DECEMBER 2014 ;e Costco Connection 39
By Will Fifield
FOOD IS MORE than an element in The Hundred-Foot Journey, the movie based on Richard C.
Morais’ best-selling debut novel of the same title. It’s
a major character.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a poignant tale of
the struggles ethnic minorities face. But it’s so much
more. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a love story. It’s
a tale of loss and grief. It’s a story about second
chances. It examines how we measure success. And
even if you’re not a foodie, it’s hard not to appreciate
the role food plays in this tale.
Viewers follow the Kadams, a large Indian family that runs a restaurant in Mumbai. After an act of
political violence leads to the death of Mama (Juhi
Chawla) and the destruction of the family’s restaurant, they relocate to France. The Kadams, led by
Papa (Om Puri), settle in the village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the South of France to open
an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. The only
glitch in their plan is that just across the street is
food snob Madame Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) Le
Saule Pleureur, a Michelin-starred, classical French
restaurant. The resulting conflict between the two
eateries sets the stage for all the other themes the
The Connection recently spoke with Morais at
his home in New York to discuss the experience of
seeing his novel adapted to film.
The Costco Connection: What was it like
seeing your book come alive on film?
Richard Morais: My wife and I went to the set
outside of Toulouse last October. Oprah [Winfrey,
one of the film’s producers] wanted to meet me. I was
shivering. It was like I had been summoned by the
queen. But, all of a sudden, I heard this voice, and the
voice was the voice I’ve had in my head of Madame
Mallory for 15 years. There have been audiotapes of
my book and other people had tried channeling
Madame Mallory, but this
was the exact voice I’ve
had in my head for 15 or
20 years. So, I turned and
I looked, and there was a
monitor that showed
what they were filming at
that moment. It was Helen
Mirren as Madame Mallory. I got kind of emotional.
I had another surreal moment on our second
day of our visit. They were doing a split shoot, where
they film early in the day, then break and film again
at night. So I was there for dinner, and they were all
wearing their costumes. I sat next to Helen Mirren
and Om Puri, and I had dinner with my characters.
It was every writer’s dream. It was very moving. My
little scribbles that I couldn’t get anyone to read for
years had produced the incredible talent and
machinery to bring their version of it to life.
CC: Were you involved in the process?
RM: Hollywood generally pays [authors] to go
away, but in this case, Julia Blake, the producer, went
out of her way to keep me informed. She would come
to me and say things like “Who would be your favorite director?” And I said, “Lasse Hallström.” Then she
asked me, “Who do you think should play Papa?”
And I said, “Om Puri.” She said, “Om Puri?” So she
went out and did some research and said, “You’re
right; he’d be fantastic.” And so, I was able to whisper
a few things that actually made it into the pot.
CC: Did they change the book in the process of
adapting it to film?
RM: If you read the book and watched the
movie … [you’d find] they are, in some ways, different stories, but you can’t walk away without the conclusion that they have the same DNA. As a writer,
you can’t ask for more than that. C
You’ll find copies of The Hundred-Foot Journey on Blu-ray (Item
#948152, available 12/2), and
Richard C. Morais’ novel of the
same name (Item #907432) at
your local Costco warehouse.
arts & entertainment
A delicious tale
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a
story you can sink your teeth into
Culture clash: Madame Mallory
takes exception to the Kadam
family restaurant across the
street, run by Papa (Om Puri,
left) and his son, Hassan.
In our digital editions
Click here to watch Steven
Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey
discuss The Hundred-Foot
Journey. (See page 11 for details.)
Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon, left) and
Hassan (Manish Dayal, right) create
world-class cuisine in Madame
Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) restaurant.