Director: Paul Mayeda Berges
Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Dylan McDermott,
RunTime: 1 hr 36 mins
Released By: GV
Day: 6 July 2006
is an outsider from India who has to come to terms with her
new country, America. She runs a spice store in San Francisco
and has a magical gift of seeing into her customers' lives
and desires. She gives them different spices to help them
get what they want. In order for the magic to work, Tilo must
obey the rules set out for a mistress - never leave the store,
never touch another human, and love only the spices.
folks responsible for feel-good flicks such as Bend it Like
Beckham and Bride and Prejudice are now back again with their
print to screen adaptation of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s
Mistress of Spices.
previous movies, husband and wife team Gurinder Chadha and
Paul Mayeda Berges both wrote the screenplays, with wife Gurinder
Chadha also taking the reins of director. This time though,
it is Berges who steps up to make his directorial debut.
a story very much one that is along the lines of Chocolat,
only without as much as depth, charm and mystical qualities
that made Chocolat such a wonderful film. As a member of an
ancient Indian cult that worships spices of all sorts, Tilo
(starring the beautiful Aishwarya Rai) who also has a natural
gift to see in the near future, combines both her gift and
the power of spices to help others. She sets up a spice shop
in Oakland, San Francisco to do this, by selling or giving
specific spices to heal all sorts of emotional and physical
pains of the various customers that come into her shop.
the magic of spices has its rules however. As a mistress of
spices, she has to abide by three cardinal rules. One, she
cannot touch another person’s skin. Two, she cannot
leave the shop and lastly, she cannot love any other but the
spices. If she were to break any of the rules, the spices
would punish her and basically make her life a living hell.
The movie has various subplots through the lives of her customers,
but the main story line would be that of her relationship
with a man named Doug (played by a scruffy looking Dylan McDermott).
Their attraction for each other tempts Tilo to bend the rules
and use the spices to her own advantage. As her love for Doug
deepens, she begins to question her own devotion to the spices,
which in turn threatens her ability to control and use the
spices. In the end, she is forced to make a choice between
the man she loves, and the spices she has worshipped for the
most of her life.
for a nice fluffy film, other than the fact that it is a little
bit slow in certain parts, making those scenes seem melodramatic
and cliché. The voice-over throughout the movie by
Aishwarya Rai can get a bit irritating and unnecessary at
times as she tells us her next choice of action in a scene.
On the bright side though, thankfully, she has a nice soothing
voice, and her acting is not bad as well. Dylan McDermott
gives a fairly good performance here, and in many of their
scenes, even manages to steal the lime light from her.
expect the usual east meets west issues here, ala Bend It
Like Beckham, though the film would have probably worked better
if less time were spent on the stories of her customers, and
more on the character developments of her and Doug. The customers
can be a bit of an interruption, and it leads the point away
from the main story.
certain scenes seem to provide you with unintentionally funny
moments when it is trying to be serious, romantic or symbolic.
Unlike Chocolat, this movie fails to convince you on the magical
atmosphere of her shop and spices, and somehow, you’re
just not quite convinced that spices can be used for such
this movie is nowhere near the standards of Chocolat in terms
of cinematography and storyline, but it is enjoyable enough
if you go in on this without too many expectations, and if
you want to amuse yourself on the usefulness of what to do
with your kitchen spices.
This movie isn’t as spicy as it’s made out to
be. Watch it only if you like simplistic romantic flicks,
eye candy and information on how to use spices to enhance
your own life.
by Jolene Tan