Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mouna Ragam or How Getting a Beating Gets You the Girl

Mouna Ragam comes highly recommended for the rather poorly represented genre of "love after marriage" films. And what with it being a Mani Ratnam film (I know, I keep trying to get it and keep failing, but hope springs eternal), plus having a soundtrack by Ilaiyaraja who is on his way to becoming a huge favourite, of course I had to give it a shot.

Not many films would get such contrasting ratings from me for the two halves, so for this alone Mouna Ragam stands out. Unfortunately this also means I have to throw in more spoilers than I usually do, but without spoilers for the first half I could never talk about the loveliness of the second half, so I have no choice in this one.

I apologise in advance for the shoddy quality of my screencaps (and for the scarcity) but this DVD must be among the worst I have seen. Which is a shame especially because there are 2 or 3 songs that would have deserved much better print quality.

However, judging by the quality of some youtube videos, I think it's safe to assume I ended up with a very pirated copy which makes me sad, but partly explains the shortcomings of my DVD.

But enough whining, the movie! Well I knew it was made in the 80s, and it sure looks it, but it always amazes me to see how far back this stereotype of "wooing a girl with a technique that eerily resembles eve teasing" goes. I'll get to that in a minute but first I want to talk a little about my reactions to the heroine during the first part of the film. The girls sure had a lot to say about this one!

The film starts with the heroine, Divya (played by a certain Revathy who reminds me half of Asin and half of Scarlett Johansson), being told that a potential groom is coming to see her. She reacts rather vehemently and refuses to "be seen" because she finds the practice antiquated and wants to focus on her studies.

Dolce and Namak: Arre WAH! Smart girl!

She ends up seeing him anyway because he waited for 5 hours at her place. This of course establishes him as a "carrect match" in the eyes of the family immediately. During their first conversation she tells him about all her defects encouraging him to just drop it and refuse the match.

Dolce and Namak: Wah wah wah! How ballsy!

Actually their first meeting is all kinds of adorable with her fussing with her beautiful yellow sari telling him about her shortcomings and him sitting and not being able to get a word in.

But horror of horrors he is a sucker for punishment and says yes. She on the other hand still refuses and stands up to her father when asked to reconsider her refusal. As a consequence we apply the age old formula with German efficiency and 100% success rate for getting the stubborn girl to say yes: heart attack!

Dolce and Namak: Oh nooooooo!

Oh yes. What's a girl to do when the whole family blames her refusal of an arranged marriage for the father's minor heart attack? Don't blame it on the fatty food drenched in ghee, don't blame it on stress from work, don't blame it on a weak and potentially unexercised body. Nope, blame it on the girl!

Dolce and Namak: Sigh... so much for originality. Ok! Marriage time!

Divya reluctantly moves to her husbands palace home in Mumbai and this is where the film really begins. The groom by the way is a very pleasant man, played by Mohan, who looks a little stunned for most of the film, but we forgive him because he's just... cho chweet! In other films maybe I would have considered him annoyingly perfect, but there's something about his demeanour in general that goes hand in hand with his sweetness, so I fell for it hook line and sinker. He tries his hardest to please his new bride and demonstrates more patience than most people could ever be capable of. I did however appreciate the change in him after they decide to "part ways" and his passive aggressive silent treatment had me cheering. I thought he'd be another one of those doormat type characters, willing to do everything and anything for the obnoxious wife, but was happy to be proved wrong.

So now we finally find out why Divya was really against this marriage.

Namak: So all those principles that we cheered for in the beginning were just a cover-up?
Dolce: Seems so.
Namak: And the only reason why she didn't want to marry this super nice guy is because she was in love with a rowdy?
Dolce: Well...
Namak: She's not revolutionary then, she's just dumb!
Dolce: Yi-yeeeeah.

The subsequent flashback from Divya's past reinforces this seemingly harsh conclusion. The story goes like this: Divya gets a man arrested for rowdyism and theft without realizing that he was stealing for a good cause and from bad people.

Namak: You know, all of a sudden it's not as surprising to read about all the corruption in India when people get fed films like this where theft is presented as acceptable as long as it's from rich and evil people in order to help good poor people. 
Dolce: I hardly see how this (admittedly overindulged) Robin Hood complex is an excuse for corruption though.
Namak: Because, my dear, if we don't consider theft punishable at all times, what's to stop me from considering the tax payers as the rich and evil people and myself as the poor good person? Presenting something illegal as acceptable in one context opens the door for a million other contexts where it can be tweaked to one's advantage, no?

But that's not the end of the girls' woes during this first half. So after Divya gets the man arrested, she finds out why he had done it and repents. She proceeds to doing everything she can to get him out of jail. By this point he has been in 2 fights: one where he kicked ass and one where he was thrashed (by the police). He has also taken two opportunities to wink at Divya. I'm not sure whether it was the second fight, the one where he presumably gets pounded, or the second wink, but by now he feels like he has already won the heart of his lady love. The fact that she's still telling him to leave her alone bears no weight of course, we all know she's just playing hard to get.

One of the many stalking moments

Namak: Aha! Which brings me to another major issue in India (according to the papers anyway) that seems to be fed by movies like this: eve teasing. How exactly is a guy supposed to grow up knowing that "no" means "no" when so many movies use emotional blackmail and stalking as a sure method to get the girl? I mean, if I were a dude growing up in India why would I NOT try that? Clearly all the girls in the movies like it, the ones in real life must like it too. They're just saying they don't, right?
Dolce: But to be fair this one was more subdued in his approach, no? He doesn't really force himself on her, he just follows her around.
Namak: All while explaining to her that "she already loves him, she just needs to admit it" (this is where the emotional blackmail comes into play too, twice!). So what, that's not bad enough? After all, at this rate if she keeps saying no and you keep pursuing her, when do you start taking her refusal seriously? Before or after you grope her? Before or after the forced kiss? Before or after the rape?
Dolce: Well, at least unlike other movies on the topic, we know he won't be the right guy for her in the end.
Namak: Yes, thankfully but the scriptwriters also made sure to glorify him before getting rid of him, AND to have the girl weeping her heart out after him. It's only her good luck that a decent guy like Chandra Kumar came along.
Dolce: Now you're really starting to talk like an aunty. All you were missing was the word kismat. Let's just let it be and focus on the more important parts of the story, eh?

Without getting into too many details about this flashback story that managed to seriously annoy me, we finally come to the good part of the film. I know, who knew it would ever come?

I started liking Chandra Kumar more and more in the second half, and especially loved his dignified attitude towards a situation that he did everything in his power to prevent. Sure, the dialogues give him the opportunity to shut his wife up with her own hateful lines from the first part of the movie in a way that looks like choreographed volleyball - with the ball always getting perfectly set for the winning spike - but somehow I even loved that.

Namak: Should we even mention that once again the hero getting beaten up works its magic on the girl?
Dolce: We could, but I think we've complained enough about that one already, na?

Besides it's not just the beating this time around, it's Divya starting to really see her husband's qualities instead of focusing on her long lost love. In that train of thought, this is my favourite picturization, though they really overdo the close-ups of the hero and heroine looking up at each other. I think we got it the first 5 times around, Mani-ji. Oh, wait, I forget, it IS Mani Ratnam after all. Unless he slaps you with a dead fish over the face he doesn't feel that you got the message.

Still... such a beautiful picturization!

This is the half that makes the film worth while and the awkward interactions between the leads as they keep building and breaking their fragile relationship are a joy to watch. These are the moments when I wish my print was better because I'm sure I missed a lot of subtleties in the long looks that the two exchange. If the whole movie had been about those two I would have happily rewatched it over and over.

None of the marvelous songs were subtitled on my DVD, but such is the magic of Ilaiyaraja's music that it finds its way into your heart without even a word translated. My favourite song of the soundtrack doesn't even have a great picturization, but it still rocks my world.

Mouna Ragam won't be getting any awards for suspense, as it manages to be quite predictable, but the second half gets all my love for some great scenes between the two leads, which almost... almost make me forgive the tresspasses of the first half.

So what's the verdict?
Instead of a cheese rating, I'll do a quick recap of what we have learned from this movie:
1) That stealing is ok as long as it's for a noble purpose and only from the rich and sinners.
2) That stalking the girl and getting beaten up in front of her will make her heart melt for you.
3) That you can be a great guy and will still lose in front of the rowdy who got beaten up before you, BUT
4) That if in turn you get a good thrashing as well, that will exponentially improve your chances to make the girl love you.

And some good things? Sure!
5) That Ashutosh Gowariker stole half of the scenes in this movie when he made Jodhaa Akbar (definitely the wedding night scene)
6) That there is a better version of Gone With the Wind and it's Mouna Ragam!
7) That Ilaiyaraja deserves all the love he keeps getting and then some!
8) That there is yet hope for Mani Ratnam if he manages to focus on only one story at a time. For my taste the whole back story of the long lost lover could have been completely done without, leaving room for more of the delightful moments in the second half.

Despite all its faults, I did like the film and would whole heartedly recommend it for the second half which is vastly superior to the first half.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dum Maaro Dum Review

Dolce: You know after seeing Paa when we begged the Gods of Bollywood to cast Abhishek and Vidya again in a movie as a couple? Surely this is not their idea of delivering, is it?
Namak: You mean the split seconds of Vidya that add up from all parts of the film to give us a full minute by the end of it? I sure hope that's not the last we see of them! If it weren't for SRK and Tabu's useless guest appearance in Saathya, then Vidya would take away the Most Useless Guest Appearance by a Big Star award.
Dolce: I still enjoyed it though. It was such a pleasant surprise.
Namak: I felt it was a waste of her time and pretty face. And her status as a class A actress. Not to mention a waste of her acting skills... of which there were none here. Strange casting decision...

Unfortunately the odd casting decisions don't stop here... Mit Jaaye Gham also turned out to be terribly cast, on top of being a really bad song: you take a decent dancer and give her no choreography? If they wanted a photo shoot, why bother to pay Bosco Caesar? Surely plenty of amateur photographers from Bombay would have lined up to do this. For free!!

Namak: And why would they go through all that trouble to make Deepika Padukone look like Priyanka Chopra with the make-up and the clothes? Was Piggy Chops unavailable for this item?
Dolce: Maybe she turned it down. After all, how many more photoshoots of your midriff can you do before it gets old. Priyanka has paid her dues with Fashion and Anjaana Anjaani, no?
Namak: Oh, you give her too much credit. I'm sure we're not done seeing skin from Priyanka, but I do still find it very odd what they did with Deepika's make-up.

While on the topic of the item number and the scenes depicting the rave scene in Goa / Karnataka, I must say it sure seemed like a cool place to be in. Made me think of Miami during the Winter Music Conference, except the blondes are hotter and even less dressed in South Beach. Still, quite a treat to see an alternative to the obligatory club scene. I'm always happy to see sand and trees in a "club" number. Perhaps why I cherish the title song from I Hate Luv Storys as well, despite the terrible dancing. Ah.. to dance on the beach... nothing quite like it!
Of course the coolness factor is reduced to zero when a gunshot paralyses everything and everyone. Last time I was at such a party, I am sure a person could have been shot right next to me and no one would have heard it. Oh well... such poetic licences are to be glossed over else I'd never enjoy another action movie again.

But now back to what was great about Dum Maaro Dum, a thriller about the drug mafia in Goa, the South Beach of India.

Dolce: By the way I always appreciate movies that give other nationalities some space, even if they're all druglords, rowdies and villains. I liked it in Kaminey and I liked it in Dum Maaro Dum. 
Namak: You don't mind the fact that it gives the impression that virtue is all Indian while sin is international?
Dolce: Sure I do, but it also takes India out of its bubble and gives film makers a chance to experiment with accents, non-Indian actors and writing for other cultures. If they keep practicing, eventually they'll even get it right!

The best thing about Dum Maaro Dum is that it works as a thriller. I can count on one hand the Bollywood thrillers that kept me on the edge of my seat until the end, whether they were good movies or not: Kaminey, Ghajini and Dhoom2. All the other ones either lose steam, or they give away too much thus making the "twist" predictable, or they're just boring. So adding DMD to this short list is a great compliment to Rohan Sippy and the gang.

Add to that some great one-liners, usually from badass ACP Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan in my favourite avatar: the too-cool-for-school cop), and you've got yourself a pretty good movie for any audience.

Sure you may have to subtract points for a couple of angelic interventions: one from a dead person and one from St Anthony himself, but hey, it is Bollywood after all!

As much as I enjoyed the other characters, played by Bipasha Basu, Prateik Babbar and Rana Daggubati, for me this movie was all about Abhishek Bachchan and his skinny Southie stache!

No one does this kind of cool as well as Abhishek, except maybe Lorenzo Lamas in the Renegade series. The only two heroes that can sell me the riding off into the sunset scenario while keeping me completely unaware of plot holes, male chauvinism, and other such issues that would bother me in, say, a love story.

But that doesn't go to say the film is not also worth watching for the side stories. I could never understand Joki's involvement right in the thick of things (Rana Daggubati) and why he would put his own life at risk to clear someone's name, but I went with it, and apart from his half baked motivations, I found him to be a charming character. The weakest of them all in terms of writing, as he is not given too much depth, but hey, it's all about Abhishek, remember?

I can't fault the writers too much for the lack of character development in the movie overall because I never expect much of it in an action thriller. So whatever little we are given to work with is all right by me. That goes for Bipasha's fallen angel character, and also for Prateik's squealing teenager who strays from the right path. To be fair, we are given some flashbacks to establish everyone's motivations, so whether these are enough or not is everyone's personal choice. They were not enough for me, but I didn't care.

The other great thing about Dum Maaro Dum is the resolution. They play a little bit with old cliches, but they manage to keep it fresh enough and not wander into "same old" territory. In addition, the fact that there is plenty of irony used in the last half hour of the film, starting with a certain death and ending with a certain burial, wins the film a ton of points from me. I love me some good "Hah!" moments!

As a side note the meandering timeline was exquisitely handled by the editors and there is never a moment when you feel lost or confused.Though you may feel sick to your stomach during some of the prison scenes, or watching some of Kamath's unorthodox interrogation methods. Honestly I looked away during those and chose to erase them from my memory for ever, which is why I will not linger on the topic.

Now would be a good time to talk about the political message of the movie, about the social aspects that it delves into and to start a realism vs filmi discussion, but Dum Maaro Dum is just not that type of film for me: I'd be lying if I said any of these points crossed my mind while I was watching. Call me shallow if you will, but I rather think *not* worrying about such things is the way to go to fully enjoy the film. I'd rather dwell in the meta layer of dialogues and songs borrowed from old Amitabh films and how they come into play brilliantly at different key moments. That's more my kind of kick for this type of film.

Dum Maaro Dum is like Emmenthal cheese: the holes are there but the chewy texture and the slightly bitter taste make you feel almost grateful for them, otherwise it would be too intense. It may not be the best cheese for a Sunday night fancy dinner party, but it will do great in a sandwich at the end of a long day at work. It's complex enough to satisfy and yet thin enough to not weigh you down.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Avva - A Woman's Touch

My first Kannada film. Surely it cannot be the greatest, but since it's my first one, after long and hard consideration, I decided it was worth a post.

Kavita Lankesh, the director, adapted one of her late father's novels for this film, and I must confess reading that got me interested in her debut venture, Deveeri, also an adaptation, starring Nandita Das. I would also not mind reading some of P Lankesh's writing, but I have a feeling those will be even harder to find than Kavita's movies. Surprisingly, she is quite well known, and I say surprisingly because this is one of only a handful of articles that I could find about the film. Maybe they just don't write about her in English so much... heh...

Such a cutie too!

So here's the thing: I usually avoid women writers, they bore me to tears. (Sorry feminists!) It's not that they don't have anything of note to say, it's just that their writing style doesn't strike me as terribly original or remarkable, even when the stories are interesting. I see no benefit in reading something that I could write myself. Now I'm sure that there is a handful of women out there who are fabulous writers, but I have yet to find them and to be honest I am not very interested in doing that research.

But that said, it's funny how a lot of my favourite films were written and/or directed by women: Luck By Chance, Dhobi Ghat, Mr and Mrs Iyer, and now Avva. In a book it annoys me to go through all the tribulations and emotions of one character, over pages and pages of inner thoughts. In a movie however, I find it absolutely delightful. And I noticed that when a woman directs a movie she finds a way to add a special kind of depth that is not coming from the witty script, nor is it coming from the objects and people placed in a frame, nor, as with other directors is it coming from the multiple layers of gold, glitter and jewels (yeah, you know who you are!). Instead it seems to come from somewhere inside each character. A small scene like Mrs Iyer turning away and praying because she drank water from a bottle that had been touched by a Muslim man holds so much meaning with hardly any words spoken.

If you think she's about to throw up, yes, she is!

Now it could be argued that these films are such a delight because they benefit (for the most part) from excellent actors giving it their best. No doubt about it. But I still give a lot of credit to the director for bringing out that best, which not all directors can.

But let me be honest, all this had nothing to do with me purchasing Avva blindly. I had no idea about the director, the actors or the topic. I just thought the picture on the cover looked neat. I know, I know... so many good recommendations I get from people around here, for great movies, and yet I go out and buy (potential) garbage on my own. Don't worry, I have since chastised myself by watching the Bollywood classic Teesri Kasam.

Isn't she it adorable?

So back to Avva, it turns out that the young heroine was a newcomer, Smitha (probably because Nandita Das was too old for the part) and the hero is a well-known crowd pleaser, Vijay. Whoever they are, they were both pretty darn awesome!

But not as awesome as the real heroine of the film, Ragavva, played by veteran actress Shruthi, who I would love to see more of.

Ragavva, to make a long story short, lends money for interest. She's a widow and has to somehow make a living, while also working on getting her only daughter married. Pretty and small minded as she is, Savithri (Smitha) has a collection of suitors at her doorstep (literally!), but she has no dowry and the one suitor who would take her regardless is from a lower caste (Vijay).

Quite a busy doorstep that one! Which brings me to a random observation: a lot of the action in the film, something like 90%, takes place on various doorsteps or with open front doors in the background.

Just another one of those small touches revealing the village mentality where nothing can be hidden inside the four walls of a house. No coincidence then that the immensely gratifying final scene also takes place on Ragavva's doorstep. But I won't spoil that one for you.

Avva reminded me a lot of The Blue Umbrella in the way it captures the village life with all its ups and downs, governed by ancient mentalities and small but meaningful gestures.

Ragavva's reverence in front of money is quite endearing

The village life may seem like just a backdrop, but it is a richly sewn one. Every character that comes and goes leaves their story in memory for further analysis and questioning: is education really that valuable if a girl's marriage and life is compromised by it because she cannot find a man more educated than her? Is a priest who does not believe in God still a priest? Is it the man's fault or the woman's if she leaves him for not being able to perform in bed? Is there life after death? Ok, that last one was just for jokes, but truly a great deal of issues are brought up just by observing the secondary characters in the film.

Beyond all that, the movie for me is made by the character of Ragavva, with her potty mouth and expressive face. As a side note I am a little disappointed that all the dirty swear words that she allegedly uses were translated as "rascal" and "scoundrel". But even so, her badassness comes through in her body language, fierce looks and menacing hand gestures.

That's a Rangavva version of "Rrrhhhey!"
Even so, as ferocious as she is, it is clear from the very start that her only driving force is the love for her daughter, and her ambition to see Savithri settled and happy. Forced to become mother and father after the death of her husband, she had no choice but to grow a pair and use it, else the men in the village would have eaten her alive. Interesting to think that in North American film making we blame successful careers for making a woman tough, not the society, but then I suppose one could look at Rangavva's status in the village as a career as well.

The love story between the two youngsters is shown in glimpses of increasingly steamy moments, which could have gotten the film into trouble with the censor board, but I agree with the director that they help build up the story. They never cross the border into tasteless either, so any criticism of these scenes is unfounded in my humble opinion. One never gets to find out why the two love each other, other than for physical reasons, but then in a village where every conversation gets reproduced on loudspeakers, there hardly seems to be any room left for proper courtship and sweet nothings whispered in the lady's ear.

And while on the topic of the village loudspeakers, in this film they come in the form of a young boy who evidently has not yet mastered the fine art of silence. For this but also for some other random reasons, he always ends up getting slapped or chased with a broom by someone and to be honest I can't say I felt sorry for him most of the time. The movie has a fair amount of people getting physical with each other, but it seems to be part of their way of life so unlike other films that show domestic violence these scenes did not turn my stomach upside down. Though clearly they did make enough of an impact for me to mention it in this review.

Lest I give the impression that this film is more serious than it is, I must also mention that there is a song with Savithri and one of her suitors that looks like the 70s just had to choose between a bottle of kool aid and a bowl of crack and could not make up their minds which one to pick. In fact, it's so trippy that youtube doesn't even have it! Ok, so maybe it's not the craziest acid trip we've ever seen, but it is a lot of fun, I'm a little bummed that I can't find it, so I'll have to settle for screencaps.

You know I'm usually not in favour of unrelated comic relief, but this song was just gold and not something I ever thought I would see outside an 80s Chiranjeevi movie (love you, Chiru, but you know you're guilty of worse!).

The only major criticism that I can bring to this film is that it sometimes seems to lose direction. It held my attention because for me each one of those directions was well worth exploring, but if one is only interested in the main story, they might feel bombarded with too many side plots along the way.

Other than that, hats off to Kavita Lankesh and I am sure to remember this name now. After all, we see so few female directors in India that it's not very difficult to keep an eye on all of the good ones. Especially when some are just men in the guise of women (I still love you, Farah Khan, but sense and sensibility were never your forte).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

2 Degrees: A Film's Nutritional Value

I was thinking about Sitaji's blog name the other day, Bollywood Food Club, and because it was early morning and I was on my way to work, my mind, not surprisingly, wandered towards food. I came to a very strange conclusion: my tastes in food and my tastes in films are practically identical! So because nutrition has been one of my interests for many years, this legitimately qualifies as 2 Degrees of Separation.

~ Sugar free ~

No Yash Raj, that does not mean you get to substitute with saccharine which is even worse for you.

Anyone living in North America knows how hard (if not downright impossible) it is to keep sugar out of your diet since it's practically in everything. Does bread need sugar? Nope, but it's in there! Do pickles need sugar? Does yogurt? Nope, but it's in there too. It boggles the mind how many ways there are to get you to eat sugar, it's like a conspiracy! So like it or not, just like I can't keep syrups out of Indian films, I can't completely eliminate sugar out of my diet either, but I can do my darnedest to limit it. With films this is usually done by avoiding 90's films, sappy love-stories and family melodramas at all costs. Oh, and Karan Johar!

I've come to the conclusion that this is why I like South Indian films so much: the romance is most of the times an after thought. Now I realize this undermines women's rights and possibly turns them into sex objects and all that (especially when their only role is to look good shaking it in mini-skirts whenever the need for a song arises), but not having to see the weepy love scenes is worth that price for me.

Of course every now and again there comes a dessert that even I can't refuse. Swati's brownies are very similar to Fanaa: I know they're full of sugar and carbs, I know they'll give me no nutrition whatsoever, but I still crave them. And one day, I promise, one day I will make them! But luckily I only get these cravings a few times a year.

~ Fat free ~

I am not a fan of the fat-free fad that takes fat out of everything. And the main reason for that is: there's good fat and bad fat. I like to have proper fat if it's of the good kind. So not surprisingly, I love my Chiru even in his old age. And while I would probably bite anyone's head off if they dared call Mumaith Khan fat, I'd say she's at least a 4% if we think in skim milk terms. The Goddess Madhuri was also a solid 2% and sometimes even a 4% in her days. And you know what, 4% is fine by me if that's what the product calls for.

But what I do hate and try to avoid is the evil trans fats. You know, the stuff in chips, burgers and ramen noodle soups. In movies that would correspond to useless but fattening fillers such as comedy tracks, useless side plots and crappy songs. Things that only exist in this world to waste your energy. And unfortunately exercising in fast-forwarding does not count as a work-out, as much as I would like it to.

Ugh! No, just no!

~ Whole grain, multi grain ~

It's not the same thing, I know, but they have the same benefits: more nutrients, easier to digest, plenty of substance. They also give you steady energy for longer because they slow down the absorption of carbs.

Just like I like lots of nutrients and  in my bread, I like a lot of substance in my films. A movie that doesn't give me anything lasting is not a movie I will rush to recommend.

But every now and again I cannot deny myself a nice fluffy butter croissant and to hell with the calories! It's not very often I fall in love with a fluffy film, but it happens, as I already ranted before.

~ How about gluten free? ~

Coming from a country where it's not uncommon to ask for a slice of bread with your mashed potatoes, I am definitely not yet convinced of the benefits of gluten free. Still very fond of my staple wheat and my cheap bread and I am not ready to exchange that for all kinds of kooky substitutes, just like I am not in favour of Indian movies giving up their trademarked ingredients: the songs, the randomness, the colours and most importantly the warmth. The day has not yet come for Bollywood to be gluten free and I sincerely hope it never comes. Just switch to a sustainable whole grain and that will be more than enough, thank you!

~ Spicy as hell! ~

I used to never eat spicy food and pepper was my worst enemy (of course, this was before I discovered the hateful coriander). But sushi changed all that, and now I ask for extra spicy when I order my Indian food. Apparently it's good for you too, something about kick starting your metabolism, and your... errr, I'll spare you the details.

But most spices are good for you, not just the chili based ones, so I use them all in abundance. I like the idea of my food tasting different and of mixing up all kinds of things to see if they make for a tastier dish. Which is why putting curry and cumin in my omelets is not a matter of debate anymore.

Similarly, I like the fact that Indian films bring me a whole new world of tastes and visions that I would not experience otherwise. If one can travel through food, one can travel through movies too. Sure the Moroccan food in Toronto will never be the same as in Morocco (sadly, a far cry from it!), just like the world of Tashan will never correspond to anything in real life in India, so it hardly counts as traveling, but even the most nonsensical Indian film has potential to be delightfully spicy and intriguing, just by virtue of being different.

But for the most part, just like using imported spices gives you an idea of the taste of food elsewhere, Indian films also manage to give me a bit of insight into another culture. As skewed as that may be.

~ Good looking, of course! ~

Well that's a given: who doesn't like a good looking dish? Sometimes the dish looks far more appetizing than it tastes and you're disappointed. Not unlike slick, promising films failing to deliver because of bad scripts or terrible acting. But I give points for looks anyway, even if the taste doesn't quite hit the target. After all, even the loosely scripted and outrageously predictable Game gets points from me for "good looks, good looks and... good looks", as Poo would aptly say.

And if the dish/movie tastes even better than it looks, well then all the more reason to rave about it!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'm sure there are other similarities if I give it some more thought, but before I put everyone to sleep with my healthy lifestyle obsessions, this seems like sufficient proof for why I measure my healthy food and my good Indian films on the same scale. To tell you the truth, when I started thinking about it I didn't think I would find so many similarities, but there must be something there is this was so easy to write. So thank you, Sitaji for inspiring this one, and... Bon Apetit everyone!