The kanji and payar conundrum in 'Om Shanti Oshana'

The kanji and payar conundrum in Om Shanti Oshana
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What's food got to do with as light-hearted a comedy as 'Om Shanti Oshana?' The movie brought out the girlie capers of Nazriya who plays a very innocent Pooja who is head over heels in love with Giri, the larger-than-life persona of Nivin Pauly. Which girl would not fall for the staid, sober and no-nonsense homespun man?

When scriptwriter Midhun Manuel Thomas and director Jude Anthony Joseph came out with the hit, little did they realize that food and wine would be the twin strands that would hold the movie together.

Food has always been a strong motif in many a Hollywood flick like 'Chocolat,' 'Babette's Feast,' or Jon Fraveau's 'Chef'. The theme of food, though not a particular favourite with Malayalam movie makers, has surfaced in many a movie like 'Kammath and Kammath,' 'Salt ‘n Pepper,' 'Ustad Hotel,' 'Spanish Masala' and 'Mr Butler,' to name a few.

Unwittingly enough, the food theme pops up in Om Shanti Oshana too.

Way back in 1999 when the super-hit 'Niram' hit the screens, it sent youthlings around town into a frenzied spin with the incognito romance between Kunchacko Boban and Shalini setting the screen of fire.

But our Om Shanti Oshana's tomboy Pooja recalls that while girls all over were swooning over Chackochan's fresh boy looks, she had her eyes fixed elsewhere… on his CBZ, which explains why she is always on a lookalike one.

While her bumbling father 'Mathai doctor' is busy trying to make his own potions and elixirs, her sweet and practical mother Annie, a college teacher by profession, is a thorough homemaker who loves cooking and is happy to pat herself on her culinary skills. She loves to whip up dishes and serve them in style. But if there's anything that our little heroine hates, then it's got to be cooking!

Enter Rachel aunty, Pooja's friend, guide and philosopher. She's the perpetual wine maker who gives a twist to the tale. Rachel, Pooja's wine aunty, has all sorts of wine concoctions in her cellar and she’s always experimenting with grapes and fruits and making wine and Pooja happens to be her wine aunty’s official wine taster, for that’s what Pooja does. She has to taste all of Rachel aunty’s wines that are offered to her in an ounce glass. Thus, there’s a spirited spiritual bonding between the duo.

It was over one of their highly spirited sessions that Rachel aunty declares thus: That she can either choose to marry a man she loves or learn to love a stranger with a great deal of strain.

Our heroine's mind is set. She decides to find her man and her search ends in the very down to earth Giri. She will do anything to find a way to grab Giri's attention. Enter food in the form of her friend who tells that she will take her to Giri in return for a masala dosa and milk shake! Poojas’s friend’s brothers happen to be in Giri’s karate class and when the girls go there in the hope of catching a glimpse of their hero, what they see instead is the friend’s brothers dozing away in a corner of the classroom, clutching their food packets!

Pooja’s world comes crashing down when she hears Giri hissing at her friend: “Stop all this tinned food and serve them kanji and payar”! She rushes home and shocks her parents in her bid to make kanji and payar. Her stunned parents watch as the kitchen turns into a battle zone and Pooja begins her war with kanji and payar.

But what appears on the table would be Giri's nightmare. It’s anything but kanji and payar.

Mathai doctor then tell his daughter that cooking is an art and that while in the kitchen the cook’s sole thought should focus on what’s being made. It’s got to be tasty and fit for consumption.

Pooja later finds herself at Giri’s house where she is all set to partake of the homely meals his mother makes.

Another food fact is Pooja’s friend Donna, an out and out foodie.

Though not the strongest theme, food certainly plays an important sidekick role in the film.

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