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WEEKLY MAGAZINE, JANUARY 27, 2013 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times



See what’s changed and what’s stayed the same as the Republic turns 64




When chefs rate restaurants Do the doo-wop

CES: The good, bad and ugly


Living in the moment

B R E A K FA S T O F C H A M P I O N S Glowing with Health

We’re not writing for the next issue of Brunch. You are!

he response to our Readers’ Special T was phenomenal! We got hundreds of entries from readers across the country. And it was a Herculean task to sift through each and every one of them and choose the final list. But we managed. And it was a lot of fun – every article had a different take on things. A third of the entries were

Brunch Opinion

by Rachel Lopez

Do you belong to India Then or India Now? Brought an album? You mean downloaded a track, right?


Ladies love Kunal Kapoor. Guys, you may not look like him but follow his tips and women might just swarm around you too.

Doing weights is essential. When you actually do lose inches, weights are essential to tone up your body. And no, you don’t get muscles like Madonna.

Steps to pick up a girl

Smile, make eye contact, no cheesy pick-up lines and buy her drinks.

Use your core (that would be your stomach muscles). Any exercise that you do, try and get the energy from your core. It burns calories and fat too.

Don’t cook for them, smile a lot, don’t be adventurous in front of them, dress well.

Book Preview Makes breakfast the morning after

Pays for dinner

A handsome Gandhi in politics Rahul

Rajiv Russia is The country make makes spies, Sputnik magazine, war and space missions

The strange cold millionaire-ridden country you’re just dying to visit

How did More As – You’re as old-world as they come, sire! you More Bs – You’re all about the now, now, now! answer? Now turn to page 6!

Cover concept and illustration: RAHUL KRISHNAN Cover design: SWATI CHAKRABARTI

by Veenu Singh

How to impress her parents

A gentleman always

by Shreya Sethuraman


No amount of lemon and honey in hot water and lauki juice can rid you of the ‘Vidya Balan’ belly (don’t believe anything anyone tells you). Only cardio helps. Run, run, run, or jog, jog, jog or skip, skip, skip. You could try interesting sex positions too. But time them.

Smile, cook (for others) and listen to what she says. Have a good sense of humour and be adventurous.

Of course, it’s that white crotchety thing that you use to cover the telephone, the TV, the top of the fridge, the sofa back and other precious things you didn’t want dirtied

Writing a love poem

Something Starry

The six things I learnt in my quest to get fit

How to get her to like you

Do you know what a doily is?

Step by step guide to

about books – we love the fact that you are reading so much! Here’s an update: we have contacted some of you for photoshoots and begun putting the issue together. And it’s looking pretty darn good, you guys! Thank you for your enthusiasm and the wonderful writing. Coming up next Sunday at your doorstep: Brunch Readers’ Special – when you write and we read.

Kunal Kapoor’s guide for dudes

The first album you ever bought was... A vinyl record, cassette or CD you saved up for. And you played the hell out of it!

by Parul Khanna

Fall in love: Duh! That doesn’t even merit a mention. But till you get the ‘feeling’ (read: scene from the movie Rock Star, where the portly canteen guy coaches Ranbir Kapoor on how to score points with Nargis Fakhri), you’re not quite there, buddy! Dream about him/her: And while you’re at it, plaster a goofy smile on your face

Oh, Dan Brown, give us another clue...


emember Robert Langdon? It’s been a while but the lead character from The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol is back. Dan Brown’s next novel, Inferno, is scheduled to release on May 14 this year. Brown released the title on Facebook and Twitter in this totally cool, cryptic way – log on to and you’ll see. All we know, so far, is that it is set in Florence and is centred on Dante’s Inferno (the first part of 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Divine Comedy). According to, “Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust... before the world is irrevocably altered.” We can’t wait! as often as you can. The more emo, the better. A certain kind of music in the background: If Kurt Cobain is your God, too bad. Ignore him. Maybe the friendly banter between Michael Jackson and Sir Paul McCartney in The Girl is Mine works. But Beethoven and Mozart have it in them to transport you to your dreamland.

EDITORIAL: Poonam Saxena (Editor), Aasheesh Sharma, Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Rachel Lopez, Mignonne Dsouza, Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna Tewari, Yashica Dutt, Amrah Ashraf, Saudamini Jain, Shreya Sethuraman, Manit Moorjani

JANUARY 27, 2013

by Saudamini Jain

Way with words: “I have a fat cat that likes to scratch my cricket bat” will work only if you’re in kindergarten. Rise above the stupid. Keep it simple, silly: You don’t have to write using the thesaurus, really! Simplicity is the prime and the only rule. And it sounds so much better too! If she had her way, Shreya Sethuraman would talk in rhyme DESIGN: Ashutosh Sapru (National Editor, Design), Monica Gupta, Swati Chakrabarti, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Singh

Only exercising will not give you the required results. Find a good, healthy diet and see the difference. Giving your body a break is essential. Be regular but you can take a day or three off. As my colleague Yashica Dutt was told by her gym trainer, “‘MusCal’ ko rest milna chahiye”.




Exercising is addictive. You just have to push yourself to the point where you start to see results. Later, your mind and body will automatically remind you.

Parul Khanna, an erstwhile lazy lady, has turned into a fitness freak. In the last one year, her clothes size has gone down from nearly large to nearly small.

Drop us a line at: brunchletters@ or to 18-20 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001


C OV E R STO RY Shortcut to smart THEN: Reading the paper,




What I did on my summer vacation

THEN: Spent a whole month at the rambling house in our village, climbing trees, skinning knees, running through the fields and learning to use a catapult. NOW: 8 nights-10 days in Switzerland (including Mt Titlis) with guided tours, allIndian meals and free one day in Paris, but only if you book before Feb 10.

the dictionary, Competition Success Review and the much vaunted World Book and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. NOW: Just Google it. Or when in doubt, refer to your friend Wiki, at the most.

08 The height of humour

THEN: Santa Banta jokes. NOW: Rajinikant jokes. Heard the one about how many lightbulbs it takes for Rajinikant to....?

At the cinema

THEN: Bottles would clang.

Hawkers would go “Popkarrrn!” “Thanda!” “Cola!” and you’d eye the packet of Chipniks. NOW: You’ll have it all: gigantic tubs of caramelsalty popcorn, nachos with cheese, hot dogs, and more Pepsi than you can drown in. Delivered right to your seat.

The first steps to world cuisine

THEN: Chinese, lekin



13 14

The essential India souvenir

THEN: Handicrafts,

THEN: Saffron, white, green. NOW: Blue cheese, pink champagne, silver cars, gold bonds.

shawls and silks from the state emporia. NOW: Kitschy clocks, fridge magnets, iPad covers and mousepads from Playclan, Chumbak, KyaCheezHai and the like, ordered online of course!


medium-spicy. NOW: Pasta, lekin medium spicy.

The pedigree degree

THEN: Getting into JNU or


St. Stephen’s. NOW: An IB board for school, an Ivy League univ after.

THEN: Nescafé was awesome.


We’ve grown up as a republic, as a nation, as people. We’ve shared common losses, celebrated common victories and laughed at jokes that the rest of the world just couldn’t understand. We’ve stood united for our borders, for Bollywood, for cricket, for justice


Instant coffee, can you imagine? And free red mug also! NOW: You don’t have a cappuccino machine at home? You still drink chicory sludge instead of getting your own custom roast from Italy? And what about that Turkish coffee you’ve been pining for since you returned from Turkey? Use that cezve you purchased in excitement now! It’s not just a souvenir.

Your first car. The one you named and drove everywhere


THEN: Maruti 800. Everything fits in there! NOW: A Swift or Beat or Qualis. Still, nothing fits in there!


How we’ve We’ve fought some changes, embraced others; some things still sit uneasily, others changed us without us noticing. Join us to salute 64 ways that separate one today from many yesterdays – in some ways, we haven’t changed at all


The definition of Happily Ever After

THEN: Daddy-Mummy set up an arranged match when you were 20. You were just relieved he didn’t look like a thug. And you’ve been stuck ever since. NOW: You fall in love. And out. Rinse. Repeat. Then, at some point, you stay in love long enough to get married. JANUARY 27, 2013

The daily grind

The pet that indicated you’d arrived THEN: A

Pomeranian. So sweet. So white. You called him Tuffy. NOW: The Vodafone Pug. He’s adorable. You call him Toffee.



04 Words on the street


THEN: Your period was your

“chum”, your friend was a “pal”. The coolest abbreviation was MYOB (Mind Your Own Business). NOW: OMG! People used to really talk like that? ROFLMFAO! LOL. #Facepalm.

How do you shop for a TV?

THEN: Save, save, save. Then

pick what fits the budget and has the longest warranty and pay upfront. NOW: Pick the coolest HD flatscreen you can find. Pay through EMIs with 0 per cent interest over 24 months.

06 Got time for cricket?

What’s on TV?

THEN: VHS tapes of Baywatch

THEN: Sure, I’ll take three

invariably scratched at the crucial Pamela Anderson running scene. It had been replayed too many times, you see. NOW: You downloaded the Downton Abbey Christmas Special ONE WEEK after Christmas? You. Are. So. Yesterday!

days’ leave to watch the Test match. NOW: They’re streaming T20 in office. It’s over before I can finish chai.


What sporting success meant


Where kids would go for hi-jinks

THEN: Appu


Papa’s pride

THEN: Olympic medals in

hockey and tennis. Go Team India! NOW: Olympic medals in wrestling, badminton, archery and boxing. Go individual contestants!

THEN: Arre, mera

beta college debate champion hai. NOW: Arre, mera beta Indian Idol mein select ho gaya!


NOW: On the

Buddh International Circuit – where else can beta show off his new car?


If you wanted authentic regional food... THEN: You’d haunt the state

bhavans or the stalls at Dilli Haat. NOW: Delhi has separate restaurants for Bihari food (Potbelly), South Indian non24 vegetarian (Zambar) and North THE BEST Eastern food (Yeti). PLACE TO FIND

Text by Team Brunch, illustrations by Abhijeet Kini And what’s your son doing?



failed his first two IAS attempts. But he will be thirdtime lucky. NOW: He’s trying to make it as a sommelier.

Lunch time in the office! THEN: Steel

tiffins in four compartments for roti-subzi. NOW: Four microwaveable Lock & Lock or Tupperware boxes with roti-subzi.


Smile, we’re taking a photo. What’s that gadget you’ve got there?

THEN: The Kodak KB 10 (so hip!) or the KB 20 (so much hipper!). NOW: The smartphone. Duh! And there’s Instagram, so the photos needn’t even look new.

cheapest way to 22 The communicate

THEN: STD calls after 8.30pm

(when call rates were slashed by a third). NOW: WhatsApp and BBM are free.



Mythology means

THEN: Watching

THEN: SPICMACAY or a college festival. NOW: Advance booking for NH7, Sunburn and Flyfestival gigs.

Valmiki’s Ramayana adapted by Ramanand Sagar. NOW: Reading The Immortals of Meluha written by Amish, who also goes by one name, just like Valmiki.



What are those ghastly things on your feet?

The greatest show on earth

THEN: Lakhani or Bata sandals.

THEN: Where

Get with the programme! Pop culture moment: A Vividh Bharti jingle that went Hero heroine Lakhani mangta. NOW: They’re called Crocs. Don’t you own a pair?

else but at India Habitat Centre? Culture rocks! NOW: Kingdom of Dreams. We’re seeing Zangoora. Again.

27 JANUARY 27, 2013




Stumped by higher learning

Read All About It Love, films, sports, cartoons. Four Delhi writers tell us what’s between the covers of their intriguing new books


HE BRUNCH office is bursting at the seams with books and magazines. They’re piled on shelves, stuffed in bags and haphazardly downloaded on Kindles. Whenever we meet anyone, the big question always is, “Can you recommend something you recently read?” We always have a reading list in our heads (and sometimes on the Breakfast of Champions page). We’re itching to recommend. So don’t mind if we do. These are four books we recently read and thought interesting. It’s a mixed bag, really. There’s one about

interview of a candidate for the post of principal at the same college where Sachin’s father Professor Ramesh Tendulkar taught. Two of India’s brightest icons (the other is Amitabh Bachchan) had fathers who were poets, scholars and teachers. The author discovers linkages between academics, cricket and philosophy with the flair of the Master Blaster. Tailor-made for: Sports fanatics and anyone who thinks academia is for pretentious dullards. When you should read this: When you feel you are about to lose faith

every single film released in the National Capital Region in a period of one year (121 films in all); another tries to find common ground between sports and academics; the third is a hilarious bildungsroman graphic novel; and there’s chick lit. Even more intriguing than the books are the writers. There’s a journalist, a professor, a cartoonist and a former management professional. We bring you Anna Vetticad, Pramesh Ratnakar, Sumit Kumar, Yashodhara Lal and their new books.

Photo: RAJ K RAJ

From management to marriage

Book: Just Married, Please Excuse (HarperCollins) Author: Yashodhara Lal, marketing professional on sabbatical Gist: Girl meets boy. They fall in love and get married. Yashodhara is a

Book: Centurion – The Father, the Son and the Spirit of Cricket (HarperCollins) Author: Pramesh Ratnakar, professor of English Gist: ‘If cricket is life, Sachin is God.’ Lovers of the gentleman’s game routinely display piety for Indian cricket’s resident deity after the retirement of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid – the other two in the triumvirate. This novel takes a fan’s reverence further with an irreverent twist: the reader takes up the guise of Tendulkar and is assigned the task of overseeing the

fiercely independent, highbrow Delhi girl. Vijay is a sweet fellow from Jaipur, and seven years older. This is a light-hearted take on marriage and all that follows – the ups, the downs and a baby. The demanding JANUARY 27, 2013


Yashodhara learns that she can’t forever be the centre of Vijay’s attention. The communication-challenged Vijay realises he must allow his wife to be herself (and eat non-vegetarian food at home and drink, despite his ultra-conservative Brahmin parents). It’s a beacon to all couples contemplating marriage: things aren’t always rosy, but it is fun and it works out if you try your best. Tailor-made for: Those who just got hitched, or think getting hitched isn’t for them. When you should read this: When you’ve had the most boring day ever. Bookmarked: Vijay’s jokes. He’s funny because he’s not! Very Short Interview: Did your blog lead to the book? Yes, I had wanted to write for a long time. However, with my corporate career I couldn’t really manage it. I began blogging in 2006, and was glad to find that readers found it amusing. Vijay (my husband) was a popular character! Also, they

enjoyed what I wrote on marriage. But that response wasn’t really what led me to write my book. It was a near-death experience, due to unexpected complications during my second pregnancy, that made me realise the need to pen down everything. I realised that life is short, and while I was bedridden and nursing the twins, I decided to begin with Just Married, Please Excuse. How autobiographical is the book? Unabashedly autobiographical! It’s largely about my family, with 80 per cent reality, perhaps 15 per cent exaggeration and the rest fiction. Does Vijay continue to crack silly jokes? What does he think of your book? Oh yes! Just yesterday, he cracked this really silly one: “I feel sorry for Ratan Tata. Nobody really talks to him. You see, everyone greets him saying, ‘Hello Tata!’” He hadn’t really read my book. It was only after HarperCollins agreed to publish it, did he sit up till 2am to read it! by Shreya Sethuraman


a 17-year-old, he was relating to the skies and beyond. The bigger picture is what the poets and authors try to create. Is it a coincidence that Amitabh and Sachin, two of our greatest icons, have poets, writers and teachers as fathers? Sachin is a great player because his dad was a great father and similarly, Mr Bachchan is a great performer. Fathers need to reconcile life’s dilemmas in a creative manner for the child to aim for excellence. Do you see this book as a bridge between sports and academics? Sports versus academics is just an arbitrary division; the actual divide is between mind and body. The central idea of the book is to try and bridge it. If a person can’t do it, he or she will always be impaired on one side or the other. by Aasheesh Sharma

WARNING: DIRTY BOOK Book: The Itch You Can’t Scratch (Pop Culture Publishing) Author: Sumit Kumar, cartoonist Gist: This is another story about a boy in an engineering college who wants to do something different. Except, it’s so much more. Kumar’s autobiographical graphic novel will tickle every funny bone in your body. Sumit Kumar is a regular squarefaced, middle-class north Indian bloke. He’s studying engineering but what he really wants to do is draw cartoons. And get laid. He thinks a lot. He makes fun of the education system, girls and Sarnath Banerjee, among other things. It is a story you’ve all heard, read, and maybe even lived. But it is this familiarity that works to its advantage. Written in a mixture of Hindi and English, it is loud, it’s crass and brutally honest. Whenever the text falters in humour, the illustrations compensate. But Kumar hasn’t written this to make you laugh. He puts out a disclaimer in the beginning: “Main tumhaare baap ka naukar nahin hoon”. Tailor-made for: Anybody except the super-sensitive and the activists. Particularly for people who’ve grown up in north India. When you should read this: When you have 45 minutes to spare – that’s all you need. Bookmarked: “Girls are like icebergs. There is a small harmless visible top, but there’s this huge chunk of ice beneath that harm-

less top.” Very Short Interview: How autobiographical is this? Completely. I’ve only changed some names. How did your parents react? Initially, they were shocked. But they’re used to it – they’ve been getting shocks progressively throughout my life. They’ve read the book; they’re happy but we don’t discuss it. You used to write for Savita Bhabhi [the pornographic cartoonstrip]! What was it like? I just wrote three stories for them. I couldn’t even write porn. I wrote everything except the sex portion. Sex, I thought, is only, “oooh” and “aaah”. I mean, I had done it but I couldn’t write it! I wrote the plot and they made the sex part more poetic. What sort of a plot? There was one called Ashok at Home. Savita Bhabhi’s husband is at home, she is not. The cablewala comes in, fixes the cable but refuses to take any money. In flashback, he remembers a sex episode with Savita Bhabhi. Then the laundrywala... Basically, a series of people come in, refuse payment and the porn is in flashbacks. When she gets back home, her husband is very happy and says to her, “You handle home so nicely.” by Saudamini Jain

She watched every single film

Photo: RAJ K RAJ

in the magic of cricket. Bookmarked: When Ramesh Tendulkar compares Sachin’s cricket with lyrics, dedicating a poem to him. Perhaps, maybe because of you, but cricket to me, dear Sachin, is no more a game, but a poem, a lyrical poem! Very Short Interview: How much does the novel draw from your own life? Well, I used to teach at Delhi University. The name of the professor being interviewed is inspired by my name. As I’ve said in the book, any passing resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely intentional. What is the ‘idea of Sachin’ that you’ve based your book upon? I see Sachin as a person who has approached sports in a way that combines mind and body to deliver certain results. When he was lofting those fearsome Pakistani bowlers as

Book: The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic (Om Books International) Author: Anna MM Vetticad, journalist and film critic Gist: Imagine seeing just about every film released in one calendar year! That’s right, every last movie, including things called Angel and Ye Stupid Pyaar, films we are not even aware of (and do not want to be aware of). But Vetticad waded determinedly into this daunting project and survived to tell the tale in an entertaining, readable book. Not only did she see all the films, she also tracked down the filmmakers and actors to get a sharper insight into the films. Tailor-made for: People who like movies. Make that people who have an ongoing love affair (and it looks like it’s going to last this lifetime at least) with movies. When you should read this: Anytime. Whenever. Wherever. Bookmarked: Discover names like Sohail Lakhani and Taher Sutterwala. Who? Read the book. Very Short Interview: Why did you decide to write a book about every film released in a year? I’ve always seen these films in the listings, films no one went to see or review. And I wondered, if I saw all of them, what would I discover about the film industry that I didn’t

know? And I discovered so much – like the crazy things director Rohit Shetty had to say about film critics. [He really hates them]. When the year was over, I ended up with an overview of the Hindi film industry and thereby an overview of India. Because the film industry is but a reflection of our society. Did you enjoy seeing all these obscure films? I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course I was exhausted and sleep-deprived, but it was the most enjoyable sleep deprivation I’ve ever experienced in my life. That’s why I’ve called myself a masochist in the book – because this is a project that involved selfinflicted pain from which I derived great pleasure. And after it was over, I started getting withdrawal symptoms! What’s next? There is a work of fiction I’d done some years ago and I needed a few months of my life to just look at it in peace. But I had a TV job, so it wasn’t possible. Now I will. There are also a couple of non-fiction ideas in my head. But at the moment, I am enjoying being an author and going to literary festivals. It’s not something I’ve done before, it’s a whole new experience for me.

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written” – Oscar Wilde JANUARY 27, 2013

by Poonam Saxena



d n A a m a r D The City A quartet of talented directors rebuild Delhi’s reputation as a theatre hub text by Aasheesh Sharma, photographs by Jasjeet Plaha


HEY WEAR the make-up, go over their lines and stand in aisles in darkened theatre, waiting for applause. A new generation of Delhi actors and directors is leading the revival of theatre in a city not known to have the patience for auditorium etiquette, ticket sales or serious storylines. Suddenly Delhiites, notorious for for popularising the ‘free pass’ culture, are starting to queue up for ticketed shows. As the frequency of plays becomes higher, newer venues such as Mukta

Dhara in Gole Market and Epicentre in Gurgaon have emerged. It’s a throwback to the heady ’70s when Delhi first created its reputation as a theatre hub, says leading director Sohaila Kapur. “There was a wave of serious theatre in Delhi in the 1970s. In the ’80s and the ’90s in the heyday of television, it died down a little. Now there is a resurgence of Delhi theatre that’s manifesting itself on the campus, in schools and among young professionals from the corporate sector who want to do weekend theatre.” There are greater employment

opportunities for actors today than 10 years ago, affirms Arvind Gaur, whose group Asmita is one of the foremost exponents of street theatre in the city. “The social acceptance of theatre has grown, particularly in the Hindi belt, since it has become linked with employment. There is a good taal-mel between theatre, TV and cinema.” Earlier, doing more than five shows of a production was not economically viable, says M Sayeed Alam of Pierrot’s, among the most successful commercial groups in Delhi. “Now, I do eight to nine shows a month. We’ve started doing ticketed shows in Mumbai and Bangalore as well.” The emergence of Delhi as a hotbed of talent is beginning to impress filmmakers as well. “Bollywood’s actors want to do theatre workshops to sharpen skills like characterisation,” adds Gaur. Actress and stylista Sonam Kapoor, known for her sartorial flair, recently visited Delhi to brush up on her acting skills along with the crew of Raanjhnaa. She did that to get

Bollywood directors are recognising the worth of actors trained in Delhi

The curator of committed actors Who: Arvind Gaur, a pioneer of socially relevant theatre in the city, is often perceived as a catalyst for young creative talent. Since its inception in

1993, Gaur’s Asmita Theatre Group has lent an edge to thousands of students, including actor Kangna Ranaut and writer-actor Piyush Mishra. Ac-

tors Sonam Kapoor, Dhanush and the crew of Raanjhnaa recently attended an Asmita workshop to understand the nuances of street theatre. Best known for: Ambedkar Aur Gandhi, nominated for the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, Swadesh Deepak’s Court Martial (more than 450 shows), Dharamveer Bharti’s Andha Yug, Mahesh Dattani’s Final Solutions and thousands of street plays on contemporary subjects ranging from child abuse to communalism and corruption. Directorspeak: “The chunk of our actors are young and come from colleges, bastis and neighbourhoods from all walks of life. Our actor is not necessarily smooth at the edges, good looking or pretty. We train them rigorously for three to seven years. The sheer frequency of our nukkad nataks is so much that the actor’s socio-political understanding becomes really deep and he develops resources he can draw upon later to understand characters. If your resources are strong, you can always become a good actor.” ON A NEW HIGH

The acceptability of theatre is growing says Asmita’s Arvind Gaur (centre) JANUARY 27, 2013

inside the skin of a JNU student, the character that she is playing in the film. “I did the workshop to understand the idealism that drives street play artists.” Working with Asmita, says Sonam, was a fantastic experience. “Their actors have a dogged determination that’s hard to match.” One thespian glad with the new trend is Pankaj Kapur, who learnt his craft at Delhi’s NSD and did serious theatre for 15 years before packing his bags for Mumbai. “It is great that directors in Bollywood are recognising the worth of actors trained in Delhi. In the ’70s, many of us were thinking of leaving Delhi because the economics were not working out,” says the actor who recently essayed the role of a drunkard landlord in the black comedy Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.

Lessons in histrionics Who: Kuljit Singh, a professor of English at Delhi University’s Khalsa College, is the brain behind Atelier, which organises the largest campus theatre festival in the country. Five years back, when Atelier was launched, there were just five or six established campus groups such as The Players at Kirori Mal College, Shunya at Ramjas and the Shakespeare Society at St Stephen’s who performed regularly. Theatre was almost perceived as an elitist activity. The last few years have seen offcampus colleges such as Shivaji, Dayal Singh, Moti Lal Nehru and Shahid Bhagat Singh doing good productions. Delhi University today has close to 30 theatre groups from 18 colleges. The 2012 version of ACT, the festival Singh organises, saw 25,000 people turn up to watch 45 performances. Students came from colleges in Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow and Jaipur. Best known for: Cerebral themes and nuanced performances. Take the Badal Sircar Performing series that featured Baaki Itihas, an absurdist play that oscillates between meaningless and hope, and Saari Raat, in which the playwright questions if both pleasure and marital peace can co-exist.


Entertainment without apologies Who: A former professor of political science at the Aligarh Muslim University, M Sayeed Alam is known to script original commercial comedies, musicals and historical productions. Since the early ’90s, Alam’s group Pierrot’s has consciously broken away from the herd mentality of adapting a Western stage success or an Indian play – stuff that was the mainstay of other troupes. Alam’s sense of comic timing and penchant for naming the plays interestingly (think Ghalib in New Delhi and Cut, Cut, Cut) has ensured the audiences turned up in great numbers. Best known for: Ghalib in New Delhi, featuring the predicament of the bard set in modern-day Delhi; Sons of Babur, written by Salman Khurshid featuring Tom Alter in the lead role and 1947, about the trauma of Partition, close to


Atelier members led by Kuljit Singh (centre) rehearse for Saari Raat Directorspeak: “My MPhil research focused on the history of campus theatre from 1924, beginning with St Stephen’s Shakespeare Society to its pinnacle in the last few years. Over the last four years, a lot of cinema work is being initiated in

the hearts of many Delhiites. The musical KL Saigal, based on the legendary singer’s life, is another play that gets repeat audiences. Directorspeak: “What is wrong in commercialising? Even if you put out a housefull commercial play you earn just R35,000. If you pay R3,000 apiece to the 12 actors who’ve worked on the play, it is very little for a production rehearsed for at least a week. I don’t believe in humour without wit. I try and experiment with comedy through conversation. I don’t want anybody slipping on a banana peel. In Ghalib in New Delhi for instance, the indiscretions unleashed on the poet are his personal tragedy that leads to comic situations.” SERIOUS ABOUT COMEDY

M Sayeed Alam of Pierrot’s troupe (centre) swears by original plays

Delhi and this is a big departure from the past. When Imtiaz Ali came to shoot here for Rock Star for instance, he cast actors from Delhi. Even I did a cameo. Many more Delhi University students are getting these opportunities. The three years of training on the campus are very rigorous. It is not all fun and games. It stands them in good stead when they try their luck in television and movies. The character of Manu Sharma in No One Killed Jessica was played by Zeeshan Ayub Khan, who has performed in the Atelier Campus Theatre festival. From Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpai, to Piyush Mishra, Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali and Saurabh Shukla (who studied at Khalsa College), Delhi University has given the cream of acting and filmmaking talent to Mumbai’s film industry. It is about time people recognised the calibre of actors trained in the city.”

Seasoned, sensitive and sensible

Who: Sohaila Kapur, who directs off-beat English productions and hardhitting Hindi plays that appeal to the theatre connoisseur and the comedy aficionado alike. Kapur’s Katyayani Theatre Group, founded in 1994, routinely attracts young urban professionals, some of whom balance long hours in their day jobs but never miss their rehearsals. Best known for: Adapting Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Catherine Hayes’ Skirmishes about sibling rivalry featuring Zohra Sehgal; Mahim Junction, a musical tribute to Bollywood and The One Percent Agency, a comedy about wedding tourism written by Man Asian Award nominee Tabish Khair.


Sohaila Kapur (right) rehearses for The One Percent Agency with Shalini Singh Directorspeak: “People want to do weekend theatre because it is cathartic. The world is spinning faster but they do theatre to relax. The applause in theatre is far more satisfying than any other medium because in television and movies there is always a cut. You don’t have to be a great actor to do well there. The reason why veterans such as like Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah don’t leave theatre is the intoxication of the direct connect and the challenge of convincing a live audience,” says Kapur. aasheesh.sharma

“Life is a theatre set in which there are but few practicable entrances”– Victor Hugo in Les Misérables JANUARY 27, 2013





New York chef Daniel Boulud (below right) is all praise for other culinary stars’ restaurants – Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin (below) and Keith McNally’s Balthazar (bottom)


WAS LOOKING at Where Chefs Eat, a new guide to what should be the world’s best restaurants. It is based on recommendations from 400 chefs, most of whom are culinary superstars (though there are some duds on the list). Each chef has picked his or her favourite restaurant, so the book lists more than 2,000 places all over the world. I’ve always been mystified about what it is that chefs look for when they go to restaurants. Whenever I visit a new city or meet top chefs, I usually ask them to pick their favourite spots. But strangely enough, it is rare for me to gain much from these conversations. Never has a chef recommended a seriously good restaurant that is not already well known. The obscure places they choose tend to be those that keep late hours (always a major criterion for chefs) or those that serve things like offal (which chefs are curiously enthusiastic about). Indian chefs are the worst when it comes to recommending good restaurants. This is because a) usually they are so busy behind their stoves that they hardly ever go and check out other people’s restaurants and b) many of them are so insecure that their first reaction is to rubbish every other restaurant. Chefs should be big-hearted but many top Indian chefs are surprisingly small-minded and unwilling to give credit to colleagues, let alone rivals. Whenever influential restaurants have opened in India, the last people to get the message are other chefs. When the Hyatt Regency in Delhi opened The China Kitchen, I was certain (and said so in these pages) that it would change the way in which Indians looked at Chinese food. But nearly every top chef I mentioned the place to either refused to go there or dismissed it out of hand. (“Arre, I

rude food

Where Chefs Eat, a new guide to what should be the world’s best restaurants, is not as exhaustive as I would’ve liked it to be

Vir Sanghvi


JANUARY 27, 2013

have been doing this for years. Isme kya naya hai?” was the typical response). Perhaps as a consequence, not one of the three big Indian chains (Taj, Oberoi or ITC) has a Chinese restaurant of great consequence; certainly there is nothing in the league of The China Kitchen, which is still – by a long way – the best Chinese restaurant in India. That trend continues. Indian chefs have scoffed at Yauatcha, surely the restaurant phenomenon of last year in Bombay; at Le Cirque (whose commercial success has rewritten the rules for European restaurants in India) and at Indian Accent (with the consequence that they completely missed the emergence of Manish Mehrotra as the superstar of modern Indian food). Would Western chefs be any different, I wondered. Well, actually they go too far in the other direction. Most of the famous chefs quoted in the book spend a lot of time praising their rivals. Daniel Boulud, the New York superstar, lists the restaurants of all of the city’s other culinary stars: Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin, Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Michael White’s Marea, Jean Georges’ eponymous restaurant as well as Keith McNally’s Balthazar and Pastis. In turn, Eric Ripert lists Boulud’s Daniel, Jean Georges, Thomas Keller, Joel Robuchon’s L’atelier (“simple but ultra-refined”), Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park and McNally’s Balthazar. And so on. The London chefs, in turn, are equally nice about each other and about a few restaurateurs. In place of Keith McNally – New York’s favourite restaurateur, it is Jeremy King and Chris Corbin who get all the London accolades. Their place, The Wolseley, is listed as a favourite by 25 chefs, something of a record for this book where most restaurants get one or two endorsements. In the middle of all this politeness and unanimity, where is the punter to look for the unusual places and the real finds? I decided not to make too much of the London and New York sections because both cities are the gastronomic capitals of the world and will naturally have the largest selections. I have to say, however, that Soho and Shoreditch seem to be the places where London chefs eat out the most. And I assume that the so-so and largely undeserving Chinatown restaurants listed in the book make the cut only because Chinatown stays open late, allowing chefs to eat there after their own restaurants close. It is a sign of the times that neither of Gordon Ramsay’s London restaurants makes it to the book even though Clare Smyth who cooks at the great man’s three-star operation on Royal Hospital Road is one of the chefs quoted. Obviously, the other chefs are letting their hatred of Ramsay all hang out now. It tells you something about how far Ramsay has fallen if, in a book that is full of chefs being polite about each other, nobody even bothers to namecheck him.




The Delhi list includes three hotel restaurants – Bukhara (above), Wasabi (left) and Spice Route


Konkan Cafe (above) and Woodside Inn (above right) made it to the Bombay list, which I thought was fair and comprehensive

I checked out the Bangkok section. You would expect to find Nahm because David Thompson is not only such a superstar but because, as an Australian who also runs a restaurant in London, he is well-known to other chefs. But I was surprised by the absence of the excellent Bo.Lan even though its chefs Dylan Jones and Bo Songvisava are quoted in the book. Of the 11 Bangkok restaurants listed, five are located at hotels, (two are even at the same hotel!) which is fine except that you can hardly call them finds or discoveries. Predictably enough, Sirocco makes the grade but I would have also included Mezzaluna where the food is much better. The few discoveries are all down to Dylan Jones and Bo Songvisava and at least one of the places they recommend is a restaurant I know well and can vouch for. But would a stranger to Bangkok learn very much from this guide? I’m not so sure. He may be better off with the views of the hotel concierge. (I also checked out the Singapore section, which is much better). Which brings us to the Indian section. Obviously people will disagree about individual selections. I would not include Bombay’s Bade Miyan, a tourist trap which serves mediocre kababs. There are much better places on Mohammad Ali Road. And if you pick Peshawri at The Maratha, then why not Dum Pukht at the same hotel which is even better? But these are minor reservations. I thought that, on the whole, the Bombay list was fair and comprehensive: Thai Pavilion, Konkan

Café, Highway Gomantak, Royal China (Bandra), Indigo, Indigo Deli, Woodside Inn (for breakfast), Olympia, Noor Mohammadi, Aaswad, Shree Thaker Bhojanalaya, Neel, Jimmy Boy, Sardar Pav Bhaji, Dakshinayan, Gajalee, Celini (which would not be on my list, however) and Britannia. It is a relief not to find a list full of the usual clichés – Trishna, Swati, etc – and if I ran the Taj, Leela or Oberoi groups, I would worry that not one of my luxury restaurants made the grade. Neither of the Taj luxury hotels cuts it and the group’s honour is saved only by Ananda Solomon’s two restaurants at the President. But then, the shy and reticent Solomon is the only top Indian chef who other chefs love. The rest of India is poorly represented. The Delhi list has three hotel restaurants – Bukhara (fair), Wasabi (well, okay) and Spice Route (for God’s sake!) – and Gunpowder which, in today’s Delhi’s restaurant scene, is very much last year’s thing. And of course, there’s no mention of Delhi’s real first-rate chefs: Ritu Dalmia, Julia Carmen Desa, Ghulam Qureshi, Manish Mehrotra, etc. Perhaps the problem was that the three chefs who did most of the Indian list – Rahul Akerkar, Vicky Ratnani and Irfan Pabaney – are all Bombay-based. Or may be Indian chefs are just living up to their reputations. Vicky’s own Aurus does not make the list and in his selections he seems – bizarrely enough – to prefer the bland hotel-style Italian of Celini to the excellent modern European food of Indigo, Rahul Akerkar’s flagship restaurant. And none of them rate Alex Sanchez’s The Table, which surely must count as a chef’s favourite. But at least it makes a change from New York and London where they all praise each other: here Vicky and Rahul have left each other’s restaurants out. (That said, I think their selections are fair and interesting. And, for the record, Indigo does get in but only because a Sri Lankan chef picked it). Would I do a different list? Well yes, of course. But then I’m not a chef, so my views don’t count when it comes to a list of this kind. But I would have picked more big-time Indian chefs. And I think an injustice has been done to India’s most famous chef, Hemant Oberoi, whose Varq belongs on any list of India’s great restaurants. And I would have included many excellent restaurants that you find in India’s other cities. It really makes no sense to include Bombay’s Neel and not include Delhi’s Dum Pukht which is the best representation of this kind of cuisine. And what about Lucknow, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Madras and even Calcutta? No complaints however. No list is ever complete. And all lists of this kind are, almost by definition, subjective.

The three chefs who did most of the Indian list – Rahul Akerkar (above), Vicky Ratnani (left) and Irfan Pabaney are all Bombay-based

I would have included many excellent restaurants that you find in India’s other cities


Jeremy King (below left) and Chris Corbin get all the London accolades. The Wolseley (left) is a favourite after getting 25 mentions

Photo courtesy: REXRA.COM

JANUARY 27, 2013


Predictably enough, Sirocco makes the grade but I would have also included Mezzaluna


None of Gordon Ramsay’s London flagship restaurants make it to the book



A geek’s tech dream comes true at the CES 2013


The most frustrating thing about owning a smartphone is obviously the battery life. And one of the most power hungry parts is the screen. Yota Phone finds a nifty solution. A full-size e-ink screen at the back that gives you all the info you want while consuming very little power. LENOVO IDEACENTRE HORIZON 27


This soundbar leads a very chameleonlike existence. It is fairly long, you can either keep it together for high-quality virtual surround sound or just pop off the two side panels and you’ve got wireless rear speakers and true 5.1-channel surround sound.

Let’s learn a new term: Table PC. A desktop PC that is a single slab with everything built in. It can go from being vertical on a desk to lying totally flat for family games and other things. Lots of added touch tricks and the fact that it is battery-powered makes it an amazing experience. SAMSUNG CAMERA NX 300

It looks like a million bucks, has fantastic optics, fits interchangeable lenses and can shoot 3D movies and stills from one single lens.

A 1TB flash drive in your pocket! Enough said.


That’s all we need. A gun that uses automated tracking technology to make sure that even the worst shooter can kill accurately. This is called a Precision Guided Firearm and its built-in processor allows you to lock on to a target and automatically compensate for distance, gravity, wind and other factors.

Rajiv Makhni


he Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is always a great road map of future technology. Some of the greatest innovations and ground-breaking products have been launched at this mega event. But it’s also a perfect showcase for some really silly, stupid and downright ugly tech. Today we will discover all three – the good, the bad and the very ugly.





The next big thing in TV is 4K and now with the Panasonic 4K camcorder, it is finally a thing of today. TV anchors, actors and all others, prepare for a whole new shift, as this will reveal what you really look like beneath those multiple layers of makeup.




Watching a movie on an iPad is great – excellent retina display, fantastic colours, but the sound can really suck. Enter the Belkin Thunderstorm, a portable snap-on home theatre for your iPad. Take it from me, this little thing can shake up your room. VIVOPLAY WATCH

A lifesaver for parents. This device can track your child’s location wherever and whenever. It uses assisted GPS, Wi-Fi triangulation and cell tower triangulation to consistently provide a child’s information to an iPhone, Android smartphone, or web portal even if the child is in a basement.


It streams, it works on Bluetooth, it can produce some outstanding bass and sound from a very small frame. And, it can charge your Nokia Lumia phone wirelessly while doing all of that. Phew!


Finally, Sonos’ monopoly on idiot-proof wireless music in every room has competition. Pure’s multiroom Jongo family is simple to set up, provides great audio and is cheap too.

JANUARY 27, 2013

A potty for kids with a built in iPad activity stand. While it’s being touted as an educational tool, I’m still wondering if it is such a good idea for your toddler to spend more time in the loo shooting aliens while he goes about his morning business. Not so sure!


Booth babes and skimpily-clad women at product showcasing areas is gimmicky but effective. This year however, it got taken to a whole new ugly level. ‘Fembots’ at the Hyper Booth were wearing nothing but body paint. Sad to see how much technology has evolved and yet companies still resort to such old school crap at CES.


For part one of the CES saga, log on to m/brunch


This is the anti-tech camera. In a world where Wi-Fi and 3G cameras rule the roost, this one goes the other way and offers killer optics. A 16-megapixel CMOS X-TRANS II sensor, phasedetection auto focus, which is the fastest in the world, RAW six-frame-per-second shutter blast and you know you’ve got an optical powerhouse in your hand.



Capacitive touch-based input on your computer was the stuff dreams were made of. No longer. Tobii has it now! Your eye movements are matched to keyboard taps to do things like select or scroll through onscreen items. The result is a super-fast, seamless way to navigate computer interfaces.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

DO THE DOOWOP BABY Aaron Neville’s new album, My True Story is like a flashback to the golden years of New Orleans harmonies


Neville’s style harks back to the R&B and soul music of the ’50s and ’60s


Keith Richards has co-produced My True Story, and plays guitar on it as well





Sanjoy Narayan

download central

HE LIGHTS were out; the headphones were jammed tightly across my skull; and my eyes were shut. I had just pressed the play button on My True Story, Aaron Neville’s latest album, and instantly got a sense of déjà vu. In the early 1970s when I was still at school, I’d gone to visit a distant cousin, a guy much older than me and one that most people in the family described as ‘bohemian’. On the ground floor of a sprawling old colonial house in Calcutta, my cousin had a den where he met me and a couple of others. He was wearing a paint-splattered pair of canvas trousers, his hair was tousled, and on his turntable was spinning Elvis Presley’s eponymous first album in mono. Blue Suede Shoes, I Got A Woman, Just Because… I still remember those songs. There was another thing. A strange, sweet smell that seemed to come from the cigarette my cousin was smoking. We were too young and naïve and had no clue then as to what he was smoking (it was, indeed, a long time back!). But we were in awe and that first exposure to Presley is still indelibly etched in my mind. Aaron Neville’s first name, in case you didn’t know, is the same as Elvis’s middle name but as far as I know there is no connection. The reason why, while listening to his new album, I got transported to my first experience of Elvis’s music is because of Neville’s style, which harks back to the R&B and soul music of the ’50s and ’60s. Most the songs, delivered by Neville in his almost angelic tenor (he’s built like an American football player, though), are covers, including Money Honey (a song not written but made famous by Elvis). Neville is 72 and a native of New Orleans and the new album is like a flashback to the era of doo-wop, a term that describes a characteris- FIVE TROMBONES I was pleasantly tic style marked by vocal harmonies that surprised to hear African-American singers adopted and that covers of Allman many people have tried to contemporise with Brothers Band, limited success. Fortunately, Neville has not. Jimi Hendrix and My True Story is like a trip back to the goldBlack Sabbath’s en years of doo-wop and R&B and soul. And songs by the brass the songs – besides Money Honey, there’s Curtis band, Bonerama


peaking of New Orleans funk, there’s an album that showcases that sound. New Orleans Funk, released in 2000, features every major funk band from that city. You have The Meters, Neville, of course, Professor Longhair, Ernie KDoe and Dr. John. It’s a set of 24 tracks that is guaranteed to have you tapping your feet and swinging your body.

Mayfield’s Gypsy Woman and the famous Be My Baby, and several more instantly recognisable tunes – are sung the way they ought to be, in their pristine doo-wop, R&B style with no attempt to make them ‘modern’. I like that. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that My True Story is produced by two people who are legends in their own right – Don Was and Keith Richards (yes!). Was made a name as a journeyman musician before turning to production and has recorded with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, BB King, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, The Black Crowes and a host of others. Richards, of course, is you know who. He plays guitar on the album too, so that’s another big plus for My True Story. Like Neville, Bonerama (yes, the first two syllables of their name are a bit unfortunate but do remember that ‘bone’ is what blues and jazz musicians call the trombone) are also from New Orleans but they are a brass band that plays funk rock. Like Neville, they also do some covers of other people’s songs besides their own originals. I got hold of Bonerama Live from New York and was pleasantly surprised to hear three interesting covers – of Allman Brothers Band’s Whipping Post, Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic and Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Covered by what is basically a brass band with not one but five trombone players, the versions are brilliant. That’s not to say that Bonerama’s originals at the gig (venue: Tribeca Rock Club in NYC) are any poorer. Funky New Orleans sounds permeate through their set and tunes such as Baronne, Chilcock and Blackout in NYC are as infectious as the best funk music tends to be. It helps that another New Orleans’ band, Galactic’s drummer Stanton Moore, sits in with Bonerama but the best thing about their music is the way the five bones interact with each other on the tunes. To give feedback, stream or download the music mentioned in this column, go to, follow argus48 on Twitter


JANUARY 27, 2013



Seema Goswami

In this age of hyper-connectivity, have we lost the ability to live in the moment?



Many musicians have complained that people are more engaged with their mobiles than the music during a performance. This is what happened at a recent A R Rahman (below) concert




AST WEEK in Chennai, I had my first experience of an AR Rahman concert. Given that I am a huge fan, I was looking forward to seeing him perform live along with his troupe of super-talented musicians. And Rahman did not disappoint, playing all his biggest hits and then some, with Hariharan and Sukhwinder coming on to do their bits. What intrigued me, though, were the people sitting around me. Instead of immersing themselves in the music, clapping in rhythm or even singing along – as keen concert-goers should do – they were all busy on their phones. Some were holding them aloft to take grainy pictures; others were recording (even grainier) videos; some were updating their BBM status to tell their extended social circle that they were watching Rahman LIVE; others were doing much the same on Facebook. None of them were doing what they had presumably come here for: to listen to Rahman and his band play. They were so busy recording the event or telling other people that they were at it, that they had lost sight of the essential purpose of why they were here: to listen to a live performance. Many musicians have complained about this cellphone nuisance, in which people are more engaged with their mobiles than the music during a performance. And some have even said that this new practice of everyone ‘recording’ what is going on actually takes away from the energy of the show. And given my own experiences of live music events, I have to agree. But more than that, I can’t help but wonder if this is not just another indicator of how we have lost the ability to live in the moment. We can no longer just listen to a singer belt out his greatest hits. We are not content to hum along, clap in time, or even dance. No, even the event unfolds before us, we feel this compelling need to record it and then share it on social media to prove what interesting, fulfilling, fun-filled lives we lead. I can bet that none of the people recording the

These days, we cannot read a book without stopping to check the newsfeed on our phone Rahman performance on their mobile devices will ever see (or hear) that clip again. The only time they will whip it out is when they need to tell someone else about how they were at this ‘awesome’ concert. And it’s not just music concerts alone. Even in movie theatres, people seem unable to succumb to a willing suspension of disbelief for a couple of hours. No, they must post their thoughts and minireviews on Twitter or Facebook even as the action unfolds; or at the very least, BBM or IM their friends to tell them how it’s going. Thankfully, it is illegal to record a movie on a mobile device or else we would have to contend with the mobileheld-aloft syndrome in cinema halls as well. But it is on holidays that our inability to live in the moment becomes most obvious. Instead of enjoying the sight of a riveting sunset, we are busy adjusting camera settings so that the redness of the sky can be faithfully captured for the family album. Rather than feast our eyes on the majesty of a tiger in the wild, we are struggling to frame him perfectly against that clump of trees. Instead of feeling the sea breeze in our hair, the warmth of sunshine on our backs, or the flakes of snow as they waft past our faces, and just enjoying the moment, we are so focused on recording it that we destroy its essential magic. In making sure we remember the moment, we fail to actually savour it. Focussing on even the simplest thing seems to be beyond us these days. We cannot watch a TV debate without venting our outrage on Twitter. We cannot read a book without stopping to check the newsfeed on our phone. We cannot try a new recipe in the kitchen without posting a picture on our blog. We cannot eat in a restaurant without taking pictures of every dish so that we can share it on social media. Oh well, you get the picture. The only problem is that we don’t. Or at least we don’t see it for what it is. Instead, we are deluded enough to tell ourselves that all this flitting between stuff is a good thing. We pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves that we are really great at multi-tasking. Oh, look, how clever I am! I can watch a TV show, check the latest news headlines on my laptop and tweet on the phone AT THE SAME TIME! Isn’t that AMAZING? Well, since you ask, it is anything but amazing. It is, in fact, a bit shaming that we cannot bring ourselves to commit to any one thing at any one time. It is, in fact, a sign of our ever-decreasing attention spans, a sad corollary of our frenetic lives in the age of hyper-connectivity. And it doesn’t look as if it’s going to get better any time soon.



We cannot watch a TV debate without venting our outrage on Twitter

JANUARY 27, 2013 Follow Seema on Twitter at



LOSE WEIGHT, THE VEDIC WAY Time to shed your woollens – and excess winter weight, too!


S THE WEATHER improves and you shed layers of clothing, it might be the perfect time to do away with the extra fat you might have accumulated enjoying rich winter food. A number of ayurvedic procedures can help you lose weight healthily.


kind of fat deposits. It is particularly effective to fight obesity when combined with nutrition therapy and ayurvedic herbs.


This is the process of giving medicated enemas to a person, which release the blocked gasses of the large intestine and opens natural nutritive channels. Vata imbalances can lead to polycystic ovary problems, weight gain and joint pains. It is an effective procedure to treat obesity caused by vata blockages, excessive consumption of gassy foods or stale food.

This is the ayurvedic system of giving steam to the body that helps open pores and allows them to sweat. As the steam raises the temperature, it results in enhanced circulation to the skin. This procedure dispels toxins through sweating. Swedhan therapy helps relieve the body of water. NATURAL HERBS It works well for people Remedies such as who suffer from arthritis. amla juice and MAGIC HERBS Herbal steam therapy is There are a number of ginger decoctions also excellent to cure mild herbs and medihelp slash the fat vata disorders and cines which, when used stress-related obesity. Steam also correctly, can help the body lose relaxes the nerves and can help weight in a natural and scientific you sleep better. way without side effects. Ayurveda advises the use of certain types of UDHAWARTANAM gugguls and liver-detoxifying herbs. This ayurvedic medicated massage Some of the home remedies include therapy helps the body accelerate a ginger decoction consumed twice sluggish lymph circulation, release a day; one teaspoon of amla juice toxins from fat cells and push them taken once a day with lukewarm to the lymphatic drainage systems. water and a cinnamon decoction In Udhawartanam, herbal dry consumed two to three times a day. powders are used. These assist the The science of ayurveda has body to boost lymphatic circulaworked successfully in healing and tion and remove the orange peel wellness for thousands of years. Adopting some of its principles can help us lead a better life. GET A GOOD RUB


Ayurvedic massages fight obesity when combined with nutrition therapy and medicinal herbs

JANUARY 27, 2013



On The Rann In The Wilderness Imagine the purr of a sophisticated sports car on the wild and stunning salt-pan terrain of the Rann of Kutch...

by Ouseph Chacko, photographs by Rajeev Gaekwad


UT HERE at the perimeter of the Rann of Kutch, there’s just the soft light of the rising sun and desolate flatness as far as the eye can see. Driving a Jaguar XKR into this great brown open feels absolutely bizarre. The Jag is not supposed to be here – it’s a sports car that belongs to the road that leads to the Principality of Monaco or the paved boulevards of south Mumbai. And we’ve brought it to this starkly beautiful, utterly inhospitable place. We’ve brought it far from its regular high-octane drinking holes and into blazing Indian sun. Why, you might wonder, would we take a Jaguar to the Rann of Kutch? The simple answer is that Gujarat has some great roads – open, fast and almost devoid of traffic. You have to watch out for neelgai and the odd buffalo, but that’s about it. Our chosen road is the sort of place where a Jaguar can roam unmolested by oblivious cyclists, crazy rickshaws

and buffoon motorists. At least that’s what I thought.


Our story starts in Ahmedabad. The plan is to drive to the Rann Riders Eco Resort in Dasada, 100km away, spend the night there and head into the Little Rann of Kutch in the morning for some spectacular photo-ops. After that, head towards Dholavira, 246km away, to the site of the ancient Harappan civilisation through the inner roads of Gujarat. I’d been on this road a couple of years ago on a bike, and remember thinking how perfect it would be for a sports car. And here I am, commander of more than 500 supercharged horses comfortably ensconced in the feline curves of a Jaguar XKR. Woohoo!


Before we can start though, there are two big questions – fuel quality and the current state of the road. A quick call to Jaguar confirmed the

JANUARY 27, 2013

XKR will run just fine on regular unleaded (brilliant!) and another call to the Rann Riders (they know everything worth knowing about Kutch) confirmed the roads are generally excellent. So we offload the car from the flatbed truck on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and use the 503bhp to demolish the beautiful four-laner to our first turnoff at Viramgam. Our route gives us an early insight into the Jag’s off-road abilities. The road that bypasses Viramgam is a narrow little ribbon that’s chockfull of traffic, has huge speedbreakers and deep potholes, and is bordered by crumbling shanties. The Jag doesn’t get stuck or its belly scraped, and burbles through the village dragging a trail of dust and the gobsmacked expressions of onlookers behind it. We reach the resort in no time and tuck in for the night. Tomorrow is going to be epic. As a gateway to the Little Rann of Kutch, the intricate stone arch at Jhinjhwada heightens anticipation like nothing else. Beyond this gate

lie 5,000 square kilometres of blue sky that meets brown earth at a hazy line far ahead of us. The road past the gate is a rollercoaster of hard-packed mud, but amazingly the Jag clears it without grounding out and we get to the flatlands. It is the end of summer now, and the land is at its crispiest. That means the cracked earth you see is hard enough to drive on, and if you dig into it (like when there’s wheelspin), it crumbles and turns into harmless dust. The bodywork is safe from chipping, then. Knowing that a cyclist won’t jump out of nowhere, knowing that there’s not a policeman around for miles and knowing that you can pretty much do what you want to do with 503bhp is, I believe, the most liberating experience of my motoring life. And, hearing that Jaguar V8 bellow under the vast blue sky is another. A word of caution here. The Little Rann of Kutch is home to the Indian wild ass and countless other species of mammals and birds. Give them their due space. You are, after all, invading their territory.

Our route gives us an insight into the Jag’s off-road abilities


Our next stop is Dholavira, 246km away. With an experienced guide on board, you can drive the much shorter route across the Little Rann to get to Dholavira, but we opted for the longer route via NH27, mainly because the Jag has quite an appetite for fuel and there are no fuel stations on the Rann. So, confident the coming monsoon will cover our tracks, we head back



The XKR’s cabin is beautifully built and comfortable towards regular Jag territory and the first fuel pump we can find. The fact that the XKR won’t grumble about its ‘regular unleaded’ diet makes it so much more India-friendly. It means you can actually take it to remote places as long as there are halfdecent fuel pumps along the way.


Now, NH27 is a two-laner that has long straights, perfectly cambered corners and tarmac as smooth as the XKR’s V8. It is here that I begin to appreciate how phenomenal the Jag is as a grand tourer. It’s not hard-edged like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari and, on these roads, is all the better for it. The suspension is compliant, so imperfections on the road are absorbed by the car, not your spine. The engine is a gem – thanks to the supercharger, there’s a great wallop of power almost from idle and because it pulls so hard low down in its rev band, you unconsciously upshift at 5000rpm. Keep the throttle pinned though and you’ll discover a whole new definition of shove. The grunt it has



People gather around the XKR to ogle the luxury vehicle

The Little Rann of Kutch has the world’s largest population of wild asses

between 5000 and 6500rpm is a little too ballistic for these roads, so I restrict myself to a few short blasts when the road is clear. We’ve reached Radhanpur, and it’s a six-laner from here to our turn-off at Adesar. The XKR is simply sublime on roads like these. Its long-legged gait and tall sixth gear makes it feel absolutely relaxed and unruffled as we blast down the wide open highway. There’s one point on this road where you have the Little Rann on your left and the Great Rann on your right, and for a brief moment I consider ditching the Dholavira plan and getting back into the loose surface again. But no, there are even better roads to be driven ahead.

agricultural land and it rises and falls sharply, giving you a stunning view of the surroundings. We burble past people dressed in colourful garments waiting for the few buses that ply this lonely road, and we pass dry river beds that are apparently gushing full in the monsoon. I’m taking it easy, the Jag’s engine loping along at a mere 1600rpm, and taking in the beauty of Kutch. We motor on past the next town of Rapar and then onto the stunning 8km-long land bridge that links the mainland to the island of Khadir Bet, where Dholavira is. On both sides of the bridge is the white salt of the Great Rann of Kutch and I was looking forward to driving on it. But the Rann has other plans it’s still too wet and too soft for the Jag to venture onto. It is around now that that I feel a long, long way from home. We haven’t seen another vehicle for two hours and there are signs of strong Border

We burble past people dressed in colourful garments waiting for buses


We reach Adesar and both car and occupants need fuel, so it’s sev-ussal for us and unleaded for the Jag. From here it’s pure two-laner, bordered by


Salt mining and powersliding. You can do both at the Rann

Security Force presence. In fact, if this car could drive across the salt flats, we would be in Pakistan in half an hour, maybe less - that’s how close we are to Zardari right now. The end of our trip is nearing and we reach the excavation site at Dholavira a while later. From here we load the Jag onto a truck and send it back to Mumbai, while we hotfoot it back in the support car. We took the perfect car to an almost perfect road. At the start of this trip, we expected the Jag to be exciting, powerful and nimble, but had no idea it was so fuss-free and comfortable as well. As for Kutch, even the Jag pales in comparison to the beauty of the land and its people. (The author is assistant editor Autocar India)

THE ROAD MAP ■ Take SH17 out of Ahmedabad – there’s a bit of traffic till you cross Sana. From here, it’s a four-laner to Viramgam. Bypass Viramgam and get onto the smooth two-laner SH18. ■ From Dasada, continue on SH18 and then onto SH55 to Radhanpur. ■ Radhanpur to Adesar (NH27) is 70km of pure six-lane bliss. Turn off at Adesar towards Rapar – it’s a narrow but well-surfaced two-laner. ■ Watch out for animals crossing the roads. From Rapar, take SH51 to Dholavira.

“There are two things no man will admit he cannot do well: drive and make love” – British racing driver Stirling Moss JANUARY 27, 2013





June 8


HIGH POINT LOW POINT OF YOUR LIFE OF YOUR LIFE Giving birth to I have got over my son, Viaan all of them



Poddar College, Mumbai


Producing Dhishkiyaon under An ad for Limca followed my production house, Essential by my Hindi film debut, Sports & Media Baazigar (1993)

If you weren’t an actress... One contemporary dance form you really I think I would have been a want to learn. businesswoman. Popping and locking. Have you ever felt insecure about your body? What will we find on your bedside table? The word insecure does not exist in My lip balm and a night lamp. Shut up and bounce or UP Bihar lootne – my dictionary. I am a very positive which made you feel sexier? person. I looked sexy in Shut up and bounce The best compliment you’ve ever received? and I felt sexy in UP Bihar When my husband, Raj lootne. Kundra, said I am an ONE RUMOUR YOU’D The quality you most admire in awesome mom. a man. The last line of your LIKE TO START. A good sense of humour. autobiography would read... The one thing you’d like to … “and then she unlearn. conquered”. Knowing too much The most overrated virtue. because I miss innocence Niceness. What is in my life. niceness anyway? A piece of advice you wish What scares you? someone had given you 10 Water and losing my years ago. loved ones. I once read it in a book: One item number you wish ‘When you’re a celebrity, don’t you had done. complain and don’t explain.’ Chikni Chameli from Agneepath (2012). The easiest way to spread happiness? How many times do you look in the mirror? Always have a smile on your face. Only when I am on shoots. That will automatically put a smile on Who is your 3am friend? others’ faces as well. My husband, Raj Kundra. What is your fondest memory? Which part of your body would you insure? My wedding day and the birth of my My waist. son, Viaan. If your house caught fire, what three things Who keeps you up all night, your son or your would you grab and run? husband? I would just make sure that my family These days, it is my son! escapes. Material things don’t matter. What do you do when you have a bad A song that best describes your current hair day? state of mind. I blow dry my hair, but if not, I tie it. In dino dil mera from Life in a Metro Simple and no fuss. (2007). — Interviewed by Amrah Ashraf

That I’ve signed a film with Brad Pitt and Colin Farrell


things I love about my baby


His adorable way of doing anything His smile, it’s really a little chuckle The way he looks at me His tiny feet His pure heart Photo: THINKSTOCK

JANUARY 27, 2013

Hindustantimes Brunch 27 January 2013  

Hindustantimes Brunch 27 January 2013

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