Manish Dayal Q&A: ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association often embraces international stars at the Golden Globes, but there's one corner of the globe they have yet to reach. "The opportunity to make history as a South Asian Golden Globe nominee would be a great honor," said Manish Dayal, star of "The Hundred-Foot Journey." "However, whether it's me or not, for an ethnic minority in the US to be represented on an important scale like the Golden Globes is pivotal and groundbreaking. It means we would occupy a new mainstream space we never have before."
While Dayal attempts to break new ground at the Globes, the film itself stresses the importance of cultural diversity and acceptance. Dayal stars as Hassan, an Indian chef who moves with his family to France, where they encounter resistance from their wealthy European neighbors. "It is essentially, in its purest form, a story of an immigrant experience and about these people who are coming into a world they would otherwise never be a part of," said Dayal of the conflict at the heart of the film.
The other primary component of the story is the food: the clashing Indian and French styles that represent the conflict and ultimately the reconciliation between the two cultures. "The Indian culture and the French culture appreciate food like no other," said Dayal of the dueling cuisines. The actor attended cooking classes to prepare for the role and he considered them valuable "because I got to see how a chef maneuvers in a kitchen, how they go from starting a dish to finishing it … It was more about the body language of a chef and how they command a whole kitchen."
"There was food everywhere," Dayal adds of the production. In addition to trying frog legs for the first time at the prompting of co-star Helen Mirren, he also happily devoured a dish that is featured in the film: "I remember one day when we were doing the boeuf bourguignon scene, I wanted to learn how to make that because my character makes it in the movie … I remember eating a bowl of it in-between every couple of takes. It was so good."