Disclaimer: Disney, Marvel, Dreamworks & ABC Family sent me to Los Angeles on an all-expenses paid press trip, in exchange for my coverage of these events, including my interview with Manish Dayal, from The Hundred Foot Journey. All opinions are my own.
TODAY in theaters everywhere is “The Hundred-Foot Journey” and it’s the perfect date night movie. Why? Well, I’ve set it all out in my The Hundred-Foot Journey Movie Review….be sure to check it out as I introduce you to all the characters.
But one of the reasons the movie is simply amazing…..Manish Dayal. I recently had the opportunity to view the movie and interview Manish right afterwards. What a privilege that was to get some insight into his role as an up and coming chef.
Any interview with Manish Dayal had to include the question…. “Do you cook in real life?” (Side note – I love to see a man in the kitchen, including my Italian husband) “NO” – and we all laughed. Manish Dayal sure had us fooled. He looks like a natural in the kitchen.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about cooking. And definitely in the movie it wasn’t so much about learning how to cook but more just how to like understand kitchen culture. Because we had to understand how to chop and where to stand and how to move and how to make sure that all of the dishes sort of were effectively made. And I think like that was sort of the challenge in terms of learning kitchen etiquette and stuff like that for the film.”
I can imagine how hard that would be for someone who didn’t know their way around a kitchen. Yikes!
What’s it like working with Helen Mirren?
“First I should tell you that she’s hilarious, and she has a very, very crass sense of humor. And I think that’s something we had a lot in common. So we ended up just laughing all the time. And she was telling me stories about her life and how she got started in this business. So it was good to sort of learn from her.
Also when we were working I could see like how she prepares, what her process was like. So it was an amazing experience. And she also told me something that I won’t forget, which was when you pick movies to do you should just pick them based on how much fun you’re gonna have. So I thought that was really good advice. “
With executive producers like Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, you knew this project had to be special. We wondered if Manish Dayal had actually met Oprah….
“I did meet Oprah. And, yes, she’s really amazing. She’s all the things that you know about her she’s that much more incredible. She’s, as you know very giving. I mean most interesting thing about her is how generous she is with her knowledge and her knowledge of the world and how much she did impart and which things that we talked about on set.
So I did get to spend some time with her. And it’s clear to me, and I think why she’s connected to this story. I mean this is a story about a displaced family that has to sort of find their way in this new place and sort of overcome all these obstacles culturally, racially, in every way.
And it’s a real immigrant story. And I think that that’s why she connected to it. And these are the stories that she wants to tell. And I think she did it. Hopefully.”
Manish Dayal is from South Carolina and couldn’t be more American, but he plays the role of Hassan well.
“I went into it thinking that the French culture and the Indian culture are completely different. There’s nothing about these two cultures that are similar, until I started working on the movie and really am living with these people who were making the movie. And I realized they’re actually distinctly similar unlike any other culture in the world because of their appreciation for food. They both have this sort of like razor sharp appreciation for it that I don’t think any other culture has.
And I think that the interesting part – a French kitchen is really structured. It’s very formulaic. There’s a formula for everything. There’s a way to do everything. And there’s a way to stand. And everyone has a skill in the kitchen. And you know your skill by not going beyond your skill. So there’s a hierarchy there that’s really respected. And it’s really quite amazing to watch how everyone follows. And it’s like sort of perfect. And the level of respect you have chef, it’s really insane.
Then in an Indian kitchen, it’s not like that at all. It’s about however you’re gonna get this thing cooked, and how are we gonna make it happen? And both yield great tasting food. But the cultures in these kitchens is so different. And that’s one of the most interesting things I learned. But they still have the same sort of razor sharp appreciation for cooking and food. It’s just done in a very different way.”
Photo courtesy of: JustEnza.com & MeetKristy.com
Asked about the chemistry with his co-star, and he describes it as “hot and spicy”. Yes, Manish Dayal is an attractive man. There is romance in the film too, but it’s very sweet, after all, we are talking about a PG rating, and I think the PG rating is great because more people will see it. There are lessons of tolerance in this film that everyone should see.
I was able to ask him a question about the foods he loves from home……
“Well, two things. My mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches. Nobody can make a grilled cheese sandwich like my mother. She didn’t do it often growing up. But I remember when she did it it was always late at night for me and my siblings. If we were hungry she would make grilled cheese sandwiches. She makes them perfectly. It is something that she does that I really sort of love.
Then Indian-wise, she makes rice and daal, which is a very simple thing… That’s something that my mom makes. I’m actually going home tonight. I haven’t been home in a while. So hopefully she’ll have it!”
So thankful for the opportunity to interview such a talented actor who I’m sure we’ll be seeing again.
The film is rated PG and is in theaters everywhere TODAY, August 8th!
UPDATE: The Hundred-Foot Journey released now – Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital HD but you might want to read the book first. I always do and in this book, there’s a lot more background information setting the scene. SHOP: The Hundred-Foot Journey in paperback!
Other Celebrity Interviews:
- Interview with Phineas & Ferb Creators
- Interview with Chris Pratt
- Interview with Vin Diesel
- Interview with Richard Madden
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