As the title suggests (Cheeni Kum means "Less sugar") this film is subtle in flavour, and all the more delicious for that. Amitabh is charismatic and energetic enough to carry off the lead role with skill and style. He plays the owner/head chef of "London's finest Indian Restaurant", who channels all his considerable passion and powerful personality into his kitchen where he reigns supreme and unchallenged. Tabu plays a quiet, independent-minded youngish woman, who surprises and challenges him (and the audience) in every way. Their process of falling in love is done in an understated slow-build way which is entirely convincing and utterly charming. I won't spoil how they meet or how it ends, but it is superbly done with a script that sparkles with unexpected wit and charm, rivaling the best romantic comedies I've ever seen.
Whilst appearing in many ways like one of the better Hollywood Rom-coms, the film never loses its Indian Identity and in fact reminds us that modern India is a country increasingly at ease with itself and far from either rejecting or emulating its old Rulers, is increasingly able to formulate its own unique identity combining many aspects of its diverse cultural past and present.
Examples: (Potential spoiler warning)
The heroine has a classic Indian look, but is a software engineer. The maid in Delhi is very traditionally and simply dressed, but in one scene we see her learning to surf the internet from a laptop. Back in London, we have an English waiter desperately trying to learn to pronounce the Indian dishes correctly. The father's enjoyment of classic BBC Cricket Commentators but rejection of `Imported fast food'. Equally there is some gentle mocking of melodrama in the father's psuedo-Gandhian hunger-strike. This is not offensive to Gandhi's memory as the background song here emphasises the distinction between Gandhi and Nina's father with beautiful irony, thus reminding us that 'Acting your age' is not always as it seems.
(End of spoiler warning)
I must also mention the cracking performances of the support cast, the feisty Zohra Saigal, the sublime Paresh Rawal, the wonderful ensemble of London sous-chefs and notably the 6 year old girl. Her amazing character together with Amitabh Bacchan's brings home the message that life experiences are to be cherished and relished at any age.
Not to be missed.