Not too long ago, New York, New York was the setting for a film that was well-written, well-acted, and filled with great messages. That film is Manhattan, and it was produced by Guillermo Del Toro. Now, to describe the film as “well-written” is a bit of a misleading statement. There was plenty of dialogue written for the film, but much of it was improvised. The script was fine, but it was not the same level of the screenplay for the film “As Good As It Gets.”
The cast of this film is stacked, with plenty of big name stars. It’s the story of a single mother and her three children, who find themselves thrust into a world of crime, deceit and violence when they get caught up in a drug deal gone south.
Uncharted star Sophia Ali is set to star in the new film India’s Sweets and Spices. The film, a delightful drama revolving around an Indian-American family trying to maintain their identity in a posh suburb where money and status define almost everything and everyone around them, also stars Rish Shah, who plays Karman in the upcoming Miss Marvel series on Disney+ and plays Ali’s love interest in Sweet and Spicy India. The film will draw the inevitable comparisons to films like Crazy Rich Asians and My Big Fat Greek Wedding – and not without reason, but since each of these films lovingly pokes fun at different subcultures, each one is quite different from the others, even if the premise seems familiar.
In the Indian film Sweets and Spices, Alia Kapoor (Ali) falls in love with the son of a local shopkeeper and invites his family to a dinner party that she organizes herself. At the time, she has no idea that this will set off a chain reaction that will plunge the wealthy and talkative Indian immigrant community into chaos.
Ali is an absolute marvel in this film. She moves through the film with determination without losing a single second of her charisma. This is partly the result of a script in which Alia is cast as the de facto leader of a group of wealthy new-generation Indian-American children who have adopted Western culture and feel largely overwhelmed or disoriented by their parents’ cultural practices. Thus, Aaliyah remains grounded amidst the wealth, generosity and eccentricity of her society.
Over the course of the film, major changes in her life lead to Alia breaking free from her parents’ expectations and searching for her identity. He gives Ali a lot of drama – including a few scenes where she’s heartbreaking – and a little comedy, too. Many viewers will enjoy the hilarious episode where she summons her inner Ron Livingston in Office Space and drops a timely truth bomb (even though it explodes in his face afterwards).
There are a few other obvious differences in the cast of talented Indian and Indian-American actors, most notably Shah, whose Varun is the utterly charming and understandable antithesis of Aaliyah. The chemistry between the two men is excellent and given the charm of each of them in their roles, it seems like they could play anyone.
If anyone in the film should try harder and present a wider range of emotions than Ali, it is Manisha Koirale, who plays Sheila, Ali’s mother. At the beginning of the film, you have no idea that she’s going to get her way, but it’s beautiful. The film is based on the development of Aaliyah’s relationship with her mother, and it would be interesting to revisit the film with only that relationship in mind. It starts with a fairly typical story of conservative immigrant parents wanting their kids to conform to the norm (think of the movie Blinded by Light, which was also charming but swelled pretty deep into this trope), but the range of different aspects of Sheila who has to play Koirala is impressive, and she never falters.
India Sweets and Spices has enough of everything to make you feel warm and familiar. The film has a lot of common ground that non-Indian viewers can relate to, and that gives you enough expectation that when the script surprises you with an unexpected moment, it is actually surprising and has an emotional impact. As good as the character is, he has a moment of darkness, and as incorrigible as the character seems, he has a moment of humility or humor that gets the audience on his side.
It’s an incredibly good script, and everyone on screen plays to their strengths. In addition to the three players mentioned above, there are many other… Star Trek: Discovery’s Adil Hussain, who plays Alia’s father, Anita Kalathar, who plays her best friend Neha, and Dipti Gupta, who plays her mother (and who viewers of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series may find familiar) immediately come to mind, and though he doesn’t get much work in the film, Cobra Kai and Lever: Redemption veteran Kamran Shaikh, who plays Varun’s father, has a great moment towards the end that speaks volumes about his character just with his action.
One of the smartest, funniest and most caring movies of 2021: India of Sweets and Spice is a movie you must see with a collection of talent.
Rating : 5 out of 5
The film India of Sweets and Spices was recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film’s release date in wide distribution is currently undetermined.
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