'Hundred-Foot Journey' Premiere: Helen Mirren, Steven Spielberg Fete Food-Fusion Film (Photos)
12:47 PM PDT 8/5/2014 by Ashley Lee
Oprah Winfrey, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Juliet Blake, Charlotte Le Bon and more also celebrated Lasse Hallstrom's feature, adapted from Richard Morais' 2011 novel, at NYC's Ziegfeld Theatre on Monday night.
Based on Richard Morais' 2011 novel, the film traces the rivalry between two competing restaurants — a Michelin-starred French spot (in which Charlotte Le Bon works) and a family-run Indian restaurant (led by Manish Dayal) — in the south of France.
Helen Mirren, who stars as French restaurant head Madame Mallory, told reporters of her character's feud with Om Puri and his family, "Any restaurateur would be upset if a restaurant opens immediately opposite. And also the type of restaurant is very offensive to her French sensibility of what a French restaurant should be — it's noisy, it's smelly, she thinks it's lowering the tone in general. You know, the French do take being French very seriously!"
Om Puri leads the Kadam family from India to France, where he quickly finds himself butting heads with Helen Mirren.
Producers Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg
"I just thought this particular Indian family was representative of themselves, of who they are," Steven SpielbergtoldTHR of the Kadam family onscreen, as they struggle to find acceptance after migrating to a foreign country. "We're all representative of the melting pot we exist in, but you can't melt a family into a generality of where they're from. That's the message of the movie: We're all independently individual, we all matter, and this movie doesn't invalidate anyone."
From left: director Lasse Hallstrom, his wife, Lena Olin, and their daughter Tora Hallstrom. The director particularly enjoyed collaborating with Steven Spielberg: "It was wonderful to have him around — he was supposed to work in a producer-director capacity 10 years ago but it didn't happen, so I'm so happy it happened now. He gave great ideas for the script, and great notes in the editing room."
Screenwriter Steven Knightadapted Morais' novel independent of the author's input. "It's very difficult to write the direction that says, 'This food looks amazing,' but it has to," he explained. "The food really has to tell the story — it has to be seductive, almost in a sexual way, which is why I think food is so interesting. It's beyond sex, beyond music; it's a different sense that doesn't really get dealt with in film. [In the script,] you have to be specific, otherwise it's a cop-out and you're leaving it to everyone else. You have to say, 'It's a sea urchin that looks like this; it's beautiful but it's smelly and sort of ugly, but it's lovely.' You have to be brave enough to be specific."
Manish Dayal stars as Hassan, the culinary master of the Kadam family who helms the Indian restaurant's kitchen, but becomes fascinated with French cuisine.
Farzana Dua Elahe
Farzana Dua Elahe plays Mahira, the daughter of the Kadam family.
From left: Participant Media's Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King and Jim Berk. "It takes the stereotypes people have of each other, and then breaks them down so that people see each other as human," Skoll told THR. "The respect builds when they see how much the other loves food."
Charlotte Le Bon
When asked which dishes trigger healing in their own lives, Charlotte Le Bon, wearing Elie Saab, praised her grandmother's comforting dessert. "She bakes raspberries with white cake, so the raspberries get 'confit' and then she puts cream on it. She made it whenever I wanted — she's a very nice grandmother!"
Juliet Blake, Lasse Hallstrom
Producer Juliet Blakerecalled, "My mother's matzo ball soup — I remember when I was living alone as a student in London and being kind of miserable, and I'd go home and it would make me feel better."
Amit Shah smiled when he shared, "I love porridge with lots of golden syrup and chopped strawberries — it just really reminds me of being a child on the weekend, and having the time to have porridge with my family." Quoting the film, he said, "'Food is memories,' and that's definitely the case for me."
Film composer A.R. Rahman stepped out for the world premiere.