"“An authentic – and certainly more contemporary and updated – portrayal of Asian culture within Britain...”"
When settling in at home for a night in front of the telly with a few movies lined up for your viewing pleasure, there are few better accompaniments to such an indulgent experience, than an Indian takeaway. So, to help combine the two vices together, Amit Gupta presents Jadoo, a self-portrait of sorts surrounding the conflict between two neighbouring Indian restaurants.
The two rival restaurants are separately run by competitive brothers – played by Harish Patel and Kulvinder Ghir – who twenty years ago fell out over the distribution of a secret family recipe and have tried to surpass the other ever since. As one specialises in starters and the other main courses, the pair would certainly benefit from working together – and when Shalini (Amara Karan) travels up to Leicester to inform her father (Patel) of her engagement to Mark (Tom Mison), she uses the opportunity to help bring her family back together once and for all, as she intends on persuading the bickering pair to collaborate for her wedding banquet.
Often Anglo-Asian productions can come across as being somewhat contrived – such as the recent All in Good Time – whereby there is an inclination by directors to stick within the stereotypes and conventionalities of the culture to appease a broader market. However Jadoo feels far more earnest in its approach, and we steer away from the seemingly compulsory “stern father” character, and religion is barely mentioned within this title. Instead the themes are far more universal as we deal simply with family feuds and a love and adoration for all things food – themes anyone can relate to. As a result it feels like a more authentic – and certainly more contemporary and updated – portrayal of Asian culture within Britain.
Talking of relating to films, when focusing on Indian food you've already got the vast majority of the population on side. Hopefully this film can teach the British lager louts a thing or two as well, as we delve into the gracious intricacies of cooking such dishes, and we learn that every dish has a story behind it. You do find yourself watching on with jealousy too. I want a lamb asparagus curry with a hint of mint and a drizzle of yoghurt. Fuck korma.
The issue with this title is that Gupta can be accused of not knowing exactly where to focus his attention, which makes it rather difficult for us to know quite what we're dealing with. We have the engagement, the curry competition, the brothers’ broken relationship and so on. As we move towards certain aspects we lose touch of the others – the wedding itself becomes entirely secondary as we move towards the latter stages of the film. Nonetheless, the performances are impressive with Patel standing out as he brings a wonderfully crafted comic timing and is full of energy – simply lighting up the screen.
Jadoo is a really charming film, and although it doesn't quite have the poignancy attached to make it especially memorable, there is something very amicable about it, and watchable. It does make you really bloody hungry though. Korma, anyone?