Language: Marathi (with English Subtitles)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Cast: Sonali Kulkarni, Siddharth Chandekar
This was one of my first Sachin Kundalkar’s movies. What came to me like a shock was that he was the same director who directed Aiyyaa! Although I have known him to have bagged two national awards earlier, I wasn’t very optimistic about how this movie would translate. Usually, when we see a trailer of a movie in relation to food, we tend to get over excited as foodies but the moment we watch it we feel there was more of a parallel storytelling than the food itself in the movie. Gulabjaam on the other hand actually did equal justice to the foodie and the drama seeker inside me.
This movie was a perfect blend of what we call a great storytelling which leaves you craving for more. Unlike some of the critic reviews I had read online prior watching the movie, I believe the movie had it at all! By all, I mean it was emotional, meaningful, entertaining and left a sense of pleasant feeling in me!
Plot (Just A Gist!)
The story begins with Aditya (Siddharth Chandekar) quitting his well-paid job in London and seeking a Guru in Pune to teach him the essence of authentic traditional Maharashtrian cooking. While he moves into a PG with his school friend, he stumbles across a lunch dabba (tiffin box) that his friend receives daily. He tastes the food and the dessert for the day, the perfect mouth-watering gulabjaams in the lunch box takes him back in time to the moment where his mother fed him the same.
He finds out the cook’s details and goes to meet her. Radha Agarkar (Sonali Kulkarni) is an independent, cranky, eccentric woman who isn’t really interested in the concept of socializing, let alone a stranger enter her life to become her student and teach him! How Aditya convinces her, how she teaches him and how they bond with each other not just with food but on a personal level is what forms the crux of the story.
Sonali Kulkarni whose last movie that I watched was Kaccha Limbu has left me awestruck with her performance. The cute actress from Dil Chahta Hai, Bride & Prejudice has undoubtedly walked her way up to becoming one of the finest actresses of Marathi cinema. A special applause to her skill in performing emotional scenes. Watch out for them since it is sure to bring tears to your eyes!
This is my first Siddharth Chandekar’s movie as well and I honestly felt he did great justice to the role too. His crisp dressing and great hairstyle did make him fit into the role of a London return! Renuka Shahane, one of my favorite actresses had a teeny tiny role as Radha’ sister Vidya in the movie and all I could say about her is that fine actresses stay in your mind even as their roles last for few minutes in the entire movie.
Great cinematography by Milind Jog and the old Pune backdrops are meant to induce nostalgia among all the Punekars living outside Pune. The mouth-watering cooking and food scenes in the movie are eye pleasing too.
Kudos to the direction and the storytelling by Sachin Kundalkar! The way he pulls you into the lives of the characters and tries to hit the right chords of emotion while showing some delicious food alongside is just amazing! Also a special mention on how he has portrayed a relationship between two individuals in such a respectable manner without labeling it. One such is that of Radha’s with Siddharth in the movie.
I have to mention the music in the movie by my favorite Kerala band, Thaikkudam Bridge! (Listen to some of their cult performances here)
I have always heard that a person’s cooking tells us a lot about where they come from or what they believe in. Similarly, Radha’s cooking teaches us some meaningful values on the art of cooking. The movie tells us how we need to be passionate about fulfilling our dreams. Cooking is not merely about the right measurements, sometimes it’s about the part of us that we offer into the dish we cook to make it right! Similarly, it’s the effort you put into the kneading the dough of circumstances, rolling together the sad memories of past into tiny balls which are heated to a crisp and then dunked into the subtle sweet syrup of happy memories that makes the perfect Gulabjaam called life! A well-thought title I must say!
I am from Karnataka, ever since I have been married I have been living in Pune, an abode for authentic Maharashtrian cuisine. Although I haven’t really been fond of it, watching this movie definitely kept me drooling as I saw Radha Agarkar prepare Modaks, Amtis, Koshimbir, Puran Poli and what not!
Watch this movie and do head to an authentic Maharashtrian cuisine restaurant around you to complete this fantastic experience!
P.S Due credits to respective owners for the images from Google.