Today’s Special is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor playing at the Landmark Edina Cinema. Aasif Mandvi portrays Samir, a sous chef with dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. Passed over for promotion, he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef.
Aasif’s dream is put on hold, however, after his father Hakim (Harish Patel) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over the Tandoori Palace, a nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights.
Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey, is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son. While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business.
Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by Indian movie icon, Naseeruddin Shah, a veteran of Bollywood and Art House India films and international films, including the starring role in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.
Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.
Today’s Special was inspired by the Obie Award winning play, Sakina’s Restaurant, a one man show written and performed by Aasif Mandvi, developed and directed by Kimberley Hughes.
Born in India, Mandvi grew up in the North of England before his family immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1980s. Mandvi has lived in New York for a decade and has been working professionally on stage in film and television since 1989.
Mandvi’s most popular bit has been as a correspondent on the Daily Show with John Stewart. He is also an accomplished stage and most recently had a major role in M. Night Shyamalan film “The Last Airbender.”