global consumer can bring people of different cultures together.