Café-Cinema: Tasting of French films – The Hindu


The fourth edition of Bonjour India has 120 events held across the country, and Café-Cinéma promises to be one of its highlights

The fourth edition of Bonjour India has 120 events held across the country, and Café-Cinéma promises to be one of its highlights

As summer turns into monsoon, the fourth edition of Bonjour India is well underway. The cultural initiative set up by the French Embassy, ​​the French Institute in India, the network of Alliances Françaises and the General Consulates of France organizes more than 120 organized and collaborative events in 19 cities, from Bhopal to Pondicherry and Kolkata to Chandigarh.

Through cinema, literature, jazz, circus, cartography, photography and science, the events aim to cement the osmotic influences between the two countries. An exhibition in Pune will feature photographs of Paris captured by Parmanand Dalwadi, while one in Ahmedabad will show how French photographers have filmed India since the invention of the camera.

A week ago, as the strong heat of a Saturday afternoon was carried away by the gentle breeze of a Mumbai evening, I found myself in the open air space of Sofitel BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex) , which was dotted with over 200 orange bean bags, a fairy light, floating jazz and a projection screen. A screening by Éric Besnard Delicious (2021) was organized as part of Café-Cinéma — described as a French film and gastronomic experience. There were Les Terroirs Merlot and Chardonnay, Victor Bérard Côtes du Rhône, and fresh crepes, alongside food boxes. Juliette Grandmont, the audiovisual attaché, said it was the “common passion for food and cinema” that unites India and France that inspired the event. A second later, she added, “And freedom. That too.”



food for thought and art

The language of food and cinema often collide in strange ways. Think of how ‘masala’ is used to describe both Vijay’s latest film and the simmering spices surrounding your vegetables, how performances and parfaits can be described as lavish, how the cocktail is both a noun for liquid courage and an adjective for a film that tries to do too much – for better or for worse.

Delicious, set in pre-revolutionary France in 1789, is about the first restaurant. It begins with a mound of flour with a volcanic hole in the center, into which are pressed slices of yellow butter, eggs and potatoes. The crinkle, the crisp, the knead is heard with a meditative clarity, punctuated by color correction, which gives every surface a candied look. The film follows Manceron (Grégory Gadebois), a cook fired by a duke who does not appreciate his culinary initiative. He is encouraged to take his food to the masses by a woman named Louise (Isabelle Carré), who insists he take her on as an apprentice. She wants to make a delicious fruit jam. The revolutionary and egalitarian potential of the food, of the buffet, soon tilts the film in another direction.

Through the kitchen, the film also makes a larger and more succinct point about French cinema. At one point, Manceron remarks, “Bring the flavor to life. Don’t hide it. So the moments of drama unfold without lyrical shock, and the moments of tenderness and love unfold without fainting. Flavor is neither masked by manipulation nor dulled by a lack of imagination.

There were over 200 people in the audience, a mixture of Hindi, English and French swirling in the air of Gudi Padwa, all seated in the grass-covered space – a conscious choice to step outside, to compensate the cabin fever of the pandemic years. If you looked up, you could see the towering hotels, empty offices and residential complexes of BKC. As swallowed.

For upcoming film and cultural events in different cities, check The events run until the end of May.


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William D. Babcock

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