In DreamWorks Pictures “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” the opening of a new Indian restaurant in the south of France next to a famous Michelin-starred eatery is nearly cause for a heated battle between the two establishments, until Le Saule Pleureur’s icy proprietress, Madame Mallory, recognizes her rival’s undeniable brilliance for preparing masterful meals.
The film celebrated its World Premiere at the historic Ziegfeld Theatre, on August 4, 2014. Helen Mirren, Bollywood legend Om Puri, Manish Dayal, French actress Charlotte Le Bon, Lasse Hallström (director), Steven Spielberg , Oprah Winfrey, Juliet Blake (producers) and Stacey Snider (Chairman & CEO of DreamWorks) all walked the red carpet.
Dame Helen Mirren told reporters about the film, “It’s interesting in that in Britain, my country, really, the food of the country has become Indian food. It’s the food we all crave when we’re out of Britain – when we’re out for any length of time. I’m sure it’s the same in France, they eat couscous, I’m sure many French people would say when they’re out of France, the food that they miss is not magret du canard, it’s couscous. So food is a wonderful way of human beings learning to live with each other, and that’s what the film is about.”
Legendary Bollywood actor Om Puri spoke about working with Helen Mirren. He said, “I have done more than 250 films, but Helen Mirren was making me a bit nervous before I met her, but when I met her, she made me feel so comfortable and relaxed.” Puri believes it’s important to make films about different cultures coming together. “Yes it is very important, because today, anywhere, there are so many cultures living together, and you have to appreciate each other because otherwise there will be friction.”
Oprah Winfrey, who is one of the film’s producers, shared what attracted her to the project.
Speak about the message of the film.
Oprah Winfrey: I think it speaks about the fusion of culture. I think it speaks to the heart of the idea that no matter who you are, no matter what your culture is, it is absolutely possible to look out and extend yourself in such a way, that you can connect to other people and find that we are more alike than we are different.
We read that you’re cooking improved after making “The Hundred-Foot Journey”?
Oprah Winfrey: Yes! I’ve never looked at an omelette the same after this. Never.
What does it take to be so passionate about a project?
Oprah Winfrey: Well, you have all of these wonderful actors, like Om and Charlotte, Minesh and they came together, when I was watching them in France, I just thought, “Wow, this really like a family,” they put that together in such a way – I mean Lasse, and the casting, it’s just so beautiful, they feel like a family! You look at them, don’t they look like a family? Part of the reason is he [Om] was cooking at his house on the weekends for everybody, did he tell you? It was a great sense of community in this film and I love that.
Do you hope to do more film producing?
Oprah Winfrey: The wonderful thing about leaving “The Oprah Show,” means that I have a diverse opportunity to explore whatever delights me. This was one of those things that really delighted my senses – emotionally, sensually, and in other ways. I felt like it was cinematic and that this would make a beautiful story, and it has, I’m really pleased.
You worked with Steven Spielberg, when he directed you in “The Color Purple,” now you collaborated as co-producers?
Oprah Winfrey: Yes! In Different job! Very different than being directed by Steven.
What do you admire about director Lasse Hallström as a filmmaker?
Oprah Winfrey: Because he creates a family unit. Not just for the film, but for the whole crew. You walk up on that set and there is such a unifying field. Movies are about little families and so what Lasse did was created this beautiful family that obviously delivered the story, the actors, but everybody felt that way on set. He’s a great director with a sense of community, yes.
Steven Spielberg also produced the film.
Speak about working with Oprah.
Steven Spielberg: We had a great time. Now we were peers! We were great partners, I wasn’t her director and we made decisions together, and we had no disagreements, which was wonderful and I’ve admired her for so long, to be able, after 30 years, since we worked together in “The Color Purple” this was a wonderful way to come back together again on a book we loved, on a screenplay we developed with Steven Knight, and I adored that experience.
What did you love about the story?
Steven Spielberg: What I like was that cultural differences are to be celebrated and not to be fought over. The “Hundred Feet” of competition between these two restaurants, which eventually narrows to the distance of a kiss, for me was the reason to make the film.
What is the story about?
Steven Spielberg: It’s about cultures, love, life, and fusion – the fusion of people.
You are attracted to eclectic projects.
Steven Spielberg: For me they have to be, because I have to stay interested. I can’t do the same thing over and over again, which is why I don’t do – I’ve made sequels, but it’s the movies that are not sequels that I enjoy the most.
Do you still enjoy working with actors?
Steven Spielberg: Yes, I do, very much.
Academy Award winning composer A.R. Rahman scored the music for “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” We recently interviewed him about his work on “Million Dollar Arm,” you can read it here.
Speak about your vision for the music for “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”
A.R. Rahman: The music actually is almost doing what the movie does. It’s a clash of culture, and both of them loving each other and emphasizing the sensibilities of both sides. I did a song with Gulzar Saahb … The main themes came from the song.
What was your creative process like?
A.R. Rahman: I read the script a bit and then I saw the first cut of the movie, and I think it took around a month and a half.
What is it like to working on a project with Oprah and Steven Spielberg?
A.R. Rahman: I’m just seeing them for the first time, after the movie was done. They’re great names, they’re very inspiring and wouldn’t support anything that was not good.
Speak about composing music for Om Puri.
A.R. Rahman: He’s amazing, in this movie especially.
As he was running in to introduce the film, star Manish Dayal said that the omelette is his dad’s recipe and his greatest challenge was cooking.
Charlotte Le Bon also spoke with us about being part of this project.
How exciting is it for you to be part of this international cast?
Charlotte Le Bon: Yeah of course, it’s pretty overwhelming to be here and talking to you right now.
Speak about working with Lasse, the director.
Charlotte Le Bon: He’s the most romantic man that I have ever met in my life, he’s super generous, very sensible, just a very pure human being. If people were like this, if everybody were were like him, there would be no wars.
Last, but not least, we spoke with the adorable Rohan Chand.
How excited are you to be here premiering your new film?
Rohan Chand: Well it’s really exciting, very exciting!
Tell me about your character.
Rohan Chand: Well I play the younger version of the main character, Hassan, and he, even at a young age, he’s so passionate about cooking…he loves everything about it.
Speak about working with Lasse.
Rohan Chand: Well that was really cool because when he told you something, you just knew what he wanted and I also got to shoot it on the film and that was also my first time, so that was really cool.
You filmed your scenes in Mumbai, India. What was the highlight?
Rohan Chand: It was really cool. I got to see a bunch of hawks, which was really awesome.
You also starred in Jason Bateman’s “Bad Words.” What was it like working with Jason?
Rohan Chand: Well working with Jason was really cool on “Bad Words” because he gave very specific directions and he he made everyone feel so comfortable in the character.
What’s next for you?
Rohan Chand: Well, up next for me is a Dreamworks Animated project …it’s animation and it’s working title name is “Bollywood Superstar Monkey” and that’s my first animation project, so that’s really cool. And I have another project that I can’t say anything about.
Jeff Skoll who is the Founder and Chairman of Participant Media, also produced the film.
What attracted you to the project?
Jeff Skoll: Good question! Well, we’ve been working with Dreamworks for a number of years. This is our sixth film. We started with “The Soloist” maybe seven years ago and we did “The Help,” “The Kite Runner,” and we always had a great relationship. So when this one was in the works, we started talking about it way in advance and as good partners do, in this case this was a DreamWorks project that they said, “Hey, you guys may like this.” In the case of “The Help” it was our project that we brought to them and so that’s how.
What did you love about the story?
Jeff Skoll: It’s just a beautiful, human story of people overcoming stereotypes and coming together over something they share and love, in this case food. And then beginning to respect each other and overcome their differences and it’s told in an entertaining way that anyone can relate to and it’s a beautiful story well told that will get people to kind of see the world differently and that’s what we love about it.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” opens nationwide on August 8, 2014.
Check out some photos from the premiere below:
Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Wireimage