Jab Panga Lena Banta hai

Watched this movie Panga. Spoilers ahead. Being an Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari movie, it had been on my to-watch list for quite some time now. Her dialogues, direction, and screen play all have left me super refreshed – be it ‘Bareilly ki barfi’ or ‘nil batte sannata’.

I am not a very big sports movie fan. I watch them cautiously but I took a chance with this one given its lineage. The movie starts off as a simple one – set in a middle class house in Bhopal. Jaya Nigam (Kangna) is a simple mother and a railway ticket counter employee. Her husband Prashant is a lesser known actor (singer Jassi Gill) with chocolate boy looks and plays the perfect subdued accompaniment to the fiery sport star and now hyper mother Jaya Nigam. That she was ex captain of india team is slowly revealed to us as the movie progresses. Advance tip – do forgive the predictability of the movie. This is a movie to be seen for the sheer endearment of the characters – vulnerable mother Jaya, her supportive yet doubtful husband Prashant and their cheeky son Adi. Jaya’s foot-in-the-mouth mother is played by botany teacher Neena Gupta. This is like any other Ashwiny movie – few but beautifully well etched out characters breathing life into the story.

Women are often judged for their choices and this movie re-emphasises that we need to respect the choices women make, however irrational they may seem to our myopic eyes. As india kabaddi captain, jaya has a glorious career etched out in front of her but decides to take a call to focus on her child. Often we are too harsh on women boxing them and their choices whenever we can and this movie is a great way to bring back the thought that women can choose what to stop, when to stop and when to start it back – and that they be complete masters in programming their lives.

Some of the scenes that stayed in my mind –

1. When Adi tries all ways to convince dad that mom should make a comeback in kabaddi

2. Jaya’s fiery sports co-player friend Meenu ( Richa Chadha) who is her soulmate yet a honest critic while she rebukes Jayas notion of coming back and gives her a honest and critical opinion on her fitness levels and what it takes to actually make a comeback. She provides a fine balance between giving jaya the encouragement she needs to dream but making sure she slogs for what she dreams about.

3. When jaya sets off to practice for Eastern Railways team in Kolkata- her first abrasive encounter with her room mate Nisha Das and then the journey of how they bond as sisters.

4. Adi’s play which he botches up due to a makeup gone wrong by his dad – but yet when his mom calls him to tell him she’s been selected in the Eastern Railways team – he gloats and lies about his wonderful performance to her. Similarly he plucking out the tulsi leaves and eating them himself – as against opposing them when his mother used to lovingly try to feed him this everyday.

5. The various matches which, when Meenu is watching – her brash yet lovable one liner commentaries which she doles out to a friend, a trainee, or the Maushi who is giving her a massage.

The second half of the movie is filled with Jaya’s games and a bit of technical detailing around the game but very enjoyable for the viewers. The frustration of Jayas family who accompany her to watch the match waiting for her to play (she is a substitute player) leaves us eager to watch her moves and in the end she does make a great comeback. The teams captain’s acerbic behaviour towards jaya is also well chiseled.

All in all – this movie ends on a positive feel-good note and heals a bit of something that might be irking you. Watch it with your family 🙂

Life in the mountains

I had this long time glamorous, romanticised dream of actually living in the mountains. Given we are a very ‘mountain’ family – most of our vacations end up being in the mountains – and each of these vacations stoked an unfulfilled desire in my heart to actually embrace them. I was often reminded that life in the mountains wasn’t as romantic as it seemed in books and movies, and comes with its own pitfalls. I conveniently ignored them and the desire grew bigger and more unfulfilled, till the day couple of years ago my parents decided to build a home there. I will always be indebted to them for this wonderful decision. It’s a big thing to decide THIS, even bigger to decide THIS at THEIR age, and most importantly to muster up the energy to execute it and staying there making a home out of it braving all odds.

After two stints of stay over the last few months I now realize what it takes to actually ‘live’ in the mountains; not just visit them. What it means to actually embrace them, warts and all – and not just the rose tinted moments. So here’s a quick run down of how life in the mountains is different from sea level. Those who harbour such dreams in their heart to ultimately move to the mountains some day, you can start practising now !

1. You can never get tired of the view. The same mountains or city view from your window will have its tiny, lovable differences every day and every hour of the day. Glorious sky colours, effect of a cloudy day, the day of rain, the mist after, the post rain day, the welcoming of spring, the harshness of winter – it’s all different.

2. Food takes longer to spoil and cook – for those of us who have grown up in cities – putting everything that’s left over in the fridge is as common as crows. It requires quite a bit of unlearning to stop your hand from reaching out for the fridge at every drop of a hat. Things like boiled potatoes, cut vegetables (if not very flimsy ones) can be stored outside. Of course there are a few like milk, curd, washed greens etc. which has to be refrigerated. But barring these – it’s a great energy saver. Many homes don’t have a fridge even today. They cook and eat fresh with zero leftovers – what a great way to live! Having said this – food also takes longer to cook. Right from rice to dals to potatoes anticipate longer cooking time on the fire, more whistles in the cooker.

3. Things get so cold -‘oh so fast’:( leave a freshly made cup of hot coffee and go to get a magazine from the other room – the coffee loses its piping heat in a few seconds. You can’t fill hot water and think of bathing after ten minutes. Similarly hot dinner is a privilege and casseroles are often put to good use. Only fill as much in your plate as you plan to eat in few minutes – it reduces the pain of having to have cold dinner.

4. Heating up rooms to the ideal temperature has never been more complex – getting to understand what is the right temperature for you to fall asleep in through the night and adjusting the room heater temperature accordingly, knowing how many hours to leave the heater on before you step in , whether to have the comforter and sweater on – these can take you a few days to modulate and reach the ideal method that works for you. These are not typically the things you’d deal with when you stay in a hotel room that’s centrally pre-heated to a convenient temperature.

5. Night time scare – I have read a lot of books on ghosts in the mountains and this gave my mind loads of creative figments of imagination to think about and provide enough fodder to get scared. Sound of whistling wind through the windows, rustling leaves, night time howling from the adjoining forests are great candidates to send a shiver up your spine!

Enough of the practical. Give me a life in the mountains cozed up with a book next to a crackling fireplace any day. Enjoy these lovely songs set in the mountains that show the beauty of nature as unadulterated as you can possibly get in Bollywood.

Kasto maza – Follow Saif as he enjoys a hill train ride dreaming about Vidya –

Naam Ada likhna – watch the beautiful Minisha lamba walk through the misty valleys of Kashmir enamoured by handsome Jimmy – the song is all blue and grey tone and does full justice to the true colour of mountains –

Pashmina dhaago ke sang – Amit Trivedi’s soulful music in the sepia shades of autumn in Kashmir will leave you longing –

Ankahee – budding writer Pakhi (Sonakshi) moves to Dalhousie – the melancholy of her life as she waits for someone she doesn’t know why, and no words flow from her pen is searingly captured –

Here’s to the mountains – to cold – to fireplaces – to mist – to tea – to love and longing….

Baked veggies

Over the last couple of days I discovered that baked vegetables are a wonderful option if you are on a calorie conscious diet.

Tried baked baby brinjal today –

Take the small dark brinjals – smallest you can find 😉 take your little champs if you do have any around, along with you to hunt for the smallest ones – it’s a very pleasurable experience. I made about 15 brinjals here.

Slit them vertically criss and cross and make a + sign. Make a paste with one spoon oil, two spoons red chilli powder, half spoon turmeric, 1 spoon dhaniya powder, 1 spoon jeera powder, 1 spoon goda masala (for those who like their sabji a bit sweet – this authentic konkan masala is a wonderful addition) and salt to taste. Open up the baby brinjals like a flower and fill in this mixture with a small spoon or best with your fingers into them. That done, take one spoon of oil and brush them over the babies. By now I assume you have pre heated the oven to 200 deg Celsius 🙂 bake the brinjals on a non stick baking tray or parchment paper for 20 mins flat. Check at 10 mins to make sure they are not burnt.

Invest in a cooking brush – you can use it for cakes , brushing to-be roasteds with oil. Comes in very handy and you will be surprised at the amount of veggies one spoon of oil can cover through this brush.

Brush the babies with oil
Nice and all crisped up

Came about this baked cheesy cauliflower recipe – well not for people on a cal conscious diet but made it for S. She loved it. Try it out – cauliflower and cheese are a match made in heaven!


The sweet smell of baking

What’s better than the smell of freshly baking cookies ? Made a batch of double chocolate chip cookies for S. Burnt the first lot due to inconsistencies between the recipe cooking time and the new oven make. learnt from my mistake and the second lot turned out perfect. here goes the pic and the recipe

Preheat oven to 180 deg Celsius. beat the following together: I used inalsa blender to beat all of this together – I am more of ‘using automatic equipment to blend and chop and whip and don’t worry about cleaning’ person – you just need to put warm water in it.

1cup flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cocoa

3/4 cup castor sugar, 3/4 cup butter (you can use Amul butter don’t worry about the salt spoiling the taste of the cookies), 1 egg(optional). Add as much Choco chips as you like. Make mounds of the dough on a parchment paper of size of small lemon – don’t worry about flattening or shaping them – they will fall into place and make beautiful rounds while baking. Leave gaps of 3-4 cm between the mounds as the dough will rise

Place the parchment paper in the oven and bake for 15 mins. Take stock at 10 minutes and check the dough.

Remember that the cookies will not be crisp when out – they will be a bit soft and will crisp up when left for 30 minutes.

Line and wash

Completed this watercolour today – something in this lighthouse reminded me of the illustrations in the books I read as a child. I have always shunned the disobedient watercolour as a medium and so took to the more hardy and forgiving acrylics ! But this is an attempt to perfect the technique of line and wash – I admit I did mess up the sky here 😦

Lighthouse on the cliff – courtesy video tutorial by Peter Sheeler – Sakura micron pen on Indian handmade paper and watercolours of Brustro 

Lighthouses have always been my muse. They inspire me for standing as a solitary sentinel in the inky night, steadying wobbly ships and voyagers. The one I saw a few months ago was in Ganpatipule- near Jaigad fort. Although I could not go up there, I got the sight I was so looking forward to – beams of light being tossed into the sea.

I saw the effect of hobbies on children – they imbibe what you are doing and try their hand at it. S tried this pencil shading portrait – though it is far from perfect – it’s a difficult subject and a good start.

Books – started the award winning currently hot book – Deepa Annapara’s Djinn Patrol on the purple line. Review to follow soon, loving the tone of the book as narrated by a nine year old. Got Siri hooked to classics – a long pending goal of mine. Started her with Around the world in 80 days and Call of the wild. I am hoping classics occupy a portion of her bookshelf along with her Geronimos and Ella diaries.

A quarter filled with life

I decided yesterday that I would need to take a break for 3 months. To set things right and to try and reverse some of the damage. The quarter of hope, of life, of love, of art begins with my birthday month, slips into my anniversary month and ends with K and S’ birthday month. Can’t get more perfect. But these months are not going to be easy. Filled as they may be with celebrations – it means I can’t eat out, can’t do carefree unplanned day or short trips, can’t eat cake ! But turns out I can paint and sketch, i can travel (as long as carry my diet with me), I can lose weight – looking thin on life event photographs is also a kick (!) something I always wanted to achieve.

What I missed in the last few days –

No karudam and papad – I so miss the salt in my life – given the kind of salty person I am 🙂 I can bless anyone these days with lines like – ‘May there be as much salt and spice in your life as you wish for’ and other weird innuendos. Who cares for the sweets anyway. I miss slinging on a bag and heading out not caring if I am hungry, or inching towards hunger, whether I am carrying something with me to eat – without worrying how long can I be out for. I miss the Adrenalin of work. I miss my power dressing. I miss the pickles.

And what I accomplished –

I learnt to nib paint. I discovered my talent for charcoal sketches and the joy and simplicity of painting in monochrome. For me who has always been a colour person this fascination with black, grey and sepia is very new. Takes me back to RK Laxman’s love for painting crows – although this bird lacked beauty and colour- what it possessed according to him, was the treasure of monochrome. That made it stand alive against any landscape. I also did some things myself, where, earlier I would only see the outcome. I learnt the joy of going through the process to achieve some hard earned labour. Like hunting some farm fresh veggies from either my garden or the society’s backyard one. I began to enjoy the natural sweetness in things like a simple glass of beetroot juice. I loved the process of reusing leftover food or ‘on the brink of spoiling’ veggies and fruits – as opposed to the earlier easy path of either composting/ feeding it to animals/ making it to the waste basket sometimes with no time to handle them. Never having cooked in my whole life for more than one weekend at a stretch, hours spent toiling to make three meals and snacks for the kid were really trying and still are, but they taught me some nuances and streetsmartness to make the most of everything. I discovered that the kitchen does come alive when you put your hands and heart into it. The child starts eating new dishes and veggies better and you suddenly have more muscle power to coax the child into trying new things because YOU put so much effort into making something. Not the store, not the cook. I enjoyed some good movies – watched Masaan. Loved the intensity and gray of the movie. Watched ‘cast away’. Re-re watched Andhadun alone. Read the book ‘Stranger’ for the hundredth time – and would read it a million times over. Finished ‘The little prince’. A little gem it is ! Made S read it too and then we both watched the animated movie. It’s a nice watch.

Come back to you with more I did – in the meantime enjoy these glassy lyrics

तू किसी रेल सी गुज़रती हैतू किसी रेल सी गुज़रती है
मैं किसी पुल सा थरथराता हूँतू भले रति भर ना सुनती है
मैं तेरा नाम बुदबुदाता हूँकिसी लंबे सफ़र की रातो में
तुझे अलाव सा जलाता हूँतू किसी रेल सी गुज़रती है
मैं किसी पुल सा थरथरा ता हूँकाठ के ताले है
आँख पे डाले है
उनमें इशारों की चाबियाँ लगाकाठ के ताले है
आँख पे डाले है
उनमें इशारों की चाबियाँ लगा
रात जो बाक़ी हैं
शाम से ताकि हैं
नीयत में थोड़ीनीयत में थोड़ी खराबिया लगामैं हूँ पानी…