Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cooking with Stella: Movie About Diplomats in New Delhi

Just as I was about to start my Bengali cooking lesson with Krishna this morning, I saw a new post on livelines about the D.C. Filmfest and a movie of interest, Cooking with Stella.

Cooking with Stella is "a lighthearted, satirical, social comedy about an unsuspecting couple in the Canadian Diplomatic Service posted to New Delhi who inherit a household of Indian servants headed by the wily, charming... and totally inspiring cook - Stella."

I had to watch the trailer, and it looks hilarious. Will miss it at the D.C. Filmfest, April 21st and 22nd, but have to hunt it down once we get back.

Synopsis: "Stella Elizabeth Matthews has been a cook in the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi for 30 years. She is brilliant as a cook, and brilliant at creatively padding her salary - with a few pilfered items, some minor overcharging, and a special phone-order duty free business.

A newly posted Canadian diplomatic couple Michael and Maya arrive with their baby and, after an initial jolt when she learns that Michael will be staying home as "diplomatic housewife" while Maya goes off to work, everything goes swimmingly for Stella. Michael was a chef in Ottawa and he is longing to learn authentic Indian cooking. Stella agrees to be his "cooking guru".

But Stella's cozy domestic set-up implodes when Tannu, an honest nanny, joins the household, and threatens to expose Stella's deceptions. Eventually Stella wins Tannu's full cooperation (and then some!). This unlikely partnership embarks on a much grander, riskier scam, which seems to bring disaster.

An unexpected kind of justice is found, but not until the guru-student relationship between Stella and Michael has been sorely tested. Michael has learned many important lessons from his teacher ...including glorious traditional South Indian cooking. And Stella? Well... let's just say dreams sometimes come true in unexpected ways."

See the trailer and more at the Cooking with Stella movie website.


Daniela Swider said...

Looks awesome - can't wait to see it. Thanks for the suggestion!

Kate said...

Cooking with Stella was weird... as a (Canadian) diplomat, I found the movie to be VERY uncomfortable- too close to home. Most of my colleagues felt the same way! I found it much easier to sit back and enjoy the movie when the plot got more improbable...

That said, the non-Foreign Service Officers int he crowd seemed to find it quite hilarious!

Natalie Buda Smith said...

@Kate, Interesting perspective!

Kaho said...

That movie looks like an interesting movie! India is on our radar of future post. I have friends who are serving in Delhi, it must be cool to see places they're so familiar with in a movie. Thanks for the suggestion!

Natalie Buda Smith said...

@Kaho Will be interested to know what you think of the movie. So far, I haven't heard great things about it but the concept is interesting.

HelenT said...

Having lived on the CHC compound in New Delhi, it was a trip down memory lane to see the compound, markets, offices and so on.
I thought many elements of the movie were very true--the curiosity of a looking at a new home for the first time, meeting the staff, the spouse trying to find a worthwhile career abroad, and so on.
One element which I couldn't relate to at all, and I feel that the movie conveyed in a very disturbing and negative view, was the relationship between Stella and the family. Our experience with staff, over many years, has always been that they are honest, generous and do their best for the families. In over 12 years abroad I have never had a thing stolen. Any small loan has been scrupulously repaid. They have been interpreters of both culture and language and made each posting much easier for myself and the family.
I also found the negative comments about staff which diplomats are shown to say in the movie to be unbalanced, as while some people do have occasional difficulties with staff and talk about it, many others are extremely positive about their staff and praise them consistently. This more normal, closer relationship to staff was not represented.
It is an interesting movie and I was glad to see it but found the direction it took to be negative and ridiculous about the Indian staff, portraying them in a poor light which was grossly inaccurate from my experience.