Saturday, February 27, 2010


Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Shefali Shah, Ram Kapoor
Director: Vijay Lalwani


Karthik (Farhan Akhtar) is a prize loser। He works extremely hard at a builder’s office but gets treated terribly in return by his boss (Ram Kapoor). He is silently in love with Shonali (Deepika Padukone) who works in the same office, but she is not even aware that he exists. Karthik will not use a cell phone as he believes it will fry his brains. The peon at work laughs at him disrespectfully for this very reason. All his colleagues treat Karthik like dirt. Then there is his landlord who nags him to pay an extra amount as deposit or threatens to throw him out of his flat. Karthik has a recurring nightmare that tops everything – of two little boys of which he is the younger one. The older boy falls into the well by accident and dies. His psychiatrist (Shefali Shah) insists that Karthik is not responsible for his older brother’s death. But nothing helps Karthik. His life gets worse day by day!

It is the last straw when his boss throws Karthik out of his job for no fault of his while Karthik also gets to know that Shonali does not know of his existence. Karthik goes home, utterly defeated. He gets more and more depressed until he decides to commit suicide by consuming sleeping pills.

It is five am when his phone rings, stopping him from popping the pills into his mouth. There is a man on the phone who insists that he is also Karthik. He seems to know everything about our loser hero including his bank account PIN number and the colour of the socks that he is wearing.

Fortunately for Karthik, whoever that man is, he helps him turn into a confident young man. Karthik turns confident, takes to power-dressing, gets his job back with four times the salary he used to earn, gets a separate cabin for himself, has his landlord eating out of his hand and the best of the lot – Shonali becomes his girlfriend.

While Karthik-on-phone guides the geek-Karthik, things get better and better. But then it is time for the twist in the tale. Karthik-on-phone tells geek-Karthik not to talk about these phone calls to anybody on earth. But Karthik breaks his promise to tell Shonali and everything goes down the drain. What happens after this point is for everyone to find out for themselves.


Superb movie! Short and well-made within a span of two hours and a few more minutes! Farhan has definitely had a say in the film-making, it appears, as it sure has his touches. The editing is crisp and the film flows well. As Karthik, Farhan’s performance is nothing short of brilliant. The man’s expressions – facial, body language, intonation in dialogue – are just awesome. During his makeover from a Geek to a confident young man, Farhan still manages to capture the innocence of Karthik who has just changed on the outside but still quite the same from within. His lack of confidence hits you whenever he lifts the phone to say ‘hello’.

Deepika was great in Love Aaj Kal and she is better in this movie. Her on-screen chemistry with Farhan and the dialogue delivery are too good. She’s a gorgeous babe who can act too.

Shefali Shah as the psychiatrist has a small role that is impactful. Ram Kapoor is okay as the boss – not much scope for acting but he was good.

The music was wonderful, all background. A special kudos to Shankar Ehsaan Loy for that!

VERDICT: This one is definitely for the metros and multiplexes.

Rating: **** Snazzy

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Recipe: PULIKAACHAL (புளிகாச்சல்)

This is an age-old recipe from Tamil Nadu. This mixture can be stored for about 10 days if made in the right manner. Oil and salt act as natural preservatives and there is absolutely no need to add artificial ones.

This can be mixed with plain cooked rice to make delicious Puliyodarai or eaten with curd rice or rotis.


Tamarind – 1 ball the size of an orange
Til Oil (நல்லெண்ணெய்) – ½ cup
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Channa Dal (கடலை பருப்பு) – 4 tsp
Halved Groundnuts – 100 gms (skin removed and roasted)
Mustard seeds (राइ) (கடுகு) – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 5 (broken in twos)
Curry Leaves – 10
Asafoetida Powder (हिंग) (பெருங்காயம்) – 1 tsp
Salt to taste


Red Chillies – 15
White Sesame Seeds (सफ़ेद तिल) (வெள்ளை எள்ளு) – 4 tsp
Black Gram (उरद दाल) (உளுத்தம் பருப்பு) – 4 tsp
Coriander Seeds (सुक्का धनिया) (தனியா) – 4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (मेथी) (வெந்தயம்) – 1 tsp
Black Pepper (काली मिरी) (மிளகு) – 1 tsp


Step 1
: Take a dry saucepan and roast the masala ingredients one-by-one separately. Allow the items to cool and grind them together into a coarse powder to the consistency of Rava.

Step 2: Extract the juice of tamarind after soaking it in water for a while. The juice maybe extracted three times to a medium-thick consistency and kept aside.

Step 3: Add oil to the saucepan and keep it on medium flame. Once heated, add the broken red chillies and fry them till they are dark in colour. Now add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the channa dal and fry till golden. Add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt to the pan. Allow the mixture to cook for 10 minutes on a medium flame.

Step 4: Add the masala powder and stir well. After one boil, add the groundnuts. Let it cook for two more minutes before switching off the gas. Add the curry leaves to the Pulikaachal.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Reading some of the user reviews on, I am convinced that this place has had a major overhaul as far as the chef and waiters are concerned.

Plus point 1: The ambience on the first floor was quite nice and the service was excellent with an attentive waiter who did not hover around all the time, which leads me to believe they hire waiters with hospitality education.

Plus point 2: There were three of us - my son, daughter and me. To begin with we ordered Nachos with Mexican beans, a basket of garlic bread with cheese, cold coffee, lemon ice tea and orange sunshine soda. The food was perfectly cooked with the spices and salt just right.

Plus point 3: More than the food, I was impressed with the cold drinks. There was just the right amount of ice. Most of the places I have been to serve a huge mound of ice and by the time I am halfway into the drink, it is totally diluted and I never want to finish it. Here, the cold drinks remained just right till the very last drop and not too sweet as one would expect from most places. We all loved it so much that my son ordered another Peach iced tea.

Plus point 4: Then we ordered a sizzler (I forget the name) that was truly melt-in-the-mouth. It was kind of an Indianised version but WTH - it was yummmmmy and sufficient for all of us.

The bill was around 1250 and that was quite fine for the kind of ambience, food and service. I would definitely go again!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This was my first visit to this restaurant even though I stay quite close to the area. I don't seriously know how I missed it all this long. It's a quiet restaurant set in the ground floor and with a family section on the first. Neat place, quick and efficient service and tasty food - what more could one ask for?

Plus point 1: The Tomato Soup was well-flavoured and delicious.

Plus point 2: The Veg Kofta Curry and Paneer Babycorn Masala were perfectly seasoned and the hot rotis that came with them were very good.

Plus point 3: The Dal Tadka and Jeera Rice couldn't have been better.

Plus point 4: The best part was the bill which was quite easy on the pocket. Rs. 1275 for four with three beers thrown in seemed very reasonable.

Flop show 1: We asked for Paneer Malai Kabab for starter - my son's choice. I did not relish it as it was too sweet for my taste.

Flop show 2: The Roomali Rotis were not up to the mark.

Will definitely go again!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Painting of Lady Diana by Helmut Zwerger

The Kala Ghoda Festival has been happening since so many years. But this was the first time I could go to see one.

It was a visual grandeur, no less. Stretching from West View to Mumbai Port, the area of Kala Ghoda was colourfully lit and decorated with gorgeous stuff that one has to see to visualise. The fest brings to the public a glimpse of Indian art and culture at one venue.

One end had on display a number of prize-winning entries of photographs by many photographers. Some of the displays were just amazing. Then there was the installation of Revathi Sharma that was dedicated to the army, navy and air-force. I never could relate much to installations, but this was truly excellent.

As we moved further, we came across many stalls on both sides selling wares from around the country. There were Madhubani paintings, curios and other items made of papier mache, cloth bags, bags made of reed, pottery, glazed pottery, kurtis, Punjabi suit materials, saris from different regions, scarves made of silk, hand made paper, art materials, lamp shades made of various materials, wall hangings, home décor and more. While these made for colourful and artistic displays, they were just priced at too exorbitant a cost. They may be suitable for purchase by foreigners or compulsive shopaholics.

In the middle of the fest is placed a dais where cultural programmes happen every day. The day my daughter and I landed there, there was a Bharatnatyam performance going on. We could not see anything as the area was too crowded but the song that we heard was beautiful and added a lot to the gala atmosphere.

The vibrant colours and sounds special to our culture are brought out at the festival and I believe that these are necessary not just for the tourists from other places but also for us. We get to see so much of what our culture has in store.

We also went to Jehangir Art Gallery that was holding ‘Myriad Moods’ a display of paintings by Helmut Zwerger from Austria. I believe three of his paintings had been to space - a piece of information that I heard from the promoters. I did not find it too impressive as it made me wonder what the big deal was about. I can relate to a monkey being sent to space as it is a living thing and gives us hope that living beings can survive out there. But paintings??? Anyways, that was their USP while promoting the artist’s works. I have no comments to offer about his works as I am no art connoisseur, but I did not particularly enjoy the show.

Towards the end, we stopped at the stalls offering food brought to the fest by the local restaurants – Joss, Noodle Bar, Bombay Blue, Chetana, Copper Chimney and Gelato Italiano. We shared a delicious Balinese veg curry and steamed rice from Joss and a undhiyu-puri combo from Chetana and called it a day.

All in all, the Kala Ghoda Festival is an experience of a lifetime. Congratulations to the Times of India for pulling it off.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Film Review: MY NAME IS KHAN (from the epiglottis)

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Jimmy Shergill, Zarina Wahab
Director: Karan Johar

Before I talk about the film, I have to mention that we went to Cinemax Sion where there was a lot of security against the Shiv Sena that had threatened to stop the screening of MNIK. And here I thought we were living in one of the hugest democracies in the world! But luckily for us, there was no problem there. If this was a promotion gimmick, they could not have done it better.

The Story
: Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. This particular problem is named after Dr. Hans Asperger who first noticed it in children. It does not mean that the one suffering from this is not intelligent. The person takes everything at face value. He cannot understand it when people say one thing while meaning another. He understands only straightforward talk.

At the beginning of the movie, Rizwan is on his way to meet the President of the USA. He wants to tell him, “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist”. The film goes in flashback to show us why Rizwan feels the urge to do so.

Rizwan is brought up by a loving mother who does not understand what his problem is but encourages him to do his best in everything. The most important lesson she teaches him is that there are only two types of people – the good and the bad. Rizwan is privately tutored as the other kids treat him badly at school and learns to repair all electronic stuff. He goes to settle with his brother (Jimmy Shergill) in California after their mother’s death.

He meets Mandira (Kajol), the divorced single parent of Sameer. Rizwan woos her in his own style and they get married despite her being a Hindu. Soon after, the 9/11 attack happens and the safety of all Muslims is threatened. The film goes on to show how this affects the life of the Khan family and why Rizwan sets out to meet the US President.

My perception: Shah Rukh Khan has yet again proved that he is the King Khan. He is simply amazing in his role as Rizwan and it is his movie throughout. Considering that the role is quite different from the romantic or negative ones that we have seen SRK in, this was just fabulously portrayed. I was not too impressed with the promos that I saw but I am glad that I went to see the film. There is just nobody in this generation of actors who could have done better in this role.

Kajol as Mandira and Rizwan’s wife is just perfect and no other actress could have done the role better than she. The scene where she cries her heart out over her only child’s death breaks your heart. Kajol also looks gorgeous in her part as a beautician, divorced single parent.

The film has been made very well and thankfully without the usual over-the-top extravagances that one gets to expect from Karan Johar.

It did make me wonder why there is should be one more movie on the 9/11 attacks nine years after and whether this will create more ill-will and negativity. But the subject has been approached from a totally different angle that is a must to the public. It has beautifully shown the angle of those innocents who bear the brunt of the actions of a few fanatics.

What was kind of irritating was that some of the dialogues have been jabardasti converted to Hindi while the film is in Hinglish. While Rizwan speaks a lot of English, his speech at the church in Wilhelmina, Georgia, in front of an Afro-American audience is in Hindi or that’s how it has been shown to the viewers. And then, Mandira’s best American friend Sara leaves her a voice message in pure Hindi. I fail to understand how these things could have escaped the notice of both the director and the editor. And just for this I will need to give four stars instead of five for a super film.

To see or not to see: Do not miss it. It is most definitely worth the time and money spent.
Rating: ****Snazzy

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

Friday, February 5, 2010

Film Review: ISHQIYA

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi
Director: Abhishek Chaubey

The film

Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are small time thieves who try to get away with big cash while outwitting a bigger thief. They hope to take shelter at Krishna’s (Vidya Balan) home as they know her husband. But on reaching there, they find out that he is no more. Krishna still offers to let them stay at her home for purposes of her own.

My take:

The cinematography was excellent as the camera has captured some very beautiful village scenes. Naseeruddin Shah has done his part as well as he always does. Vidya Balan as Krishna and Arshad Warsi as Babban have done superb jobs with their acting skills. Arshad Warsi’s dialogue delivery is worth a special mention. The atmosphere and the reality of life up north in the Indian villages have be portrayed authentically.

But, and it’s a big BUT – I personally could not relate to the film at any level. For me, a film should invoke some kind of an emotion. You either want to laugh loudly, or cry softly; you want to love it or hate it; you should feel anger or a sense of satisfaction…

But this one brought forth no feelings in me. I just went to the theatre – which by the way was barely 25% full – saw the film with a couple of smiles at a few dialogues and walked out of the theatre in a state of total apathy.

Verdict: Every man to his poison. This one is not mine.

Rating: ** Shaky

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

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Our newspapers and television channels talk no end about the racist attacks on Indians abroad, for over the past year in Australia and recently in Canada.

I think it is most important to clean up our homes before pointing our fingers outside. The Shiv Sena has been attacking people who have shifted to Mumbai from other states, earlier against the South Indians and now against the North Indians. India has been a Republic since 1950. It is high time that the Sainiks get out of their Rip Van Winkle mode and realise that ‘we are going global’.

It is not enough to just hoist the national flag, parade the various divisions of the defence system, etc on January 26 every year. All the people, especially those holding responsible posts in the government and politicians who have a strong influence over the public, need to set right their attitudes.

Be it caste, creed, language, colour or whatever, we need to understand that we are all human beings. We all cannot be the same as we are not clones. When each one’s fingerprints are different, how can we all be the same?

Then what is the sense in fighting over differences?

Charity begins at home. Set things right within our country, especially our state. Let’s stop dividing people by their states and languages. Let’s not lay waste the efforts made by freedom fighters such as Vallabhbhai Patel and others to make this country one and a Republic at that. Let’s begin to understand that we all belong to one country, one Republic that is ruled by one government.

When we reach a point when not even one finger is raised against someone who belongs to our own country, we will qualify to address the problems our countrymen face abroad.

Let’s not aspire to reach the top of the ladder before setting our foot on Step One.