I knew about Usthaad Hotel even before I watched it. When it was released it managed to get some attention in the media I read. People were rave about it and they wrote that it spoke about a grave issue. Lovers of good cinema in my circle loved it.
I thought it must be a good and serious movie and assumed that it must be of that category which only film enthusiasts appreciate.(art film). I was right and wrong. I was wrong because it was such a lively film, never boring or never pretending even for a moment. I was right because here is some one who has served the a food that is tasty as well as healthy which can be consumed by everyone!
Well begun is half done and they set the tone right at the start, when our man tries non-stop until he gets what he wants(a baby boy!). It might seem comical, but just under the hoods you see how women were used and thrown,that’s a punch on the face.
Finally he gets a boy , but loses the woman. The boy groups with his numerous sisters, and the camera proves that children grow up fast and girls leave their home when its time.Since its a tale of 3 generations, every second was used to take the story forward. The hero completes his studies by the time we read the titles. Narration at its best!
Faizal the hero returns with a degree in catering against the wish of his business man father. The way he makes his way out of the house, robbing his own father sans any drama. The movie and the hero is then moved by his grandfather, GRAND OLD man of mollywood Thilakan. Though he has love for his grand child, that doesnt deter him from making him start his training from the basics- right from washing tables to carrying rice on his back. We get to see the kitchen, the beach, the streets of Kozhikode enriched by technical aesthetics.
While we savour all the spices on screen , the story keeps leaping forward.The heroine and the romance are cute enough to inspire you to fall in love with love. Even when you laugh at the comic on how the man wears a parda and had to tackle a lorry driver, you hear the voice of a woman(Script writer) raising her concerns.
A little bit of normal romance and drama creeps in to the movie at this stage. I am not going to narrate you the tale from here. But the exchanges between the grand father and grand child makes you move out of your seat. That one scene where the drink black tea by the sea,will make you taste your tea different.
Humour is sprinkled all over this movie which makes you feel fresh. When Thilakan narrates the impossible tale of his love and later when some one utters a casual remark that poaching brides runs in the family,you get smiles for free.
All along the boy is headstrong on making a successful career and that means its going to be in London/France. Success means different things to different people like Thilakan, Faizal and Faizal’s Dad.
There must be a strong reason to move that ambitious guy and to make him change his meaning of success. Aptly the tale takes you to the real life inspiration in Madurai where a chef turned philanthropist cooks and serves the lesser privileged. I assume you will be watching this beautiful movie and hence I don’t intend to describe any more.
Well crafted script devoid of normal sterotypes creates a platform for everyone on and offscreen to deliver their best. Music makes you laugh, cry and at times drool for the food. Camera captures the beauty of the desert and the beach with the right angles and takes you places. Be it the frame in which the house wife shares the news of an arriving baby in a husky voice to her husband, or the numerous scenes in which Thilakan plays a Krishna to the hero(Arjuna..) , camera is at the right place to let you know the intensity in these relationships.
As they say in the movie “Anyone can fill your stomach, but it takes something special to fill the heart”, any movies can make you pass your time. But few movies like this one with the right condiments will remind you about the richness we possess in our culture, the responsibilities we have for your soceity and above all make you feel good about yourself.
Hats off – Anjali Menon – the writer!
PS: I dont speak/understand Malyalam, but do movies need languages?