Nina's Heavenly Delights Review
Warning: it is impossible to leave the cinema after this without feeling extremely hungry. This is unashamedly a food movie, as well as being a touching love story. I swear I leaned forward in my seat to smell the fragrance of chopped coriander as it was stirred into the sizzling, golden slush of onions, ghee, shredded red chilli and sweet garam masala. And of course, garlic, which the recipe's author explains 'dispels gloom'. Fans of Like Water for Chocolate and The Mistress of Spices will be familiar with the magical restorative powers of love and spices, and it is these themes that Nina's Heavenly Delights deals in, with a charming lightness of touch.
Nina Shah ( Shelley Conn) is the disgraced daughter of an Asian Glasweigian champion curry restauranteur, and it is he who ignites in her a passion for recipes cooked instinctively, ''following your heart''. Duly obeying her heart and instincts, Nina bolts from the altar leaving her fiance Sanjay ( Raji James) , from a rival restaurant, humiliated - and the prospect of a glittering curry dynasty in ruins. The family are more than gloomy when the prodigal returns to Glasgow three years later; they are bereft, for Nina's father has died, leaving half The New Taj restaurant hocked as a gambling debt. Encouraged by her glamour-puss friend Bobbi ( Ronny Jhutti), who now nurses his own dreams of being a Bollywood dancing queen, Nina throws herself into the West Coast curry championships with her charismatic new business partner, Lisa ( Laura Fraser), another childhood friend. Hot glances are exchanged over hot stoves, plunging Nina deeper into gloom at the thought of bringing further disgrace upon her family. The prospect of restoring The New Taj to former glories looks doubtful, as the headstrong Nina ignores what her heart tells her. The magic of her father's recipes fails, and the spices leave a bitter taste in her mouth. It is passion and instinct, of course, that makes spices sing, and until Nina accepts the gift of Lisa's heart and the unexpected risks of love, neither the perfect chicken curry, nor the family fortunes stand much of a chance.
A colourful cross cultural confection of love and spices, don't forget to book a table afterwards to make sure your belly is as warmed as your heart.
(And its based on director Pratibha Parmar's own experiences of love striking in the kitchen. Whatever she cooked, I want the recipe. )