My surreal journey into the world of movie-making started long before my family and I walked down the red carpet two weeks ago. That was the night producers Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Juliet Blake showcased their beautiful film of The Hundred-Foot Journey, my novel about a young Indian chef who becomes a three-star chef in Paris.
One of the most memorable moments actually happened last fall, when my wife and I visited the film set an hour outside of Toulouse, the mud fields where director Lasse Hallström and a long list of major-league talent, including actors Helen Mirren and Om Puri, were miraculously turning my little tale into a big-screen fable. Oprah Winfrey wanted to meet me, and so my wife and I nervously made our way to the producer’s tent, near the old farmhouse that had been turned into an Indian restaurant. Inside the tent, which was filled with lush platters of fruit, Oprah strode forward, shook my hand, and told me how much she enjoyed the book and how surprised she was to learn I wasn’t Indian. It was a bit like being summoned by the Queen — I babbled like an idiot.
Richard C. Morais, his wife Susan, left, and their daughter, Kate, at the premiere of The Hundred-Foot Journey. Photo: Newscom
But then I heard the voice I have had in my head for 17 years. It was my character, Madame Mallory, and I looked around for the source. There, on a small monitor in the tent, was a close-up of Helen Mirren, perfectly channeling my creation. I became a little emotional. “You must forgive me,” I stammered, “but it’s a bit overwhelming. This is my 100-foot journey.” Oprah fixed me with her leonine stare for a moment and said, “Richard, let’s face it. This is a lot more than a 100 feet.” (more…)