Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When the sting is sharper than its pungency: 6 surefire ways to avert onion crisis in future

Forget the stock markets crashing, forget the Yuan devaluing, there's something more critical that needs our immediate attention! Yes, it’s the humble onions again that share the same volatile space with the Sensex and Nifty. This peculiar seasonal crisis affects the aam admi and the khaas admi alike. While chefs in the restaurant must be thinking of new ideas to manage the supply of onions, the roadside fast food and tiffin joints are wondering how to cope with this catastrophe. The aam janta is getting inked like we do in elections!

 If the trend continues, soon you’ll refer to your dear one as the ‘onion of your eye’ than the apple of your eyes and you might end up gifting bags of onions to your friends on special occasions! Can you imagine how it feels when your favorites like Masala Dosa , Sambar, or Ragda Chat, Raita, Green Salad and Pakodas will be compromised for some unlikely substitutes like cabbages? I fail to understand how cabbages can come anywhere close to onions in taste and texture, other than peeling the layers and the Sulphur content.

The situation seems to be really grave with the government intervening with different steps to control hoarding, stealing and other unfair ways.  So, now onions are also linked with Aadhar and what’s even surprising is the use of indelible ink to avoid any foul play.  How about some tips to combat the crisis and make sure that our precious tears are reserved for something better than onions!

Declare onion as the national vegetable of India: This should happen soon since no other vegetable qualifies for this title other than onions. Well, potatoes may come as a close second though. Onions unite the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians across the length and breadth of India, being the common ingredient in most of our dishes.

Bring your own onions: The fast food vendors, especially the chaat bhandar types, can insist on the customers to bring their own onions to avoid any compromises on taste and confrontations on price. However weird and debatable this may sound.

Reserve and preserve:  True, this indispensable vegetable is unique and doesn’t lend itself to many forms of preservation other than paste and powder. And sadly for Indian cuisine we mostly depend on fresh onions by chopping, cutting, slicing, sautéing and so on…So, we need some innovative ways of processing this kitchen staple.

Go Satvik for a while: Whether you believe in Ayurveda or not, there’s no harm in trying Satvik way to food. This no onion-no garlic diet may introduce us to new ways of appreciating vegetarian way of life before getting back to the Tamasic diet.

Grow your own onions: Since onions grow very well in pots, how about some planned cultivation in your backyard or balcony? Imagine how de-stressing gardening can be, and the bonus of harvesting some organic onions and spring onions too!

Onion insurance for farmers and traders: What better way than insuring against natural calamities, crop failure, and burglary of onions like it recently happened in Nashik, when 2000 kilograms of onions were stolen from a storage facility.

Importing onions, keeping a tab on the produce, rationing, controlling price etc are all the typical ways to resolve seasonal crisis and defusing panic. The tips mentioned above will definitely restore the smile on the face of the cook, the chef and the connoisseur who have always taken onions for granted.

Thanks Sujay Midde for the crowned onions pic :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sholay and more: A musical tribute to 20 Bollywood movies turning 40 this year

Apart from Sholay and Deewar, there are several other movies that turn 40 this year! Let's go retro and rewind to 1975. That was when we had jubilee hits with stories, songs, actors, actresses, directors, music composers, lyricists, back stage artists coming together to create magic on silver screen. Unlike today’s race for fastest 100 crores or 500 crores in multiplexes and single screens, back then, the commercial aspects of box office must have been a different story altogether. Today, I can only imagine how terrific it must've been to be a movie buff in that age, it must've been like a canvas filled with different colours - romance, crime thrillers, comedy, social drama, devotional stories and so on! 5 releases of Amitabh Bachchan, 3 of Gulzar... In fact, the emotional side of these movies seem to complement each other, than competing!
Collage made with pictures from the Web
It was a golden year for the trio RD Burman-Gulzar-Kishore Kumar (and Asha Bhosle) with Shailendra Singh and Bhupinder finding their niche with unique renditions! The year also had some soul stirring lyrics, beautifully woven into the screenplay. The Salil Chaudhury song Na jaane kyon hota hai zindagi ke saath and Aaye tum yaad mujhe gaane lagi har dhadkan by S D Burman and Ek din bik jaayega mati ke mol by R D Burman are iconic of the times. Apart from Sholay other movies that were hits (huge and moderate hits, may be) were: Chupke Chupke, Deewar, Aandhi, Dharam Karam, Julie, Sanyasi, Mili,  Amanush, Jai Santoshi Maa, Choti si baat, Khushboo, Rafoo Chakkar, Mausam, Khel kel mein, Nishant, Kala sona, Geet Gata Chal, Faraar, Zameer. Let's reconstruct the year and go back in time to feel how it must have been!
Sholay, a landmark movie with so many legendary things about it. This multi starrer is ever green for its story, characters, screenplay and dialogues serving as a school for aspiring film makers. The song I like most from this movie:

Deewar by Yash Chopra had story and dialogues that will be remembered for ever. The dramatic clash between two brothers is epitomized in the immortal dialogues like tum sign karoge ya nahin... It was another hit from Salim-Javed that brought the best out of Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor. I love the song maine tujhe maanga tujhe paaya hai
Chupke Chupke, a multi starrer, gave us a classic comedy, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Some of the most memorable scenes from this movie were between Dharmendra and Om Prakash. Though the title song is always refreshing to listen to, enjoy ab ke sajan sawan mein for the way it was picturized on Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore.
Aandhi, the political drama had the best of Gulzar, Sanjeev Kumar, RD Burman and Kishore Kumar. This combo might have done several other movie but nothing can beat the soulful duets with Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Here's Tere bina zindagi se shikva...

Mausam by Gulzar, had Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore (in double role). This dramatic love story was aptly complemented with incomparable music. The magical voice of Bhupinder made Dil dhoondta hai an all time classic.

Mili by Hrishi Da had Big B, Jaya Bachchan and Ashok Kumar. Music was exceptional as it captured the angst of the character and conveyed some eternal things about life and living balanced with a delicate romantic angle. I can listen to this song for ever: Aaye tum yaad mujhe gaane lagi har dhadkan
Rafoo Chakkar and Khel Kehl Mein had Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh in lead roles. The young and peppy songs from these movies are landmarks in the singing career of Shailendra Singh. Tumko mere dil ne pukara hai
Humne tum ko dekha from Khel Khel mein
Julie starring Lakshmi and Vikram with award winning music by Rajesh Roshan, Other than evergreen numbers like Bhool gaya sab kuch, Dil kya kare jab kisise kisi ko pyaar ho jaaye  it had one of the first songs in English. Here’s My heart is beating by Preeti Sagar.
Choti Si Baat by Basu Chatterjee had most memorable music with golden hits like Jaaneman jaaneman...  Music by Salil Da was as refreshing as his lasting melodies in earlier movie Rajnigandha. This social comedy starred Amol Palekar, Vidya Sinha and Ashok Kumar. My favorite song from the movie is Na jaane kyon hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath
Geet Gaata Chal, from Rajshri Productions, another blockbuster musical with songs rooted in social realities, written and composed by Ravindra Jain. It had Sachin, Sarika in lead roles. Who can forget the beautiful Shyam teri bansi pukaare Radha naam.

Nishant, based on sexual exploitation of women, with a story based in feudal India had all the big names: Vijay Tendulkar, Satyadev Dubey, Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah. Directed by Shyam Benegal, this was won several national and international awards and had lilting music by Vanraj Bhatia. My favourite song is by Preeti Sagar:

Amanush, a Shakti Samanta movie had Sharmila Tagore and Uttam Kumar in lead roles. Originally in Bengali, the film was made in many other languages. Listen to the beautiful lyrics ....Saagar kitna mere paas hai, mere jeevan men phir bhi pyaas hai.

Jai Santoshi Maa was one of the blockbusters with devotional songs, based on the story of the goddess of satisfaction. With lyrics by Kavi Pradeep, it has super hit devotional numbers by Usha Mangeshkar and Mahendra Kapoor.

 Zameer from B. R. Chopra films was another box office hit for the Big B. It had Another Kishore Kumar super hit: Tum bhi chalo hum bhi chale chalti rahe zindagi
Khushboo was the third release for Gulzar in the same year with Jeetendra and Hema Malini in lead roles. If it had a peppy song like Bechara dil kya kare, it also had a serious number like O majhi re, apna kinara to nadiya ke dhaara hai, with the magic of RD, Gulzar and Kishore Kumar doing the magic again!
Faraar, another Big B film was a crime drama. It had Sharmila Tagore and Sanjeev Kumar as well. I like the song Main pyaasa tum saavan
Kala Sona was an action thriller with stars like Feroz Khan and Parveen Babi. The song Sun sun kasam se, raha jaaye na hum se by Shailendra Singh was hugely popular, adding another feather to RD Burman’s cap!
Dharam karam was produced by Raj Kapoor. This father-son story had one of the greatest hit songs of RK. The movie might not have been a great hit but the song Ek din bik jaayega maati ke mol, jag me rehe jaayenge pyaare tere bol..will be remembered by generations to come:
Warrant was a Dev Anand starrer with Zeenat Aman and Pran. The movie has a popular number from RD Burman and Kishore Kumar: Ruk jaana o jaana humse do baatein
*This blog is based on information from the Internet, particularly Wikipedia. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of information in terms of release date of movies.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Celebrating the warp, the weft and the weave

Hands that dream designs
Hands that weave magic
Come together
Create patterns, motifs
In silk, cotton
Or different threads
And connect us all far and wide
The fabric that can never divide
Mangalagiri to Panipat
Maheshwari or Baluchari
The shared heritage
And wealth of designs
That recreates India
Multihued and multilayered
Filled with a million dreams!

The warp and the weft
Make sure nothing is left
As they
Weave a thread up and a thread down
Skilled hands master the loom
To create stories of yore
Like they never did before
Blending the traditional with the modern
Let's make sure that this art lives on forever
Giving the artisans their means of living
Like the threads that weave a tale
Handloom needs our support to pick up a sale
Visit online or a shop close by
Pick up a handloom and wear it
Or adorn the interiors of your home
Even better, gift a handloom
To make the industry bloom!