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From Chocolat to Indian Cuisine: A Conversation with Lasse Hallstr

The Hundred-Foot Journey
09 March 2015

Set in the beautiful Southern France countryside, this sumptuous story features outstanding performances from; Golden Globe® nominee Helen Mirren (TheQueen, Calendar Girls) as Madame Mallory, the owner of a Michelin starred French restaurant; Om Puri (Charlie Wilson’s War, East Is East) as Papa Kadam, who leads his family to the South of France; Manish Dayal (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, 90210) as Papa Kadam’s son, young Indian chef Hassan Kadam; andCharlotte Le Bon (Yves Saint Laurent, Mood Indigo) as Madame Mallory’s French sous chef, Marguerite.

Hassan Kadam (Dayal) is a culinary prodigy who travels with his family to the South of France after being displaced from their native India.  It’s the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, that is until Madame Mallory (Mirren), the icy proprietress of a Michelin starred French restaurant gets wind of it. Her protests against the ‘Maison Mumbai’ located a hundred feet from her own escalate to all out war between the two establishments – until Hassan’s passion for French cuisine and for a beautiful sous chef, Marguerite (Le Bon), combine with his mouth-watering talent to weave culinary magic between their two cultures.

With The Hundred-Foot Journey available to take home today on Blu-ray and DVD, The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali had the pleasure of talking to prolific Director Lasse Hallström about the film. He tells us about working with Dame Helen Mirren and Om Puri, filming in France and his memorable moments from set…



What was it about this story that compelled you to make The Hundred-Foot Journey?

I love the genre, the strong balance of comedy and drama. Drama comedy is basically a genre that I am drawn to. Any story that is driven by character, I thought it was charming and funny and all those things basically. Also the fact that I’ve done a drama comedy called Chocolat about fifteen years ago; this was different for us to make compared Chocolat. I used more motifs, more intricate camera work in this one that I didn’t in Chocolat. I enjoy the story and I like the tone of it.


What was your experience working with the cast especially Om Puri?

I really enjoyed working with all the actors, in particular Helen Mirren and Om Puri. I adored them both, they’re just wonderful people and Helen, she knows what’s up, she’s so smart and exacting. She knows filmmaking, almost every adjective of filmmaking, she’s comfortable with it and there was much more going on than she shows. So I think she’s a great co-writer, co-director, co-actor all those things.

Om Puri is the most gregarious, most generous, wonderful man. One of the greatest men I’ve met I must say. He’s a warm-hearted, big-hearted, just gregarious gentleman.



What was your experience working with National Treasure Dame Helen Mirren?

I think that she may have come on board believing that Steven Spielberg would direct it. He looked at the project and sent it out to a couple of Directors and I became involved, she had liked a couple of my earlier movies but I don’t think she had a big problem with us because she is very much very experienced, very small position, she’s up for experimenting and even improvising and trying different things. She offers up lots of options for each take. She’s got some Russian blood in there, which I appreciated; She’s not only got an English essence she’s got a Russian quality to her that gives her range and she performs so great.


Can you talk about filming in France and do you have any memorable moments from set?

Just the fact that we had all the props there and the food was all heavenly arranged. You could say that you see a place like the restaurant and the white shops were all created on the computer because of course there was no such thing as Indian restaurant opposite the French restaurants. We had to create it on the computer and we had to build the road and all that. So that was fun and we had to put the village in the background and all that. So even if it’s real France you can’t really find that location anywhere in France because it’s a combination of three different locations.



The Hundred-Foot Journey Film Page