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Recommended age 12-18
101 minutes
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India Sweets and Spices is the South Asian-American coming-of-age film of the year - a tale of family, feminism and biscuits and bravery. With masterful acting, beautiful cinematography, and a strong script, it's certainly not a film to miss!< p>Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family's New Jersey hometown after a year away at UCLA and upends their life with her free-spirit personality. She befriends Varun (Rish Shah), the son of the new owners of the local grocery store, India Sweets and Spices. But when she invites his family to a dinner party at her house, family secrets from their Delhi University days are uncovered and lives are changed. Alia is motivated by the new discoveries to seek out more information about her parents' pasts, which mounts up to a powerful (and slightly hilarious) rebellion.

Everything about this film is well thought-out and executed. I'm a massive fan of the star cast. Veteran Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala plays Alia's mother Sheila. She is known for her work promoting women's rights, and so it was only logical that she chose to be a part of this film. Her journey with feminism in the film (which I won't spoil for you) is also one you won't want to miss. A master of her craft, Koirala shows great depth of emotion and truly becomes her character in the film. Sophia Ali seems to hit one note for a large part of the film, and comes through with an emotionally dynamic performance towards the last half hour of the film. Deepti Gupta plays Bhairavi Dutta, Varun's mother. Her portrayal of the warm, yet fiery shopkeeper truly steals the show. There's so much mystique to Bhairavi, which Deepti plays beautifully.

India Sweets and Spices promotes standing up for yourself, especially in the context of women's rights. It teaches others to never bend to the will of others if it goes against your principles. Some profanity is used and there are some intimate scenes.

I give India Sweets and Spices 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. India Sweets and Spices releases in theaters November 19, 2021

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

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Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family's posh suburban New Jersey home after a year away at college and upends their well-ordered life with her newfound independence. Befriending Varun (Rish Shah), the handsome son of the new owners of the local Indian grocery, she invites his family to a weekly dinner gathering with her parents' wealthy friends. She is shocked to learn that her perfectionist mother Sheila (Manisha Koirala) has a previous connection to Varun's mother Bhairavi (Deepti Gupta). Alia's surprise turns to indignation when she uncovers secrets about both her parents that push her toward a daring and transformative confrontation. India Sweets and Spices celebrates a young woman's coming of age set against a lovingly framed glimpse of the life of an Indian American family
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