India Sweets and Spices Parent Guide
The film bursts with a variety of flavors - some appealing, some less so.
Parent Movie Review
Alia (Sophia Ali) has just completed a successful year at UCLA, studying biology and leading the social justice club. Having finished the semester with a drunken party involving a DIY haircut, she’s off to her family’s New Jersey home for summer break.
A chance trip to the local Indian grocery store introduces Alia to Varun (Rish Shah), the handsome son of the owners. Acting on a whim, Alia invites Varun’s family to a party at her home. When they arrive, her mother, Sheila (Manisha Koirala) reacts unexpectedly – turning Alia’s understanding of her parents upside down.
India Sweets and Spices bursts with a variety of flavors – some appealing; some less so. It pops with vibrant colors, the frequent parties awash with brilliant saris and mouth-watering food. (If you have any fondness for Indian food, the samosas in this film are going to have you ordering take out ASAP.) The story also carries positive messages about being true to yourself, demanding respect, being honest, and standing up for what you believe. The movie’s portrayal of the importance of family is also significant – as is the terrible cost of eroding it.
The biggest problem with the movie lies in the character of Alia herself. Although she sees the emptiness of her parents’ lives, with their focus on appearances and conspicuous consumption, she is far less clearsighted about her own life. Alia is a spoiled princess, oozing entitlement. When her father (Adil Hussain) suggests that she work at his medical office over the summer, she petulantly complains that summer is for relaxing and then spends the season lounging by the pool, reading Vogue, and complaining. A new boyfriend has the nerve to point out the hypocrisy of her critiques of her parents, suggesting that she is also living a materialistic life. Alia is indignant. “I use organic chapstick!” she retorts, convinced that her progressive bona fides are legitimate.
Other behavior in the movie is less than praiseworthy. There are over 40 profanities and frequent scenes of alcohol consumption, some of which involve drunkenness. Sex scenes are not explicit, but there is a passionate, adulterous kiss, and a scene of unmarried people making out on a bed.
The negative content is unfortunate because the movie emphasizes strong female characters and highlights their courage. But just as a great meal can be overwhelmed by poorly balanced seasoning, the positive messages in this story are overshadowed by the gratuitous profanity and sexual material. There’s a better movie in here somewhere; sadly, we only get a taste of it.Directed by Geeta Malik. Starring Sophia Ali, Manisha Koirala, Rish Shah, Ranjit Kapur. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release January 7, 2022. Updated January 12, 2022
Watch the trailer for India Sweets and Spices
India Sweets and Spices
Rating & Content Info
Why is India Sweets and Spices rated PG-13? India Sweets and Spices is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language, sexual material, and brief drug references
Violence: A woman is seen with bruises on her face. She is later forced into marriage against her will.
Sexual Content: A married man kisses and caresses a woman who is married to another man. A fully clothed woman straddles a man on a bed and they kiss passionately. The camera focuses in on a bare-breasted statue. Adultery is a major plot theme but it is never depicted. There’s mention of “a threeway”. There’s mention of prostitution. A man’s homosexuality briefly comes up in conversation.
Profanity: There are just over 40 profanities in the movie, including one sexual expletive, an anacronym for a sexual expletive, 16 scatological curses, 11 terms of deity, and a smattering of minor curse words and anatomical terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: University students drink large amounts of alcohol at a party. Adults drink alcohol at several parties and at home. There is a brief mention of marijuana. An adult holds a cigarette but doesn’t light it.
Page last updated January 12, 2022
India Sweets and Spices Parents' Guide
What do you think of the choices Sheila made? What do you think you would have done in her place?
Why do you think Alia is unaware of her own hypocrisy? Why is it difficult to see inconsistencies between our beliefs and behavior?
Forced marriage has a long and tragic history in India (and other countries in the world). For more information on this topic, you can read the following articles.
Girls Not Brides: About child marriage
Tahirih Justice Center: Forced Marriage Overseas: India
The Guardian: The Rescuers
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