There are three things you should know about “Nina’s Heavenly Delights”:
1. Don’t go expecting to see one of those extravagant Bollywood musicals a la “Bride and Prejudice”. This is a rather low key romantic dramedy… and the romance is between two women.
2. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses. Ok, that’s a joke. “Nina’s Heavenly Delights” is a riot of vivid eye-popping colours – green vegetation, golden light, bright blue bridge, red curtains, and let’s not forget about the food, which leads me to…
3. Don’t go see this movie on an empty stomach. “Nina’s Heavenly Delights” is a foodie’s delight. Eat before you leave for the theatre or buy the jumbo-sized soft drink and popcorn when you get there. I don’t even like Indian food and my mouth was watering. You’ve been warned.
And did I mention that the romance is between two women? Now that we’ve dispensed (again) with that potential turn-off for some moviegoers, let’s move along.
“Nina’s Heavenly Delights” is set in the Indian community of Glasgow, Scotland. Don’t worry, North American viewers, unlike some other movies, the characters’ accents are decipherable! (If one of the leads looks familiar, Laura Fraser played the female blacksmith alongside Heath Ledger in 2001's “A Knight’s Tale”.)
As the opening credits roll, we see a man explaining the finer points of Indian cuisine to his adoring daughter. Flash forward to the present and the little girl (Nina of the title, played by Shelley Conn) is all grown up. She’s back in Glasgow for her father’s funeral, which ignites a little family resentment. Things have obviously changed since her hasty departure three years ago, on the very day of her wedding. The family restaurant (The New Taj) has a new owner (Lisa MacKinlay, played by Laura Fraser) albeit part owner because Nina’s dad gambled and lost. Even worse, the restaurant is on the verge of being sold just as Nina discovers that The New Taj has reached the finals of a city-wide curry cook-off. None of the other family members show much interest in the contest or keeping the restaurant.
But Nina finds a willing helper in Lisa. The attraction builds subtly between them until one night they share a passionate kiss in a moonlit kitchen, appropriate since the kitchen is what brought the two together. Both actors are totally believable in their roles and generate a nice chemistry in their scenes together.
There’s not much tension or conflict in this feelgood movie. Sure, there are subplots revolving around family secrets but they barely rate a mention, they are so underdeveloped. Nina’s drag queen friend provides a little comic relief and he drives the gaudiest vehicle since the Partridge Family’s bus. In fact, colour should get a co-starring role in this flick; for one, the food prep sequences are simply dazzling and comparisons have rightly been made to 2000's “Chocolat” in this regard.
In a nod to the Bollywood musicals, there’s a fantasy dance sequence at the end of the movie involving most of the characters, including the dead father, who also makes a few otherworldly appearances throughout the story.
Spicy? Not really. But “Nina’s Heavenly Delights” is a sweet little dish to enjoy. Just don’t see it when you’re hungry.