The movie Tarla, starring Huma Qureshi in the titular role along with Sharib Hashmi, has been released on Zee5. The movie follows the story of the entrepreneurial genius way back when she became the powerhouse that we know her as. Although the film could’ve been more insightful, there’s still a cute, homey quality to it. You can see our full review here. While some of it is a bore, we can still trace a line through Tarla Dalal’s early life through the film and understand how she found her “something” and became one of India’s most renowned food journalists.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
We start at the time Tarla is in college and watches her professor’s footsteps keenly while she explains the need to give your best in whatever you do in your life. Tarla wants to go places just like her professor. The next day, Nalin Kumar comes to see her for her hand in marriage, and she isn’t very thrilled. She expresses her desire to do something different in life, but marriage would hinder that. Her mother tells her that after marriage, she can do whatever she feels like and nobody will stop her, but she knows this is not true. When Nalin visits, everyone is all praises for Tarla’s cooking, so she makes an array of dishes for the family.
In the end, out of spite, Tarla gives Nalin spiced “gaajar ka halwa” (a sweet carrot dish), so that he’ll rejects her. Instead, he’s impressed and calls her personally to ask if they can talk for a bit. When they meet, Nalin tells Tarla that he will be a supportive husband and leave everything he’s doing if Tarla finds “something.” She agrees to marry him on this premise, and they quickly begin to lead a domestic life. Suddenly, 12 years have passed; they have three children, and Tarla is still a homemaker with no idea what she wants to do. Then one day, Nalin forgets to take his lunch to work, and she decides to bring it to him. To her utter shock and disgust, Nalin is eating non-vegetarian food “like an animal.” She’s repulsed by the view and rushes back home. Tarla doesn’t want Nalin to leave meat for her; she wants him to do it voluntarily, but she has an idea.
She decides to use the ingredients of the non-vegetarian curries to make vegetarian dishes and feed them to Nalin. He’s converted immediately, and Tarla begins to make fantastic vegetarian dishes with her innovative ideas. Tarla has a neighbor who is always with her. She loves Tarla’s food and realizes that she could help her own daughter, Kavya, learn how to cook so she can get a husband for herself. Kavya is not interested in learning how to cook because she wants to be a journalist. Tarla reminds her that no matter what someone wants to be, at the end of the day, they have to come back home and feed themselves. She has a knack for teaching but doesn’t know it yet. Finally, at Kavya’s wedding, Tarla is shocked to see how excited the girl is, considering she didn’t want to be married at all. Kavya is tearful when she sees Tarla and tells her that her cooking is the reason Kavya can do a job after work and not just be a homemaker. Simultaneously, every second person at the wedding begins to ask Tarla for a cooking class for their daughters. Nalin thinks it’s a perfect idea; this might as well be Tarla’s “something.”
With everyone’s support, she begins her cooking classes right from her living room at home. The classes are a super hit, and the headcount keeps increasing until the society is so fed up with the noise and commotion that they have to stop Tarla from doing the class. She doesn’t understand why she can’t do it, but the society secretary tells her that he can’t allow commercial work in a residential building. Unfortunately, her big dreams are cut short too soon. This doesn’t stop Tarla from working hard, though. In the meantime, Nalin loses his job because the factory he works at gets shut down. Sitting idle at home in front of his typewriter and answering the phone to Tarla’s students gives Nalin a grand idea. To publish a cookbook in Tarla’s name! While at first, she calls him an idiot for suggesting such an idea because then none of the students will come to learn from her, she later realizes that it’s a brilliant idea and can reach many more people.
Immediately she’s hit with a barrier: the misogynistic publisher who won’t publish a book about “mother’s cooking” because it’s something you get for free. Tarla is completely deflated by this, but Nalin doesn’t let her back away. He says he’ll be the publisher, and they will make this book! With a new haircut and 10/10 recipes in hand, they publish the book with a lovely photo of Tarla on the cover. After a while, Tarla feels like it’s a failure because they’re not able to sell the books as they had anticipated, so she decides to give the last 2000 books to the junk dealer. The junk dealer buys the books for a minimal price, leaving the family completely disheartened. Tarla finally breaks down, and Nalin tells her that these kinds of things keep happening in life. He takes her out to eat to cheer her up. And to their surprise, the food they’re eating at the restaurant is the same dish Tarla made for Nalin to become vegetarian. Tarla demands to speak to the chef, who pretends he learned how to make the food in a made-up country in Europe and is brought to his senses by a slap from Tarla. She tells him this is her recipe, and the guy is overjoyed. He asks for her autograph, and the family rushes back home to get the books back from the junk dealer.
The junk dealer asks what the deal is and why they’re buying back the books, and Tarla tells him it’s because they realized it was a distribution problem, not a quality problem. The junk dealer says he will distribute the book through door-to-door sales; there would be no better way to reach the masses. Tarla and Nalin give in to the idea, and 10,000 books are sold!
How Do Tarla And Nalin Reconcile?
After seeing Tarla’s success, Nalin begins to falter in his step. He realizes he changed his entire career to support her and falls back on himself. Nalin decides to go back to find an engineering job, but with a 2-year gap in his resume, it’s very difficult for him to do so. In the meantime, Tarla gets an offer to run her own cooking TV show. She takes up the job, and the family begins to feel neglected. Tarla’s mother is extremely disappointed in her and tells her to be a good mother. Tarla hires a cook for the house so that the family can eat well, even if she’s late from work or absent at home. Unfortunately, having eaten Tarla’s wonderful cooking, the youngest kid has no appetite for any of the food made by the cook, so he starts to throw it out without anyone’s knowledge. He becomes sick soon after, and it is the day of Tarla’s pilot shoot. Tarla requests that Nalin stay home and take Sanju to the doctor, but Nalin has an interview on the same day. He tells her to do whatever she feels is right, and she stays back.
When Tarla returns late at night, the doctor tells them that Sanju hasn’t been eating. Now, it’s Nalin’s turn to be the misogynist, and he tells Tarla to do the right thing and that he’ll be “supportive” of whatever decision she makes. Sanju apologizes to his mother for not eating and promises to eat from then on. This gives Tarla the boost she needs to say no to the show and instead be a good mother. The director tells Tarla that she’s making a mistake that no man in her place would make. At the interview that Nalin had postponed because of Sanju’s ill health, the CEO of the company tells Nalin that he’s making excuses by saying he stayed home because his wife had to step out. A disappointed Nalin is ashamed of what he’s done and is about to leave when the CEO asks him what his wife does out of curiosity. Nalin tells him that she’s just an ordinary cook and she writes her recipes in books. The CEO is suddenly overjoyed to be in Nalin’s presence and tells him that it is open-minded people like Nalin that his company needs. He tells him that he’s a fan of Nalin’s, not Tarla’s, as more men should be like him.
Finally, Nalin returns home to a somber Tarla, who tells him that she’s quit the show. Nalin apologizes by pretending to read out a letter from one of her fans. She wonders what has changed now, and Nalin admits that he was a hypocrite for thinking he was open-minded and failing her at the very moment she needed his support the most. She returns to the show and reminds all her viewers that it’s never too late to do what you’re passionate about.