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Geh1009 Bollywood Assignment Chef Review

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GEH1009 Assignment 2

Film: Chef        

Chef was one of the many Bollywood movies, with varying genres, that I have watched in Singapore cinemas. With Saif Ali Khan as the main lead, I was more inclined to actually go and watch it. City Square Mall, where I usually go to alongside Rex Cinemas to watch Bollywood films, had a considerable number of movie-goers though it was close to midnight on a Saturday.

City Square Mall is one of the many Golden Village multiplexes on this island, which started offering Hindi Films and Tamil films after the widely popular Rex Cinemas reestablished as a medium of doing the latter in 2009. The addition of Hindi and Tamil movies to the Golden Village multiplexes around Singapore was a direct indication of the increase in the impact of the Bollywood scene on Singaporeans. This is because, Golden Village Cinemas is one of Singapore’s top three cinemas exhibitors, alongside Cathay Cineplexes and Shaw Cinemas. This shows that the reach of Bollywood cinema in Singapore has extended to a wider audience, no longer just the Hindi-speaking but also the locals in Singapore. This further strengthens the existing relationship between the increasing popularity of the Indian Film scene, not only within the Indian community itself but in present times, branching out to the residents of Singapore as a whole, offering an alternative movie genre during their trip down to the cinemas.

The movie opened with sights of New York City, it was clear that it was a movie probably set in the diaspora of New York, thus I knew it was in a diasporic view of Roshan Kalra, played by Saif Ali Khan as a chef in a relatively renowned restaurant in New York since it is a Bollywood movie hence the pre-notion of it being set in India first came through my mind. It then proceeds to recount on how he ended up living in New York and making a living there, having run away years ago from his father back in Kochi, India.

A song was prominently heard not long after the introduction of the movie, when Roshan “quits” his job after we have a glimpse of his anger-management issues and his egoistic self and not being able to accept criticism from his customers as well as his co-workers. This fuel my thoughts of Roshan’s character throughout the movie as his easily-fueled anger constantly was demonstrated in many of his dialogues with different characters in the movie. I was constantly annoyed at how easily he lost control of his temper and how he could not remove the egoistic pride that he had within him. However, nearing to the middle of the movie, I realized that it was this egoistic pride of his that Roshan had to overcome with the impetus of finally spending time with his son and his ex-wife, Radha.

On the other hand, Roshan was not really portrayed as a man with an urban masculinity or the typical dancing hero. He had his emotional moments alone with the song Khoya Khoya playing in the background, stimulating the emotions he was going through while reflecting. Throughout the movie, he was seen more of how he grows as a father figure rather than the typical self-absorbed character in terms of looks and body and to succeed in the topic of romance. He was constantly fighting to improve himself and challenging himself as seen when he finally agreed to the mobile restaurant. It is important to note however that he had a fight with Radha, in a scene as he puts his egoistic self above everything else that mattered in his life. This was seen when he found out Radha had told her other love interest that Roshan was jobless and the latter had offered Roshan a rundown bus which he believed once undergoing a makeover, can be a booming success. Roshan brought out his inner ego throughout this scene as well as a sense of “social class” in a way, as he was a chef from a prominent restaurant in the States so why should he be running a mobile restaurant back in India? This made me realise that even though Roshan was not the typical dancing hero normally portrayed in most Bollywood movies nowadays, he was still exhibiting a portrayal on how his masculinity here is attributed to his social class where he refuses to accept anything lower than a job in a fancy restaurant, even if it meant spending more time with his supposed loved ones.  

This brings me over to the topic of family. The family notion described throughout this movie was more of the nuclear family, instead of the traditional family as we are introduced with the circumstance where Roshan was not only a divorced husband but a divorced father of one. This immediately puts my thoughts into place that this family portrayed here would probably be part of the new age Bollywood cinema where they do embody the Bollywood template of a family, however, contains conflict within loved ones. In the case of Chef, it would be the conflict between Roshan and Radha, but the fact that they have already divorced dissolves the conflict between them. In addition, Roshan was seen to freely visit Radha and stays at her place when he flew back to Kochi to attend his son’s dance performance. This reveals how the conflict is no longer existent as they are seen to be quite friendly with each other, despite the reality that they have divorced as husband and wife.

Another aspect of family in this movie would be Roshan’s relationship with his son. This relationship was evident almost throughout the movie, with the exception of the introduction where Roshan was in New York. It is to be noted that, there was a scene where his son video-called him and they were just sharing silly stories which felt truly warm to me because no matter how far away his father was, he still tried his best to bond with him and share with him how his day went and which girl he liked. This simple kind of bonding made the audience both smile in happiness and produce sarcastic laughter at the attempts for comedy.

In addition to this, there were many scenes throughout the movie where Roshan tried to be the father he never was to his son and this scared me. My mother and I were critiquing Roshan on how he was acting the opposite of who he truly was and was merely trying to emulate what his own father had done to him while he was growing up. His son had shown his distaste when this happened and this produced some sort of a blow to Roshan that he has already never spent time with his son while he was in his adolescent years and yet, when his son was finally beginning to get used to his father’s daily presence, he pushes him away yet again.

It was really heartwarming to see how the relationship between the two blossomed throughout the movie, even with the emergence of a third-party, Radha’s love interest, who was everything Roshan was not. This was the factor that made Roshan realise he could not lose both his wife and son to another individual even if he was lacking, which in this context the fact that he was jobless at the moment. Nonetheless, the notion of romance was not so much focused on the movie as it was the family notion that came along as a more prominent issue. It was depicted that if Roshan stays with his son, naturally Radha will come along and bask in their small family, back to when it all began.



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