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Nov 30, 2011

Salt N Pepper

Woohoo! Malayalam has its first real food-porn film. We did not have Babette's Feast, Ratatouille, Julie & Julia or Chocalat but we now have Salt n Pepper.

For a film that is path breaker of its genre  Salt N Pepper  has managed to set high standards to anyone attempting a food-centered film in the future.  At the same time, it has remained a high grosser appealing to different sections of 'discerning' Malayali populace.

Lal, the lead actor in the role of an officer in the State Archeology department(in the pic: wearing blue shirt on the left) whose passion in life is food,  looks like he had his kattan chaya(or kaappi) in the morning and walked right into the set, into the movie and into your life. Shweta Menon has carved a niche for herself in Malayalam with hitherto non-existent roles being  written for her considering her talent and ‘advanced age’, which is a good sign for all actresses in Malayalam film industry. Shweta is in her mid thirties in an industry where it is the norm for actresses of that age to play mother or mother-in-law roles for our forever young fifty and sixty year old super stars. Asif Ali(in the pic: sporting neon green jacket) – the easy going, probably the one of the best in the new crop youngsters in Malluwood has a role that suits his style. 

 The actor who hits a gold mine with this movie is none of the above, it is Baburaj(in the pic: guy in the center murdering the chicken) who has appeared in umpteen Malayalam movies as the quintessential bad guy. Baburaj plays Babu the bachelor, hanuman-devotee super-chef with a personality to match. As an actor, this movie has to be a milestone, giving him a new image to explore.

On a personal front, Salt N Pepper is more attractive to me because it showcases my home city - Thiruvananthapuram and its more likeable parts like the Rajaveedhi from Kawdiar to Vellayambalam, the new underpass at Palayam, Napier Museum  and other familiar landmarks.

The opening and closing segments of the film are entertaining and innovative. Various famous restaurants and foods in Kerala are featured as the opening credits role in, which sets your lip smacking for the movie to begin. Once the whole fare is served – which was indeed a feast par excellence- we have the Malayali rock band Avial (coincidentally ‘avial’ is the name of a Kerala vegetable dish usually served with rice) signing off with foot thumping song, Aanakallan.
 Ashiq Abu has directed an irresistible hit, a delightful entertainer.