'Chilli Chicken' movie review: Harsh migrant stories from urban India

Discrimination against northeasterners in Bengaluru is common and does not come as a surprise. The city lives with it.
Last Updated : 22 June 2024, 02:48 IST

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Chilli Chicken
Director:Prateek Prajosh
Cast:Shrunga BV Bijou Thaangjam Jimpa Sangpo Bhutia Harini Sundararajan

Prateek Prajosh’s debut feature, Chilli Chicken, tells a touching story of five migrants from Manipur and Tibet — Khaba (Bijou Thaangjam), Jimpa (Jimpa Sangpo Bhutia), Ajoy (Victor Thoudam), Jason (Tomthin Thockchom) and Ranjoy (Hirock Sonowal). 

They work in Bengaluru at an Indo-Chinese restaurant, Noodle Home, owned by Adarsh (Shrunga B V), a Kannadiga. It is a hole-in-the-wall eatery, but a middle-class Adarsh dreams of opening a fine-dining restaurant. He plans to call it ‘Noodle Palace’. 

The film discusses the everyday lives and struggles of the five migrants. The boys are called names and their neighbours try multiple times to chase them away from the locality. They are forced to sell illegal goods and face exploitation. They endure it all, together. However an unexpected incident changes the course of their lives, and they find it hard to stand by each other. 

Though they have a salary, food and shelter, what they truly want is respect and a home away from home. Through the many characters, the director shows the harsh realities of migrant workers in the city. Even Adarsh, though a localite, faces humiliation and obstacles on his path to making his dream a reality.

The boys, in their free time, participate in Instagram challenges. This adds some light moments to the film, which has an important message. An interesting character is Ajoy’s girlfriend, Anu (Harini Sundararajan). She works two jobs — in a salon and as a delivery executive. She is also an activist who makes Instagram reels. Although the film’s title is Chilli Chicken, the black rice pudding the boys make to celebrate their new year, stands out. This also looks like an attempt to showcase how the northeastern cuisine is not Chinese, contrary to popular belief. 

Their realistic performances drive home the director’s message. It is not difficult to connect with the film. Discrimination against northeasterners in Bengaluru is common and does not come as a surprise. The city lives with it. 

(The movie Chilli Chicken is available to watch in Kannada Language in Theatres)

Published 22 June 2024, 02:48 IST

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