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Chutney Popcorn

Chutney Popcorn

3.0 2

Cast: Jill Hennessy, Nick Chinlund, Madhur Jaffrey

The push and pull of familial bonds and clashing cultures sets the stage for the comic drama Chutney Popcorn. Renna (Nisha Ganatra) is a young woman of Indian descent living in New York, where she works as both a photographer and a body artist who creates henna tattoos. Renna is also a lesbian, which does not please her mother, Meenu (Madhur Jaffrey), who


The push and pull of familial bonds and clashing cultures sets the stage for the comic drama Chutney Popcorn. Renna (Nisha Ganatra) is a young woman of Indian descent living in New York, where she works as both a photographer and a body artist who creates henna tattoos. Renna is also a lesbian, which does not please her mother, Meenu (Madhur Jaffrey), who prefers to dote on her more traditionally minded (and happily married) daughter Sarita (Sakina Jeffrey). One day, Renna gets some bad news from Sarita: While she and her husband have been trying to have a baby, her doctor has informed that her she is infertile and will never bear a child of her own. Renna volunteers to serve as surrogate mother for Sarita; she wants to help her sister and hopes this will smooth some of the rough spots in her relationship with her mother. But Renna starts to have second thoughts, as her lover Lisa (Jill Hennessy) feels left out of the loop, and Meenu thinks both Renna and Sarita are making a mistake. Nisha Ganatra co-wrote and directed Chutney Popcorn and also plays Renna; the film was enthusiastically received in its screening at the 1999 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Unconventional subject matter, a decent screenplay, solid casting, and a low-key comedic sensibility distinguish this labor-of-love indie from first-time writer/director/producer Nisha Ganatra. A comedy-drama about an Indian-American lesbian who becomes pregnant with her brother-in-law's child was never going to be an easy sell, but Ganatra and co-writer/co-producer Susan Carnival invest their offbeat story with strong characters, knowing humor, and lots of believable familial and cultural conflict. Peppered with both lesbian and South Asian in-jokes, the screenplay doesn't always meet a mass audience halfway, nor is it particularly elegant in the way it delineates the resentments between Reena, her sister, and her mother. Yet the handful of awkwardly written scenes are mostly forgivable because Ganatra elicits such strong performances from her cast. With her gorgeous eyes and a round, expressive face, Sakina Jaffrey is able to portray her infertile character's grief forcefully and visually, without resorting to bombast. Meanwhile, her real-life mother, veteran actress and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey, provides gentle comic relief without neglecting her character's inner life. Jill Hennessy, star of NBC's Law & Order, brings emotional directness and easygoing sensuality to her role as Reena's conflicted girlfriend. Unfortunately, though, Ganatra was saddled with the central role in her own film after her lead actress bailed at the last minute; the strain of wearing yet another hat shows in her sometimes flat, unexpressive performance. Recurring images -- of Reena riding her motorcycle, practicing her photography, and working as a henna artist -- provide effective visual shorthand for the emotional life Ganatra otherwise doesn't portray. And it's this strength for visual storytelling that suggests Ganatra has a bright future behind the camera. Despite a few rough edges, her first feature tells a story that hasn't been told before. And despite the limitations of working on a low-budget indie, she tells this story with flair and originality.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
Hollywood could learn a thing or two about how to be truthful and lighthearted at the same time from Nisha Ganatra's perky little comedy Chutney Popcorn.The story of an Indian-American lesbian who impulsively decides to have a baby for her married, infertile older sister carries off the tricky feat of being wisecracking one minute and serious the next while staying true to its characters and sustaining a jovial easygoing tone.... It is also unusually well acted. Ms. Ganatra's Reena exudes a warm, pillowy sensuality that is complemented by Ms. Hennessy's frisky, high-strung hauteur.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Wolfe Video
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital]

Special Features

Audio commentary by producer Susan Carnival, director-actor Nisha Ganatra and actors Jill Hennessy and Sakina Jaffrey; pictorial soundtrack; recipes from Madhur Jaffrey; behind-the- scenes footage and outtakes; original theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jill Hennessy Lisa
Nisha Ganatra Reena
Nick Chinlund Mitch
Madhur Jaffrey Meenu
Sakina Jaffrey Sarita
Ajay Naidu Raju
Cara Buono Janis
Alisa Mast Becca
Daniella Rich Tiffany
Amy Veltman Issue Dyke
Priscilla Lopez Loretta
Cristal Chindamo Cristal
Elise Foss Dr. Brendel
Vinod Ganatra Visiting Auntie
Ajay Mehta Dr. Sud
Sunita Mikhi Bhangra Auntie
Laura Dubrule Bi-phobia Dyke
Annalisa Robertson Co-dependent girlfriend
Monica Bhatia Wedding Girl
Destina Donovan Wedding Girl
Gabriella Voight Leila
M. Iqbal Paan Stand Owner
Saylor Creswell First Doctor
Caran Hartsfield East Village Club Flyer Girl
Dan Grey Tourist
Heather Parks Tourist
Margo Michaels Cheese Girl
Barbara Schofield Lamaze Instructor
Greg Kachejian Nurse
Andrew Maxwell Goldberg Reena's Baby
Jamila Jaffrey Wilkinson Reena's Baby
Jennifer Capriccio Henna Model
Missy Cohen Henna Model
Amy Gelper Henna Model
Kim Heinz Henna Model
Catherine McCarthy Henna Model
Leena Raichur Henna Model
Bhavani Rao Henna Model
Sarah Bhatia Wedding Guest
Hardeep Bhatia Wedding Guest
Harvinder Bhatia Wedding Guest
Channi Bhatia Wedding Guest
Jasbir Bhatia Wedding Guest
Brakash Bhatia Wedding Guest
Gagan Bhatia Wedding Guest
Lily Chung Wedding Guest
Charanpal Chawla Wedding Guest
Kim Epstein Wedding Guest
Jasbir Kaur Wedding Guest
Kasleen Kaur Wedding Guest
Satwant Malhotra Wedding Guest
Satya Malhotra Wedding Guest
DJ Rekha Wedding Guest
Karan Narang Wedding Guest
Stacey Rivera Wedding Guest
James H. Shana Wedding Guest
Nancy Shane Wedding Guest
Rosalie Shane Wedding Guest
Pavneet Singh Wedding Guest
Japneet Singh Wedding Guest
Jassu Sing Wedding Guest
Jason Singh Wedding Guest
Nimmi Singh Wedding Guest
Manjit Singh Wedding Guest

Technical Credits
Nisha Ganatra Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Jane Pia Abramowitz Editor
Susan Carnival Producer,Screenwriter
Linda Cohen Musical Direction/Supervision
Jennifer Dubin Asst. Director
Kelley Forsyth Producer
Howard Gertler Associate Producer
Judy Henderson Casting
Mandel Holland Asst. Director
Karsh Kale Score Composer
Roger E. Kass Executive Producer
Erin King Cinematographer
Jody Kipper Production Designer
Angela Robinson Asst. Director
Lisa Robinson Asst. Director
Robin Shane Costumes/Costume Designer
Sarah Vogel Producer
Gabriella Voight Makeup
Diana Williams Associate Producer
Trina Wyatt Executive Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scenes
1. Chapter 1 [12:45]
2. Chapter 2 [7:24]
3. Chapter 3 [9:36]
4. Chapter 4 [5:45]
5. Chapter 5 [7:27]
6. Chapter 6 [8:28]
7. Chapter 7 [27:50]
8. Chapter 8 [12:14]


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Chutney Popcorn 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my personal favorite of all the lesbian romances I have seen. It's focus is on real-life troubles and issues rather than bizarre love triangles or sex scandals. The mood of the film is also a bit more relaxed and fun, with additional quirks from the clash between Indian culture and New York lesbian culture. Overall a feel-good movie, but also artistic and fun. It left me with a smile on my face.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well the movie had the potential to be something good but it wasn't. The movie instead was boring and un-entertaining. But you may like it.