One of the biggest banes of Indian cinema has been miscasting or stereotyping. How often have we seen a fine actor like Prakash Raj being reduced to caricature-like villainous roles. People seem to have forgotten his brilliant portrayal of an impoverished silk weaver in Kanchivaram, a part he infused with pain and tragedy.
Prakash Raj's latest, Un Samayal Arayil (In Your Kitchen) - which comes after his singularly moving performance in the father-daughter relationship story, Abhiyum Naanum - is a remake of the Malayalam movie, Salt N' Pepper. As a 45-year-old bachelor archaeologist, Prakash Raj's Kalidasan is wonderfully believable.
A foodie, who, much to the consternation of his live-in relative, Vaidhi (a touching performance by Elango Kumaravel), even dares to "steal" the cook from the house of a girl he visits for a possible marriage alliance, Kalidasan peppers his part with a kind of lighthearted pathos rarely seen in Indian cinema. But when he is not busy tucking in delicacies, he is as passionate about his excavated discoveries as he is about helping an aged Adivasi find a home.
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Life for Kalidasan steps on the accelerator when a wrong call connects him to Gowri (Sneha), trying to have a 'Kutti Dosai' (mini dosa) home delivered. Kalidasan pretends to take the order, but when it never reaches her, it leads to an angry telephonic outburst from a hungry Gowri, a 30-something single woman dubbing artist living with friends. Cupid strikes when Kalidasan's young nephew, Naveen (Tejus), gets the two talking. However, Kalidasan and Gowri chicken out when they finally decide to meet: Naveen and Gowri's roommate, Meghna (Samyuktha Hornad), are asked to impersonate, and the classic tale of errors results in trouble and torment.
My quarrel with the film is two-fold. Somehow, food begins to fade out of the plot, rendering the title a trifle imprecise, and the escapades of the younger couple hog much of the screen time post intermission. This is a classic pitfall of Indian movies which get too ambitious filling their plates with more than what they can digest.
It could have been so much more wonderful to see Prakash Raj and Sneha together beyond the mere minutes that they actually do. In fact, they share the screen space only at the climax! A pity, for both performances are refreshingly riveting.
Un Samayal Arayil (In Your Kitchen)
Direction: Prakash Raj
Cast: Prakash Raj, Sneha, Urvashi, Tejus, Samyuktha Hornad, Elango Kumaravel