Cast: Huma Qureshi, Sharib Hashmi, Bharati Achrekar
Director: Piyush Gupta
Rating: 2.5 Moons
Mujhe kuch toh karna hai apni zindagi mein is a question we all ask ourselves at various junctions in life. When a homemaker with extraordinary culinary skills asked the same to herself, she became one of India's most celebrated chefs. She was none other than Tarla Dalal. Her story is being told in ZEE5's film, titled Tarla, headlined by Huma Qureshi and Sharib Hashmi. The biopic is directed by Piyush Gupta and produced by Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP Movies and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari’s Earthsky Pictures.
The film begins with Tarla (Huma Qureshi) observing the walk of her college professor and expressing her desire to do something meaningful in her life. On the other hand, her traditional Gujarati parents are of the thought that she can pursue the career of her dreams only after getting married. She ties the knot with Nalin Dalal (Sharib Hashmi) and from there begins her new journey.
Tarla Dalal, whom we lost 10 years ago, resonated with millions of Indian women and homemakers for her simplistic style of cooking and explaining the processes of recipes. Her journey was extraordinary in its own unique way. While the heart of the biopic is in the right place, a simple story has been made complex for unjustified reasons. One could associate with the mom guilt Tarla goes through in the film but it comes at a point where exhaustion begins to kick in.
The first half of Tarla, which is a 2-hour long film, is sweet, deliciously crafted and makes a way to the heart through the stomach. Tarla and Nalin's romance is easy-breezy and refreshing, their banters over non-veg food is an interesting subplot as it acts as a catalyst. With a generous dollop of drama and piping-hot humour, it is worth savouring. However, as the second half goes in top gear, the drama turns into melodrama and the reason for the emotionally charged-up sequences doesn't get justified. In a bid to spice up a tad bit simplistic story, director Piyush stretches it beyond its capacity.
Piyush gets the flavours of a biopic right with Tarla as it speaks about her journey through struggles. What lacks is a generous amount of sizzling tadka to make it work. Probably, a biopic on Tarla was an idea that germinated from the seed of telling a cinematic version of women's success stories. In the end, it feels unnecessary. Tarla gets into stereotypes and takes the predictable route. Don't know how much of it is true but the politics shown on the sets of her cooking show feel superficial and forced.
Despite getting a longer runtime, Tarla doesn't delve into the protagonist's past and what inspired her to fall in love with home science. It rather seems she took up cooking to make her non-vegetarian husband relish vegetarian cuisine than fulfilling her dreams. The lack of passion is clearly visible. If you move past the rough patch, Tarla is a clean family film with good intentions.
The saviours of Tarla are the actors. Huma is endearing as Tarla. She clearly owns the first half with her strong screen presence. The actress does a good job at bringing the late Tarla Dalal to life on the screen. She tries her best to salvage the situation when the emotional scenes in the second half lack depth and conviction too. Sharib is equally good as Nalin Dalal, who seemed to be more of a natural character in this biopic on Tarla Dalal. Be it drama or comedy, he is pitch-perfect. Bharati Achrekar is delightful as always.
Tarla is a decent attempt at telling a human story. The intention behind making the film is understandable but the treatment is overdramatic and tedious. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari, who back the film, have an understanding of the audience and Tarla could inspire and motivate women to pursue a career of their choice.
PeepingMoon gives Tarla 2.5 Moons