Tarla is sweetly told saga of an ace cook

Sharib Hashmi and Huma S. Qureshi in Tarla. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

This biopic is so sweet and simple that it is immaterial how much was dramatized and what really happened. Suffice to say that whatever is shown is interesting and riveting enough and the humorous angles (like Tarla watching husband Nalin dig into mutton in his office canteen from a colleague’s tiffin and puking, or her feeding Nalin spicy gajar halwa at their first meeting on a whim!) are all amusingly lifelike and relatable.

Tarla (Huma S. Qureshi) lives in Pune and is inspired by her teacher into becoming something in life, but she does not know what and how. She has an arranged marriage with Mumbai-based engineer, Nalin (Sharib Hashmi) and after she re-locates there, lives a normal humdrum domestic life complete with three kids.

The way Tarla’s adventures with cooking begin (inspired by her husband’s love for non-vegetarian food and her own complete aversion to it!) is shown with great humor and empathy. From there to big-time, via misadventures like self-publishing a first book that does not sell for a while and the positive contribution of a scarp merchant, Gafurbhai (Amarjeet Singh) emerges a story that is very real and relatable.

Of course, the supportive husband is later incited by a wicked publisher (Lokesh Mittal) who has gone wrong in his arbitrary judgment that cookbooks don’t sell. Along with a suddenly-hostile mother-in-law (Lata Shukla), a sick youngest child, Sanju (Hridansh Parekh) and an ego issue in Nalin’s psyche, this leads to a crisis, leading to Tarla refusing a television show (the first such in India) on cookery that will take her to the next level. The biopic ends with a happy resolution to all this, and skips Tarla’s future triumphs, including India’s first cooking website and her national (led by Padma Shri) and international honors.

Tarla is lifted by consummate performances from the entire cast, and Huma S. Qureshi is, as expected, brilliant as Tarla. Moving away from her normal style, she imbibes the cooking ace she is portraying to a fabulous extent and comes out trumps. Sharib Hashmi is very good too, as are the three kids (Vedansh Jaju, Aashriya Mishra and Hridansh Parekh). Bharti Achrekar as the neighbor is wasted, but Amarjeet Singh is excellent as the quirky and ambitious Gafurbhai.

The music is functional, with the song Papa why why why reminding us of Haanikaarak bapu from Nitesh’s blockbuster, Dangal. The script is pitched correctly, sans over-the-top drama but with lifelike humor, a tradition with Nitesh’s films that has been excellently followed by debut writer-director Piyush Gupta and co-writer Gautam Ved. So we do not mind the absence of any in-depth analysis of what went into Tarla’s and her husband’s minds at the various stages of her life. In short, it is sanitized in the right way and with the right intentions, unlike some other real-life sagas.

Rating: ***1/2

ZEE5 presents RSVP’s and Earthsky Pictures’ Tarla  Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala, Nitesh Tiwari & Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari  Directed by: Piyush Gupta Written by: Piyush Gupta & Gautam Ved  Music: Suhit Abhyankar, Nilotpal Bora & Rohan Vinayak Starring: Huma S. Qureshi, Sharib Hashmi, Hardik Thakkar, Kukul Tarmaster, Morli Patel, Bharti Achrekar, Garima Agarwal, Purnendu Bhattacharya, Raghav Binani, Vedansh Jaju, Aashriya Mishra, Hridansh Parekh, Lokesh Mittal, Veenah Naair, Rajeev Pandey, Laxmi Rawat, Lata Shukla, Amarjeet Singh, Premal Yagnik & others



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