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Monthly Archives: May 2010

Fried Round Things

Bollyviewer once commented that all my recipes revolve around eggs and milk. That made me giggle because that’s exactly right. With those two magical ingredients in my fridge, I can whip up anything from a drink to a dessert to main course to pakoras (up next!). The day I have less than four eggs and at least a quart of whole fat milk in my fridge is a dark day at Chez Amrita. Starvation is practically leering in my face as I stumble out the door and run for the grocery store. Okay, amble. A diet of eggs and milk isn’t really conducive to running.

Anyway, I thought I’d offer something that didn’t revolve around eggs and milk for once – just to prove that I know other ways to get a heart attack before I turn forty. It’s a family recipe and as far as I know nobody else makes this thing. I’ve certainly never seen it on a restaurant menu nor have I ever been offered any at anybody’s home. According to family lore, my Auntie S invented the amazing dish we know simply as “Fried Round Things”.

She was puttering around the kitchen one day with a couple of my other aunts and they were debating what to do with the remains of two bunches of bananas and plantains sent over from the family estate. We were a large household and most of it had vanished but there were still a few left and they were on the verge of going bad. So thrifty Auntie S threw together a few ingredients and voila! An enduring family favorite was born.

The South Americans make something similar with green plantains but their version is savory and usually involves meat, delicious in an entirely different way. Fried Round Things only uses ingredients approved by my grandmother’s kitchen and is thus thoroughly vegetarian and pretty sweet. It is also very rich and if you pig out on it, you should know that consumed in large quantities, Fried Round Things can act as a laxative. You have been warned.

Note: This recipe uses two items that the general public (that’s you!) might not be familiar with – plantains and freshly shredded/dessicated coconut.

1. Plantains. For this recipe you need ripe plantain. Green plantains will not work. Local supermarkets in most places tend to carry these nowadays but if yours doesn’t, then check out the grocery stores that cater to people of Caribbean descent. Or South Indians if you live in India.

If you don’t know your plantain from your banana, then ask someone at the store to help you choose one that’s ripe / closest to ripening. If it’s ripe, then use it by the next day latest; if it needs some more time, stick it in a paper bag if you have one and leave it out for a day or two but not more than that. I like my plantains really ripe (it turns black) but don’t go that route unless you’re familiar with them and can tell ripe from rotten. Fried Round Things are delicious but nothing is worth food poisoning.

2. Dessicated Coconut. This is optional – in the sense that I’ve made Fried Round Things without it and I didn’t miss it all that much. But it’s undeniable that it really does add a certain something to the taste so if you can get your hands on it, that’d be good. Again, this is available at most supermarkets and if not, check your local Thai / Caribbean / South Indian grocery store. I used to get my supply from China Town when I lived around the corner from it, so it’s really everywhere.

At home, my mother and aunts use freshly shredded coconut. Which is nice and possible when you have a coconut tree in your garden and a maid willing and able to crack open a coconut with a wicked machete and then grate the whole thing out. I, on the other hand, once tore open a Bounty bar, nibbled off the chocolate layer and then crumbled in the coconut insides to my batch of Fried Round Things. I do not recommend my method. Better by far to find a maid adept in the art of machete-wielding and a house with a coconut tree growing outside it.

All this is to tell you that when you buy your dessicated coconut, taste it first to see if it’s been sweetened. It took me a while to find unsweetened dessicated coconut, which is what I’m using in this recipe, so if yours is sweetened, you’ll have to adjust the amount of sugar used.

Okay, so –

Fried Round Things

Ingredients

Plantain (ripe) – 1

Banana (any banana, smaller in size to the plantain, ripe) – 1

Plain Flour – 3 to 4 tbsps, level.

Granulated sugar – 1 to 2 tbsps, heaped.

Dessicated coconut (unsweetened) – 3 tbsps (use a big handful if its freshly grated unsweetened coconut)

Ghee – 1 tbsp

Salt – a generous pinch, one level tsp at most.

Vegetable Oil – for deep frying

Utensils

Bananas, especially when combined with sugar, will stick. Save yourself from a nervous breakdown and use a non-stick wok and wooden slotted spoon. A mixing bowl and a tablespoon. Maybe a masher.

Method

Peel and cube the plantains and bananas. Tumble them into a mixing bowl. Use your hands if you’re all down-home like my mom or a potato masher if you’re all fancy like me, and roughly mash the two together. You don’t want to thoroughly mash them to an uniform consistency – it’s good to have little chunks left intact.

Add coconut and salt and fold them in. Add the sugar; adjust upwards or downwards depending on the sweetness of the plantain, banana and coconut as well as your own tastes but make sure you add in at least half a tbsp of sugar as this will help caramelize the final product.

Add the flour. This basically acts as a binding agent so your goal is to only add enough flour to make sure it all sticks together like really thick, goopy batter. When you’ve added three tbsps, it ought to look kind of pasty and all sorts of wrong. This is when you add the ghee. The batter will immediately loosen up and resemble really thick cake batter.

If it’s at all runny, then add a little more flour. The ideal batter should be thick and goopy.

Heat oil and drop in tablespoons of the batter. I’m afraid this is the kind of thing that requires surveillance because it’s really easy to have it caramelized black on the outside while still raw on the inside. The trick is to drop in the batter in amounts no greater than a tablespoon and keep the heat steady at medium low. Try not to touch it too much while frying. Just turn it over once.

When it turns a fine golden brown, it’s ready to come out. Don’t be dismayed if it’s darker than that. We cousins personally think it’s better when it’s a little charred but my mother disagrees. Make sure you give the Fried Round Things a gentle squeeze as you fish them out because bananas and plantains drink oil like sailors drink liquor on shore leave. If you want to be extra conscientious you can cool them on a wire rack and blot them with paper napkins but look – you’re eating a thing called Fried Round Things. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

Makes 12. Serves 4. Enjoy!

(And if you plan on being greedy, make sure you’re stocked up on toilet paper.)

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2010 in Life, Personal, Video

 

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Meta

If ever a picture was worth a 1000 words… A 1000 Sully words. So awesome on so many levels.

Oh crap, I need to find a new avatar.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2010 in Newsmakers, Personal, Politics

 

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Starchy Blue

Why do people do such weird things to their clothes? And then insist on doing the same to mine? Like, for instance, this stubborn belief that soaking white items of clothing in a vat of blue dye will magically turn it white.

You know how they show all those detergent ads where people walk around emitting light out of their newly washed clothes? Right, so you know that is some serious bullshit going on because no matter how many brands you switch or how closely you follow the instructions, your whites are never going to emerge from the wash sparkling like diamonds or mimicking a light source.  You know that. But where do all those blue dye people get the balls to pull the same stunt?

What genius looked at a dull white shirt one day and thought, “Ha, you know what this needs to make it all bright and shiny like new? Blue dye!”

You know what happens when you soak a white shirt in a bucket full of faintly blue water? You end up with a faintly blue shirt. You know what is the definition of “white”? Well, it sure as hell ain’t eggshell blue! Can you not tell the difference?

It’s one thing to do it to school uniforms, kitchen towels and uncle-ji’s Wednesday office shirt. But must you do it to my camisole tops? And it smells. Don’t tell me it doesn’t – it smells. It smells like wet. And no amount of cologne, deodorant, hairspray, other perfumed chemical can mask it. If you do manage to kill it somehow, it’ll crawl up your nose and die in there so you will smell it all day and know exactly what was done to your clothes even if other people don’t.

And talking of smell: you know what else I don’t understand? Starch. The only good thing starch ever did was to the potato. Yum. But why would you want to pour essence of potato over your clothes so that they could stand up on their own? I don’t want my clothes to get up and walk out of my cupboard. I want them to stay where I put them and not make noises when I walk.

I understand they make your cotton sarees look good. Well, maybe “understand” is taking things a little too far. I’ve seen women go to war against their beloved cottons to emerge victoriously, looking like puffballs and I don’t understand it at all. I must be missing some crucial female gene.

But. My t-shirts. Why would you soak them in starch just because they were cotton and white? Not even the elderly uncles who play badminton at the crack of dawn at the sports club starch their polo necks!

And there’s my dad who washes things in the washing machine. A day when he doesn’t get to wash things in the washing machine is like a day without internet access to me.

“Do you have anything to wash?” he’ll ask hopefully.

“No.”

“I’m washing things. You can put your things in with my things.”

“I have nothing.”

“What is this?”

“My jeans.”

“You should wash them occasionally.”

“Okay, I’ll tell you when the occasion comes.”

Pause. “What is this?”

“My shirt.”

“It’s been lying out here gathering dust for weeks. You should wash it.”

“What’re you talking about? I wore it just yesterday.”

“I don’t know.” He wrinkles his nose and stares down at it. “The presswallah comes tomorrow and if we wash it today, we can get it ironed tomorrow.”

“Thanks but I’ll just put it in the dryer and it’ll be fine.”

I’ve made several unconventional decisions in my life and all my dad has ever said to me are words of encouragement. But everytime I refuse to let him wash my clothes… it’s like stomping on a child who asked for a cookie. It is his ultimate housekeeping skill and I’m the ingrate that won’t let him be the good father he is. And that is how my shirt goes into the wash with the rest of his clothes and comes out happily bedecked with lint. His clothes remain perfectly intact yet half their fabric finds itself as fuzz on mine. It is some sort of miracle expressly designed to aggravate me to an early grave. At least he knows to separate.

Sometimes I miss the days when all I had to worry about was my grandma’s maid beating the everloving hell out of my clothes in an effort to get it clean. Sure, my clothes never lasted beyond the summer. But at least she knew better than to soak it in substances unless specifically directed to do so, and never let colors bleed on each other.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2010 in Life, Personal, Video

 

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Kites: Cut Me

<i>Kites</i>: Cut Me

If you’ve ever seen a beautiful horse put through its paces and thought to yourself, “Hmmm, I wonder if you could do that with pretty people?” then boy, do you have a treat in store for you! It’s called Kites, a movie starring the extremely delicious Hrithik Roshan, directed by Anurag Basu (Murder, Gangster) and produced by Rakesh Roshan a.k.a. Papa Roshan a.k.a. The Only Man Alive Who Knows Exactly How to Use Hrithik to Best Effect.

In the first half hour: see Hrithik in pain! see Hrithik’s amazing green eyes! see Hrithik stagger! affectingly! see Hrithik charm! while chewing a matchstick (?)! see Hrithik dance! jaw-droppingly astoundingly! (Shahid Kapoor go home!) see Hrithik scared! cutely! see Hrithik scared! by a creepy feely Bad Man! see Hrithik fall in love! see Hrithik be a gentleman! see Hrithik swim! see Hrithik lounging on a yacht in a lifestyle ad of the kind made by tobacco companies who can’t advertise their cancerous product! see Hrithik underwater! see Hrithik con! effortlessly! see Hrithik smile! see Hrithik in formal wear! see Hrithik walk! And do all of this in slow motion and extreme close up. (The way you like it, don’t lie!)

About the only thing Hrithik doesn’t do a lot of, in fact, is talk. Which is not a bad thing as he’s supposed to be an Indian-American grifter in Las Vegas and let’s face it, that’s just a Salman Khan-comparison trap waiting to happen. I mean, that’s your heads-I-win-tails-you-lose scenario right there. When he does speak, he puts it to good use. “Honeymoon extra!” he says tantalizingly at one point. Jokes! Or have we finally gotten a Bollywood gigolo we can all get behind? Ahem. Metaphorically speaking, I mean.

Filling in the silence is a fair amount of muzak and voiceover as he explains his down-on-his-luck status and why he’s marrying random women for money to counter it. The movie uses the silences to great effect: the early Hrithik was notable (to me, anyway) for his dismaying dedication to the !Face! method of acting, in which he quivered facial muscles I don’t think science has yet discovered in order to convey emotions like “hello”. He’s largely gotten over it (his face probably went on strike after Yaadein. Or that under-disccused epic, Main Prem ki Deewani Hoon, whichever came later) and in the silence of Kites, his expressions are finally fighting in their own class.

In fact, I was honestly impressed to note that in this movie he actually manages to wipe his face of all expression in a scene or two, confining himself to a faint frown at the most. I know that sounds snarky, but I have seldom been more serious. “Wooden” is not his problem. I think we can safely chalk this up as another win under Papa Roshan’s unchallenged champion status as The Only Man Alive Who Knows Exactly How to Use Hrithik to Best Effect.

Now that we’re all in the same hormone frenzy, comes the next 100 minutes. In which J Ray (that’s right, Hrithik Roshan’s character got rejected from The Jersey Shore) and Linda (Barbara Mori), try to give the slip to the insane and insanely rich siblings Tony (Nicholas Brown) and Gina (Kangana Ranaut) after certain life-altering, event-complicating passions come to the fore. There are shadow puppets, car chases, explosions, slow motion montages galore, rain, sweet exchanges of love, touching backstories, make out sessions in the wild, promises of everlasting love in three languages, Yuri Suri and Kabir Bedi in effective cameos, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

You’ll either eat it all with a spoon and beg for seconds, or you’ll sit there for the last half hour bothering the person in the next seat by jiggling your legs, fidgeting in your seat, breathing heavily, checking the time, sighing loudly, and generally acting the nuisance until an annoyed auntie with tears streaming down her face and samosas on her breath turns around and tells you to shush.

But if you do decide to check it out, take my word for it and please do it in the theater. Kites is one of the most visually pleasing movies I’ve ever seen and only half the credit for that goes to Hrithik Roshan. The other half is all on the excellent camera crew, which includes directors of photography Ayananka Bose, Steve Koster and Jacques Haitkin. So if you’re planning to catch this on DVD, throw it a bone and watch it on the big screen: even if you walk out hating the movie, you’ll have had the full-screen experience.

So pretty!

 
15 Comments

Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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2007 Called

Just to say it loves you and misses you too. Honestly, get this chick another dress.

As you can see, it can be done – that’s actually a pretty dress although her absolute lack of confidence in wearing something where the twins aren’t having their day in the sun should be a lesson to all aspiring sexpots to spend at least a little time in front of the mirror with their clothes on. The snake is clearly over it and its handler looks worried Mallika might bite it:

Maybe it’s because her stylist has the most blah dressing sense known to bombshell-dom when it comes to other designs:

Of course, you need to be careful or else you might end up with this:

Is this some kind of top-secret red carpet meme being carried out by sniggering make-up artists?

[More]

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Newsmakers

 

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Saying No

Saying No

Is it really that terrible not to want kids?

The earliest I remember someone saying as much to me was when my then BFF told me her cousin, who was the same age as us (maybe 11 at the time?), didn’t want kids because she wasn’t looking forward to experiencing labor.

“Have you ever heard anything more selfish?” she seethed with the intense outrage of someone yet to get her period. “What a shallow reason not to want kids. Because she doesn’t want the pain!”

I maintained a discreet silence. I hadn’t really considered the issue before but my friend seemed to have such a strong opinion on the matter, I felt I might have been derelict in my duties as a ponderous 11-year-old not to have given serious thought to the idea of procreation before this unhappy day. Worse, as I listened to her rail, I began to feel the stirrings of sympathy for the cousin – a long stretch of intense medical upheaval lay just a couple of years behind me and as I remembered all those hours of getting needles stuck in me and blood sucked out of me… I thought maybe she had a point.

I had started menstruating very early, a side effect of those medical issues I’d experienced, and once a month I found myself in bed, curled up in the fetal position around a hot water bottle, dosed on strong painkillers, as my uterus prepared itself for a baby that wasn’t going to come for a very long time, if ever. Childbirth was not endearing itself to me.

The next time somebody mentioned getting pregnant, I was 14 and it was my mother and she was expressing just how unhappy she’d be if I ended up “in a situation”. Halfway through this latest experiment in good parenting, even she realized the absurdity of telling a child under constant surveillance and a 6 p.m. curfew (more importantly, braces and thick spectacles) to practice abstinence. It’s not like I had a choice, much less the opportunity.

So not only did getting pregnant promise to end unhappily for the most sensitive part of your body, but there were conditions attached to it actually being a “happy event”. Timing was everything. Post-wedding ring, everything was roses. Put it pre-wedding ring and it might well end up on the evening news: Grisly Murder of Skank Teen, details at nine!

Then there was the old lady I met on the street who was rabidly pro-life and wanted to know how I’d feel if I found out my mother had planned to abort me. Answer: I’d be fine with it because it’s not like she wanted to abort me after I was born and she had a chance to know me. Now that would have hurt my feelings. Not to mention, the man who didn’t want kids but was only ever attracted to women who wanted kids because he felt it expressed something positive about their personality.

I don’t want kids,” I said.

“You think you don’t want kids,” he told me. “When you meet the right person, you’ll feel differently.”

The certainty in his voice ought to have bugged me but in a way, I couldn’t fault him. I’m single and when I think about having a child, the potential father figure is very much a shadow person. I hope he’ll be a good human being, of course, but the only reality in this fantasy scenario is myself. And I, personally, feel no compulsion whatsover to procreate.

I see women say all the time, “I want a child”. I do not. I don’t want to leave a little me behind in this world, I don’t want to clone myself, I don’t want to experience “the unconditional love” of a child (which, and here’s my turn to be judgmental, has to be the most selfish reason I’ve ever heard to bring another human being into this world, second only to “When my baby cries, I hear my rich baby daddy go ka-ching! ka-ching! ka-ching!“), I don’t want to leave a little mark on the genetic map of the world to announce I was here for a quick minute.

The only reason – I think – I would want a child is if I met someone so utterly fabulous and so very dear to me, that I might want our child. Perhaps that is what these women mean when they say “I want a child”. I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound like that a lot of times. And that’s fine. The best part about being a woman and wanting a child, especially in this day and age, in many parts of the world, is that this is a very real option for you. You can have a child.

I think it’s much harder to say you don’t want a child. It invites roughly the same reaction as confessing to some sort of deviance.

“You like to wear diapers when you have sex?”
“You garden in the buff?”
“You voted for Sarah Palin?”
“You think 9/11 was an inside job?”
“You don’t think Obama is a Manchurian Candidate?”
“You don’t want kids?”

The judgment is immediate and universal: what is wrong with you as a person that makes you dislike kids? First of all, I don’t see what’s wrong with not liking kids. Some people feel uncomfortable around them or are just not interested. It’s like there are cat people and dog people. But sometimes it’s not a matter of dislike. I love to cuddle babies and I like kids, especially when they’re not screaming, throwing up, sassing me or asking me to do things like play with them (basically, what I really like are very short adults). I’m very fond of quite a few, some of whom I’ve only ever seen growing up on the internet, and honestly enjoy their antics. That does not mean I want any of them. You’ll never find me on the news as a child-hungry supermarket kidnapper.

Of course, I’m Indian and single. Nobody asks me any of these questions because… well, I’m Indian and single. All the aunties are too obsessed with my approaching spinsterhood to much wonder about my thoughts on childbirth. So all I have to do, is not get married until I find someone I want to have kids with.

Done! :mrgreen:

[Image via]

 
41 Comments

Posted by on May 19, 2010 in Desipundit, Life, Personal, Video

 

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The Good Wife

<i>The Good Wife</i>

In an early episode of The Good Wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) is outraged when she founds out she owes her latest client to her husband Peter’s (Chris Noth), an ex-State’s Attorney serving time in prison for corruption, machinations.

“I was doing you a favor!” he protests.

“By sending me a hooker?” she asks in disbelief, his very recent past with high priced escorts, of which her new client may well have been a part, coloring the conversation.

“A rape victim!” he says defensively, to all appearances honestly shocked that she would have a problem with his lawyer personally referring a stripper/ hooker/ rape victim, whose degree of acquaintance with Peter is never really explained, her way.

It’s a great scene. And the kind of writing that makes The Good Wife, the story of a political wife putting her life back together after being publicly humiliated by her husband’s high-profile indiscretions, not just my favorite freshman show this year, but actually the network ensemble I’ve enjoyed most since The West Wing went off air.

It’s not really a political show though. The three main arcs of the show are Alicia’s work at a prestigious but financially troubled law firm; her continuing struggle against the fallout of her husband’s actions on their personal life; and the skulduggery surrounding Peter’s appeal against his conviction. Unlike a number of other shows, however, there isn’t a single arc that doesn’t grab your interest.

Noth is absolutely pitch perfect as the erring husband. As each episode reveals the ever-increasing depth of Alicia’s humiliation at his hands, you wonder why on earths she would stick by him – to the point of even testifying in his favor. And then you see the two of them together, working as a unit, and the way he so unerringly finds her buttons as he attempts to slowly woo her back… and you still don’t understand it but you begin to think his bitter ex-mistress/ favorite hooker was right – they deserve each other.

Underneath the buttoned up exterior (Margulies plays Alicia as a steely-spined, near-expressionless store of banked emotions in a way that is absolutely riveting to watch), is a woman who evidently chose not to match her husband for the fifteen years she spent at home raising their children. Now, next-to-friendless, broke, with her husband in prison and some very powerful people gunning for his head, she chooses something quite different and it’s wonderfully entertaining to watch people who thought they knew her based on her role as her husband’s wife get the shock of their lives. People such as Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver), the new State’s Attorney and Peter’s arch nemesis who made the mistake of thinking her an easy target.

Meanwhile, Alicia’s co-workers include Will (Josh Charles), her friend from law school who gave her a trial job as a junior associate at the firm where he is one of the partners. This pleases exactly no one – Diane (Christine Baranski), the other partner isn’t too fond of Alicia and sees no reason why she should be promoted at the expense of the other associate they hired on a trial basis, Cary (Matt Czuchry), especially when he does such a good job bringing in the money. Cary thinks there might be a bit of favoritism going on too.

The one exception, and the surprise packet of the series, is Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), the firm’s in-house investigator. A bit of a mystery woman, she’s tough, she’s smart, she’s sexy and she’s a really good friend to Alicia in ways that are uniquely her own.

In fact, for a show centered on a woman who makes the mind-boggling choice to stand by the man who humiliated her to an insane degree and continues to make sacrifices on his behalf, The Good Wife isn’t short of strong female characters and the complex ways in which they behave. In the same episode featuring the hooker, the court trial ends with Alicia, Kalinda, the rape victim and her mother standing outside the courtroom while the accused rapist’s new wife protests his innocence.

Back home in their new, smaller apartment, Alicia’s kids are dealing with their father’s fall from grace in ways subtly demonstrating the fact that no matter how he may feel about it, he’s forever screwed them up to a degree that none of them can process yet. And they’re being brought up, part-time, by Peter’s mother, who chooses denial over the cold-eyed acceptance that Alicia prefers as a life strategy.

It is a fascinating cast of characters and one of those few shows that injects immediate addiction. My only crib is that the season finale is next week.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Entertainment, Review, Television, Video

 

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Lekin…

Khanna-o-Rama has, justifiably, thus far been obsessed with Masala Vinod – the sneering, brooding, hunk of raw animal appeal that keeps its inner violence tethered on an excitingly thin leash. But those very qualities found him a niche in the world of a filmmaker leagues removed from the kind of cinema that set petticoats on fire.

As a director, multi-hyphenate Gulzar worked with Vinod Khanna in five movies: Parichay, Meera, Achanak, Mere Apne and Lekin. Each of them are fine movies but hardly ever get the attention reserved for the movies he made with Khanna’s contemporaries – Jeetendra (whom he directed three times – Parichay, Kinara, Khushboo), and the man most consider to be Gulzar’s true blue-eyed boy, Sanjeev Kumar (in Koshish, Namkeen, Parichay, Mausam, Aandhi, Angoor). Given that, I should perhaps have chosen to write about the only movie in which he cast all three – Parichay. It is a fine example of the wonders casting to strength can achieve in filmmaking.

I choose instead a movie that has long fascinated me – Lekin... (But…)

Produced by Lata Mangeshkar and featuring an outstanding soundtrack composed by her brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Lekin… begins with the arrival of Sameer (Vinod Khanna), come to Rajasthan to take inventory of a long abandoned haveli. Once there, he bumps into the hauntingly beautiful Reva (Dimple Kapadia), a mysterious woman from the desert who wanders in and out of his life at will.

A friendship of sorts grows between the two, Sameer’s curiosity about Reva fitting into her odd desperation to share her story with him; their interactions with each other escalating by degrees to an emotional point as baffling to the audience as it is to Sameer. Shocked at his rapidly deteriorating mental and physical appearance as he is sucked into Reva’s hallucinatory world, Sameer’s friends (who include Amjad Khan) convince him to solve Reva’s mystery before it consumes him.

It’s a story packed full of drama featuring villainous rajahs, beautiful dancing girls (Hema Malini), heroic father figures, helpless damsels, heaping amounts of depravity and evil – and yet delicately told, its entire structure balanced on the atmosphere built by Manmohan Singh’s desert cinematography.

The lonely sand dunes, windswept and barren, are a setting made to appeal to the supernatural. Few in Hindi cinema can beat Gulzar’s record as writer of the female spirit who is as haunted as she is haunting. Although Reva draws immediate comparisons to that other Dimple Kapadia-starrer Rudaali (also written by Gulzar), she is in fact a character he has visited time again in movies as diverse as Namkeen, Ijazzat, Khushboo and Mausam to name just a few off the top of my head.

It is the character of a woman stuck in a specific window of her history, unable to unchain herself, seeking her freedom through the love of a man. She is an odd sort of succubus, sympathetic while being poisonous to varying degrees; she is only terrible in the way a drowning victim can be – she means you no active harm, just obeying her survival instincts.

In Reva, Gulzar makes the metaphor literal by making her a restless spirit who needs to have her story heard so that she can finally “cross the desert”. Sameer, more than half in love with her and fully cognizant that his is a love that was doomed before it ever began, is the man who pours his soul into guiding her in the right direction.

The best part of Lekin… for me is that I don’t think I can explain it beyond this point. For a movie that has all the ingredients of the kind of Rajasthan-based masala potboilers that were all the rage in the 1980s, Lekin… is satisfyingly ethereal and personal. There are loose ends and lyrics and panoramas that defy a standard reading.

If Gulzar hadn’t chosen to close the movie as he did, in fact, I would have been perfectly content with the interpretation that Sameer had a psychotic episode of some kind.

Papa Khanna continued and, indeed, continues to be steadily employed but Lekin… gets my vote as the last great movie he made.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 13, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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The Khanna Element

The Khanna Element

[From Qurbani: Earth, with Wind, on Water, facing Fire]

What kind of woman are you, asks this vintage ad. This Khanna-o-Rama the question to be asked is: what kind of Khanna are you?

EARTH – sensual, elemental, and in touch with reality.

Dude. In a pink jumpsuit. Also in daffodil-yellow, brick orange, dusty blue and spangled capes. With the gayest swordsmaster since Errol Flynn disappointed Truman Capote in bed. And still finds a way to roar. You know how? Coz that’s the only way the Alpha rolls.

By the time he met up with the original Mogambo of Hindi filmdom though, he’d got the hop under strict control.

WIND – setting things in motion, light and airy!

Aww! He’s like a little kid at dance camp with his favoritest star! Look at him skipping along the side of the road with Mads Dixit in her safety-first reflective gear.

But as you see from the above, all it was doing, was setting the stage for this, the greatest Khanna dance vid ever shot.

RAIN – gentle, softly stated and refreshing!

Yes, that is the famous Elaan – a movie that brought together John Abraham, Arjun Rampal, Lara Dutta, Amisha Patel and Kama Khanna… and then made them dance to a song called “Anderloo Manderloo, tu rota why?”.

File this under “shit you couldn’t make up if you tried”. I could watch this movie all day long. Not to mention Rahul’s dancing. :mrgreen:

FIRE – melting the ice, lighting up the place.

And how.

Demonstrating the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (although it’s taken a few diving lessons):

[Ad via Jezebel]

[Pic via The Most Delicious Indian Twitter]

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Video

 

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Mum’s the Word

Mum’s the Word

For the Mother’s Day that falls this Khanna-o-Rama, I talked to a filmi Maa or ten on what it’s like to mother a Bollywood hero:

Waheeda Rehman (Chandini)
I hate it when people don’t appreciate my son! He’s good-looking, rich, sensitive, we have a beautiful home and he’s so ready to commit! And now some brat he met while traveling is about to run off with his fiancé. I told him to knock that tubbola’s teeth out, but in addition to all his other qualities, he’s also honorable and he says his fiancé prefers that hypothermic drunk. He can’t even walk down stairs without stumbling! I hope she enjoys knitting him endless sweaters for the rest of her life.

Nirupa Roy (Deewar)
I wish I had problems like hers. I’m a single mom from Mumbai and my two sons just can’t get along. The elder one constantly yells at the younger one who never looks him in the face and instead just stares over his shoulder. I try not to be preferential, but it’s hard when my firstborn buys me a house and a washing machine, while the second brings me his laundry and his insecurity.

Read more tales of motherly woe here.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Life, Movies

 

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