'Salt N Pepper' (Malayalam)
Director: Aashiq Abu
Cast: Lal, Asif Ali, Swetha Menon, Maithily, Baburaj
A delightful addition to GenY fun flicks, ‘Salt n’ Pepper’ is an out-and-out entertainer. It gives two hoots to time-tested tricks and indulges you with a stimulating storyline and unfeigned artistry.
At the same time the film is no tailor-made multiplex caper made for the urban freaks and geeks alone. Salt n’ Pepper is all about how food forges a bond between Kalidasan (Lal), an archeologist, and Maya (Shweta Menon), a dubbing artist. Knotted in the delectable web of events are Kalidasan’s nephew Manu (Asif Ali) and Maya’s roomie Meenakshi (Mythili). The smell and sight of food lingers throughout and even the romance blooms over a cake recipe.
The film is a cocktail of comic wild-ride and offbeat melancholia, spumy fun and acrid irony. But at no point the focus goes haywire and even the expletives don’t damage the mood. Scenes and situations, when analysed individually, seem fragments straight out of different genres.
But the smart script by Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair ties them together with an awful expertise that even a switch from a goofy situation to an oldie-style song sequence doesn’t stick out. Ashiq Abu’s narrative technique is unpretentious and devoid of any jaded gimmickry. The film has no madcap pace, but enough mild whirls to keep you glued.
It’s pleasure watching Lal playing Kalidasan. Sinking his teeth into the character he effortlessly emotes the pain and the solitude, the anger and the unrest. Poised and suave, he never tries to overplay and spoil it all. Shweta’s plain Jane character is equally impressive and going de-glam has done her no harm. Asif Ali and Mythili deliver what is expected of them. Baburaj, who plays the cook, is a platter full of surprise as he, for the first time, gets a chance to do something other than smirking and scuffling.
The characters are not lost in a sea of faces and even cameos and marginal players leave a lingering impression like Ahmed Sidhique who plays Manu’s nerdy friend. Suresh Kollam’s art direction is commendable while Shyju Khalid’s rich and peachy frames add to the fluid texture of the film. Bijibals background score is superb and all the songs, including Avial’s ‘Anakkallan,’ evoke the right feel.