Salt N' Pepper is a 2011 Malayalam romantic comedy directed by Aashiq Abu. The film stars Lal, Shweta Menon, Mythili and Asif Ali in the lead roles while Baburaj and Vijayaraghavan play supporting roles.
The film narrates the love tale of two couples. The main characters are Kalidasan (Lal), an archaeologist, Maya (Shwetha Menon), a dubbing artiste, Meenakshi (Mythili), an IELTS student, Manu (Asif Ali), a happy-go-lucky management graduate, and Babu, Kalidasan's chef. Food plays an important role in the story and the tagline of the film is Oru Dosa Undakkiya Katha (The story born out of a Dosa).
The film features an original score composed by Bijibal. The soundtrack to the film features three songs composed by Bijibal and the song "Aanakkallan" writen by Malayalee rock band Avial. Shyju Kahild, who debuted through Traffic (2011), handles the camera. The film was produced by Lucsam Cinema and released by Lal release. Principal production for the film started on 3 January 2011. It released in theatres on 8 July 2011 to positive reviews and good initials.
Kalidasan (Lal) is a middle-aged bachelor working in the state Archaeological department and is a foodie. His only companion is his cook cum confidant Babu (Baburaj). Manu Raghav (Asif Ali) is Kalidasan's nephew and he comes to stay at his uncle's place while searching for a job.
Kalidasan's otherwise monotonous life moves into an altogether different direction with a wrong call from Maya (Shweta Menon), a bachelorette who is a dubbing artiste, living as a paying guest with her friend Meenakshi (Mythili). It all starts when Maya dials for a dosa and gets Kalidasan on line, instead of the food joint. The initial conversations between these two create negative vibes and are peppered with choice abuses, but a long-distance romance develops because they have a common interest — cooking and food. If Kalidasan is a born foodie, Maya is reaching for her late mother by indulging in culinary activities which evoke a sense of deep nostalgia in her. Having struck up an affinity over the telephone, Kalidasan proceeds to let Maya into the secrets of baking a multi-layered cake called Joan's Rainbow.
The plot develops naturally as their conversations help to etch their characters. They both get the jitters before their first personal meeting and become conscious of their physical appearances. So they send younger and better looking substitutes for the meeting in the form of Manu and Meenakshi. This creates a lot of chaos which are resolved at the end.
Actor Role Notes
Lal Kathali Parambil Kalidasan He has some unique peculiarities. He is professionally an archeologist. At the same time, he is a foodie, a Semi cook and a good food critic. The role appears to be really different from all the roles Lal played till date.
Asif Ali Manu Raghav He is a carefree youngster character who often puts himself into awkward situations trying to be over friendly. Asif Ali says, "It's the one character among all that I have essayed that's closest to my real-life persona."
Shweta Menon Maya A bachelorette who is working as a dubbing artiste, she is also a foodie and is interested in cooking.
Mythili Meenakshi She is a bubbly and glamorous girl who is very beauty conscious and loves to take care herself.
Baburaj Babu Baburaj is a brahmachary (bachelor), hanuman devotee, and an excellent cook in the film.
Vijayaraghavan Balakrishnan Kalidasan's friend and colleague.
Ahmed K. T. Mirash Manu's friend and Meenakshi's teacher. He is an irksome guy who eats into your ears with undecipherable, nonsensical advice, as much as you are trying to vigorously shake him off.
Kelu Mooppan Mooppan He is a silent spectator from another culture, who merely has a toothless grin as an answer to most questions.
Kalpana Mary The owner of the house where Maya and Meenakshi live
Ambika Mohan Itha A regular customer at Mary's beauty parlour
Archana Kavi Pooja Nair Guest appearance as a girl on whom Manu tries tries to hit on.
Nandu "Bhaskaran Nair" Guest appearance as a fellow passenger in the train along with Manu and Pooja Nair
Dileesh Pothen Director A movie director who tries to woo Maya
The film received generally positive reviews although some critics felt that certain scenes in the film are far from convincing. In Deccan Chronicle, Keerthy Ramachandran gave the film a three-star rating, writing "This is a movie which weaves together taste, flavor and love to make an exquisite recipe for good cinema. A must watch for all gourmets, Salt n' Pepper is sweet humour interspersed in a light plot." The critic described the film as "one of the most enjoyable films of recent times." The critic was all praise for the cast performances stating, "Shwetha Menon has acted brilliantly in the movie, proving that she has more to her than meets the eye. Lal has done complete justice to the role and appears likeable throughout the movie. But, the major share of credit should go to Baburaj — the stereotypical villain in Malayalam cinema. The role of Kalidasan’s cook is a milestone in his career. Asif Ali and Mythili appear perfect in their roles. Actor Vijaya Raghavan in a cameo has made a commendable appearance." Navamy Sudhish of The New Indian Express said, "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." The critic labelled the script "smart", Shyju Khalid's frames "rich" and "peachy", and Bijibal's background score "superb". The critic appreciated Ashiq Abu saying, his "narrative technique is unpretentious and devoid of any jaded gimmickry." Paresh C. Palicha of Rediff.com said, "Director Aashiq Abu has put together the right ingredients in his new film Salt N' Pepper and come up with quite an interesting dish." The reviewer feels that the film is to the taste of all sections of the audience. Veeyen of Nowrunning.com said, "Aashiq Abu and his team adhere to the golden rules of good cooking, and see to it that the griddle is all hot, before they gently spread out a light hearted Dosa story on it." The critic also praised the cast peformances and Shyju Kahlid's cinematography. A reviewer from Sify.com said, "Salt n’ Pepper may have its own share of shortcomings, but the sincerity with which it has been made is there to be seen in the film. It’s a young film which oozes lots of freshness and it is enjoyable for people of all ages, especially if you love your food."
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