Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meetha Sa Chadha Hai Bukhaar...

Does it happen to you that a song that you heard some time back hits you suddenly in as mad a rush as the Mumbai rains?

It happens to me.

Very often.

I am not an expert on the intricacies of what constitutes a great song, but I do fall in love with songs once in a while. Like people tend to fall in love with other people for no rhyme or reason.

And then I fall out of love. As people tend to do. For no rhyme and reason again.

These days I am in love, for no reason I can explain, with O Pardesi from DevD. It's a beautiful sultry song that asks me to make love with it every time I hear it. I have multiple orgasms listening to it, and I keep playing it in an infinite loop on my iPod Touch.

I don't even dare to watch the clip from the film on YouTube for I am afraid I might die of happiness.

Ok, it's been 10 minutes since I listened to the song, and I need to get back for my fix now.

Nainon mein sapne hajaar, and all that...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nihari (and Butter Chicken) in Mumbai

I had made a memorable trip to Pakistan with college friends in 2006, and during our stay in Lahore, our host had helped us do a round of some of the best eating joints in the city. One of those memorable experiences included a breakfast of hot, soft Nihari and Khameeri Roti. A decidedly heavy meal, which still makes my mouth water on occasions.

Having spent a few years in Delhi, I also had the good fortune of trying out Nihari in the Jama Masjid area, but the less than clean environs do not encourage one to make frequent trips.

So, I had been looking for a long time for a clean eating joint that serves great Nihari - a dish very likely to figure among the top contenders when shortlisting a menu for gods.

And since I am writing all this here, it must be obvious that I have finally found a place like that in Mumbai.

The Lokhandwala outlet of Jaffer Bhai's Delhi Darbar does not have a seating arrangement yet, and I had to make a long pilgrimage from my flat in Goregaon East to the place and back before I could partake of the divine food, but it was all worth the trouble in the end.

The soft, succulent piece of meat accompanied with the delicious Khameer ki Roti made the one hour of combating Mumbai's weekend traffic a small price to pay.

And the gravy! The rich, thick gravy, sprinkled with green chillies, is not for the faint-hearted. A few hours after my lunch, I was already missing its taste.

The chicken biryani - one of the better ones I have had in Mumbai - and the shahi tukda - an absolute must after a good dum biryani - added to the beauty of the meal.

If you like (love) non-veg food, not having tried the Nihari at Jaffer Bhai's is unforgivable. The chain has outlets in other parts of Mumbai as well, where they also have full-fledged restaurants.

And this was on Saturday. I was back in Lokhandwala the next day. Their butter chicken is almost as memorable.

To think I still haven't tasted their Paya (which they make only in the evenings) and Khichda and so much else.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rajneeti, and Aloo ka Bhujiya

Two things I think Rajneeti could have significantly improved upon were the editing and the dialogues.

The film felt unbearably long at times. In fact, when the interval sign came up on the screen, I could hear several people exclaim, "What, abhi interval hi hua hai!". But, one can excuse the length given the
large number of important characters and so much happening between them. The Chopras took tens of episodes to cover the stretch of Mahabharat that this film covers in around 3 hours.

The dialogue, on the other hand, can't find refuge in any such excuse. Except for some rare moments of brilliance, I felt the dialogues did not pack the punch that the situations, the characters or the film itself deserved.

But, barring these small issues, and Arjun Rampal's wooden-ness (and even that seemed less wooden here), the film was a very enjoyable experience. Thankfully, I didn't go by Raja Sen's review and went ahead with the late night booking. I feel he was unnecessarily sarcastic and critical of a film that is a great watch not only because of the deliciously cruel and human characters it is populated with, but also the fun one has in drawing parallels with the original Mahabharat. Like Bharti's first son being born out of wedlock after a night spent with someone called Bhaskar, whom she worships like a God.

Raja Sen's review made me feel if he is being paid now to write reviews making fun of films, just as Nikhat Kazmi and Taran Adarsh seem to be in the pay of Bollywood to write glowing ones.

What I like about Prakash Jha's movies is this rawness that seeps through the frames. That rawness might seem to have dulled, with an out-of-place item number, where Katrina Kaif does her patented shimmying moves (you know, those ones where her hair is untied, blown by some unseen industrial size fan, she looks down, looks at you, smiles coyly?) almost providing the nadir of the man who started off with Daamul.

The traces of that rawness that are to be found here are deeply cherished. Even though chief-ministerial candidates getting down to shootouts and vindictive baseball bat sessions might seem far-fetched, the other bits of naked greed and ambition were extremely enjoyable. Especially considering that all happens within one family. So much for the Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham brand of cinema.

Even though Kalyug remains the best Mahabharat adaptation into modern life, Rajneeti does not do a tawdry job either. Any film that is well-made, largely well-paced and well-acted, and has almost no character, like Mahabharat, and like real life, completely fault-less, ought to be encouraged.

An experience with a film like this is like eating dal, bhaat and aloo ka bhujiya. It hits the right spot, even if the bhujiya might be a little too oily or the rice slightly under-cooked. Unlike most other good Hindi films today, which might be momentarily delicious like a pizza, but not what the body truly craves for.

***Spoiler Alert***

I did hope for a while that it would be revealed at the end that Indu was responsible for the death of Prithvi and Sarah - ek teer se do nishaane, getting the seat (CM's) and the meat (Ranbir's, if you may allow the rhyming) - maybe with the help of Brij. Draupadi and Krishna finally doing what they should have all those eons ago.

Also, Prakash Jha makes a Hitchcockian (or Ghai-an, if you prefer) cameo appearance towards the end of the film. Can't recall him doing that in any of his earlier films.

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