By Jeff Walsh
Nina's Heavenly Delights is a Scottish Asian story about an Indian cooking competition, but the universal themes will satisfy the most discerning film lover's palette.
Over the opening credits, we see a very young Nina and her father cooking together, and witness the passion he brings to cooking. The movie begins as Nina returns home to Glasgow upon learning of her father's death. Her childhood friend Bobbi, who dreams of performing in drag in a Bollywood movie, picks her up at the airport.
Nina Shah moved to London after some family altercation, and there is obvious tension between her and the family she left behind. The Shahs have an award-winning Indian restaurant called The New Taj, of which a young woman named Lisa now owns half after Nina's father had lost half of the business as part of a bet.
As the story moves on, we find out that every member of the Shah family has a secret involving a hidden love, and each of them keep it hidden because of family obligation.
Nina's father's secret is discovered after his death: their restaurant was selected to compete in The Best of the West Curry Competition on television. His dream was to pull off the hat trick of winning this competition for a third time.
Nina decides to win the trophy for her father, but gets distracted by falling in love.
The movie, by writer/producer/director Pratibha Parmar (read my interview with her here) has a very playful tone and blurs the lines of reality with pleasing results. Food, its loving preparation, fragrance, and spices are both a character in the movie and a metaphor for bringing things together in harmony while not losing their individual contributions.
The film doesn't provide any shocking plot twists, but serves as well-made, smile-inducing, lovingly-prepared comfort food.
For more information, cities, and showtimes, visit the movie website.