“A difficult choice, between perfection and heavenly delight,” crows the announcer at an Indian-cooking contest during this movie’s climax. Sadly, Pratibha Parmar’s Nina’s Heavenly Delights offers neither. What it does offer is an estranged daughter, a dead father, a disappointed mother, a secret marriage, a secret lesbian, and a secret Scottish country dancer. This overloaded plot begins with the homecoming of Nina (Shelley Conn), a Glasgow native of Indian descent, and follows her through the cooking contest she enters on behalf of her recently departed father, an accomplished chef. Oh wait: Her father may have departed from Nina, but he has not departed from the movie, and has an eerie tendency to make posthumous appearances (imagine the ghost of Julia Child showing up in your bedroom). Dad’s mantra was “Follow your heart,” which might be why the writers sprinkle lines like “And what about my heart?” into their overly mushy script. Veena Sood plays Nina’s mother with magisterial presence. But Conn overacts just as much as the impetuous Nina overreacts. At least her food—simmering sauces and flaky breads—is reputed to be subtle.
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