Posted October 11th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Food, Reviews
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Volt 081Last Saturday, we had dinner at Volt.  Although I am devoted follower of many Food based TV programs, I have never followed Top Chef and therefore had no clue about Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s culinary style or techniques.  All I knew was that he used local organic seasonal ingredients and that he was brilliant.  His restaurant, Volt had been voted Maryland’s best restaurant and it was on my list of top places to try. There are three different kinds of dining options at Volt.  You can either dine from the a La Carte Menu or from the prix fixe six course tasting menu. The third option is  called “Table 21” and is a 21-course meal that you have with the chef preparing it right in front of you.  It is a testimony to the popularity of the restaurant that it’s Table 21 option is  booked pretty much well into the end of 2011.  We were incredibly  lucky to get a reservation for the a la Carte option at  5:30pm on  Saturday. Continue Reading »

Cataloging my Library

Posted May 25th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Books, Personal, Reviews
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Librarything pageI started my first (and only) business when I was 12 years old. Along with my close childhood friends, Priyanka and Priti, I decided to start a library.  We pooled in our existing book collection (Priti “borrowed” her sister’s collection of Famous Five & Secret Seven), Priyanka’s parents generously donated an old filing cabinet (and more importantly , the permission to keep it in their main hallway) and my father paid for our most prized possession: a rubber stamp with the words “PICK-A-BOOK CIRCULATING LIBRARY”. We had extremely reasonable rates: 50 paise for a paper back & 1 Rupee for a hard-back & you could keep the books for a week.  The money we earned would go into buying more books for us to read and then ultimately back to the library.  It was a sound business plan, reality however, didn’t quite live up to that promise. Continue Reading »


Posted October 26th, 2009 by Deepa and filed in Books, Reviews
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IMG_7149I completed my self-assigned mini reading project last week. I had decided to read 4 books that describe India in a particular order one after the other.  Now that I have a proper commute to work, I have re-discovered the joy of reading while travelling. On a rare day with no traffic, my commute to work is about 50 minutes each way, of which 30 minutes is by  public  transport (bus or train or a combination of both).  On most days, I spend about an hour and a half on the bus and/or train.  And I spend that time catching up on all the books that I have wanted to read. I generally tend to read non-fiction books while travelling because of three reasons:

  1. It looks  far more impressive than reading the latest Harlequin romance.
  2. Given my need to read something I become a captive audience if I am caught in a bus or train with nothing else to read than the book I have in hand.  So when I have starting trouble with a particular book ( and they are mostly the non-fiction books), it is good idea to have them with me during my commute. Once I have started the book,  I mostly tend to finish the book.
  3. I have time to think through & examine my reactions if I read something particularly thought provoking.

My reading project consisted of the following 4 books: Continue Reading »

Why I liked “Main Madhuri Dixit Kyon Banna Chahti Hoon”

Posted October 23rd, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Reviews
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main_madhuri_dixit_banna_chahti_hoon_sizedReason 1) Rajpal Yadav’s brilliant portrayal as Raja.

As Chutki’s wholehearted supporter and confidante, the silent lover, the innocent villager, Chutki’s sole protector Yadav excels in conveying all the shades of his character admirably. He is definitely in the league of Varma’s other protégé finds like Manoj Bajpai. RGV definitely can spot and encourage talent. Debutant director Chandan arora is another fine example.

Reason 2 ) Raja’s character (different from Rajpal Yadav’s performance).

Generally people from villages and small towns coming to the big bad city are almost invariably picturised as gullible fools or poor downtrodden villagers or raw country bumpkins. Raja is none of those. He is not street smart (witness how he gets hoodwinked by the taxi driver as soon as he steps foot in Bombay ) but he is no fool. He is from a well to do family, which is not shown as the family of mean horse riding Thakurs, nor is he depicted as from a family on the brink of death due to starvation. He is sensible enough to come with a plan of action in most of the situations that Chutki faces while trying to fulfill her ambition. In a nutshell he is a very realistic character

Reason 3) Antara Mali ’s performance.

As Chutki her performance is endearing. And as a Madhuri Dixit wannabe ,she almost manages to get it right . She even manages to copy Madhuri’s dancing skills, which of course is no mean task. She gets the right expressions and the right gestures during each of the song sequences [she dances to song snatches from Beta, Tezaab, Devdas, Rajkumar, Sailaab and Khalnayak]. The premise of the movie is Chutki’s ability to dance like Madhuri , a tall order and if her dancing abilities do not match up to Madhuri’s, her enthusiasm and effort definitely shows through. And to give Antara her due…she manages better than most could.

Reason 4) Chutki’s transformation.

The slow realization that she needs a makeover to make an impact. The fact that the makeover does not mean get whisked into a parlor and <<drumbeats rolling >> reappear in a micro mini complete with flawless make up and high heels and dazzle everyone. She still looks normal and she still wears her old salwar kameezes and it is only a few scenes later that she appears in a long skirt and demure blouse

Reason 5 ) Missing Scenarios.

I liked the movies due to a number of scenes that were not in the movie. When Raja and Chutki arrive in big bad Bombay with all their paraphernalia and meet with the opportunist cab driver and stand there arguing about the fare…you are sure that someone is going to run away with their bags and leave them penniless and stranded….funnily enough nobody does.

You are sure the wannabe actor Rumi (Raman Trikha ) is out to try to rape our naïve heroine but when confronted with a knife leaves pretty tamely without the obligatory slap on the heroine’s face and promises of “main tumhe dekh loonga”.

When Chutki finally gets her first small chance in a music video album and she is asked to change her costume, you expect Raja to protest vociferously at her revealing costume (by Gajraula standards definitely!) but he goes outside the studio and waits patiently for Chutki without interfering in her work.

No casting couches and big hero-heroine nakhras, which normally are the staple feature of any movie featuring the film industry

Finally we do not see this big “realization” scene where Chutki figures out that she is a “married woman” and the importance of her suhaag . It is conveyed subtly when she wears the mangalsutra as she packs her bags to go back to Gajraula (absolutely no words spoken ) and in the scene where she tells Govind Namdeo (playing a very sincere agent) “ main ab shaadi shuda hoon ” no more and no less …no waxing about family duties and apologies ..The relationship between the Chutki and Raja is the same….despite Chutki’s appreciation and understanding of Raja’s better nature.

What is not there in a movie is as important as what is not there….

Reason 6) Very very subtle humor

One liners mostly that makes you smile in amusement, no belly shaking laugh inducers here. Several scenes, which mostly feature Rajpal Yadav and showcase his innocence.

Like the scene in which a puzzled Raja asks Chutki about the need for a photo shoot…” arre jab tum samne khadi ho, to kyon photo chahiye ”.

Or the scene where Yadav comes from meeting a prospective director to tell Chutki it is he who has been selected for a film

Or the expression on Yadav’s face after he gives an impressive (an obviously tutored) speech on why he needs to go to Bombay

Or the scene where Raja is embarrassed by the semi clad women in a magazine.

Reason 7) Bombay

Raja and Chutki are living in a dingy apartment in Bombay across the railway tracks with all its noise and associated pollution. Just before returning back to Gajraula with all her dreams crushed, Chutki looks at the trains and the railway tracks from the window in her apartment and says “ Raja, Mumbai kitni khubsoorat jagah hai ,ha na ”. I think that sentence is one the best tributes to Bombay . It is a magical place…despite the filth, the corruption and sadness, the city sparkles ; it alive and vibrant and throbbing with activity.

Reason 8) The climax.

Unlike Rangeela which features a similar protagonist who dreams of becoming a big star and eventually making a big splash, Chutki does not get a big break featuring the famous hero of the day. She acts in a small budget film, a B grade film and hardly causes a ripple. Of course, she does get a lot of offers as people have noticed her talent but there is no mention of any big break. You don’t know whether Chutki will make it big. She might go the way of several flop starlets who constantly do B or C grade films. She might loose her innocence and naiveté and may even ditch Raja but the movie stops short of all that…pausing at an optimistic note ….not a triumphant note.

Movie Review This Week

Posted May 31st, 2002 by Deepa and filed in Reviews
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Each week when I write the Books, Movies section I do feel I should write more than the one liner comment like Good ,UGH etc. But somehow that never materialises. But sometimes there are films that inspire you to write their review . Pyar Diwana Hota Hai was once such film. I just have to write down the story for you guys.

To lead to the actual movie, Atha and I went to the local Indian store to pick up any film. I knew there were no new films that I wanted to see anyway. We reached the Indian store and starting look at the now familiar rows of movie titles. Atha gave me a choice between Pyar Diwana Hota Hai and another Chunkey Pandey Neelam starrer called Kasam. I chose the lesser of the two evils. I noramlly enjoy Govinda films. They are mindless timepass and also there are some foot tapping dance numbers which make me feel nostalgic for aamchi mumbai. But having seen Govinda’s latest film Aamdanni Athanni Kharcha Rupiah, which left me totally disgusted , I was almost prepared for another of his total flops. But Pyar… actually left me dumbstruck!

Name: Pyar Diwana Hota Hai
Starring :Govinda, Rani Mukherjee,Om Puri,Apoorva Agnihotri, Dipak Tijori,Laxmikant Berde.

The movie starts (as does numerous films) with a poor gaav ka bhola bhala ladka travelling to the big bad shaher in search of naukri. It starts with a funny (funny as in funny peculiar) interlude in the train where the hero enters the ladies compartment by mistake and some of the “shaher ki ladkis” rag him. Probably to get the point across that he is a bhola bhala gaav ka chora.
Ok this BBGKC ends up in a swanky flat in Delhi with a couple of his friends (Dipak Tijori, Laxmikant Berde and Dev Anand look alike chap) who have no business other than being roadside romeos. Sundar (Chichi) is an artist who goes jobhunting and mercifully gets a job at the first place he seeks employment ( a first for Hindi cinema as well???) His job is to paint billboards with Johnny Lever (this time a a dandiya loving Gujju). At the same time he tries different tricks to pataav (somebody please tell these directors that asking the girls for the time is as passe as Govinda himself!) and finally ends up in the hospital with broken bones. In the hospital he realises that his friends are having fun at his expense cos he is a BBGKC.
Its almost 45 miutes since the movie satrted and there is no heroine till now. Atha is getting impatient..Rani mukherjee kahan hai. Enter Paayal who is (not again!!) an NRI kid come to India to do research on classical dances. This scene is particulary notable for the fact that at the arport we catch a glimpse of Lilliput (remember the dwarf in Dekh bhai dekh who goes “DEKHA”) and surrounding him are a bevy of girls performing bharatnatyam (why why why) Again to emphasize indian culture…. It is a random throaway scene probably to emphasize Indian dance. Lilliput doesn’t appear again—- thanks to a kind editor.

Now the story gets dumb and dumber…….
Sundar sees Paayal asking for directions The girl she asks turns out to be mute and shows the direction in actions. Sundar thinks that Paayal is deaf mute and repeats the action in sign language. So now Paayal thinks that Sundar is mute….. (is anybody with me????)

Ofcourse Paayal falls for the BBGKC . She also has a passion for helping the handicapped and a hatred for liars. Sundar is a hero in the eyes of his friends so he can’t tell her that he can talk . Also by the time he can tell she has proven her hatred for liars so he again can’t reveal the truth. Payal takes Sundar to a doc ( Om Puri …..How much did they pay you for this absurd role???) who advises speech therapy. Ofocurse that is only an excuse to break into a song

She :  Main samjhi tumko dumroo
To nikla fata hua dhol ( honest! These are the lyrics)
He: Ba ba ba ba

There are also several other songs ( which ar not that bad) espceially when the hero and heroine pop off to agra for every small reason. No wonder the authorities built a mental hosoptal in the city of the Taj! And ofcourse the NRI parents are happy that their America educated daughter des not want to marry smart rich Apoorva agnihotri ( looking constipated in the 5 scenes that he has) but is ready to marry a dumb billboard painter. On second thoughts it doesn’t matter….in a land where poor painters live in a mansion sab chalta hai!

A few songs later….friends have come around, he has become a famous painter (akhbaar pe naam aaya), but he is still being dumb( note for mute people…every word=ba ba ba ba ).And the end is spectacular. Ofcourse Paayal comes to know of his deception and storms off to confront Sundar. Only Sundar is missing and his friends tell her the truth and for a girl who is so passionate about the truth she changes her tune easily for she wants to hear Sundar say “who labz jise sunne ke bad koi ladki kuch aur sunna nahi chaahti”. Where could Sundar be?? Where else other than near the Taj Mahal….Paayal pleads with Sundar to say those three little words but no he remains dumb. Paayal cries pleads and begs forgiveness ( why why why again..i thought it was Sundar’s fault??)

Then suddenly…….flashback!!
Sundar cannot bear to lie to his beloved to off he goes to the doc and pleads with him to do an operation to make him permenantly dumb( yeh kaunsa operation hai bhai??) and then when refused prompty picks up a scissor and snips off his tongue. So now he is permenantly dumb. Paayal is so impressed with this that she falls at Sundar’s feet. Yehi hai sacha pyaar…..

And I was so impressed with it that I had to write this review……..

Govinda is as exotic as ever …red yellow purple pants come and go…
Dipak Tijori has no role but he does get to say the title of the movie once….
Laxmikant Berde and Johny Lever (mercifully always on the scaffolding) irritate…..
OmPuri and Apoorva Agnihotri ….please don’t do this to us…
Rani Mukherjee……don’t you see a movie after acting in it??

I am sorry I really have nothing to write……

Lord of the Rings.
Lord of the Rings ( No more reviews….)
http://www.top-biography.com (interesting and inforamtive)
http://www.dumblaws.com/countries/index.html (intersting ,informative and funny!!)