(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) We speak to Hundred-Foot Journey author Richard C.A deep love of food and and an old friendship prompted journalist and author Richard C. Morais to write his cross-cultural bestseller The Hundred-Foot Journey an exotic tale of an aspiring chef in pursuit of a dream which takes him from the slums of Mumbai to the upper echelons of fine dining in Paris. As the film version From Bombay to Paris: The Hundred-Foot Journey releases today in UAE cinemas City Times caught up with Morais who said he wanted to highlight the importance of destiny through his writing. He remains in awe of the beautiful film made on the book which was recently re-released as a film tie-in featuring the star cast on its cover.
How does it feel to see The Hundred-Foot Journey adapted for Hollywood Were you involved in the making of the film in any way
I am filled with awe that my little scribblings should inspire the best of Hollywood to make such a beautiful film. I had very little to do with the film but I have an excellent relationship with the producer Juliet Blake and sometimes I would make little suggestions such as considering Om Puri to the play the role of Papa.
The book is an inspirational tale in many ways and highlights the importance of a close-knit family and the fire of ambition. Was there any particular message you wanted to convey through your writing
I wanted to portray how some people have a destiny in life and they must pursue it to become complete human beings.
How important is the role of food in bridging cultural differences
We don’t need to exaggerate the importance of food. But surely it is inspiring and engenders goodwill to a strange culture to taste something sublime from its kitchen.
In the novel’s credits you mention that it is a tribute to filmmaker Ismail Merchant. In what way did he inspire the book and what made you begin writing it in the first place
Ismail directed a beautiful film of Anita Desai’s novel In Custody. It’s in Urdu and stars Shashi Kapoor and Om Puri. After showing mthe film we had dinner in the Bombay Brasserie in London and I urged Ismail to find a literary property that married his love of food (which we shared) with his love of filmmaking (which we shared.) One day I sat down and wrote that book myself. He died before I finished.
Om Puri as Papa Manish Dayal as Hassan and Helen Mirren as Madame Mallory in a scene from DreamWorks Pictures’ film The Hundred-Foot Journey Are you a chef yourself What kind of cuisine do you prefer
I love to cook. One side of my family is of Portuguese heritage so I have a powerful taste for Mediterranean food but I have travelled and lived around the world so have gathered up ideas from everywhere.
In the book the protagonist Hassan’s character is a complex one. What do you feel drives him most - is it his love for cooking or a burning desire to make it big in the culinary world
It’s neither. It’s a calling to fulfill the inexplicable destiny of his life - the first foreigner to win three stars as a French chef.
In the film Helen Mirren plays the tough as nails Madame Mallory. What do you think of the casting
It’s brilliant from director Lasse Hallstrom to Helen Mirren as Mallory to Manish Dayal as Hassan - and of course the fantastic Om Puri who is the essence of Papa.
You’ve worked as a journalist for a long time. When did the interest to write a novel arise
I always wanted to write novels since I was a boy but I first had to build a solid career in journalism so I could afford to raise a family. Once I had that in place and my daughter was born I returned to writing fiction.
What advice would you give aspiring writers
Don’t mimic. Find the voice and writing style that is truly unique to you.
What are you working on next
My second published novel is called Buddhaland Brooklyn and is about a Japanese Buddhist priest who is sent to Brooklyn New York to open up a temple. The third novel which I am currently writing is about a Spanish private banker dying in Zurich. enidkhaleejtimes.com