As the frame opens to a rural setup in Bihar, the mood is perfectly set by Raghuveer Yadav's spirited rustic rendition to the title track in the background that gives the movie an impetus initiation. A small town of Takipur in Bihar is where our central character belongs to.
Deeply rooted to his village values, cooking is what he specializes in. From gaajar ka halwa to dal ka tadka, he has every appetizing masala on his menu. And so does the film. As the hors d'oeuvre of this meal says, 'Ramji ke paas hai sabke liye masala'
Ramji (R. Madhavan) is an expert cook from a village in Bihar, who accepts an offer to go to London as a cook to an Indian businessman. An offer he half-heartedly accepts to meet the pressing dowry demands of his sister's marriage. Unfortunately, the cook's employer is dead by the time Ramji reaches London and he soon finds himself wandering around aimlessly in the unfamiliar foreign city. To add to his difficulties, Ramji even loses his passport and visa at a railway station.
Hope resurfaces as an Indian couple comes to Ramji's rescue and also employs him as a chef in their Indian restaurant. From here on starts Ramji's cross-cultural journey from Bihar to his new abode - London. A lot of food recipes, language chaos, communication barriers, immigration conspiracy and unassuming love story follow.
The story in short is a Jis Desh Main Ganga Rehta Hain meets Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Mann Bhaye. The bucolic Ramji's attempts to adapt himself in the new environment and culture of London reminds of the former flick while the love story is redolent of the latter.
South Indian specialty
Soup for the soul
Sanjay Dayma is the Captain Cook of this filmi feast. His name might sound new but the man has to his honor the writing credits of Lagaan, one of the most riveting screenplays of Hindi cinema. His Hindi adaptation of Kamal Hassan's script for this film is equally taut and flawless.
The protagonist's conflicts are well-etched and convincing enough. The narration doesn't appear fabricated or contrived as per cinematic convenience. The creativity gone into the writing of novel scenes shows onscreen. Ramji's fine-tuning with the new milieu takes up the better portions of the tongue-in-cheek humor.
His stints with English toilets and frenchie underwears will have you in splits. Nevertheless his characterization is not one-dimensional. Though a village simpleton his character isn't sketched as downright dumb. Simultaneously the humor is also laced with emotional sensitivity.
Real ghee delicacy
For the cross-culture chaos, the director efficiently maintains the authenticity of the language used in the film. Both, the Bihari dialect and the English parlance sound genuine. Also, as is the current trend, actual Englishmen are employed to play Britishers and not Tom Alter kinda substitutes. The Lagaan hangover perhaps!
Calorie free cuisine
The humor isn't forced or on your face. It's seeped into the script and slips into your senses without being blatant or boisterous. And despite the international setup, the film thankfully doesn't fall into the trap of condemning foreign culture or endorsing desi traditions. Mercifully item numbers aren't forced in either. However the movie could have done without a couple of songs in the second half.
Needless to say, Madhavan is the soul of the film. Present in almost every frame of the film, he excels in his dialogue delivery, expressiveness and comic timing. Though Madhavan was a little over-the-top in his earlier Hindi films, he's completely restrained over here. Also actors do tend to go overboard when adapting to accents in films but Madhavan's Bihari accent in the film is flawless. Post Ramji, Madhavan will not be just touted as a south actor. Samita Bangargi too surprises with her natural performance. Raj Zutshi as the conniving lawyer perfectly justifies his character.
Like a bonus ice-cream topping after a lip-smacking meal, this one too offers a surprise in the end. But let's keep the surprise what's it's meant to be… indeed a surprise for you to check out!
In the movie, Ramji as a cook specializes in preparing 'sugar-free gaajar ka halwa' for which he even wins recipe content. The film Ramji Londonwaley is a cinematic metaphor to this very 'sugar-free gajar ka halwa'. High on nutritional value, low on calories and delectable to your taste buds! Simply scrumptious!