Tadka is warm film cooked on slow fire

Shriya Saran and Nana Patekar play foodies in love in ZEE5’s Tadka—Love is Cooking directed by Prakash Raj. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

This one could have been a spicy recipe of romance between two people who are beyond the conventional age of marriage. But while remaining a cute, feel-good film with a warm heart, it is sadly cooked on too slow (as in pace and excitement quotient) fire. The fare, thus, is neither undercooked nor overdone, but just about appealing, with some absurd elements as well.

Archeologist Tukaram (Nana Patekar) works in Goa and is a foodie. He loves seafood and anything delicious. RJ Madhura (Shriya Saran) is also a foodie, and professionally, does much the same thing on her show as Vidya Balan did in Lage Raho Munna Bhai—advise people on relationships. When Madhura feels hungry, she gets fuzzy-headed and impatient. One day, she dials a phone number of a café that makes excellent Aloo Parantha. But one digit off the mark, the phone reaches Tukaram, and he is livid and there is a heated exchange of words.

Tukaram is an eccentric searching for a true soul-mate, and he never wants to wed anyone who does not love delicious food. Madhura too wants someone she can understand, will understand her and with whom she can vibe. When people close to them insist that they call up and apologize to each other (though they are strangers), a gradual bond is struck and soon they decide to meet—Tukaram has meanwhile checked out Madhura’s Aloo Parantha and found it delicious.

But a certain precautionary measure is needed so that both are not disappointed by the owner of the other voices on phone, and so Tukaram’s nephew, Siddharth (Ali Fazal) and Madhura’s landlady (Lillette Dubey)’s daughter Nicole (Taapsee Pannu) are sent to pretend they are Tukaram amd Madhura. The two like each other immensely and so dissuade the real twosome from meeting the other party, who, they say, is too young for them!

But can the desire and hunger for love, companionship and food ever be wished away? Tukaram and Madhura start pining for each other, until they are persuaded to meet in person by their respective well-wishers rather than sending substitutes.

So what happens to the selfish Siddharth and Nicole, each of whom thinks that the other party is actually Madhura and Tukaram respectively, and are petrified now that their subterfuge will be exposed and their romance cut short?

A major flaw in the 113-minute film is that while it uses a lot of needless footage on Tukaram’s and Madhura’s missing each other’s voice, the last 15 minutes are hurriedly and even incompletely dealt with. Add this to too much time spent in establishing their characters in the first 20 to 30 minutes and we get an inkling of the pace I talked about. Needless to say, however, that Tukaram’s trysts with possible spouses are hilarious and the way Madhura’s colleague, Danny (Naveen Kaushik) tries to comfort as well as exploit her is well-done.

Goa is shot in a bright, breezy, picturesque way by Preetha Jayaraman and Prakash Raj’s direction is adequately skilled for the simple love story, though he could have supervised the script better (he has featured in all the earlier language versions of this remake).

One super-sized woe here: though I understand Hindi obviously, I was watching the English subtitles carefully. And not only were the meanings of some of the sentences in the lyrics wrongly interpreted but the subtitles themselves were an utter disgrace to the makers and the platform—a lot of the times, there were incomplete words in the end, for example, ‘aunt’ came as just ‘a’ or maybe ‘au’!

Nana Patekar, predictably, puts in a masterly performance and his outburst in front of friend Tebli (Murali Sharma) is especially brilliant. He is excellent all through in different facets of his character graph. Shriya Saran makes for a cute Madhura with her expressive eyes, and she is especially good when expressing her ideas of romance to her landlady and friend.

The supporting cast is uniformly good, and among them, Murali Sharma and Iravati Harshe (Tukaram’s colleague Urmi) stand out. Of course, Taapsee Pannu and Ali Fazal are wasted in roles that come across as confused.

Thankfully, Tadka—Love is Cooking (a suffix open to more than one interpretation) is a decent, relaxing watch at home because it has come out on OTT. It would have not stood a chance at the box-office and yet another decent film would have been junked.

Rating: *** 

ZEE5 presents Prakash Raj Productions, Movie Makers Inc. & Zee Studios’ Tadka—Love is Cooking Produced by: Prakash Raj, Sameer Dixit & Jatish Verma Directed by: Prakash Raj Written by: Syam Pushkaran, Dileesh Nair Surya Menon & Sagar Haveli Music: Anup Reubens, Arkane & Vivek Kar Starring: Nana Patekar, Shriya Saran, Taapsee Pannu, Ali Fazal, Murli Sharma, Iravati Harshe, Lillette Dubey, Naveen Kaushik, Rajesh Sharma & others





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