Food is more than just nourishment. Food is a memory, a story, an intimate connection with the past, and much more – don’t you agree? Well, majority people across the globe do and hence October 16 is celebrated as World Food Day.
Today on this special day, let take a look at Bollywood films where food was a cinematic protagonist. Here are a few of our favourite films revolving around cooking, eating and bonding over food.
Our World Food Day feature would be incomplete with out the mention of the Irrfan Khan starter The Lunchbox. “Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station,” says Irrfan Khan’s Sajan Fernandes in The Lunchbox. This line sums up the bond that develops over a misplaced lunchbox between two lonely people.
This film is a modern classic as it luxuriates in the healing power of cooking, eating, and sharing stories.
Axone is a 2020 film Nicholas Khargonkar directorial currently available on Netflix. It treats a north-Eastern dish and its unusually pungent aroma as a powerful statement on ethnicity, deep-rooted prejudice, and discrimination against ‘the other’. This ‘other’ could be anyone who does not fit in because of what she/he cooks or eats or looks like.
The movie begins with North-Eastern migrant Upasana (Sayani Gupta) trying to cook this rather controversial dish Axone in her Delhi home with her friends, as a special treat for her best friend’s wedding. However, this triggers unspoken biases that comes to a boiling point where something as simple as wanting to cook a special meal becomes fraught with tension and conflict.
This 1972 Hrishikesh Mukherjee film is a classic take on the powerful influence food has on the way families function. A chaotic kitchen translates into interpersonal strife, the film seems to convey and also shows how harmonious cooking brings everyone together.
This life lesson is taught to a bickering joint family by a mysterious and charismatic Bawarchi (Rajesh Khanna) who arrives suddenly in the household with glowing testimonials from celebrities who he claims to have worked for. He starts by cleaning the courtyard, chops vegetables like one possessed, cooks vegetarian kebabs, regulates everyone’s food habits, conduct music and dance sessions over the morning tea and weans off a prospective alcoholic from heavy drinking by introducing him to a chilled, lime spiked cola!
Chef directed by Raja Krishna Menon was a remake of a Jon Favreau hit of the same name. Starring Saif Ali Khan, the film reimagines the story of a burnt-out chef in the Indian context. We see chef Roshan (Saif) leaving New York to visit Kochi to repair his relationship with his ex-wife (Padmapriya Janakiraman) and bond with his son (Svar Kamble).
He has lost his passion for cooking and his son does not really respond to his overtures. It is at this point Roshan rediscovers that heartfelt cooking is the biggest gift one can offer to a loved one. And soon enough, he wins over his son with an irresistible “rotzza” (roti and pizza).
Stanley Ka Dabba
Director Amole Gupte’s 2011 offering Stanley Ka Dabba is not so much about food as it is about what food represents to a young child. It is about the longing for love, for normalcy, for a meal in a tiffin box by someone who cares. The story revolves around a young boy Stanley (Partho Gupte) who comes to school with a ready smile but has a heartbreaking backstory. During the recess when everyone opens their tiffin boxes, Stanley never has anything to eat.
And looming in the backdrop is an angry, greedy, rampaging teacher (Amole) itching to steal everyone’s food. Stanely somehow gets by because of the generosity of his friends and the love of his favourite teacher (Divya Dutta). The film poignantly points out how all children deserve a lovingly cooked meal, warmth, and nourishment.
This World Food Day, which Bollywood film centred around food are you going to watch?