Thursday, December 30, 2010


Cast: Kamal Haasan, Trisha, Madhavan, Usha Uthup
Director: KS Ravi Kumar
Rating: ** Shaky

The Story: Ambu (Trisha) is a famous actress who is engaged to Madanagopal aka Madan (Madhavan). The two have known each other since childhood and are keen on getting married. But things change when Madan visits her on the sets of a film. Ambu is dancing with Actor Surya when Madan and his parents land there. While his mother (Usha Uthup) keeps pointing out that Ambu’s character may not be clean, Madan goes a bit crazy with his suspicious nature. The two of them quarrel on their way back from Kodaikanal and are the cause of an accident. But not seeing the car they had hit, the two go on. Ambu insists that they wait for three years before getting married.

At the tail end of the three years, she goes on a trip to Europe along with her divorced friend and her two kids. Major Mannar (Kamal Hassan) is setting up a detective firm and Madan hires him to follow Ambu. Madan hopes to catch his fiancée red-handed during a love affair. While Mannar is unable to find anything against her, he is forced to lie to Madan as the latter refuses to pay him otherwise. And the major needs the money urgently for his best friend’s cancer treatment.

Watch the film to see where it goes from here and whether Madan and Ambu get together in the end.

My Perception: The film started off superbly and I totally enjoyed the first half. Surya was as handsome as ever in the dance sequence with Trisha and of course she also looked great.

Trisha is a good actress and she has really excelled herself in the role of Ambu. By the way, the film title is about the three main characters. Man Madan Ambu – Mannar, Madhanagopal & Ambujakshi, as well as Cupid’s Arrow.

Maddy is a way better actor than what he has delivered in this film. He has put on oodles of weight and maybe suits the drunkard he is playing. The negative role was going well until suddenly he agrees to get together with Ambu’s married friend. Too tough to swallow!

Mannar and Ambu’s relationship was building well, till the point they tell each other the truth. The next scene they are in love. How can that happen? Either something is wrong with the director, or the editor has swung his scissors too far or maybe the film crew were keen that the audience use their imagination in-between and fill in the gaps.

I like a film with a happy ending, with all ends tied up – yes!

But this was just ridiculous. Just before the last 20 minutes, there were problems galore. But the final bit of the film, everything falls in place with no rhyme or reason – as if the pieces of the jigsaw fell together all-wrong.

Usha Uthup’s evil expression looked just great. But what was with her role? She was doing her best to break her son’s relationship with his actor fiancée. That was for a few scenes. She was written off somewhere midway.

The actress playing Trisha’s friend was a natural. But towards the end, even her part was bungled by the filmmakers.

Kamal Hassan did his part well, except for that goof-up in presuming that the audience understood that he and Trisha were in love.

I expected way more from director Ravi Kumar with such wonderful hits in his kitty. The first half appeared to be his film. He probably gave the second half to be directed by some newcomer while he took off on a holiday (tongue-in-cheek).

Verdict: An absolutely disappointing film.

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Film Review: Tees Maar Khan

Sheila Ki Jawani!
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Rajiv & Raghu Ram
Director: Farah Khan
Rating: Minus * Fully Faltoo (I don’t give negative ratings. But this film deserves one)

My husband was keen to see this film on the day of its release and since I also love watching films, I joined him. Vignesh accompanied us as he was free. That’s how we landed up at Cinemax Sion for the 11 pm show on Friday night.

The Story: Is there one? Ok, will give it a try.

Tabreez Khan aka Tees Maar Khan (Akshay Kumar) is a con artist. He roams the world and makes big money while his mother believes that he is a movie director. He is in love with Anya Khan (Katrina Kaif) who aspires to become an actress. That’s when she dances to the famous song, ‘Sheila ki jawani’ – the only light (please note that I am not saying highlight) of the film.

The CBI gets their hold on TMK, only he manages to escape, don’t you dare ask me how. Later, he goes 50-50 on a deal with Siamese twins (Rajiv & Raghu Ram) who are thieves in their right too. TMK makes use of actor Athish Kapoor (Akshaye Khanna) and about 200 villagers to rob a non-stop train that is carrying Rs. 500-crore worth of loot. You should see the film to believe the horror that unfolds. Only this film does not belong to the ‘horror’ genre and I would have stayed clear of it if that had been the case.

My Perception: Akhay Kumar has finally come out of his dumb phase and has done a better role than his last few films. Farah Khan has managed to make Katrina Kaif dance to her tunes and how! Katina has done a superb job of dancing to ‘Sheila ki jawani’. Those are the only points worth talking about.

The story by Shirish Kunder is too dumb for words. Rajiv-Raghu duo did their act well - but isn’t there something called intelligent humour? Maybe Farah Khan and her brother Sajid Khan are unaware of its existence. They keep spoofing other flicks so much that there is just nothing creative in their works. I suppose we cannot blame them if we are foolish enough to go see their films paying 200 bucks for one ticket.

I wanted to get up and slap Athish Kapoor (Akshaye Khanna) when he kept screaming for an Oscar to begin with and later just screeching his head off. That was one sick character. Akshaye Khanna might not be the best of actors, but I never knew he was so bad. Then there was the headless ghost episode that was so disconnected with the story. What purpose it served, I know not.

Songs galore. The music was good and probably created a distraction from the lack of a theme.

Verdict: This is probably the dumbest movie that I saw in 2010.

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Monday, December 27, 2010


On Christmas Day or rather late on that evening, we all took a round of Bandra - Carter Road and Mount Mary predominantly, to have a look at the Christmas decorations. I bring to you a few pictures from what we saw.

The birth of Jesus Christ
This lovely display was at a furniture shop window called 'Damian'. They have fabulous displays for Christmas every year and we always go there to check them out.

Damian - the furniture shop
This is the main shop and Santa and his elves was the centre display.

Santa & gang on a train
As you can see, that is Santa Claus and his elves riding on a train. I thought that this display was simply gorgeous.

Train guard
That's the guard at the front of the train right behind the engine.

Fairy lights
This was in another part of Bandra. I found these fairy lights twinkling outside a restaurant.

Christmas tree!
One of the most important symbols of Christmas - a decorated Christmas tree. I only felt sorry that it was not a real one.

Happy Birthday!
These statues of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary above are bang opposite Mount Mary Church. The area was beautifully decorated for Christmas. This was the first time I went up the staircase. We have always cruised by in our car.

Mother Mary
That's Mother Mary rejoicing her son's birthday, I am sure.

Candle stall
A stall selling candles for lighting at the church at that late hour. We were there at about 11.30 pm

At FLP offices
One more Christmas tree at the FLP offices that we visited on Sunday morning.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Pure love!
Happy Birthday Jesus Christ!

December 25 is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ, the son of God. He had walked on this earth more than 21 centuries ago.

When I was a kid, I went to study in a convent and that was the time I got associated with Christianity, praying at a church and celebrating Christmas.

Reading a number of English novels had given me some knowledge about St. Nicholas or Santa Claus and his rein-deer. It fascinated my childish imagination, reading about Christmas in the snow, the big fat Santa distributing gifts by driving down everyone’s chimney and people eating yummy turkey and pudding for Christmas.

I am a Tam-bram and hail from Chennai. Vegetarianism has been ingrained in me since birth. While I would never come in the way of someone eating seafood or chicken, I will never want to eat them myself.       

But, in my childhood, when I used to read about delicious meat cooking, I used to almost smell (without the clue as to the real smell of such foods) it and used to drool quite some too. I used to feel quite sad that my religion would never allow me to taste it. It never even struck my innocent mind that I could choose not to follow the dictates of my religion.

But all that was eons ago. I have still not tasted the Christmas delicacies nor intend to – at least in this life. But reading about it and hearing of people talk about it, has always been a wonderful experience.

Christmas tree
My favourite Christmas song in my school days used to be Jingle Bells. My father's cousin Rani who lived with us during those days, taught Suja and me the song.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Santa Claus & rein-deer
Oh, what fun it is to ride     
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

I am determined to see at least one White Christmas in my lifetime and I am quite confident that Jesus Christ is going to grant me this one wish.

In the meanwhile, Merry Christmas to one and all!

Friday, December 24, 2010


This is made from ripe tomatoes and tastes delicious both with dahi baat and rotis. My son and husband are crazy about it. I make it from time to time for just this reason.


Tomatoes – ½ kg (cut into pieces)
Til Oil – 4 tbsp
Roasted methi powder – ½ tsp
Mirchi powder – 1 tsp
Haldi powder – ½ tsp
Hing (asafoetida) – ½ tsp
Rai (mustard seeds) – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp


1.    Heat the oil in a saucepan and crackle the mustard seeds in it.
2.    Add the tomatoes, salt and cook well, stirring on and off. You can keep the pan covered and the gas on slow fire.
3.    When the tomatoes are well cooked and there is no residual water, add the four powders and mix well.
4.    Switch the gas off after a couple of minutes.
5.    The pickle is ready for consumption.

This will not get spoiled for 2-3 days if kept outside. It may be stored in the fridge for a longer period.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe: SHEERA

Sheera with banana!
It is winter and I find that I am hungry all the time. Then I decided it is time for recipes. Almost everyone must have had sheera in their lifetimes. It is made in different ways in the North and South of India. In Tamil Nadu, it is called kesari – more for the kesar used in it. We also used to add kesar colour (orange). I avoid using artificial colours and flavours as they are very unhealthy.

I have had sheera as Prasad at many places and love the flavour of banana in it. Thought would give it a try this time I made it.


Rava – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 ½ cups
Ghee – ½ cup
Cashew-nuts – 8-10 (cut into pieces)
Ripe Banana – 1
Cardamom Powder – ½ tsp
Water – 2 cups
Kesar – a few strands soaked in 1 tsp of warm milk


1.    Heat a saucepan and add part of the ghee to it. When hot, shallow fry the cashew-nuts and add the rava to it when the nuts have turned golden. Fry till the rava is golden brown in colour. It should be evenly roasted.
2.    Heat the water separately and add it to the roasted rava. Ensure the stove is on slow. Stir continuously to ensure that there are no lumps.
3.    After mixing thoroughly, add the sugar to the saucepan and stir well. Lumps form at this time too, so make sure that the sheera is smooth.
4.    Add the rest of the ghee and let it cook on slow fire.
5.    As it cooks, grate the banana (you may mash it too) and add it to the cooking mixture.
6.    Add the cardamom and kesar just a couple of minutes before switching off the gas.

Serve it hot or cooled, it will taste just as yummy, I promise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Cast: Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh
Story & Direction: Maneesh Sharma
Rating: ***** Super

This film is from the YRF banner and comes after continuous flops turned out by the film house.

The Story: Shruti (Anushka Sharma) lives in Delhi and is very clear about her aim in life. She wants to become the best wedding planner in the country. She has all her plans made and is keen to undergo the necessary training and experience. Bittoo is a college student who is studying only to escape farming beside his father in his village. He is not at all keen to get back to his village and meeting Shruti brings about a turn in his life. He cajoles her into taking him on as a partner in her wedding plan venture. The two set out at first to train under the best wedding planner in town. But they are disappointed to find that the woman never delivers what she promises. That’s when the two set up ‘Shaadi Mubarak’, a small-time venture. Soon, this gets quite big and popular.

In the beginning of the partnership, Shruti insists that their relationship will never go beyond friendship and that was the only way to keep the business partnership going. Bittoo takes her word as gospel and keeps a friendly relationship. But soon, the equation changes for Shruti when she falls in love with him. Unable to tell him the truth and quite disgusted when he insists that their relationship should not cross the friendship line, she picks a fight with him and they break up. The business falls apart and neither is able to survive in the market working alone.

Watch the film to see how the rift is patched up finally and Shaadi Mubarak returns to its former glory.

My Perception: The movie was very good. Anushka has three hits to her name – Rab Ne Banadi Jodi; Badmaa$h Company and now this one. Each one has a different role that required varying nuances. And believe me, this actress has delivered. She had done a superb job of playing Shruti – fun, emotion, attitude, you name it, she portrays it. Kudos!

Newcomer Ranveer Singh was nothing short of excellent. His casual manner, small town attitude, dialogue delivery, simple behaviour of Bittoo – everything comes naturally. The man could dance his way through the movie. He was just too good. Keep up the great work, Dude!

Music by Salim-Suleiman, choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya were just perfect. The story by Maneesh Sharma was quite uncomplicated and portrayed a simple set of situations typical to India and especially Delhi. It was the way he had handled the picturisation that was par excellence. The presentation was simply superb!

YRF is back with a bang it seems. If they delivered DDLJ all those years ago, they have proved that BBB is a pretty close contender. While it can never squeeze your hearts with emotion the way DDLJ did and still does, it is the next best and suits the modern generation just perfectly.

Verdict: Double Thumbs Up!

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Robbie Coltrane
Director: David Yates

I am kind of wary whenever a new Harry Potter film is released. I have seen just 2 of them before this one. I am crazy about the books and have read the series about 6 times. The seventh one, I have managed to read but twice, as it is very dark. But the books are absolutely fascinating and takes the reader into a different world altogether. It takes a long time to descend to earth after reading JK Rowling’s HP series.

I tend to keep comparing the book and the films and have always found the latter disappointing – the reason why I kept away from the films. My son wanted to see this one and I promised myself that I would not compare and just watch the film for the sake of it. I pushed the book away to the back of my mind before I reached Imax for the show last weekend. The film had been in the theatres since three weeks.

The Story: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is about to complete 17 years of age and the protection around his aunt’s home is to wear off on his birthday. The Order of the Phoenix has a plan to spring him out of there. Snape (Alan Rickman) gets to know about their plans and lets Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) know of it.

With the help of a magical potion, four of the Weasley brothers including Bill (Domhnall Gleeson), George (Oliver Phelps), Fred (James Phelps) and Ron (Rupert Grint), Nymphodara Tonks (Natalia Lena) and Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) turn into six Harry Potters beside the original and they all take off with escorts on brooms. The real Harry Potter travels on Hagrid’s  (Robbie Coltrane) motor bike along with the half-giant. Death eaters find them and Hedwig (the owl) and Mad-Eyed Moody die in transit. George's left ear is shot off by dark magic. 

Then comes Bill’s wedding to Fleur. The death eaters attack immediately after the wedding and that’s when Harry, Hermione and Ron disapparate. The smart Hermione has managed to make her parents forget who they are and also packed in a huge number of things into a magical handbag. The three are on the run throughout the film, hoping to find the horcruxes that hold parts of Voldemort’s soul. Dumbledore has left them no clues to the whereabouts of these.

The first part of the seventh novel goes on till the three find a means to destroy the horcruxes. They are still in search as the movie ends.

My Perception: The film moved fast. I am glad, I like well-edited films that don’t drag. It ran for just two hours. Daniel Radcliffe gets better with each of the Harry Potter films. Emma looks her part of the intelligent Hermione who takes care of all contingencies. Rupert also plays the part of Ron well – a bit dumb and totally loyal.

The cinematography was just amazing, the film shot in gorgeous locations. I don’t know whether a person who has not read the book would understand much – this bit keeps nagging at me all the while – but it made for a great watch.

Some of the scenes just need to be mentioned. The snake Nagini’s attacks made for superb animation. Then there was the priceless look on the face of the woman playing Batilda Bagshot near the graveyard. She actually turns out to be Nagini. She was just too good even while she lasted barely a few minutes on the screen.

Draco (Tom Felton) is all grown up and the actor has done his part well. The look of fear on his face gets to you.

There was this scene when a few stragglers come across Harry Potter's hideout in the open. Hermione has placed a number of charms ensuring that no one could find them. One of the stragglers smells her perfume but is unable to see anything. It was scary when he gets within touching distance but is unable to trace them.

There was this scene where Ron raises the Sword of Griffindor to break the cursed locket (one of the horcruxes). A number of terrible visions occur confounding Ron. This scene was exactly as I had visualised when I read the book. Dark magic at its best as the story gets more gripping. 

The Verdict: All in all, makes for a wonderful watch. I really enjoyed myself at the theatre and I am looking forward to the second part.

Rating: **** Snazzy

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Film Review: BREAK KE BAAD

Cast: Imran Khan, Deepika Padukone, Shahana Goswami, Sharmila Tagore, Navin Nischol, Lilette Dubey, Yudhishtir Urs
Director: Danish Aslam

I managed to catch the film a few days after its release as Vinitha was busy with her MBA exams and no one else at home wanted to see it with me.

I know the film had not had great reviews, but so wanted to see Deepika and Imran as I had loved both their earlier films – Love Aaj Kal & I Hate Luv Storys.

Story: Abhay (Imran Khan) and Aaliya (Deepika Padukone) have known each other since childhood. He is a steady influence in her life while her parents’ marriage breaks up. Aaliya grows up into a feisty young woman. Abhay has only one thing to look forward in life – Aaliya. His world revolves around Aaliya and he is not interested in anything or anyone else. He works as a Vice President at his father’s (Navin Nischol) old theatre by default and does not seem to have any other ambition. Aaliya begins to feel smothered by his incessant and focused love for her and begins to rear at the bit. She insists on a break and moves to Australia to study for a year. Watch the film to see what happens when Abhay follows her there within a few months.

My Perception: Don’t really know what to say about the film. I went to see it also because I saw that Kunal Kohli was connected to it. I think he just paid the bills and kept away from the production. I can’t see any of his influence here. Hum Tum & Fanaa were a class apart.

Deepika Padukone – I would like to hope and believe that the lovely actress has way more range than what characters she has been playing in the last few films of hers. She is modern, she drinks, she laughs, she is aggressive, she wants her space…. Why should the characters she play be so stereotypical? Love Aaj Kal and Karthik Calling Karthik had her playing a very similar profile. I don’t know whether Deepika was okay doing the same rote over and over but I got pretty bored.

Imran Khan – I expected way better after seeing him in I Hate Luv Storys and I was extremely disappointed. He constantly had the expression of a puppy dog that had been kicked hard. Come on, the role could have been played much better and with more range. I do agree that there were a scene or two where he was cheerful. But that was a rarity.
You see what I mean!

And the dialogues – ohmygod! I thought they were sharp to begin with. But the actors kept repeating a number of things over and over again. Especially the one about “break ke baad” – why the same set of words that ran for a few minutes at a time had to be mouthed by the hero and heroine at least four times? The mind boggles! It is like someone using a set of keywords over and over again on content on the internet to come up on google search. Ridiculous! Maybe the scriptwriter had nothing else to say. Or maybe the editor went to sleep on his job.

Lilette Dubey has far more potential. What was she doing in the film mouthing dialogues similar to those by Aruna Irani in Dil To Pagal Hai? I was amazed. Can’t an intelligent actress have had a say in what she needed to utter on screen? It is not as if she played the role of an idiot.

Sharmila Tagore, Navin Nischol and Shahana Goswami did alright. Shahana has way better potential but the director obviously could not tap it.

Of all the actors, the best award goes to Yudhisthir Urs for playing the most natural role in the film perfectly. I think that was more to the actor’s smartness and luck than anything to do with the director.

Verdict: The film is out of the theatres. If you have not seen it, you have saved hard-earned money. If you have too much time, you can always catch it soon on TV. That day is not very far away.

Rating: **

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


     It's great to know that BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) have waived STD charges since December 1, 2010. This is indeed wonderful news for people like me who have a lot of relatives and friends living in another state.

     While most of us keep bashing up the government for inflation, this news is a turnaround. I believe it is proof of a great improvement in the Indian economy that the telephone department can afford to let us speak across India at the cost of local calls. Kudos! to the telephone department.

     I am sure it will not be long before other service providers such as Airtel, Reliance, Tata Indicom and others will follow suit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Stuffed Capsicum
One more recipe that I made on Diwali! My husband and kids licked their plates clean.

Halved capsicums

Capsicum – 4 (small)
Potatoes – 2 (medium)
Ginger – ½ inch piece
Garlic – 3 cloves
Green chillies – 2
Cheese – 2 cubes
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped)
Oil – 4 tsp
Corn flour – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

For Gravy:

Onions – 2 (large)
Dhaniya (coriander seeds) – 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp
Saunf (fennel seeds) – ½ tsp
Lavang (cinnamon) – 2
Cinnamon bar – ½ inch piece
Khus khus – ½ tsp
Black pepper – 4
Elaichi (cardamom) – 1


Gravy cooking
1.    Cook the potatoes in a pressure pan. Let them cool, peel and mash them thoroughly with a pav-bhaji masher.
2.    Coarse grind the ginger-garlic-chilly into a paste.
3.    Grate the cheese.
4.    Along with the coriander leaves and some salt, mix the items in 1, 2 & 3. This will form the filling.
5.    Add a couple of spoons of oil in a non-stick flat pan and toss the capsicum pieces in it. Keep on low flame and cook with lid on for a short while. Keep stirring them till they are semi-cooked. Keep aside to cool.
6.    Stuff the potato mix into the capsicum shells and arrange on a tray or a flat pan.
7.    Grind the items under gravy, all together, with some water.
8.    Add 2 tsp of oil to a saucepan and when hot, pour the gravy mixture and cook well. Add salt when it is cooked half-way. Let it cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes before adding the corn-flour that is mixed in 3-4 tsp of water. Cook for 2 more minutes before pouring the hot mixture over the stuffed capsicum.

Serve hot with rotis or puris as you please. It tastes just awesome!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Veg Biryani
This is a recipe I concocted on Diwali day. It turned out to be delicious and hence I am sharing it here on my blog.

Basmati Rice - soaked & drained

Basmati Rice – 2 cups
Shelled Peas – 1 cup
Beans – 100 gm (stringed and cut in inch-long pieces)
Carrot – 1 (peeled and cut in inch-long pieces)
Cauliflower – 250 gm (cut into flowerets)
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped)
Oil – to shallow fry the vegetables
Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Water – 3 cups
Cashew nuts – a handful (cut into pieces)

Dry Masala:
Jeera – 1 tsp
Black Pepper – 4 corns
Star Anise – 2
Mace (Jaadhi Pathiri) - a few strands

Bay leaf – 2
Cinnamon – 4
Cinnamon bar – 2 small pieces
Cardamom – 2-3
Dry masala ingredients

Ginger-garlic-chilly paste

Ginger – ½ inch piece
Garlic – 4 cloves
Green Chillies – 2


1.    Wash the rice and keep it soaked for half an hour. Then drain it before beginning the biryani process.
2.    Grind the masala ingredients into a coarse paste and keep aside.
3.    In a large saucepan, shallow fry the vegetables with salt, – one type at a time – drain the oil and keep in a bowl. Mix the coriander leaves with the hot vegetables. 
4.    In the same saucepan, heat some ghee and add the dry masala ingredients to the ghee. When they crackle, add the ginger-garlic-chilly paste and fry for a couple of minutes before adding water.
5.    Add some salt before adding the washed and drained rice to the saucepan.
6.    Close with a lid and cook on medium flame.
7.    Shallow fry the cashew nuts in ghee in a separate pan.
8.    When the rice is cooked, remove it in a serving bowl. Spread the cooked vegetables on top before garnishing with cashew nuts.

The biryani tastes yummy all by itself and does even better with raita.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Govinda Resorts
It was the Diwali weekend and suddenly on Saturday morning Venkat suggested that we go to Lonavla for an overnight stay. While aware that most of the hotels would be booked for the long weekend, Venkat pulled a few strings and managed to get us accommodation at Govinda Resorts, about 4-5 km before the town of Lonavla begins.

That's Venkat standing on the ground

While Vinitha stayed back at home to study for her MBA exams, Vignesh, Venkat and I were only too thrilled to take off at about 1 pm, looking forward to the outing. It took us a little less than two hours to reach the venue. The three of us checked out the last couple of rooms that were left at the resort. The owner said that the rest of the place was packed and it was obvious that he was telling us the truth. Of course, he made us pay through our noses but just then, Venkat was in a holiday mood and was ready to foot the bill. Viggy and I were only too happy to agree to stay at the lovely cottage on the first floor.

There were two bedrooms, one with A/C and the other without. Long windows gave us unencumbered views of the gorgeous mountains around the area. There was a fairly large balcony with comfortable chairs and a table for room service.

We stayed in the yonder cottage on the 1st floor
The highlight was the humongous bathroom with the huge tub that could seat two quite comfortably. As my son suggested, it was obviously a honeymoon suite with floor length glass shutters dividing the bathroom and bedroom with lacy translucent curtains.
The king-sized bathtub
A view of the bathroom & yours truly
But it was a lovely experience using the tub. Viggy and I enjoyed it in turns on both days while we nagged Venkat into using it late into the night on Saturday. We persuaded him to have a bath with a glass of chilled beer and he was quite happy with the experience. The water was heated by solar energy and I was extremely impressed with this.

There was a swimming pool that had a maximum depth of just about 5 ft and Viggy lost interest when he realised that he could not dive into the pool. The bathtub was a more interesting experience.
A view from our bedroom window
The compound was sprawling with a number of trees and flowering plants – very colourful flowers that I so wanted to bring the plants to Mumbai. But that will have to happen some other time.

We could take walks around there and late at night after a huge dinner, we walked around the huge compound for more than an hour. The property is set in about 8 acres of land with only a small section developed.
Delicious Russian Salad at dinner
FOOD REVIEW: The food was just superb at this place. What I liked best was that they served pure vegetarian fare with a choice of Jain food.

For lunch on Saturday, there was tomato soup on the buffet. It was piping hot and tasted yum. It was almost 4 pm when we had the lunch and all three of us were quite ravenous. We were served paneer makhani, veg kadai and piping hot rotis that were freshly made for us as the rest of the buffet was Jain and we were not too keen. The chaas (buttermilk) they served was out-of-this-world. The jeera rice and dal fry were awesome to round of with.
Roti, Veg Kadai & Paneer Makhani
The coffee they serve at this place was too good. While hard drinks are not available at the resort, they had waiters who were sent into town to procure beer for Venkat and Viggy.

The dinner on Saturday was also a tasty affair while I don’t quite remember what we ate. It was also typical Punjabi fare while I had sweet corn soup at the beginning.

Breakfast on Sunday was Idli, Medhu Vada and Dosa with sambar and chutney. We were served on our balcony. While the Methu Vada was fresh and crisp, the sambar was absolutely delicious. The dosas were not too bad but rather cold when they reached us. The chutney was mediocre while the idlis where like soft stones - probably the only two items that were not good here.

All-in-all, it was a super break while being waited on hand and foot. We thoroughly enjoyed the stay here at Govinda Resorts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Eduardo & Mark
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Josh Pence, Rooney Mara
Director: David Fincher

The Story: The film is based on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich. Mark Zuckerburg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) have an argument at the bar and they break up. Mark gets so upset that he posts a blog about Erica. His anger still unspent, Mark hacks into the Harvard University database and creates Facemash – a photo-sharing website and gets 22,000 hits in just 2 hours. His only intent is to humiliate Erica. While Mark is pulled up for hacking into secure networks, everyone in and outside campus gets to know about him. The Winklevoss twins (played by Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) have an idea for a social network and approach Mark with it. He agrees to work for them. But before that, he adapts their idea to create ‘The Facebook’. A grand sum of $1000 is invested by Mark’s best friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) and they enter a partnership of 70:30. The social network is a success from Day One while it had taken Mark a bare 6 weeks to get it in place. Things begin to get out of hand when Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), founder of Napster – an online music website – gets in touch with Mark. Mark and Sean hit it off immediately while Eduardo hates the very sight of the newcomer. A new contract is set up as The Facebook snowballs into the most popular social networking site. Eduardo signs for 0.03% share of the profits without realising what he is doing. Things turn ugly when Mark is taken to court by both his best friend and the Winklevoss twins. The rest of the film is all about how things get settled for The Accidental Billionaire who has already raked in $ 7 Billion after but a few months of floating his website.

My Perception: What can I say? I was spellbound by the movie. The Social Network ran for exactly 2 hours with crisp dialogues and superb acting.

Jesse Eisenberg did such a wonderful job of playing Mark. The quiet anger that he portrays when his girlfriend leaves him, keeping a cool head during the law proceedings, his smart-alec answers to everyone around, his loyalty to Eduardo, his instant friendship with Sean – he was just superb in just about every scene. I just loved the way he is quite chilled despite the billions growing in his bank.

Andrew Garfield as the hurt and humiliated Eduardo does an excellent job. The rest of the cast also played their roles very well.

There was not one extra scene or an out-of-place dialogue that one could complain about. You need to stay alert while the film is on if you don’t want to miss anything important – that’s every second of the movie. The film takes the viewer back and forth during the court proceedings and the story is built in flashbacks.

Verdict: Just awesome! Don’t miss this one in the theatres. I am planning to see it again soon.

Rating: ****** (That 6 stars and the rating is Stupendous)

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Friday, November 12, 2010


Breadsticks & White Butter served with the Soups

I have been to this restaurant many times but got an opportunity to write about it just now. The food here is excellent most of the time while they come up with ‘shockers’ sometimes. They serve only vegetarian.

Sweet Corn Veg Soup

This trip was on the eve of Diwali and it was Vini’s treat. The four of us had to wait for about 25 minutes before we got a table. By the way, you cannot book a table at Oven Fresh. You have to go there and wait for one. The wait is a minimum of 20 minutes on any given day whether it is lunch or dinner. That goes a long way in proclaiming the restaurant’s popularity.

Pesto Minestrone Soup

Plus point 1: We all ordered different soups – Sweet Corn Veg Soup for me, Smoked Pepper Soup for Venkat, Cream of Broccoli for Vini and Pesto Minestrone Soup for Viggy. We all relished the soups. They turned out with perfect taste at just the right temperature.

Smoked Pepper Soup
Plus point 2: The half plate of cheese garlic bread and another half of just garlic bread were just yum.
Cream of Broccoli Soup & Garlic Bread

Plus point 3: Venkat asked for a Veg Sizzler with Pepper Sauce - it looked colourful and tasted delicious as all of us had a bite from it.

Veg Sizzler with Pepper Sauce
Plus point 4: Vinitha asked for Corn & Cheese Enchilada. This is a hot favourite and was as good as it always tastes.

Corn & Cheese Enchilada

Plus point 5: Vignesh ordered a pasta dish – Ravioli in Sundried Tomato Sauce – rounds of stuffed pasta in sundried tomato sauce. He just loved it.

Ravioli in Sundried Tomato Sauce

Plus point 6: I did not want anything too heavy and ordered Nachos with Beans. We all had a go at the perfectly turned out dish.

Nachos & Beans

Plus point 7: I could not resist asking for a slice of Black Forest Pastry and relished it all by myself.

Black Forest Pastry with Strawberries

Plus point 8: Viggy’s Lemon Iced Tea was great, he said.

Flop show 1: The service at this restaurant can be way better than it actually is. The waiters are slow and have a don’t-give-a-damn attitude. They wear it on their sleeves quite proudly, in fact. There are times when we place four main course orders for four of us and the food turns up at different times. They don’t understand that the food needs to be served for everyone at the same time.

But we keep going there because the food is superb.

Note: They don’t accept credit cards but do take food vouchers such as Sodexo.