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An ode to the love affair between Bollywood and Switzerland!
Tandoori Love is the story of an Indian cook, Raja and his series of (mis)adventures in the Swiss mountains. These include leaving his Bollywood troupe to starve as he starts working for a Swiss restaurant, delighting people with his Indian delicacies, stabbing a man, singing, and perhaps most significantly, falling in love with his boss Markus' fiancée, Sonja.
It is a tender story of a man who falls in love, pretty much at first sight, and his attempts to woo the girl that has so captured his imagination. It is the story of a girl who finds herself torn between her egoistic and self-centered fiancé and a kind and gentle cook, whom she's increasingly attracted to. Above all, this is a story of prejudices and the unintentional hilarity ensuing from it. From the unassuming folk in the Bernese Mountains who regard the Indian film troupe as a bit of a nuisance, to the Indian film crew who expect only cheesiness to flow from the Swiss landscape, to Sonja who approaches Raja's advances with trepidation, to her fiancé who at first brands Raja condescendingly as a refugee but later more than wholeheartedly buys into his Indian cooking, the film deals with the clash of prejudices and stereotypes. It makes for some fun viewing as the two cultures are introduced to each other and slowly start to get to know each other better.
With Tandoori Love, director Oliver Paulus offers his tribute to the frothy Bollywood song and dance routine. The brilliance of this move is best reflected when Raja utterly smitten by Sonja as soon as he lays his eyes on her breaks into a song. So far so good, except that he does it right in the middle of a Migros Supermarket a complete antithesis of the snow capped peaks in the Swiss Alps. The director also displays enough knowledge and understanding of Indian film crews and depicts it with his tongue firmly in his cheek. Most importantly however, Paulus portrays the love triangle between Raja, Sonja and Markus in a disarmingly natural manner and that is where he scores. This is, first and foremost, a love story and Paulus manages to keep us hooked onto it as we make our way through a few songs, some moments of humor and others of sheer madcap brilliance.
As far as actors go, Vijay Raaz is superlative as the smitten cook who would go the extra mile to woo the girl of his dreams. He may be average looking, but more than makes up for it with his utterly natural performance. He character goes from madly in love, to bewildered, to slowly becoming confident in a foreign environment and Raaz excels in every scene, helping the film along as we warm up to this golden hearted chef. Lavinia Wilson and Martin Schick lend depth to their characters as Sonja and Markus respectively and special mention has to be made of Shweta Aggarwal as the typically spoiled, unprofessional Bollywood leading lady. All the supporting actors do a fine job. be it the restaurant regulars in the Hirschen, or members of the Indian film crew. The songs are also very short in the film so that their freshness is retained and never once coming across as cumbersome.
This is one of the better films to come out of Switzerland in recent years, and director Paulus and his team have to be applauded for coming up with a refreshingly entertaining piece of cinema. Go watch it!!
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