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Bajirao Mastani – A Review January 4, 2016

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Rarely does one get to see a Bollywood film in its 3rd week on a big screen. Bajirao Mastani is one of those which is still running 6 shows in a cinema hall near you. Of course, it is not running houseful anymore but in the show we went to see about 40% hall was full and it was a 7:40 PM Sunday late evening show.

The film is mesmerizing, it is nothing or maybe almost nothing about history but it is all about love knows no barriers and no one can stop love from flourishing except death, and may be even death doesn’t do love apart.

I loved camera work in the movie, a few drone and a few helicopter shots were truly unbelievable, one memorable shot which is definitely going to encourage me to see this film is a dance sequence where drone footage has been added to make you feel that you are actually getting an aerial view straight and something is really unfolding in front of you.

I was not too happy with dresses of Priyanka Chopra & Deepika Padukone, they were not well researched and executed. They were expensive, rich and flamboyant, but they were definitely not period dresses.

Story was very fictional and editing could’ve been tighter. At a few places you just wished for the scene to end. Overall I liked the film, would have preferred it to be at least 20 minutes shorter. Battle scenes were compromised, needed more real impact. It should’ve been shot on a much larger scale. Using Amber Fort of Jaipur as a backdrop was a bad idea.  Chemistry between Ranveer & Deepika was not as deep as expected, Priyanka though had a second female lead role had great dialogs and she delivered them powerfully.

Go and see if you haven’t seen it yet.


Leela Kempinski Delhi – A Quick Review May 1, 2011

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Date: April 29, 2011 (Friday)

Purpose: NASSCOM Social Media Summit

Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: On roundabout after Sarojni Nagar Bus Depot, just before the under bridge, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi, India

Building: Built to last, I said “Thank God, it is not yet another glass house”

Comments: Great property, dead hotel. Would love if Leela hands over management to Oberoi, Taj or ITC. I have no hesitation in saying that the management even in the state run “The Ashok” on the end of Africa Avenue (Same Road) is more effective and responsive than what I experienced in “Leela Kempinski”

Some random thoughts which were scribbled while at the hotel:

  1. Wow – This looks good, grand and Capt Nair’s style all around.
  2. Hello, hello, hello – Acoustics, how have they managed it to forget about them altogether.
  3. Chairs, most private banquet halls in Delhi offer better than them. Less cushioning, less width. Conference chairs have to factor in that many “senior executives” wear suits in Delhi year through.
  4. Service: Service? Admire our property, what service, look at that vase, look at our elephants and please remember they are different than Mayawati’s elephants.
  5. Tea: Admire our tea cups as you stand in a tight queue for 15 minutes, don’t confuse our tea cups with corporate begging bowls though you may feel like you are begging for a cup of tea to remain participative despite having to strain to hear anything because of poor acoustics.
  6. Food: Look at our serving dishes,  they are finest in the world. What is the issue if have run out of food and we may take 20 minutes to replenish it, do discussions for which you have come and admire our cutlery.
  7. Staff: Admire their uniform, why do you have to hear them saying “BCs and MCs between themselves just an earshot away from our lady responsible for running the show.
  8. Food labels: You better not be a  vegetarian if you come to visit us. We focus on food not on label.

I would not try to balance this article as there is only one side to Leela Kempinski Delhi and that is “They just don’t get it”

Blue Ginger – Taj Palace Delhi – Review March 9, 2011

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1. Upscale Vietnamese Restaurant
2. Food: Excellent, I had the only seafood soup on the menu, loved it. Main course of Fish in Hanoi style, Chicken a variety of Satay and sticky rice. I have not had better Vietnamese food in Delhi.
3. Ambiance: Ultra modern, but tight seating for a fine dining restaurant.
4. Service: Horrible, we were let down again and again.

5. Lunch for two with soup, without drinks is about Rs 3,000.00 plus tips

The T3 Terminal – New Delhi – A Review August 15, 2010

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  1. The roads are painted with vehicle lanes but proper light doesn’t fall on them.
  2. Entrance and Airlines Gates require some more order.
  3. Approach to the Departure terminal was obstruction free.
  4. Airline (BA) staff looked lost amidst challenge.
  5. Hand baggage tags can become a big issue if you miss at Airline counter.
  6. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Lounge has issues, needs to put its act together.
  7. Immigration was hassle free and smooth.
  8. There is still work going on.
  9. There is more English & only English usage at T3 than even at BA’s T5 in London.
  10. You don’t get a feeling of “‘too many of us” the terminal is BIG.
  11. As a first impression the terminal looks more like a big Shopping Mall & a 100 restaurant food court.
  12. Overall the experience was a pleasant change.

Gajalee Vile Parle, Mumbai – Review March 16, 2010

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Date: March 15, 2010

Time: 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

City: Mumbai (Vile Parle Outlet)

Address: Kadamgiri Complex, Hanuman Road, Vile Parle (E) Mumbai -57

Country: India

Restaurant: Gajalee; Owner Gajalee Coastal Food Pvt. Ltd.

Occasion: Been there done that.

Cuisine: Malvani – (Malvan is a town towards south extreme coast of Maharashtra. Malvani cuisine is arguably different than the Konkani cuisine in variety of dishes and in form of preparation)

Format – Casual Non A/c and Air-conditioned Semi-Fine Dining

Drinks: Diet Coke – No issues (Rs 35/-)

Soup:  Sol Kadhi – It is a traditional Malvani soup made of Coconut and Kokum flower, very tasty, refreshing and a natural appetizer. it takes couple of minutes to feel what the soup does as an appetizer, once done you may not be able to stop at one.  It is served in a glass like a drink and is pink in color and slightly above the room temperature (Rs 25/-) 5/5

Starter: (Non veg) Bombil Fry (Rice flour coated fried Bombay Duck fish fillet) served with Green Chutney (Chutney made of onion, Mint, Cilantro, Ginger, Garlic and spices) (Rs 150/-) Wow taste, my personal choice would have been slightly less oily 4/5 for Fish and 5/5 for chutney.

Starter: (Veg) Paneer Tikka Hariayali – Tandoori Paneer Tikka marinated with Sesame Seeds, Mint and Green Masala. very well cooked (Rs 200/-)  5/5

Main Course: (Non Veg) – Baby Shark Masala (Cytora Moori Fish) Masala had Kokum flower for flavor and fragrance. Slightly spicy for my taste (Rs 175/-) 4.5/5

Main Course: (Non Veg) – Crab Stick Kabab (In picture) Excellent, served with onion flakes and lemon slice (Rs 225/-) 5/5

Main Course: (Veg) – Mushroom Peas Masala – I was told it was a Punjabi Dish (I am sure it was not). The flavor of fresh peas was standing on its own in front of a great gravy and super tasty mushrooms (Rs 200/-). 4/5

Breads: Chappati & Roti (Rs 10/- & Rs 20/-) perfect 5/5

Important: As they cook fresh, it is important that you order by course together, not an ideal place for “as you eat” ordering

We didn’t go in for any dessert/ sweet dish.

Thank you Sharad for joining me and tolerating me while I went about creating my notes.

More to come…

My Name is Khan A Movie Review February 14, 2010

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Having spent lot of time in the US and traveled and saw more of US than most US citizens do in their life time, I could relate to the movie better than my wife and daughter who have spent less than 60 days in the US. There are lot of things which can look odd to those who haven’t had significant US exposure, just ignore them and enjoy the movie.

Here we go:

  1. Great story
  2. OK story telling
  3. Loose editing, quite a few compulsive fillers
  4. Shahrukh Khan – I can’t help comparing the three Super Actors  I would rate Amitabh Bachchan in Rann as the best, followed by Aamir Khan as the second best in 3 idiots and Shahrukh Khan as the third amongst equals. Great performance though. I think the movie had an overdose of SRK which didn’t allow other characters to evolve.
  5. Kajol – proves once again that she is a natural actor and she allows her heart to act out her character. It is her heart all over, in movement of her eyes, hands and fall of hair – her heart rules and dictates how everything else about her would move.
  6. Zarina Wahab – Plays mother dear too well, she is great in the limited exposure and a pro Rizwan character bias  of the camera unit.
  7. Soniya Jahan – All of us who understand American Islam can related to her character very well, my daughter how ever found it tough to relate to her character. She was exactly what her role was, right casting and absolutely right portrayal.
  8. Cinematography – This department needed help the most. Too much obsession with Shahrukh Khan made this the weakest point of the film. I fail to understand the focus on anything else in climax scenes than the plot. Why focus on lamps and photo frames when plot is unfolding.
  9. Music – I enjoyed the music. It was good and not overdone.
  10. Sets – Few were out-of-place, but most were proper and awesome.
  11. Dress – By and large fine, could have been better, I didn’t like too much focus on Reebok  they made me lose pulse of the film on two occasions.

Over all 4/5

Batteel Bakery Choclates – A Review February 9, 2010

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Recently Kaushik went to Doha and got for me as a favor from the prospect a box of Chocolates. Now a box of Dates from Doha would do, but Chocolates from Doha, Qatar make you think twice. The box arrived, it looked nice but nothing happened with it. Yesterday i opened the box and picked up one chocolate from there. One chocolate would be a wrong way to describe it, it should be that I picked one piece of “Master Chocolatiers masterpiece”

Right color, right flavor, right bite size, right aroma, right filling and right taste. A good chocolate for me should hold, before it melts and when it melts its should explode and cover your whole mouth, this one did exactly that.

I went in for another and another and another, decided to hold back, told myself, maybe I had a horrible mouth so anything would do? Today morning the magic happened again and is happening still. I would rate the chocolates amongst the best I have had outside of Brussels.

I am not sure how many would get a chance to devour it, but if you get to, don’t leave it thinking it is yet another box of chocolates .

Pizza Hut – Janakpuri – A review February 7, 2010

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Pizza Hut Janakpuri outlet is located inside Satyam Cinema Complex in District Center Janakpuri. The restaurant since it opened about three years back has expanded thrice. Now it is one of the largest restaurants in the complex.

Yesterday Harmeen and yours truly decided to go for a leisurely lunch and we thought we would eat at Pizza Hut what we have never had before. So here we go:

  1. Ambiance: 8/10 As it has been made in parts, it needs one serious makeover to reach 10/10
  2. Staff: 6/10 We reached at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon, the manager was busy on his laptop for all of one hour we were there. The other staff was also in a holiday mood
  3. Crockery & Cutlery: 7/10 Standard Pizza Hut variety- I felt that they must change it more frequently.
  4. Mushroom Soup: Rs 39.00 – 8/10 – Harmeen liked it a lot
  5. Masala Lemonade: Rs 49.00 – 9/10 Pizza Hut’s take on – We will do anything to succeed in India. It was good and they didn’t bill me for the refill.
  6. Cheese Tortillas: Rs 69.00 – 9/10 Great, the sauce could have been better.
  7. Pasta – Fusilli in Mushroom Sauce: Rs 139.00 – 8/10 It tasted good, but we would preferred little more sause and some more mushrooms in the sauce
  8. Pasta – Fusilli  in Spicy Tomato Sauce:   Rs 99.00 – 9/10 Cheery tomatoes and red chili almost always do the trick.
  9. Ebony & Ivory Dessert: Slice of Chocolate Cake, with Hot Chocolate Sauce and a Scoop of Vanilla Ice-cream: Rs 79.00 – 5/10 Looks like pushing it down to this price point is a tough compromise. They write it is adequate for two, which it may not be. The scoop of ice-cream is too small for sharing
  10. They charge you for service – Service Charges @10% and 15% Tax on post service charged amount add to about 27% extra

Still worth it. Best Value for Money – I would rate it overall 9/10

Rann – A movie review January 31, 2010

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A review which deserves my rating first – I rate Rann as 10/10

  1. Good story
  2. Great story telling
  3. Fast pace, no fillers
  4. Excellent cinematography
  5. Amitabh Bachchan – Mind blowing performance any age, any time. His eyes talk and they talked alot in this movie
  6. Ritesh Deshmukh – He has it in him, I loved his role
  7. Gul Panag – She is a breath of fresh air in a thoroughly male dominated movie
  8. Sudeep – Stellar performance, you could read his mind and move with him and I exactly knew how he would jump when he decided to do that
  9. Paresh Rawal – He is a great actor, did his job well but there were so many great performances, his couldn’t stand out
  10. Mohnish Behl – He can be the rising supporting actor of today, it was a controlled performance and he looked well
  11. Rajat Kapoor – He speaks less and talks more, and he is good at it
  12. Neetu Chandra – Yasmin role for anyone against Sudeep performance would have been a challenge, she took up and delivered on the dot
  13. Simone Singh – Few scenes, great screen domination – you remeber her character
  14. Cinematography – Class, the way the camera moves, you feel you are there. In some scenes I felt that I was seeing from the eyes of Ritiesh Deshmukh’s character. Excellent.
  15. Music – You need music in a bollywood film, don’t you? This movie just had it to that purpose
  16. Sets – Were they sets, it was real, absolutely real
  17. Dress – Not one scene where you wonder, appropriate for everyone in all scenes

Lights, Camera, Action – Super

India Today, the magazine is dying January 24, 2010

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Everytime I hold a copy of India Today, I am reminded of an institution which played a massive role in my thought building process between the years 1977 – 2000. I am reminded of how I would ensure that I read the copy the same day it is out and how we would always get two copies at our home as there was this mad rush to read it.

Somewhere between 2000 and 2005 the obsession transformed into a desire and post 2005 the desire came even a notch down and became connect. From a must read, first thing first, cover to cover in 10 years India Today has become for me “I also read India Today”

The reasons for this are not hard to find:

It has become flimsy, lacks depth and doesn’t offer anything new.
The Impact Feature is a big NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Multilayer covers confuse me and distract me.
Aroon Purie’s editorials now are hollow and hardly worth a read.
I dislike the “staged photo journalism” – can’t relate India Today to it even after 10 years of India Today getting into it.
The number of right hand side ads is always increasing and obstructs my reading flow.
Too many center spread ads make me wonder why do I pay for the magazine, it is India Today which should pay me.
Stapled in or gummed advertising inserts add to the insult.
Path-breaking stories just don’t happen.
One issue doesn’t even bring out one fact which was not in the air anyway.
Last page has become too predictable.

I can go on and on, in short from a complete exciting meal in the 70s, 80s and 90s – India Today has become a slice of white bread, I still eat it but no longer look forward to it.