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Mistress of Spices | Movie Review

“The Mistress of Spices”, directed by Paul Mayeda Berges was released in 2005. The screenplay by Gurinder Chaddha and Berges is an adaptation of the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni with same name.

Movie : The Mistress of Spices
Director : Paul Mayeda Berges
Actors : Aishwarya Rai, Dylan McDermott, Ayesha Dharker, Nitin Ganatra, Sonny Gill Dulay, Anupam Kher, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Toby Marlow, Caroline Chikezie, Padma Lakshmi; and others

The movie opens in “Spice Bazaar”, a departmental store in San Francisco, run by beautiful and traditional cotton saree clad Indian woman Tilo (Aishwarya Rai), who is mistress of the spices. Being able to listen to more than just words of her customers, she helps them with different spices to solve their problems, whether it is Haroun, a cab driver, Jagjeet, a school boy, Kwesi, a man looking for love or Dadaji, and old man trying to bring back peace and harmony in his family.

But Tilo’s heart has its own desire, too. An American architect called Doug (Dylan McDermott) whom she can’t resist looking at from behind the curtains. But she can’t have him because like other mistresses, she took a vow when she was initiated by the Mother (Zohra Sehgal): She would never leave the store, she would never touch another human and she would never love anyone but the spices.

But fate brings Doug and Tilo nearer, and she finds herself yielding to the power of love. The spices do not take it passively; they turn on her customers instead and bring misfortune to them. The Mother comes to Tilo and chastises her for breaking rules, reminding her that she must come back. Tilo decides to close the store and go; and breaks the rule of not going out of the store to help Haroun for one last time, but she is too late. And finally, in the last indulgence to herself, she spends one night with Doug, leaving him a note explaining that she loves him but is going away from him forever.

And Tilo returns to the first love of her life: The spices; and sets herself on fire. What happens next? Does Tilo survive? Will the spices ever forgive her? Will she ever be able to help people again? And above all, is it possible to attain a balance between the two loves of her life?

The movie more or less follows the novel, except a few points like; Tilo’s being young and beautiful throughout the story, Doug’s girlfriend and their break-up, etc. But most of the details of the customers and their problems are captured nicely. Following Tilo’s feelings and her actions is easy and does not ask for any effort.

An easy, light weight love story with a little bit of spice here and there……….Enjoy

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