Cin­ema gets taste­ful

Mint Asia ST - - Leisure - BUY DAY B HATIA


nat­u­ral that the culi­nary breadth and depth of In­dia would find ex­pres­sion in one of its other ob­ses­sions: cin­ema. In th­ese five scenes from Bol­ly­wood and re­gional movies, food is a trig­ger for ev­ery­thing from warm vibes to heart-grab­bing ac­tion. MA­HA­RASH­TRA Bha­vani Shankar (Ut­pal Dutt) has just found out Ram­prasad (Amol Palekar), the cul­tured young man he has hired, is ac­tu­ally the brash Lak­sh­man­prasad (whom he de­tests) in dis­guise. Ad­vanc­ing on him, sin­is­ter smile on his face, Bha­vani takes off on his sis­ter’s (Shubha Khote’s) of­fer of aloo paratha. Grind­ing out each syl­la­ble, he tells the in­creas­ingly pan­icky Ram­prasad that he’ll feed him ra­jb­hog from Kolkata, so­han halwa from Delhi, peda from Mathura, kalakand from Varanasi. One of the fun­ni­est scenes in one of the fun­ni­est Hindi films ever made, this ex­change in Hr­ishikesh Mukher­jee’s Gol Maal is also a nice nod to the in­fi­nite va­ri­eties of In­dian desserts. It’s fit­ting that paan is linked with the qui­etly men­ac­ing Ab­baji (Pankaj Ka­pur) in Maq­bool, Vishal Bhard­waj’s adap­ta­tion of Shake­speare’s Mac­beth: Like the gang­ster, this is a food item that’s fas­tid­i­ous, tart and prone to blood-red stains. Af­ter a meal, one of Ab­baji’s as­so­ci­ates ad­dresses him a lit­tle too freely. The mob boss calls him closer. Sud­denly, he grabs hold of the man’s head and stuffs a piece of paan in his mouth. “Gilori khaya karo, Gul­fam. Zubaan kaabu mein re­hti hai ( You should eat gilori, Gul­fam. It keeps the tongue in check),” he mut­ters. WEST BEN­GAL Though its Hindi re­make, the Ra­jesh Khanna-star­rer Bawarchi, is bet­ter known, Ta­pan Sinha’s Ben­gali film—about a cook, Dhanon­joy (Robi Ghosh), who unites a bick­er­ing house­hold—is ev­ery bit as charm­ing. The scene where Dhanon­joy cooks for the fam­ily for the first time is a con­cise comic gem. It be­gins with him hum­ming and stir­ring two large pots and adding spices. Then, as the back­ground per­cus­sion races and his ac­tions are sped up, the scene shifts gears as he man­i­cally slices veg­eta­bles, be­fore switch­ing back to the ear­lier mea­sured pace. A comic note is added when he flips through a magazine, lips mov­ing, while he waits for the food to cook. TAMIL NADU A gen­tly heart­break­ing mo­ment in Kaaka Mut­tai comes when two young slum-dwelling sib­lings voice their de­mand for pizza, a won­drous thing they’ve seen on TV, to their grand­mother. Like any en­ter­pris­ing grand­mother, she tells them it can be made at home. With a pic­ture as ref­er­ence, she fash­ions her best guess at a pizza (none of them have seen an ac­tual one). The broth­ers re­ject her ef­fort, up­set; they’ve been sold a dream, and won’t ac­cept a sub­sti­tute. KAR­NATAKA It isn’t of­ten that a film lifts the veil off the process of mak­ing food. Thithi, a black com­edy by Raam Reddy set in a small vil­lage in Kar­nataka, of­fers a mas­sive cli­mac­tic feast built on grub­bi­ness both moral (sheep theft is in­volved) and lit­eral (flies buzzing around as the food is be­ing cooked). But the spread at the end looks spec­tac­u­lar—bring­ing to mind that old In­dian adage: Never go into the kitchen of your favourite res­tau­rant.

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