After rave reviews from across the pond, London is set to get its fix of the culinary goodwill with the official release of The Hundred-Foot Journey on September 5th, a gastronomical feast of a film exploring the fusion of Indo-French cultures, represented beautifully through the universal language of heart-warming food for the soul.
To celebrate the release of The Hundred-Foot Journey and the culinary themes within the film, celebrity chef Dipna Anand of the Brilliant Restaurant in Southall, is giving away 1 copy of her popular Indian cookery book Beyond Brilliant. The Hundred-Foot Journey is a feel good cultural feast full of Indian spices, French sophistication and British wit, The Hundred-Foot Journey is the dream project of Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Juliet Blake, directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Dame Helen Mirren, DBE, Om Puri, OBE, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon.
The Hundred-Foot Journey releases in cinemas on 5th September through Entertainment One.
We also carried out a Q&A with Manish Dayal to find out what attracted him to the film, about his role and working with the cast:
I stumbled into the audition by accident and ended up reading for a part in an untitled film, or so I was told. Then I was called back to do several different takes and read multiple scenes and soon after that I got a call from Lasse Hallström wanting to meet with me. He asked me to pick a restaurant in New York so I chose one of my favourite Indian restaurants and we talked for hours about the story and about food as well.
2. What attracted you to the part?
Hassan is a very genuine kind of guy. There’s a humility to him and he’s somewhat naïve as well. It’s a fish out of water story in every sense. Just having the chance to portray this character, a man who begins this incredible journey and along the way is able to change the lives of so many people, was amazing.
3. Did you read the book when you found out you had been cast?
I read the book right away. It fascinated me in so many ways and I wanted to make sure I had an understanding of who these people were and the world they lived in. It was especially great getting to meet Richard Morais because here is this individual who created my character and I was able to ask him anything. He told me how he came to write the story in the first place, where everyone came from, his experiences with people in his life, his time in India and how the combination of all those things resulted in the story he ended up writing.
4.Tell us what the movie is about.
Well, this movie is about so much more than cooking. Cooking is the glue of the story, but the story is really about different people and cultures and how they interact and learn from one another. I mean you have this young Indian immigrant and this posh French restaurateur which is just such a bizarre combination, and I think the way their friendship develops is so powerful to witness.
5.Tell us about your character, Hassan Kadam and his family.
They are a big, loud, boisterous family, and Hassan stands out because he is reserved and more of an observer.
6. How do they end up in France?
The family ends up in a small village in the south of France when their car breaks down. There they discover an old house which would make a perfect restaurant, and which happens to be across the road from a famous French restaurant called Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory, which ends up posing a huge challenge for them.
7. Tell us about Hassan’s relationship with Charlotte Le Bon’s character, Marguerite.
Marguerite is a young woman from the village who helps them when their car breaks down, and Hassan is immediately smitten. She is the sous chef in Madame Mallory’s kitchen, and is beautiful, funny, smart and charismatic as well. Plus she knows all about food, which fascinates him. Marguerite has feelings for him, too, but is wary of him at the same time. And once they are both working in the kitchen at Le Saule Pleurer, she begins to view him as her competition.
What’s so great about Charlotte is that she has this amazing energy which is almost magnetic. She has a really funny sense of humor which knows no boundaries, and we both have similar sensibilities which made working together really fun and easy.
9. Explain the clash of cultures between Madame Mallory and Papa.
Well, you have these two very different cultures coming together, fighting for the same thing, their restaurant. Their tastes in food are wildly different, and they each feel challenged by the other. Papa feels like he is being chased out of town again, as they were in India and Madame Mallory feels as if her culture and her restaurant’s history are being trampled on by foreign invaders. It is these two perspectives coming together which sets off a feud, and they are both fighting for their culture, their families and everything they represent.
10. Explain how Hassan comes to work for Madame Mallory.
Madame Mallory knows that Hassan has a special gift and thinks he can help her restaurant get another Michelin star. So she offers to school him in the art of traditional French cuisine, which he is eager to learn. But it means leaving his family and the Maison Mumbai behind, so it’s a big step for him.
11. Explain how Hassan ends up in Paris.
When Le Saule Pleureur receives its second star, Hassan is recruited by a Parisian restaurant and moves to Paris. It’s in Paris that he ultimately realizes the things in life that are important to him: his family, Madame Mallory and Marguerite, his first love.
At first I was intimidated, but I was curious to see how she operated on a set. She’s insanely talented and truly a great actress, but is a really fun person to be around as well. I can totally be myself and make jokes with her. We talked a lot about the story and about what our characters would do in this scene, etc., and we had two very different perspectives, but it was cool to see what the other person was thinking.
13. Tell us about Om Puri and what he brings to the role of Papa.
I’ve always been a fan of Om Puri, so the opportunity to work with him was huge for me. He is a rascal, a peer, a mentor and a really, really loving person. He couldn’t be any better suited to the character he’s playing, and he brings life, charisma, heart and intelligence to everything he says both on camera and off. We were able to spend a lot of time together and laughed whenever we did. He cooked for us every weekend, which really helped create a family environment for us and made our bond on screen that much more believable.
14. How was it working with Lasse Hallström?
Lasse was great to work with. He completely trusts his actors’ instincts and respects just how much actors can bring to the story. He is smart and very perceptive, and whenever he makes a suggestion or changes something it always improves the scene. He’s got a handle on each character and every scene in the film and he always keeps an open dialogue for anything and anyone.
15. How was it working with Juliet Blake?
Juliet Blake is awesome. She was like the den mother on set, taking care of everyone. When I first signed onto the project she called me and we talked for over an hour about the immigrant experience and how it applied to both of us and how we related to the project. And we had many similar conversations on set.
16. Did you have cooking lessons prior to filming?
During pre-production I worked with Indian and French chefs to experience first-hand the differences. And in Paris I worked with an Indian chef so I could see an Indian chef with a French influence, and there really was a French influence in his cooking style.
17. What is the moral of the story?
The moral of the story is that there’s no place like home, and it is food which ultimately brings Hassan back to the village, his family, Madame Mallory and Marguerite.