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Sultan


Sultan-Stills-09Move over the Punjabis… it seems to be the Haryanvi culture that is taking over the tinsel town! Set in small town Rewari (Haryana) ‘Sultan’ in spite of the predictable storyline is not quite what I expected!

The disclaimer here is that I have never liked Salman Khan and with all the recent controversies he is shrouded in, I had thankfully vowed to myself that I would not see Sultan. But a recent bout of flu saw me checking out in the wee hours of the morning and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised!

The story of a small town cheery, everyday Romeo whose lady love turned down his attentions calling him a ‘Sit Guy’ and ‘Loojer’, turning first into a determined athlete to win her over, to a complacent husband and arrogant star, to a crushed, lonely, depressed and lovelorn middle aged, potbellied ‘former wrestler’; is rather believable and down to earth. I think what really made it for me was that for the first time when Salman Khan takes off his shirt and everyone – including Khan – shudders. Portraying Sultan, who goes from being fit and lean mean machine to a gloomy, middle-aged, paunch-burdened man, Khan performs with élan. Like Chulbul Pandey, he touches a chord with his depiction of Sultan!

Out of the supporting actors, his ‘langotia yaar’ Govind, (Anant) was superb as he stands by his buddy through all his travails. As far as Anoushka is concerned, someone needs to discover a way to reverse botox! She offers nothing new and is fast becoming typecast as feisty girl with rustic twang. We have seen her in similar roles enough number of times to see her get it right! There were some really touching moments between husband and wife where Anoushka trumps over Sallu. Especially touching was her “Mai te tanne ijjat kamane ko kaha tha, tu toh ghamand kama laaya”. And I wish Randeep Hooda had more of a role to chew on than the food he kept munching into!

The problem is its length and the music! A little under three hours was a bit too much! They could have cut a few unnecessary training scenes, running commentaries, kite-running, taalas & taalis to make this leaner meaner movie it could have been! The music was just passable and didn’t leave you humming a number after!

But all in all worth a watch in spite and because of Sallu!

Dee score – 3/5

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Lets Talkies

 

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Angry Indian Goddesses


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Ever walked into a movie knowing nothing about it, not knowing what to expect and walking out not knowing how to react, realising you expected something different???? Yup that’s how I felt leaving the cinema after watching Angry Indian Goddesses!

Don’t get me wrong… it was a great movie! After years of watching Jay Veeru and Dharam Veer, this movie on friendship among girls is lovely to watch. As they say in the film… they may bitch, but they’re still friends! Something like Sex in the city, without the sex and er…. the city!!

Set in a small town in Goa, the film talks about the lives of eight women. The opening credits were creatively done. Putting together a montage of sequences from their lives of fighting against misogyny in their different worlds: from struggling to be heard in a male-dominant film industry to facing the many lecherous looks while walking down a street, the prelude sets the pace for what’s in store — women fighting gender inequality through the various aspects of their lives.

I also loved how the movie broke the stereotypical mould of Indian cinema of turning the spotlight entirely on aggression when addressing violence against women. Refreshingly, at no point does it define its heroines solely by the difficulties they encounter as women. That was identifiably different! In fact the dominant memory from the film is that of the constant chatter, fun, camaraderie and support of these women of each other. In fact, the depiction of realistic explosion of these women when they do suffer assault at various stages of the film would resonate with most women! It certainly did with me.

What made it lose its credibility? The fact that Indians seem to think that profanity by women and adopting thus far male-centric vices of drinking and smoking (at least in the Indian context) is a sign of feminism. A high pitched BC and “F***ing” being used extensively, willy nilly and sometimes superfluously at every opportunity was for the want of a better word, off putting. And the decibel factor… Jeez they are loud. Why?!?!?!? Why do Indians need to shout to make a point? Why must bosses SCREAM at their subordinates? Why can’t messages be more subtle? This whole ‘in your face’ attitude just got to me.

And the gay couple…. They were just so stereotypical – the arty farty creative one and the NGO type, as if gay relationships happen only in some echelons of the society! And the priest in a Catholic Church agrees to marry them??? Do the Indians know Roman Catholic Church stand on Gay Marriages is? Even if they did find that one off priest who supports it, I doubt if he would agree to conduct the ceremony in the Church! Facts people! Facts! Why do Indians sacrifice crucial facts while keeping the flow? Where the director did such a great job with creating a scenario of women bonding without melodrama, he totally lost the plot while trying to tackle the bigger issues ending up with a Hindi mainstream film climax. A somewhat “Dhatt Tereki” effect on me!

However, despite its flaws, Angry Indian Goddesses is a decent watch.  What makes it worth watching is the superb acting by the protagonists! Each one of them handpicked for the role they played to perfection! The music was great and Anushka Manchanda’s Zindagi was the best of the lot. Lyrics and rendition both were soulful and fit well in the film. In fact none of the songs seemed out of place.

Seriously, the premise was a brave one and a hard one, and the director almost pulled it off! I wish he had kept the reigns tighter on the plot and not succumbed to Bollywoodizing the plot! Just go in there expecting some great acting and you will be fine! But expect it to make a statement on feminism or a revolutionary Bollywood film and you will be sorely disappointed!

In spite of everything good and bad… DeeScore – 2.5/5

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2016 in Lets Talkies

 

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Sarbjit


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Oomang Kumar’s latest venture, Sarbjit, is the real life story of a farmer who was wrongfully convicted in Pakistan and died after a fatal assault inside jail. However the movie may as well have been called Dalbir Kaur, his sister, for the amount of footage she and her fight against the system to prove his innocence got, in the movie.

Given the very real context of the plot, the movie is turned into a typical Bollywood almost fictitious, drum-beating melodramatic saga that suffers from an overly-worked-up lead actor. Her pronunciation of punjabi is more put on than her giggles on David Letterman’s show! For all the screaming and chest beating dialogues, Aish fails to bring the character to life. It just got tiring after a point.

Randeep Hooda and Richa Chaddha are superb beyond words. Richa as the quite wife delivers her 5 minutes of limelight with more elan than Aish does in the three hours. Randeep’s weight loss to suit the character, his endearing love for his sister and his wife make him so very believable and makes the heart bleed.

Despite the heavy, tragic air of the film, there are a few subtle moments – the flashback scenes of Sarabjit with his family dancing and having fun are heart warming. Then there was a delicately executed scene where we see a grieving Aishwarya clinging on to her still-born child. Randeep convinces her to give up the infant’s body. In another rare engaging scene where Sarbjit’s family goes to meet him in jail. The frisking of the women in his family is disturbing and is perhaps the only other scene where Aish looks authentic.

So, seriously, in spite of its real context, Oomung fails to deliver what could have been a moving, poignant and impactful film.

verDEEct: 2/5

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Lets Talkies

 

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A bad habit


When I was walking past a group of elephants in Thirupati, I was intrigued by how these huge creatures were being held by a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

I asked the Mahaut (the caretaker and trainer) why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them when they try to break away. As they grow up, they become conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free!”

I was amazed!!! How incredible that these beasts could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Now, just like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before? Isn’t failure part of learning? Why is it that we never try something once we have failed many many years ago??? Shouldn’t we try to move away from the mindset????

Just think….

~Deebran

 

 

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Palak Paneer


549766Ever been to an Indian restaurant and ordered this dish of smooth, vibrant green, medium spicy spinach gravy with soft paneer cubes? Well, here is a ‘fast to cook and good to eat’ recipe for this popular restaurant style dish from Punjab, North India. 

Remember, cooking is fun when it doesn’t take time to cook it and the results are amazing! When made at home, you can make it with the best freshest ingredients! Just follow this recipe to the tee and you will not go wrong!

Ingredients:

 For Paste:

Onions – 1 cup (2 medium), sliced

Tomatoes –  1 small can (or 1 cup fresh)

Cashew nuts – ¼ cup (soaked for half an hour)

Green chilies – to taste

Ginger – ¼ inch piece

Garlic – 5-6 cloves

Spinach – 6 cups (1 medium Bunch)

Salt to taste

As is

Paneer – 7 oz (200 grams), 1/2 inch cubed

For Tempering (baghaar)

Ghee or butter – 3 teaspoons

Black salt – ¼ teaspoon

Dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi) – 1 teaspoon

Garam masala (or Kitchen King Masala) – 1 teaspoon

Heavy whipping cream (Malai) – 2 tablespoons

Method:

Put all ingredients for paste in a microwaveable bowl and cook on high for 10 minutes (time suitable for 1000watt microwave). Remove and cool completely. Then blend.

Allow the blended mixture to simmer in a slow cooker along with paneer pieces on high for 2 hours.

In a thick bottom pan, heat the ghee and add the black salt, garam masala and kasuri methi.

Add the “baghaar” to the cooking spinach mix and cook for another hour and a half on low.

Garnish with cream, raw Spanish onion, grated paneer and fresh coriander and serve hot with naan, chapaati, paratha, toasted Turkish or Lebanese bread, Quinoa or rice pulao.

Pro tip:

  • The kids will never find out if you throw in a little broccoli to the paste!
  • Add a cup of milk instead to cashew for the same creamy taste
  • Cook in a pan for 40 minutes if you are in a hurry instead of slow cooker.
 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Smart Cooky

 

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Ghee


Modern science now verifies what Ayurvedic health science has said for thousands of years: Ghee has a host of health and cooking benefits and is good for the mind and spirit. It is the powerhouse of health. It promotes positivity, memory, stimulates secretion of gastric acid that aids digestion and empowers the immune system.

 The humble Ghee can replace oil in cooking or can be added to breads, rice, lentils, vegetables and desserts. And here is how you can make it in the slow cooker, easily and be sure it won’t burn!

ghee-in-slow-cooker-4

 INGREDIENTS

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • One sprig of curry leaves (optional)

 

Method: 

  • Place the butter in the slow cooker and cook for 3.5 hours – 2 hours on HIGH
  • Open add the nicely cleaned curry leaf sprig as is and leave for 1.5 hour on LOW setting.
  • Depending on the model and temperature of the slow cooker it may take longer for ghee to cook.
  • Turn off and allow to stand for some time till absolutely cold.
  • Pour ghee in a glass, stainless steel or copper jar.

Points to remember :

  • Keep the lid slightly open throughout the process of cooking. Butter contains water and there will be some foaming and bubbling, therefore keep the lid slightly open for steam to escape.
  • If there is any water content left while making ghee, then ghee can spoil.
  • Boil ghee till its golden yellow in colour and it will stay good for more than 2-3 months and even more.
  • Depending on the model and temperature of the slow cooker it may take longer for ghee to cook.
  • If straining ghee in a glass jar, allow it to cool down or else the hot ghee will break the jar.

Pro tip:

  • vista_candle_diffuser_largeIn winters when the ghee solidifies use a ceramic candle diffuser to melt it before serving! Besides looking beautiful, the aroma tickles the taste buds which helps with secretion of gastric juices that in turn help digestion!

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Smart Cooky

 

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Kaanchi…. the unbreakable


KAANCHI ~THE UNBREAKABLE Could pass off for Kaanchi the UNBEARABLE!

Clearly, the master has tried to recreate the magic of Taal with this doe-eyed debutante and the Himachal backdrop, but this time, has failed miserably. He continues to live in his past doling out generous amounts of glitz, glamour, visual sweep and loads of melodrama.

In this venture, Subhash Ghai explores all the pressing topics which are sadly being ignored by main stream cinema – women empowerment; men in corridors of power who create, manipulate and exploit the system with impunity;  businessmen who are allowed to lay down the rules of business; helplessness of the common populace faced with an unresponsive bureaucracy and government – albeit at the expense of sanity!

Veterans like Mithun, Rishi Kapoor and Mita Vasisht are wasted in this movie though Mithun as an evil politician (reminded me of his Mrigaya days when he did a lot more than gyrate his waist to Bappi’s music) was a genius and Rishi Kapoor stood out as the lecherous and sleazy uncle! Mita may as well have not been there! Of the newcomers I liked Chandan Roy Sanyal as Bagula (notice the outlandish names which I personally quite liked ). Because it was about women empowerment Kartik Tiwari was passable in his tiny role. Mishti though pretty had a kind of “nails on blackboard” shriek!! She goes from annoying to hysterical through the movie. And the profanity…. jeez! I can’t imagine Ghai making his beautiful muse sully her mouth with profanity! Yuckkkk it left such a bad taste!

Add to this hotchpotch is the less than memorable music score, which by the way in the second half is more than dialogues!!!! Jai he (really?!?!?) was there to distract and Kambal ke neechey was just most cringe worthy….

So two big movies on one weekend and I have decided no more Hindi movies for me for a while.

Dee score: 2/5

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Lets Talkies

 
 
Women in Bollywood

A journey through heroine-oriented cinema

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