National Award-winning Director Sachin Kundalkar takes the bar high now with every film and now with a food film, he ventures outshining the rest of his works. But that’s highly debatable, he’s highly influenced by the European Cinema which is evident in all his films. On the cinematic front, Gandha: The Smell (2009) and Aiyyaa (2012) stand out while on the Emotional-Human front Rajwade & Sons (2015) and Happy Journey (2014) while Restaurant (2006) is his best work. He’s a revolutionary filmmaker who works for the pure love of Cinema and lately, started blending rich content with wider audience appeal. With Gulabjaam, he presents a sensitive, unique and resonating film rooted in cinematic delicacy overwhelmed with its writing.
Aditya (Siddharth Chandekar) leaves his banking job in London to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a chef and setting a special Maharashtrian cuisine restaurant in London. He comes Pune to learn the exquisite Maharashtrian cuisine and stumbles upon the eccentric Radha (Sonali Kulkarni), a tiffin-maker. Basically, being a filmmaker and chef is to some extent a similar, to serve a good dish one needs to be focused and know the perfect amount of the ingredients. Food stands as a metaphor to our lives while the writing (Tejas Modak and Kundalkar) flows structurally. Kundalkar’s European Cinema influence ignites for savouring moments, the underlying thoughts of the tradition and modernism walk along.
Though some speed-breakers like artificiality, pacing of the second half and amateur work in some scenes, the protagonist Siddharth Chandekar takes down the film. He looks too superficial, while his mannerisms immediately disconnect from a delightful film – without a hint of doubt, another actor would’ve soared the film and not sour like Chandekar. But, Sachin Kundalkar’s impeccable direction is the reason for the survival of an appetising film which resonates over a period of time. He delectably puts in poster of Imtiaz Ali’s soul finding Tamasha (2015) which makes reference point during a crucial juncture without being explicit. And he also puts in Karan Johar’s heart-wrenching drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) just when your heart and eyes have wrenched out the tears. The sub-plots are not all stretched, the conflict could possibly look palpable. There’s an immensely appetising visual design, in terms of the Cinematography (Milind Jog) and the food.
Importantly, it’s a lip-smacking delicious venture set out to tantalise the soul. Maharashtrians will leave the theatre taking back memories of mouth-watering local cuisine. Food and Memories play an important role, it’s the transformation of a product into another, making it of one unique taste. Gulabjaam, a milk-based solid balls are soaked into sugar syrup – the title represents the change we undergo when we come in the contact with someone else (it is more specific and sounds amazing than what I wrote).
Sonali Kulkarni delivers a heart-wrenching performance, even though with her limitations and at times failing to justify the act – she manages to perform well. The sensational and soulful Background Score by Debarpito Saha, crisp Editing by Suchitra Sathe and the rocking song by Kerala-based Thaikkadum Bridge are few takeaways after a tasteful and soulful watch.
Sachin Kundalkar’s Gulabjaam is a heartfelt and endearing delicious venture, the more you savour the flour-milk balls into the sugar syrup the more it soaks into making it sail into your mouth exquisitely. And so does the film, it tantalises.
Release: 16 February, 2018
Director: Sachin Kundalkar
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