The Mistress of Spices

2006-09-01 18:50


Tilo (Aishwarya Rai) runs a spice shop in Oakland, California from where she helps her customers with everyday complaints. Tilo has mastered the art of "spice magic" and can blend spices to help with anything from insecurity to finding your soul mate. In order to retain her powers, Tilo has to obey three rules - she cannot leave the shop, use the spices for personal gain or touch another person. When Tilo spots Doug (Dylan McDermott) through her shop window, she instantly feels connected to him and soon finds herself breaking every one of the rules.


One would imagine Aishwarya Rai could spice up any movie, however preposterous the story line, or dismal the plot. If you were expecting Miss Rai to deliver a stellar performance as the mystical Mistress Of Spices, be prepared to be disappointed. Her popularity supersedes her talent, and while she is sure to draw crowds, her decorous character won't increase her fan base. It would be great to see Rai in a different role, like a character with flaws.

The Mistress Of Spices is bland. All the elements for a great romantic movie are there - two gorgeous people, ideal setting, the star-crossed theme - but the pieces never quite fit together. The constant voiceovers from Rai become monotonous after the first 10 minutes. As exciting as it is to watch a beautiful woman communicate with turmeric, it fast loses its sheen when little else happens.

The storyline might have worked better if the story had been modernized and adapted slightly. While charming, the film fails to grasp the imagination. The whole concept of a woman who is "married" to spices is too farfetched for western audiences, especially when there is little attempt made to back it up or explain it.

The plot is also filled with craters the size of Mars. The obvious gap is why and how Tilo came about living and setting up shop in Oakland. There are various characters that breeze in and out of scenes adding little value to the overall story.

The undercurrent theme of immigrants in a foreign land trying to maintain traditions is touched on, but in a very unsatisfying manner. The daily struggles of cab driver Haroun (Nitin Chandra Ganatra) and the romantic problems of the Westernized granddaughter of a traditional Indian family are intriguing, but they are left unresolved and should have been fleshed out.

The scenes between Rai and her American love interest, played by Dylan McDermott, are lacking in passion and chemistry. McDermott's performance is ordinary. The chillies, by far the most dramatic performers in the film, overshadow him. There is promise of sensuality with a glimpse of Rai draped in silk sheets on a bed, but it never materializes. Rai and Mc Dermot seem more like uncomfortable strangers than people in love.

The Mistress Of Spices ends on a dramatic note that belies the rest of the movie. Whether the memory of the movie is left in the farthest and darkest corners of your memory or completely forgotten, I guarantee you'll never look at a chilli in quite the same way again.

- Ashlin Simpson

Even gorgeous stars like Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott can't spice up this bland romantic fantasy.

Zahir 2006/07/06 9:54 AM
like needing water with your popcorn. the problem with a movie like this is that the talented mr mcdermott just could couldn't eclipse the dismal plot, and that that the dismal plot couldn't dumb itself down to miss rai's level of talent. salaam namaste
Mia 2006/07/09 8:15 PM
Spice up your life, see this movie! The Mistress of Spices is genuinely one of the most wonderful movies I've seen in a long time. Not only are the two main actors beautiful, but they share some kind of chemistry on-screen. The story-line is something out of this world. Combining the Indian Tradition with the strong will of a woman and the efect love has on all of us. The cinematography is done beautifully and the soundtrack lends a helping hand telling the story. All in all, this movie will spice up your life. If you loved the way chocolate brought love back into lives in Chocolat, this moce will enchant you.
Popeye 2006/07/20 4:12 PM
The mistress of spices HMMMMMM????????????????? If I saw the trailer maybe
BHAVY 2006/07/22 3:45 PM
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