“India Sweets and Spices is a fun family drama”
INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES (2021)
India Sweets and Spices looked like a fun family drama. It starred Sophia Ali who I know from The Wilds and I was interested to see her take on another role. I wasn’t familiar with any of director Geeta Malik’s work but I was excited to watch a film by a woman director and hoped the story would be interesting.
I had no knowledge of Malik’s previous work so I went into India Sweets and Spices with nothing to compare her to. Unfortunately, this movie proved to be very generic in terms of directing. It was pretty straightforward with few, if any, surprises. That’s not to say it was a bad effort. It was perfectly mediocre. Malik just didn’t do much to differentiate herself from anyone else. But overall a solid, albeit generic directorial effort from Malik.
Alia (Sophia Ali) is a college student in California who goes home to the East coast for the summer to be with her family. The Kapur’s are very financially well off and it’s clear that they’re very concerned about making a good impression on the other Indian families in the area. Alia obviously doesn’t fit in with the strict traditional roles of the family. Her mother, Sheila (Manisha Koirala), is constantly obsessing over how Alia looks and what she says. Her father, Ranjit (Adil Hussain), is constantly ducking out and playing golf, not truly present in the family life. One night at a party, Alia catches her father canoodling with another woman. This unlocks a whole host of family secrets and throws the Kapur family into disarray.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The majority of the movie is carried by Sophia Ali. She puts in a solid performance as a young college student trying to navigate her family’s expectations while being true to herself. She doesn’t have to do much, but she puts in a very fine performance as Alia. Both Koirala and Hussain are also respectable as parents trying to figure out how to deal with the lives they’ve chosen. Malik tries to super-charge the story with a feminist social justice warrior backstory that feels a tad forced. The most interesting characters are the outsiders who own the local store, Bhairavi (Deepta Gupta) and her son Varun (Rish Shah). But they don’t get as much screen time which is a shame. Overall the characters and the dynamics work well enough to keep you engaged and there are some fun moments that make watching enjoyable.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
There aren’t any visual effects in this one, so no comments there. But the make-up and design is fairly standard. It doesn’t add much to the movie but it does what’s necessary. This is a generic family drama so these things don’t make as much of an impact as in other genres.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The soundtrack is one of the real bright spots in this movie. There are a lot of catchy songs and they move the story along nicely. There are some fun Indian songs mixed in that are a nice touch to showcase the culture and enhance the many parties that are thrown throughout the movie.
India Sweets and Spices is a fun family drama about a young woman trying to find her place in her family and in the world. Every family has secrets and the Kapurs have quite a few that they’re trying to keep hidden. If you’re looking for a kooky little movie about a dysfunctional family that is trying to adhere to Indian culture while grappling with their own beliefs, then you should check out India Sweets and Spices.
Bleecker Street will release INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES in theaters on November 19th, 2021