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Chutney Popcorn
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Reviews & Ratings for
Chutney Popcorn More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

An interesting look at non-traditional Indian family relationships...

Author: raop74 from San Francisco, CA
7 October 2001

As an Indian American and a female, I was pleasantly delighted by this movie. I found it to be very funny and especially interesting because of the lesbian themes. It surprised me to see this in the movie, because Indians generally feel uncomfortable talking about homosexuality at all. I don't think it's necessarily a bias or prejudice against it, just conservatism.

I didn't really relate to any of the characters in the movie, mostly because there were too many characters and little development of any of their personalities. But I adored Madhury Jaffrey, who was very natural and realistic as the mother. She reminds me so much of my own mother, and many of the things she says to her two daughters about marriage and family are comments my own mother's made to me. It was strangely comforting to see the ambivalence that Indians born and raised in the US feel in trying to maintain their culture while being true to themselves. Until now, I haven't seen it discussed so frankly and honestly in a movie.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Love, Kids, Lesbians

Author: quin1974 ( from Den Haag, The Netherlands
8 January 2001

I liked this movie a lot. It depicted the life of the second-generation immigration children in New York City well enough to feel for them. These are people who have no permanent roots as director Ganatra says: "These people don't feel Really at home in India because they are too American, but they don't feel really at home in America because they are Indian." Now combine this with lesbianism and surrogate motherhood and you could get a very hefty movie, one that probably would have ultimately just made fun if itself.

But on the contrary this is not the fact with this film. It is a very warm funny depiction of the troubles Ganatra's character is going through. It is funny, witty and it has a fell-good ending.

The acting is way better than average, especially by the sister (Sakina Jaffrey) and the mother (Madhur Jaffrey) of Ganatra's character. The rest of the cast is fine, too.

I was fortunate enough to be present at a screening of this feature with afterwards a Q&A session with Director Nisha Ganatra and Writer Susan Carnival. In this session Ganatra explained that this film was kept light-hearted on purpose, they knew that they could make this into this incredibly heavy piece, but they chose not too. This shines a whole different light on the movie.

A fine film, see it.


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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Interesting concept; flawed execution

Author: Red-125 from Upstate New York
1 January 2003

"Chutney Popcorn" takes on major issues-- lesbian identity, cultural identity, and intergenerational differences. However, I could never believe in the basic situation. This, in turn, prevented me from becoming involved with the characters and their plights.

The protagonist, Reena, played by Director Nisha Ganatra, is a henna artist in a beauty parlor. Her partner, Lisa--I missed her occupation--is played by Jill Hennessy.

Ms. Hennessy's great beauty unbalances the plot. We never understand why these two partners love each other, and what there is about Reena that makes Lisa stay with her through the ups and downs of the fairly predictable plot.

Several other lesbian women hover around the couple, but their place is the film was never clear to me.

Any couple has difficulties in their relationship. No doubt--even in New York City--same-gender couples have more difficulties, and culturally-diverse couples have still more problems.

I give the director credit for focussing on these problems. However, I don't think she really explored the problems in depth. Basically, she placed them before us on the screen, and then solved them for us.

This is a film that I wish had been better. I believe it is worth seeing, but not worth a special effort.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fun and dramatic at the same time

Author: Emily
1 September 2001

What really stands out about Chutney Popcorn is the sense of humor that persists through an emotional plot, and this gives it a good degree of realism. Even as the family is falling apart, one can still laugh at their quirks. Life, and the funny moments that define it, goes on for these people. The humor transforms this film from the overdone melodrama it could have been into a sweet and convincing story.

The realistic quality of this film is what makes it so wonderful, in my opinion. The characters are really genuine human beings who talk like real people instead of actors with a script. There aren't any gaping plot holes or implausible events. There's plenty of lesbian humor that you don't have to be part of the gay culture to understand, and the family's Indian heritage has its parallels in any family's cultural background. The camerawork, acting, everything pretty much makes the film down to earth and real. The movie was a bit slow at times (the plot isn't really conducive to a lot of action) but it held my attention.

If you're a fan of movies about people and family, go see this! Expect more character-based humor than slapstick - it's not so much a comedy as a story that happens to have funny moments. Check this movie out, it's a lot of fun.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: ( from Brooklyn, New York
19 August 2001

I recently happen to come across this film in Blockbuster. I never heard of the film before...why is that? I now own it and have seen it several times. On the whole I enjoyed it very much. My only complaint is that there are a few audio moments that are hard to grasp. The music chosen is tasteful and fits quite well. All the actors are wonderful. I loved seeing Jill Hennessy in something other than "Law and Order." What a difference! This is a very credible story and unfolds with dignity, humor, and sensitivity. I hope to see more of Nisha's work. Keep your talent out there!

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Good try, not necessarily successful

Author: Captain Ed from Minnesooooooooota
26 June 2000

For what this film is -- a low-budget indie targeted mostly at the expanding lesbian audience -- this isn't too bad of a film. Not my cup of tea, but there's an earnestness and grit that this production has that you can't help respecting.

That being said --

I felt that the central character of Rena was almost Job-like in dealing with family issues, and that most people would have blown off the family by that point. I certainly had a hard time believing that anyone would have offered to carry a surrogate pregnancy for a sister as demeaning and awful as Rena's. I also felt that the actress playing Rena (also the director) was half-asleep during most of the movie. The part needed more energy.

Most of the rest of the principals turned in good performances, especially Jillian Hennessey from Law & Order (I almost didn't recognize her without the dark hair and business suit). Some of the peripheral characters were Offbeat-stereotype lesbians; not much to work with there. The script suffered from some ridiculous dialogue and situations. The worst was probably in the waiting room, where two of the minor characters crudely act out a birth (in front of the two grandmothers, no less) and then petulantly wonder why Rena's taking so long. Come on, these are lesbians, not idiots. I think they understand the birth process a little better than that. I think children of eight understand the birth process better than that, and have better manners as well.

Like I said, not my cup of tea, and has some serious shortcomings, but it was a good effort and is worth a watch, if you don't mind the subject matter.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Engaging and witty!

Author: YorkvilleGirl from United States
2 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I received this DVD as an unexpected gift, and was utterly charmed by its humor and warmth.

The two lead actresses are so natural and unpretentious, that you feel as if you really know them as real human beings. I watched the movie straight through, which is totally unusual for most DVDs.

At first, I felt bad for the married sister because she couldn't have her own baby, but as the film wore on, I found her spoiled and self-absorbed. I couldn't understand her lack of empathy for Reena, considering that she was doing her such an amazing favor. In the end, you had to wonder how long that marriage was going to last. Contrast to that to the potent chemistry, maturity and openness of Reena and Lisa. Lisa wasn't even biologically related to the baby, yet she loved HER partner enough to want to be a parent.

I loved this movie!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

nice story, good characters,

Author: joe robertson from austin, tx
16 March 2001

ok, i have some preparation for this film before seeing it in that i am a white guy married to an Indian woman, have gay friends, and i have an affinity for independent films, but this film has great characters and lots of charm. so, it sort of feels like an independent film in that it doesn't feel glossy all over and the characters are more offbeat, those are plusses in my book. it is a very human movie about the experiences of life with other people. my wife really liked it too. if you liked this movie, another really good non-traditional Canadian-Indian movie is Masala (not Mississippi Masala) from 1991 by Srinivas Krishna.

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A Great Feel Good Drama

Author: Quinn Masters Author (
3 February 2013

Watching Chutney Popcorn, it felt very real, very believable. It captured the drama of the two couples struggling, one with the misfortune of infertility, the other with a pregnancy they can't come to peace with. The life of the lesbian couple is portrayed honestly, not in a preachy context as some films do. It's much more accessible, especially to those not in tune with gay life.

One area where this film truly succeeds is in its humor. Masterful smatterings of amusing scenes break the weight of the main story's drama. The insemination scene is particularly funny, and the scene where Lisa falls off the couch sticks in my mind.

The love interests are neither idealized nor villainized, but portrayed as realistic individuals complete with their virtues and faults. Both Nisha Ganatra and Jill Hennessy do a great job, and the love scene is wonderful. Chutney Popcorn is a great feel good drama.

Q.C. Masters – Author of the Path Not Chosen

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great film

Author: Yasser Mufti ( from Washington DC, USA
20 October 2000

Absolutely fabulous film. Nisha sets the tone wonderfully.

Madhur Jaffrey is great (not a fan of her cooking shows!).

Great soundtrack as well (if anyone knows one can get it please let me know :-) ).

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