Chef: Satisfies your taste buds
Despite a predictable plot, the film is salvaged by the enduring performances of the leads
Remakes are tricky, and we often find filmmakers falling short of expectations due to comparisons with the original. In most cases, directors play it safe by simply going ahead with a faithful adaptation. And this time, it’s the turn of Raja Krishna Menon, who last directed the critically acclaimed film Airlift to showcase his talents with actor Saif Ali Khan in Chef, a road film that explores Indian food. Does this combination live up to the expectations? Let’s find out.
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Padmapriya, Svar Kamble and Milind Soman
Direction: Raja Krishna Menon
A star chef Roshan Kalra (Saif Ali Khan) punches his unsatisfied customer and loses his job at a New York-based restaurant. It takes just a few moments for Roshan to realise his sense of detachment from work and emotions. Following a suggestion by his ex-colleague Vinnie (Sobhita Dhulipala), he makes use of this break to be with his son Armaan (Svar Kamble), who lives with his mother Radha Menon (Padmapriya) in Kochi. The trip becomes eventful for him as he bonds with his estranged family and rediscovers his aspirations. He then starts everything afresh by launching a food truck Raasta Café and goes on a road trip with his wife and son to understand what he’s missing in his life.
An official adaptation of Jon Favreau's 2014 film of the same name, Chef delves into the father-son bond. It is not easy to make a film with such a story in Hindi but Raja Krishna Menon pulls it off with great aplomb. You may have apprehensions about watching a remodeled version of a film which was liked by many in the west. But, once you watch it, you will be surprised to see how wonderfully he has adapted the ordeals of a loner who lives in the US to an urban Indian setting with a relatable story.
Chef is not a frame-by-frame remake of the original, and Raja Krishna Menon shows what he is capable of by choosing an appropriate star cast who bring a lot of freshness and subtlety to the tale. It’s an exhilarating cocktail of family, emotions and redemption. The slowly narrated story, at times, fails to match the charm of the original, but still keeps the audience hooked for the entirety of its exhilarating storyline.
Saif Ali Khan seamlessly gets into the skin of the character of Carl Casper (played by Jon Favreau in the original). It’s not an overstatement to say that no one could play this character better than Saif. The director has created a role that allows the actor to remain in his lightweight comfort zone as in Dil Chahta Hai.
Chef is a step forward for Padmapriya in terms of performance, after her Bollywood debut with Striker in 2010, and she brings a degree of credibility as Radha. Milind Soman reprises Robert Downey Jr's role from the original, and he plays his part well. On the flip side, Sobhita Dhulipala fails to bring the sensuality that Scarlett Johansson had displayed in the original. Svar Kamble steals your heart as the boy Armaan and is the real star performer of the film.
Despite a predictable plot, the film is salvaged by the enduring performances of the lead cast. And yes, this Chef will satisfy your taste buds this weekend.