Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Dylan McDermott, Anupam Kher, Padma Laxmi
Director: Paul Mayeda
There is nothing much to write home about when it comes to "Mistress Of Spices". Paul Mayeda
Berges' much hyped film leaves a bland taste in the mouth. It is like a good recipe badly cooked and
clumsily served to a populace looking for an exotic and sumptuous meal.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's novel could have been translated into something as engrossing and
intriguing as Lasse Hallstrom's "Chocolat" by sprinkling some imagination and creativity into it.
However, both Berges and his wife Gurinder Chadha, who has co-scripted the film, fail to turn it into
One wonders why directors choose Aishwarya Rai who can't act to save her life. "Hum Dil De Chuke
Sanam" and "Devdas" are just a few exceptions and there the credit went to director Sanjay Leela
Berges' directorial debut hinged on Aishwarya who fails to charm the audience with her magical 'spice'
powers and the film crumbles.
Unlike Juliette Binoche-Johnny Depp, who scorched the screen with their free flowing passion in
"Chocolat", Aishwarya-McDermott's on screen chemistry is insipid. She is as cold as ever and
McDermott looks out of sync in the Asian love story.
Another detrimental factor is that it moves at a sluggish pace and it's a pain to watch Aishwarya's
expressionless face in practically every frame. She is not able to emote the agony of a woman trapped
between traditional values and forbidden passion.
The film is about an orphaned girl, Tilo (Aishwarya Rai), who runs a store of Indian spices in the US.
She has been taught to understand the language of spices and uses her skill to solve the problems of
But her powers can work as long as she obeys certain rules laid down by her mentor (Zohra Sehgal) -
she is not allowed to succumb to her physical desires. Alas, Tilo falls in love and hell breaks on
Anupam Kher, Chadha's all time favourite, who plays one of Tilo's customer, is completely wasted in the
film and so is Shaheen Khan. They were seen together as Parminder Nagra's parents in "Bend It Like
Padma Laxmi doesn't fit the bill as Kher's granddaughter and the sequence where Anupam and Padma
argue is a turnoff.
It seems Berges was more interested in capturing Aiswharya's ethereal beauty than the script or
anything else. Aishwarya looks stunning throughout the movie, especially when she dresses up in a red
sari to seduce McDermott.
"Mistress Of Spices" is a mess and it can be summed up as disappointing and avoidable fair.