A new film has been drawing the crowds in Germany. The director says it is a declaration of love to Indian cinema and Indian food but most importantly it is a film that is supposed to make the audience laugh.
Vijay Raaz plays the male lead in "Tandoori Love"
The Swiss director Oliver Paulus has already made several films but "Tandoori Love" is his first venture into the Bollywood genre.
"My very first visit to India about 20 years ago inspired me to make the film," he told Deutsche Welle. "I had a really funny experience while watching a Bollywood film in a real countryside cinema. Suddenly there was a scene where the stars were dancing in a little village in Switzerland and the whole traffic was blocked and the Swiss people seemed to be angry.
"I just loved the idea of the Indian chaos, the colorfulness, the cheerfulness and the craziness coming to Switzerland to a very organized little village and mixing everything up."
A simple plot
The plot is simple. An Indian film crew comes to the Swiss highlands to shoot a ubiquitous Bollywood drama full of emotion and tears.
It all starts when an Indian film crew come to the Swiss mountains to shoot a Bollywood movie - these are the main leads
Rajah, played by Vijay Raaz, is the cook. The spoilt and attractive main female lead in the drama tries to seduce him but he has no interest. He has a picture of a buxom blonde in his tent to inspire him as he crushes his spices and concocts delicious meals.
Surprise surprise, on a trip to the supermarket, Rajah sees his embodiment of the perfect woman marching right towards him. He falls head-over-heels for her and immediately declares his love to her in a song.
"Forget the cheese and the honey, try a little bit of love," he tells her in perhaps the kitschiest scene of the film (and there are many). But Sonja (Lavinia Wilson), who is already engaged to the solid but rather boring Markus (Martin Schick), is bewildered and quickly runs away from what she thinks is a Tamil refugee.
However, this is a movie after all, their paths soon meet again. Rajah quickly finds himself employed at her fiances traditional Swiss restaurant, unaware that he and his new boss are in love with the same woman.
"Forget the cheese and the honey," Vijay tells Sonja. "Try a little bit of love."
"Spiceless but still very very hot"
The Indian chef starts concocting new dishes for the Swiss customers and the disabled dog. "In India, we do things differently," he tells him. "This is Swiss-Indian style. A rare combination – spiceless but still very very hot."
The Indian-style nouvelle cuisine is visually stunning. The mouth waters as curries, daals and tandoori chicken are brought to the table.
But when tomatoes and calamari start dancing, the viewer can only laugh. The director says this was the "main aim of the sequence and of the whole film".
Moreover, it fit his wish that "everything should dance. The typical thing in a Bollywood film are the dancing sequences and the songs. I wanted to have dancing vegetables, dancing cows and dancing farmers."
And dancing vegetables, cows and farmers is what the audience gets, as well as dancing men and women, so Paulus follows in Hindi movie tradition, although he insists "Tandoori Love" is not a "Bollywood film per se."
The director wanted everybody in the film to dance - here Sonja does a number
A love declaration to Indian film and food
Sophia Stepf, a dramaturg and cultural trainer with a focus on India, explains that Bollywood is popular all over the world because "it has song and dance. It has great visuals and it has fashion so it's something that you can watch anywhere in the world and you don't need to understand the language at all."
To really understand "Tandoori Love" – not a "real" Bollywood film – it helps if you can speak Swiss German, Hindi and English. But who can? And who exactly is this film for?
"The main target audience is the a Western European audience," says the director. "It is a film that makes fun of Bollywood a bit – not in a bad sense – and uses all the elements I really love. It's a love declaration to Indian cinema and Indian cuisine."
And after all, what better way to spend an evening than with Indian cinema and cuisine?
Author: Anne Thomas
Editor: Disha Uppal