Saturday, December 19, 2015


Just as I was leaving for the movie, I was asked, "Which movie, then? The brainless one or the tortuous one?" (Of the two Hindi movies released)
Little did I know then, that I was going to get the combo in a single package. What was Shah Rukh Khan thinking when he made this movie, produced and acted by him?
There didn't seem to be a plot, no big LOL moments, no seeti-maars in the hall...a few that happened in the beginning died down eventually, no tear-jerker moments, no great acting...not even that famed surprises, no twists, and... not even as many cars flying. This Rohit Shetty directed movie didn't even have the lunacy his films are famous for.
Well, looks like Shah Rukh thought of trying Salman Khan kind of movies, forgetting that only Salman can effortlessly and successfully pull off that illogicality. Shah Rukh didn't bother to turn on his charm or energy to infuse life into the romantic role he is so famous for.
The film begins with Shah Rukh Khan getting shot at and falling to the ground. That was the flash back. In the present, he and his brother Varun Dhawan together run a salon for styling and repairing cars.
Looks like Varun has tried to emulate characters from his father's famous comedy films but sadly lacks that acumen for comic timing. This is the first movie of Varun I went to see and he is as tepid as I imagined him to be.
The flashback takes us back fifteen years when Shah Rukh was a mafia don in his past and why he gave up all to lead the life of a common man. This flash back and what happens there with his lady love, Kajol looks thoroughly unconvincing and contrived.To the movie's credit, there is a twist in the tale at this juncture. And with it came a misunderstanding which could have been sorted out with some conversation but Shah Rukh and Kajol remain silent till Shah Rukh's brother, Varun falls in love guessed right...Kajol's sister (Kirti Sanon). Of course, they are both against this match. But obviously in this most boringly predictable movie, all's well that ends well...the two couples are united.
No aspect of the story is developed adequately. Logic is all lost in the cacophonic medley of trying to throw a bit of everything in.
A lot of effort has been put into the lead pair look younger in the flashback and to ensure you got it, at a point in the movie, you are shown in quick succession, the alternate old and young faces of Shah Rukh and Kajol.
Boman Irani is supposed to be the comic villain but you need to look hard and very hard for those scant moments of humor. Wasted talent here.
There are also Johnny Lever, Varun Sharma and Sanjay Mishra but they look rather inadequate in the shoddily built plot.
Brief flashes of brilliance in Kabir Bedi's role as Kajol's father and Vinod Khanna as Shah Rukh's father. They both look good but I must say Bedi can still steal a few hearts.
Sometimes, a movie needs a star to elevate its story (Bajrangi Bhaijan, for example) but some movies make even their big stars appear diminutive. Dilwale is one such movie. Watch at your own risk...forewarned is forearmed.
I go with 1/5  just for the compelling chemistry between Shah Rukh and Kajol even after all these years.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pune food journey

I was at Pune for a meet and had carried with me a list of food recommendations but as the purpose of the trip was different, I could fulfill less than half the list.
As planned, as soon as I checked into the hotel, I went to Darios, a vegetarian Italian restaurant, which came with high recommendation. It was advantageous to have it so close to my hotel and also that it runs through the day.
I ordered only for a salad and a pizza. This Caprigna salad, priced at Rs. 480/- was temptingly described as "Melted goats' cheese croutons served on a bed of mixed lettuce with pomegranate and creamy French dressing."  The quantity was generous but the taste didn't match the cost. Goats' cheese was a mere smearing on the bread; the mixed lettuce turned out to be a mix of lettuce and bitter basil; hard chewy stalks ; and not much evidence of a dressing. Nothing improved the taste--neither the addition of mayonnaise nor olive oil. On top of it, I got the standard response...'this is how we cook it in our restaurant.'

Caprigna Salad at Darios

The bread served in the beginning was quite soft though.

The thin crust pizza ordered, priced at 530/-,   was the Dario's special and came with tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked egg plant, potatoes, oregano and capers.When this is Dario's special, the expectation is high. The pizza base was good but had very sparsely scattered veggies for topping. To add insult to the injury, the waiter scattered some pineapple pieces on top of the pizza, without baking, to 'compensate' for the bitter taste in the salad  :(
The service was slow and shabby.
Not recommending this place to anyone...ever!

Dario's pizza

Didn't stay back for a dessert as I had enough of Darios. My next stopover was at the famous (blast-wala) German Bakery for desserts. The ambiance was pretty cool with outdoor seating. The bakery itself is tiny but had many diners.

I decided to have a go at their Tiramisu priced at 120/-. The first taste to hit the palate was that of bitterness. I enjoyed every bite of this thick, creamy, bitter coffee-like tiramisu.

Tiramisu at German Bakey
I took away this blueberry muffin, priced 80/-. This was quite good and remained fresh even on the next day.

Our meet happened at 11, East Street Cafe. The bus has nothing to do with the ambiance inside. There were some AC enclosures on the second floor and the ten of us were accommodated there. Hats off to the waiter for patiently catering to some screeching, excited bunch of senile oldies, each with her own specific demands.The food and the mock-tails were pretty decent.

11, East Street Cafe
We also wanted to explore the famous Kayani bakery, right next to East Street, but found it closed on a Sunday! I knew I'd miss the chance as there wasn't time to return to this place.

The dinner that night was my wish for a Maharashtrian Thali and my friend took me to Krishna Dining on FC Road. The thali, if I remember right, was priced at around 300/-. In thalis in Pune, the dessert is separately ordered and we went for Mango Kharvas (Junnu). The veg thali was  pretty decent but had a mix of non-Maharashtrian items like a paneer sabzi, chole etc., taking away from the authenticity of the thali. The dhokla was simply great!

Krishna Dining (also part of Wadeswar)

Kharvas in Krishna Dining

On the second day of our meet, we went to Amanora mall. We weren't interested in exploring the mall but were trying to find a perfect place to unwind. It was the middle of Dusshera and found 'kitchen arroma' advertising a special veg and non-veg thali on the occasion.
It being a Monday, the place was all ours. To top it, the veg thali priced at 250/- was simply amazing! Authentic Maharashtrian and the freshest ingredients used. I found this surprise find far surpass the  tastes of the more traditional Krishna Dining's thali.

At Amanora Mall
Looks like the Punekars have quite a taste for potato. There is either potato tikki or cutlet with their thalis.
Veg thali at 'kitchen arroma'
Normally I look for the traditional/local tastes when traveling, but couldn't control myself when I eyed Burger King at a mall. I had been wanting to taste at Burger King for long.
I wasn't too hungry and so went for a Regular (from regular, medium and king size) combo of Veg Chilli Cheese Burger priced at 145/- The burger was great and surpassed all I had at Hyderabad.

Veg Chilli Cheese burger at Burger King

While shopping off Lakshmi Road, I had this much-recommended Mastani, the famous Pune cold drink at a small road side dhaba off Sadashiv Peth. The price was 100/- for this! Roaming under the hot sun, this mix of ice cream, cream, mango flavors and juice brought the much needed respite.

Once the shopping was done, I went to R Bhagat Tarrachand, a vegetarian restaurant off Budhwar pet, recommended by a friend. The place is fortunately open till 4 pm. As I was starved by then, I quickly ordered for the dish of the day which happened to be this Paneer Hill Top priced at 200/-. Awesome, soft, fresh and well-marinated, it was a great start to the meal.

Paneer Hill Top 200

Next was the Malai Kofta (180/-) and Garlic Nan (70/-). The garlic nan was soft yet crisp and full of flavors. The malai kofta was a bit tepid but I was kind of forewarned. It was a bit too creamy though not sweet actually.

Malai Kofta at R Bhagat Tarrachand, Pune

Garlic Nan at R Bhagat Tarrachand, Pune

The last purchase was at Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, off Sadashiv Peth, the original store. I bought a Kachori to see what it tastes like. And the thinnest crust with the sharp flavors of urad dal inside didn't  disappoint at all.

Kachori from Chitale Bandhu

My family and I had the pleasure of having a go at these traditional, Maharastrian items: the Dink Ladu, Amba Wadi, Sheng Dana Ladu, Chivda, Puran Poli, Potato Sev, all these at a mere cost of Rs. 400!

From Chitale Bandhu
Though I had the desire to explore food options in the small and big eateries at Pune, the paucity of time didn't allow me to explore beyond few. The post on my Gujarat trip was definitely a more insightful guide to Gujarati food. My food journey in Pune didn't really help me form an opinion about it.Yet, what I found was that the food in small or big places in Pune is definitely much more expensive than those found in Gujarat.or even Hyderabad.
Well, I hope I can go there again to look at more options.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


A few minutes into the movie and I thought, 'Kahan phas gaye yaaron'. It was a drag, the narration going back and forth.
But as the plot unraveled, I could see what the director, Imtiaz Ali, was trying to say. He plays with a whole lot of human emotions and shows that within each one of us is not just Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but numerous facets to who we are and why we behave the way we do.
Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone meet in Corsica, an imaginary fictitious land. In this land, the two of them promise that they would only tell  lies to each other. The logic? So that they could get away from boring reality...from the boring circle of girl meets boy, boy tries to woo girl, they fall in love etc. etc.
They promise not to meet each other in the 'other' world but inevitably they do and that changes Ranbir's outlook to life. He comes to terms with what he is and what he has always aspired to be. The simple story line is about how each of us subjugates our aspirations to become this boring self who grows up to study what our parents want us to (an engineer), waking up to the alarm, work from 9 to 5, follow a set routine, get promoted over a period of 5-10-15 years' time
Deepika's rejection of this Ranbir, hugely upsets him and it is then that he sets on a path of self-analysis.
The movie begins with a young Ranbir fascinated with story telling by an old man on the hills and it is to this man that Ranbir turns to at this juncture of life. He narrates his life story and wants the old man to complete it for him. But the old story teller tells him that the answers all lie with him and is he fearful of listening to those answers? Suddenly enlightened, Ranbir feels free and sets out to do what he always knew he was good at.
The movie has an Inception-like narration though not as intriguing nor as ingeniously woven.The narrative contains little conversation, which was okay but for the songs that keep interrupting the flow.
The movie reflects the awakening in today's youth who have the luxury to refuse to tread the beaten path. Relatively free of financial constraints (unlike former times), they'd rather find happiness in listening to their heart.
The narration may be a bit opaque but what stands out is Ranbir's absolutely brilliant performance. It is a delight to watch him so easily slip in and out of all the multiple personalities that he portrays thus transcending his last few debacles.
The chemistry between Ranbir and Deepika is so evident, you wonder what they are actually doing with other partners in their real life. Deepika matches Ranbir in his energy and is the key factor to the twist in the story.
When you go to watch, go with the expectation that it is not the typical romantic, feel-good movie and is definitely not a 'leave your brains at home when you go to watch this one' kind of movie.