‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ Tamil movie review: A necessary remake to show patriarchy its place

Aishwarya Rajesh and Rahul Ravindran star in this faithful remake of the Malayalam original

February 02, 2023 12:42 pm | Updated 02:24 pm IST

Aishwarya Rajesh and Rahul Ravindran in ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’

Aishwarya Rajesh and Rahul Ravindran in ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Samaikka pudikuma (Do you like cooking?),” he asks her. “Samaika teriyum (I know how to cook),” she says matter-of-factly, and he retorts in jest, “Enakku saapida pudikkum (I like to eat).”

This light-hearted conversation takes place the first time Rahul Ravindran and Aishwarya Rajesh, the two leads of the latest Tamil film The Great Indian Kitchen, meet. They subsequently marry, and the visuals of the wedding look pleasant and colourful, resembling almost nothing that ensues in the life of the bride post the ceremony.

And this is not to say something terrible happens to her, like it happens in some films. Life changes, and that’s as terrible as it can get.

In this Tamil remake of the acclaimed Malayalam film of the same name, the sameness and dullness associated with cooking plays out on loop. Aishwarya Rajesh wakes up and goes to the kitchen, does her chores, prepares food for the day and cleans the utensils: in another commercial film, this might be the subject of a few seconds, but in this scarily-real portrayal of how life changes for women post marriage, it forms bulk of the 95-minute runtime.

Watching fun cooking videos on Instagram and want to try out some new recipes? Watch The Great Indian Kitchen to get a practical version of how that culinary exercise might actually pan out; in fact, during the one occasion when the men in the house decide to cook, that’s exactly what happens.

The film makes some pertinent points about patriarchy and how a few men treat the women in their household, especially during tough times. This Kannan-directed Tamil version is but a polished version of the same dish that the Malayalam original, starring Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramoodu, dished up in 2021, thus sparking off dinner-table conversations on the role men play in household chores. Like the original, this one too focusses on the ordinary to bring out extraordinary emotion; the shot of leftover vegetable scraps clogging the kitchen sink, or the shot of the overflowing water tap might not be visually pleasing to the eye, but it does quite drive home the point.

The Great Indian Kitchen
Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh, Rahul Ravindran, Poster Nandhakumar, Yogi Babu
Director: Kannan
Storyline: A woman has to accustom herself with the ways of the new family she moves in with after marriage

Like the heap of trash piling up in the dustbin, Aishwarya Rajesh’s anger builds up too ... and in that scene when it reaches its tipping point, Aishwarya is excellent. She seethes with rage, and we feel that rage too, to a large extent.

Aishwarya Rajesh on the sets of ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’

Aishwarya Rajesh on the sets of ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’

What we don’t quite feel is the relationship she shares with her husband, played by Rahul Ravindran. I wish Kannan had provided more depth to this. There is a rare moment when she opens up — for the first time — about his lack of table manners. It ought to have sparked off some conversation, something to give us an insight into their relationship, but that scene just fizzes out with an angry husband walking out of the room. There are few characters in the film — it primarily revolves around the couple and the man’s father, played by ‘Poster’ Nandhakumar — and even fewer locations; the dining room and the kitchen are the most prominent locales. Providing some kind of distraction is Yogi Babu, who arrives unannounced one day, but his guest role adds little value to the proceedings.

The issue with The Great Indian Kitchen is its one-sided approach to the issue it takes up. While things felt natural in the Malayalam version, here, in a few sequences, it feels forced just to drive home the point. Having even one scene showcasing a misstep from Aishwarya or showing atleast one positive sequence of Rahul might have helped balance things out.

Having said that, The Great Indian Kitchen is a very necessary film. Even though the Malayalam original was consumed by a large audience on OTT platforms, a Tamil version might reach its intent to a newer set of audiences — and that’s more than enough to make current-day practitioners of patriarchy sit up and take note.

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