Critic’s Rating : 3.5 / 5
Medium Spicy Movie Review : A well-marinated film that’s balanced like its name- neither bland, nor overpowering
When was the last time you watched a Marathi film that was an immersive experience? One that soothed your senses and also made you think about yourself and the people around you. While a majority of the cinematic releases in the recent months have been typical romantic films or historical sagas, Medium Spicy is a totally different film.
Briefly put, the film, which marks Mohit Takalkar’s onscreen directorial debut, is the story of Nissim, the protagonist. A sous-chef who has a laid back approach towards life to the extent that majority of the people around call him boring, Nissim comes from a middle-class Maharashtrian family. People around him, including his boss Gowri, his crush Prajakta, his parents, sister and his friend Shubhankar, are going through various phases in their lives. But Nissim’s life seems to be stuck. He’s the perfect example of a passive protagonist, a rarity in times where films are made to glorify their protagonists. But that doesn’t make Nissim an uninteresting character. On the contrary, since his story is being taken forward by the characters around him, the film becomes a beautiful journey of self-exploration and love.
Medium Spicy stands out in almost all departments. Irawati Karnik’s story is layered and Takalkar gives the story time to marinate, which makes the result even more delicious. The story also shows you the inside of a restaurant’s kitchen, which is no less than a warzone during peak hours. But the kitchen is also a metaphor for our lives – there’s fire, ice, spice, sweetness, sourness and everything in between – things that are part of relationships as well.
Then there is the literature and art of Medium Spicy, which probably deserves an article of its own. Be it the comparison of prices between Maxim Gorky and Chetan Bhagat’s books, or the prominence of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet throughout the film, or the photographs and paintings that feature prominently in some frames, these things either prompt a thought or leave you awestruck. One of the best frames of this film comes during its climax, with the scene of a non-verbal conversation between Nissim and Gowri that is juxtaposed with Belgian artist René Magritte’s The Lovers II. In that moment, you can’t help but appreciate the symbolism of the painting and the story.
The actors in this film are made for these roles. Lalit as Nissim is subtle and effective, Sai Tamhankar as Gowri adds yet another interesting and noteworthy character to her repertoire, Parna Pethe as Prajakta delivers what is probably one of her most promising onscreen roles, and Sagar Deshmukh plays the broken man wearing a happy mask with aplomb. Veterans Neena Kulkarni and Ravindra Mankani leave an impression, as do Arundhati Nag and Radhika Apte in cameos. All in all, every character brings something new to the table.
Medium Spicy is not your mass entertainer. It’s one of the few urban, contemporary Marathi films that talk about life, thoughts and relationships from a modern perspective. More often than not, the film lets its silences do the talking. That, however, may work for or against it.
Medium Spicy is a well-marinated film that’s balanced like its name- it’s neither bland, nor are the flavours overpowering. You may or may not like it, depending on your cinema palette, but it’s an experience that you should savour, at least once.