By Omeleto

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Gayatri is a very strict and religious vegetarian who is retiring. But at her office farewell party, she accidentally eats some chicken, much to her chagrin. She sets about praying to atone for her mistakes and to ask her gods for forgiveness.

And yet… she cannot forget the delicious taste of that dish, and her mind is astonished that a dish strictly forbidden as immoral by her religion could taste so good. She sets about trying to find the recipe, which takes her on an inner journey that helps her rethink who she is and how she lives her life.

Writer-director Rahul Chaturvedi’s short dramedy — co-written with Luisa Alvarez Restrepo — derives its humor not from gags, pranks or surreal conceits, but from the affection and charm that arises when watching someone bump up against the boundaries of the new. The resulting friction propels Gayatri into strange new situations with strange new people, and while it’s fun to watch someone formerly set in her ways collide into a new way of seeing and thinking, it’s also richly resonant and heartwarming.

The storytelling is resolutely character-centered, with excellent care and attention paid to laying out Gayatri’s life. She faces a big transition with retirement, but her family life doesn’t look promising, with a husband and son who don’t seem to pay her much attention and often ridicule her for her interest and love of cooking and food. Gayatri’s desire to cook a great meal is as much an emotional need for connection as it is an expression of creativity and pleasure in life — and none of those needs are truly met in her life.

As she sets out to discover the forbidden yet alluring recipe, Gayatri’s world expands, and she learns to find her place and footing in a fast-paced world. The camerawork and visuals capture this section of her journey with both a liveliness and a pleasant ordinariness that is nevertheless warm and friendly — qualities that are very much like Gayatri herself.

She is portrayed by lead actor Balindar Johal with great charm, as well as a curiosity and zest for experience that awakens as she delves deeper into a hidden culinary world. As she begins to question the received wisdom that’s guided her life so far — and her idea that getting older means eschewing new interests and passions — she reawakens to the possibilities of life again.

Like many films about food, “Forbidden Tikka Masala” uses the sounds, sights and rituals of the culinary realm as a springboard to explore ideas of tradition, pleasure, togetherness and heritage. And like many films with food at their creative core, the craftsmanship creates its own feast of cinematic pleasures, from endearing performances to heartwarming, engaging storytelling that earns its emotion from truthful, bighearted attention to character. But these tropes are layered over a hopeful, optimistic story that’s essentially about reinvention and finding yourself again, no matter what stage in life you’re in — and how looking through a different lens can lead to a new lease on life itself.

 

Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:49

aren’t you going to miss us

00:54

but i don’t think you guys are going to

00:57

me look at how much you’re celebrating

01:02

you got such a tasty catering

01:05

no really i’ve already had two rounds of

01:10

curry is tastes so delicious

01:14

what do you say jim oh congrats guyatri

01:19

so do you have any plans for you know

01:22

your retired life nothing’s planned

01:26

i mean i’ll get to spend more time with

01:29

i am also helping at our temple oh

01:33

you weren’t kidding this chicken curry

04:12

ah do they marinate their chicken in

04:20

i swear i can never have enough of this

04:22

why does my food never taste this good

05:01

hello you have reached emily i’m not

05:24

hello i’m calling for this delivery

05:29

i am forgetting the name right now but i

05:31

tasted this chicken dish which

05:33

had an orange brown sauce

05:38

so how many chicken dishes do you have

05:42

then let’s do this send me

06:29

let’s pick up your mummy and go for

06:30

lunch today unless she’s experimenting

08:56

are you you want to order no just

08:59

could i get a pound of wings please yeah

09:29

hey do you need a place to sit you can

09:48

would you like to try one

10:08

what do they put in this um i don’t know

10:11

hot sauce maybe do you like it

10:15

yes but see actually i’m vegetarian

10:24

so what about eggs can you eat eggs no

10:28

nothing that was living or planning to

10:29

live oh man that must suck

10:32

i love knuckles uh hi so my friend has a

10:36

question uh what did you say it had

10:38

garlic ginger onion cumin and coriander

10:40

i’m sure it had basil in it too

10:43

any chicken dish like that you guys can

10:45

what about barbecue sauce

10:46

is this barbecue sauce it is a little

10:49

bit brown it was sweet but it was a

10:51

yellowish okay we’ll find it we’ll find

10:53

thanks a lot i don’t think it’s here

11:06

this is this is a bacon with a hot dog

11:10

chicken he’s wearing a hot dog oh bacon

11:21

is this the one no this is not

11:25

one looking for but it still tastes good

11:31

so what’s your next big adventure

11:34

once you’ve found this special recipe

11:37

i don’t know maybe i’ll go to india to

11:42

but he doesn’t tell me what he’s

11:45

maybe i can marry him i want you

11:49

don’t worry i’m not going to take away

11:54

but that’s for your family i mean what

11:55

about you what do you want to do

11:57

well i’m retired no oh god when i retire

12:02

jump on my bike and ride all the way to

12:05

and tell me how did you become a biker

12:11

i’m always afraid of the bikers well

12:13

i’ve always been afraid of teachers so

12:20

hey i want you to meet some friends

12:42

you so scared a little better

13:29

hey janjui this is emily i can reach

13:33

good news i found the recipe for the

13:37

turns out it was not chicken but spicy

13:41

sorry for the scare hope this put your

This post was previously published on YouTube and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video

Forbidden Tikka Masala [Video] – The Good Men Project

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