Saif Ali Khan plays a character called Roshan in Chef adaptation

After ‘Airlift’, filmmaker Raja Krishna Menon is making ‘Chef’, a road movie that explores Indian food

Making a remake of a hit film is always a challenge. More so if the movie is set in a different milieu. Expectations will mount and comparisons are bound to arise. Raja Krishna Menon is, however, all gung-ho. The director, who is on cloud nine with the success of the Akshay Kumar starrer Airlift, is adapting Jon Favreau’s Hollywood film, Chef into a Bollywood movie.

“Chef left me awed. The script was amazing. I never imagined myself adapting it into a Bollywood movie, as till now, my films, be it Barah Aana or Airlift, were based on my own scripts,” says Raja, in an interview over the phone.

Chef was a story Raja could relate to as he is a foodie, travel enthusiast and parent. However, his version will be a whole different take on the Favreau film; it will be done keeping the Indian palette in mind.

In the movie, says Raja, relationships will be treated from an Indian perspective. “As I have a 17-year-old son, the relationship between a father and son will be explored in earnest.”

A bit of a road movie, the film zooms in on various parts of the country. The film, starts in scenic Kerala and concludes in the busy streets of Delhi.

Apart from a handful of Bollywood movies such as Raavan, Chennai Express and Dil Se, and that too mostly shots based on songs, Kerala and its rich culture have yet to be explored in Bollywood. The film, according to Raja, will explore the food, landscape and rich culture of Kerala. “Kerala to me, has to be one of the loveliest regions in the world. It is a land that is still rooted in its traditions and culture.”

Saif Ali Khan is the protagonist of the film. He is Roshan, a professional chef who is visiting his family currently residing in Kochi. He has quit his job at a leading international restaurant and starts a food truck. His son joins him on the culinary journey. “While Bollywood is familiar with kulcha, butter chicken, palak paneer and the like, we will be introducing pazham pori, kappa and meen curry, puttu and kadala curry… to their menu. As the film travels through Goa, Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi, the local foods of these regions will be featured in the film too. I don’t think any other Indian film has explored the flavours of India to such an extent. It’s the treatment of relationship, travel, food and more that makes our film different from Favreau’s.”

Raja who grew up watching Bollywood flicks as his sister, Devika is a huge Amitabh Bachchan fan, says movies were never on his list of career options. A science graduate, his plan was to become a bike mechanic. That was until he worked on the production of an ad film while in college. “I saw the magic of film making and was hooked,” says Raja, who worked as ad film director before turning a film director. Fond of penning his thoughts down on paper, he decided to translate them on screen when he found a tale worth telling. And there has been no looking back. “I need to be really passionate about the film I am working on. The shoot of a film is not over in a matter of days. It takes close to a year. I will be bored if I didn’t find the script captivating,” says the Malayali who plans to make a Mollywood film one day.

The film, also titled Chef, is produced by T-Series, Bandra West Pictures and Abundantia Entertainment. “We have bought the rights to the Favreau film and thought it was the perfect title for our adaptation too as the film revolves around the life of a chef.” Padmapriya plays a professional Bharatanatyam dancer, while Svar Kamble plays Saif’s son. Dinesh Prabhakar and Chandan Roy Sanyal have important roles in the movie. The film is scheduled to hit theatres in 2017.

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