‘I love everything about you, even your weird appetite.’
Shalini (Amara Karan) has good taste, but that’s hardly surprising given her heritage. Her father runs a popular but not entirely successful restaurant in the vibrant curry metropolis of Leicester. So does her uncle. Unfortunately, due to a family feud involving the splitting up of the secret family recipe book, neither brother is talking to the other and neither are they receiving the acclaim they deserve for their culinary skills. Shalini is planning to marry her boyfriend Mark (Tom Mison) and, while the pair are eager to get hitched, Mark will have to cope with life away from the capital city and both he and her family will have to deal with any cultural issues that may or may not arise from their relationship. Turns out that her father is simply delighted for the happy couple. Now if only he would reconcile with her uncle, maybe Shalini would get her dream wedding. Could a culinary competition to be judged by none other than Madhur Jaffrey get the brothers back together?
There are, of course, huge numbers of foodie programmes on television as well as plenty of excellent foodie films which combine elements of their recipes into the narrative, such as Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man Woman (1994) or Jûzô Itami’s ramen magic in Tampopo (1984). Jadoo is similarly based around a love of its cuisine but stirs multicultural relationships into its narrative as well as a rivalry that may or may not last the entire running time (although, naturally, the viewer hopes it won’t). Rather than addressing some of the more difficult cultural elements as seen in East Is East (1999), Jadoo is perhaps closer in spirit to Pratibha Parmar’s Scottish film Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006) where the issues are secondary to the narrative and the relationships and communities revolve around the food. Mark is worthy in his efforts to become accepted and often does the right things to appeal to his future family (‘We’ll make an Asian out of you yet’) as much as he has to deal with this new location (‘I’m talking about Leicester’), indeed it’s good to see a British film that’s primarily located away from the capital city. Similarly, the Hindu festival of Holi is celebrated here, a festival that is not often portrayed in British cinema, and it adds a plentiful colour and a great deal of glee.
There are, of course, themes that confront cultural differences as well as inner community rivalry, family feuds and employment issues that range from troubles being a chef to troubles being a lawyer. Overall the film is well made, has a personal touch and is relaxed, easy entertainment.