Azhar … when the God faltered!!!

In India, Cricket is a religion and Cricketers are Gods … Azhar is a story of a God who faltered and paid a price!

Azharuddin (lovingly called Azhar by fans and teammates) was one of the most successful captains of the Indian Cricket team. With a dream debut of 3 centuries in his career’s first three matches and safest hands on the team, he was loved by all!

The movie depicts his journey, his personal life with 2 marriages and his match fixing allegations which got him a life ban ultimately to be revoked by the Hyderabad High Court till very recently! The movie also tells you to make your own inferences about his allegations but at the same time leads you onto certain paths deliberately! 
Too much dramatisation and commercial viability seems to diluted what otherwise would have been a great story. Emran Hashmi tries to look the part and acts well, but still feels amiss at some places. Prachi Desai as his first wife is good, and Nargis Fakri as Sangeeta his second wife is a disaster! 

The detailing in the plot and even the court sequences is absent and one has to resign to the fact that the production team was not competent enough to make such a great biopic (the saas-bahu hangover in Ekta Kapoor productions is quite visible). The Indian team’s characterisation could have been done in a much more contextual manner and the only player that stands out is the guy playing Manoj Prabhakar. 

There was a time when I used to watch cricket and remember how darling Azhar used to be to us. I had friends aping his style of fielding or the flick of the wrist shot he was so famous for. His match fixing scandal was setback to all and most fans refused to believe it. What the real story is only Azhar and his Allah knows, but the sad part is that we lost a great player and simple human to the monster of match fixing! 

Go watch him play one last time if you are a fan too!

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Airlift … Ask what not the country can do for you, but what you can do for your countrymen!

1,70,000 Indians, 488 Flights, 59 days and 1 man, we’ve seen this promotional message for the movie Airlift all over. But when you sit down to imagine the scale of it, it leaves you baffled and you wonder is it even possible for one man to achieve this. A story of an Indian in a foreign land, living a life of luxury and comfort that he doesn’t even consider himself an Indian but a native of the foreign land. A land which turns into a war zone and the Indian community disowned by the local government and unsure about the stance of the Indian government are left to fend for themselves.

Desperate times calls for desperate measure and this is what Akshay Kumar’s character does in the movie. He forgets that he has a family of 3 but realizes he has a family of more than 1.5 lakh Indians living in a country they considered their own but that has abandoned them to the mercy of a ruthless invading army. Brilliant performances by Akshay Kumar as a business tycoon Ranjit Katiyal (loosely based on two Indian businessmen Vedi and Matthews) and Nimrat Kaur as his concerned, nagging and supportive wife. Supported well by the VJ turned actor Purab Kohli, Prakash Belawadi as the ever cynical Mr. George and Kumud Mishra (The Canteen owner in Rockstar) as the Joint Secretary of MEA who is the Babu who sees the safe passage of Indians.

Airlift ... does make you feel good coming out of the cinema ... true or false, reality or dramatized, the movie is very well made!

Airlift … does make you feel good coming out of the cinema … true or false, reality or dramatized, the movie is very well made!

Raja Menon’s direction is tightly bound and just 10 minutes into the movie, he takes off, controls the plot and never lets it go without being too overtly gory about details. The movie ends on a patriotic note as expected and though dramatization did take over some sequences, the transformation of the protagonist from a Ruthless, selfish, profit-hungry business man, to a messiah and a noble character has been effectively portrayed.

Though the story is based on real and true events, it is not entirely how it happened and in fact another website has gone to the extent of saying that the whole plot of the movie is a con-job by Akshay Kumar and the film crew. Great timing one would say as it is the Republic day weekend and great time to cash on the patriotic passion. But then, isn’t it too much in fashion to find flaws in something that makes the masses feel good. Or are we a generation that looks for more negativity than positivity. I believe a country is not made up of the government or politicians who stick to their kursis (chairs) for 5 years like parasites, nor do I think a Babu (crude term for a a bureaucrat) can work unless there is a catalyst. It’s people like you and me and the character portrayed by Akshay, which make a country. The compassion and feeling of ownership for ones’ fellow citizens is what a country is all about. The need to help a fellow countryman in need is what a country is all about. A man who tapped his network, his resources and his negotiating skills to get people to safety and who acted as a catalyst, while being cynical about the system, rose up for his fellow countrymen.

I say, enjoy the movie, clap your heart out, be proud you are an Indian, get inspired and be thankful that someone made a brilliant movie which helps breed more patriots, who the more intellectual breed calls jingoistic! I can only hope that Indians continue to rise to the occasion whenever the need arises and a movie like Airlift (no matter how true or false it is) can get us inspired from such acts of valour!

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Meat at the Joint … food crafted by hand & heart!!!

We Live to Eat … that has been our food group’s essence, but very few people understand that unconditional Love for food. Above that very few restaurateurs actually showcases their unconditional love for food in their creations. With all guns blazing (in this case forks and knives) the ‪#‎kibitzNINJAS landed up at The Joint Cafe for a night of some Meaty adventure. Vikrant Singh Mathur, the owner of the Joint, had promised the meat lovers a meal which they had never tasted before and we raided his restaurant to put his words to test.

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The Joint Cafe … crafted by hand and heart!

Tucked up comfortably on the upper floor of the DLF Galleria market, which has lately seen a surge in the eating joints, The Joint is a quaint little cafe with a comfortable seating for around 25 people, completely reconceived and redesigned by Vikrant when he took it over almost 3 years ago. Known for its Holy Cow (tenderloin) Burgers, the cafe is a hit with the Expat community of Gurgaon, along with the young ones who even stop by for a steamy hot cup of Hot Chocolate while enjoying the music. The passion and personal touch shows in the decor, especially the walls, which Vikrant has adorned with posters of Hollywood starts to great Rock bands from his collection.

The Quaint cafe with warm interiors and a cozy seating!

The Quaint cafe with warm interiors and a cozy seating!

The stars on the wall ... a personalized touch by the owner, Vikrant!

The stars on the wall … a personalized touch by the owner, Vikrant!

However, not just the decor but also the food has been curated with personalized touch and preferences at Joint. As the tagline goes … “crafted by hand and heart”.  For now, I will let the pictures do the talking!

The Joint read to host the #kibitzNINJAS

The Joint read to host the #kibitzNINJAS

Guys take a bow and for those who would like to know what all we gorged on, the dishes for the will blow you away and you might just ask, “Did you really eat all that?”

We started with the BBQ Chicken Wings and the wings vanished before the server even set the tray in on the table.

The winter mulled ... happy and high!

The winter mulled … happy and high!

Pork Ribs in Honey BBQ Sauce!

Pork Ribs in Honey BBQ Sauce!

The Chicken Wings!

The Chicken Wings!

Next in line and in sizes I have never witnessed were the Glazed BBQ Pork Ribs in smoked Honey BBQ Sauce. The Winter Mulled Wine arrived right alongside and as the Chef said, a necessary accompaniment to the meats that were starting to roll.

Weeping Roast Lamb!

Weeping Roast Lamb!

We Ribs were amazing and we were unabashedly stuffing our mouths with them, when the Weeping Lamb Roast was served to us. The Whole leg cooked in garlic and rosemary flavour was chewy enough for us to enjoy the texture, but cooked well enough (to use a cliché) to melt in the mouth.

The mighty Pork Shoulder ... completely floored by this piece of meat!

The mighty Pork Shoulder … completely floored by this piece of meat!

I did get to do the honours!

I did get to do the honours!

The star and what took my breath away was the Pork Shoulder Roast cooked in Bordeaux Wine and served with Herbed Potatoes and Bacon Jam (yup, you heard that BACON Jam). I did get the honour of carving up this massive piece of meat and test my skills with the Chef’s weapons. The Meat was so well cooked all through the inside that the Cuts were easy, though I did display some amount of finesse.

From the Boar to the Bird and we had three different varieties of Birds lined up. The whole Chicken Roast again marinated in Wine, was artistically laid out on a bed leafy greens served with cut veggies soaking in the Chicken’s sauce. The gloves were off and one of us just snapped a leg of Chicken and got down to work.

The Guinea Fowl stuffed with bacon!

The Guinea Fowl stuffed with bacon!

Some would say that was a lot of meat, but we were still getting warmed up and the Guinea Fowl Roast stuffed with Bacon just landed in front of us. This was definitely an eating Binge now, a no holds barred Meatathon and we were shifting to top gear!

The Grand Finale ... Christmas Turkey Roast stuffed with Pork Sausages!

The Grand Finale … Christmas Turkey Roast stuffed with Pork Sausages!

The Chef teaches us the nuances of carving a Turkey!

The Chef teaches us the nuances of carving a Turkey!

And the top gear it was with the grand finale of the Roast Christmas Turkey stuffed with Pork Sausages and prunes served with raspberry sauce. We left more stuffed than the turkey, but we are food Ninjas and we boy did we dive into it. The colour and the texture made us fall in love with this bird, and the chef gave us ample time to “bird-watch” before he started carving out the white meat with nimbleness.

The Apple Crumble ... we did leave some space for desserts!

The Apple Crumble … we did leave some space for desserts!

We were already done when Vikrant announced DESSERT. For some the word was a question, for some an exclamation and for some a relief. But when Apple Crumble Pie with Vanilla Ice-cream was served, it was excitement once again!

The smiles say it all!

The smiles say it all!

Flanked by the men who made it possible and awed us with their culinary skill and love for food ... Ankit and Vikrant!

Flanked by the men who made it possible and awed us with their culinary skill and love for food … Ankit and Vikrant!

We were floored by the man and his team that weekend when we witnessed, tasted and stuffed ourselves to the creations of the chefs at The Joint Cafe, DLF Galleria. Their team of talented chefs who gave us one of the best meals we’ve ever had … No holds barred. The food just kept coming and we just kept binging. There was no stopping them and there was no stopping our foodies. The unconditional love for food which we witnessed, I will try to tell through these pictures. But, I definitely recommend that you try this quaint restaurant in the DLF Galleria, Gurgaon.

 

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Happy 2016 … 2015 in review

As Maverick welcomes the new year a quick summary of the year gone by on AskMaverick …

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Diwale … I was coloured Geruha (Whatever that means)

Last night while watching it at the cinema I updated my Facebook status saying, “I am loving it, please don’t judge me” and I did enjoy it … yeah yeah, Dilwale!!!
 
From Raj Bhaiya to Ramlal to Kaali, SRK plays the same expressions! Even as a DON he is cute and lovable and highly irritating … which is expected, isn’t it, gosh you mean to tell me you expected him to charm you, REALLY …. Gosh guys who is to blame here?
 
The Hero of the movie is not SRK but actual the Kajol-SRK jodi coming together after 2 decades or 3 … or maybe 100, who cares … they looked good then and they looked good now (sure after a few BOTOX sessions). Abe Saalon tumko kisne bola tha acting dekhne jao dono ki!!!
Seems like they are not sure what they are supposed to do ... so let's just look good and have fun!

Seems like they are not sure what they are supposed to do … so let’s just look good and have fun!

Gaane Dekho, locales dekho, Cars Dekho … flying cars dekho (Rohit Shetty speciality) … Popcorn khao aur seeti bajao whenever you feel like!
 
I did laugh my guts out when the two burly, stupid “mutli-tasking” henchmen from the past and best friends of the present narrate SRK’s made up past simultaneously watching different channels on cable … I did clap when SRK beats up goons … Bhai sahab ne body aachee banayi hai … and I did remember the romance when he was “Getting Coloured Geruha” with Kajol (no racist intent here my friends).
Rohit Shetty ... the man behind the flying cars ... quite literally!!!

Rohit Shetty … the man behind the flying cars … quite literally!!!

Of Beefed up goons on steroids in Bulgaria and even more beefed up Cars … Of lovely locations no Geography expert would know of too and glamourous clothes … Of mindless action and even more mindless comedy … Dilwale was a fun watch for me. I felt no pressure to like or hate it and after devouring a large nacho box with some unhealthy aerated drinks … I gave both my Body and mind a relaxed movie outing over the weekend. 
Also … also, they have Varun Dhawan who is trying to do Heropanti with Kirti Sanon, Boman Irani, Johnny Lever, Sanjay Misra, Mukesh Tiwari, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinod Khanna, Kabir Bedi and a lot more actors … phew!
 
Now you can judge me … Kyonki Bade bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baateing hoti rehti hai😉 (OK that was cheesy, I admit)
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Tamasha … recognize the DON in you!!!

Tamasha touches a chord somewhere with everyone, well in fact it touches all of us deep down.

Are we all doing what we are meant to do? Or are we in a Race which we also don’t know much about? A Race where we would be average, mediocre, just a name or a machine and will die running? Are we living our own life or the life of our expectations?

Don and Mona Darling show us it is not impossible to follow your dreams, but sometimes the impossible is easier than the pressure of responsibilities. In the movie Ranbir Kapoor the who is Ved, Product Manager, Hard-working Boy, Good Son … but wants to be Don, or Ram, Or Ranjha or just a Story Teller. The catalyst our leggy lass, Ms. Padukone who breaks him, rejects him, wants him and then makes him what he was meant to be!

Apne andar ke DON ko pehchano!

Apne andar ke DON ko pehchano!

Now back to the questions that whirl in the mind after watching the movie … A movie or a story teaches you stuff about yourself, but can you really follow it? Would meeting a beautiful girl at an exotic location like Corsica really help you find the meaning to your existence (Hell I Travel the world and I always have older, more successful men as my travel partners)?

Would you be courageous enough to leave the Matrix and be NEO? Will we be so lucky as to find a catalyst in our life?

Whatever said and done, and whatever you can do or not, hum sabke andar ek DON chuppa hua hai! Maybe you won’t find a Deepika to act as a catalyst, but you will always find a reason to follow your passion, pursue your dream and that reason is what will make you and what great men are made of. When you find something you love to do, start doing it from that very moment and you will catapult from being mediocre to being the BEST!!! I know this is not a movie review … but that is the story I could tell out of the story Imtiaz Ali told.

Go watch it (at least once) … if not for the stories then for some great performances by Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Peeyush Misra and Vivek Mushran (ILU ILU hero) … along with another brilliant score from AR Rahman.

This is not a love story of a boy meets girl … but a love story about a boy who meets his real self!!!

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The Gourmet Studio 3.0 … it is becoming a habit!

When I was first introduced to the Gourmet Studio, I had my reservations regarding how much value can the nearbuy (by Groupon) and DGC (Delhi Gourmet Club) team pack into a meal which is approximately 50% of the price what you would normally pay at the restaurant. But, after 3 sessions with them (I missed the first one), I have come to realize that these guys really love food and love the people who live to eat even more.

The Gourmet Studio 3.0

The Gourmet Studio 3.0

The 3rd in the series of #TheGourmetStudio and this time the clincher was the Olive at Qutub. A restaurant that needs no introduction and which has also been instrumental in kick starting the careers of some great chefs, was no surprise when I was informed that the young Dhruv Oberoi would be curating a six-course dinner for this series of the Gourmet Studio. The Mediterranean ambiance of the place and the variety of guests you see here transcends you to a place which sometimes seems extremely detached from the hustle and bustle of our city, and probably that is the reason one finds it hard to score a table even on a busy week night.

The ambiance at Olive matches the food if not surpasses it!

The ambiance at Olive matches the food if not surpasses it!

Chef Dhruv Oberoi ... charmed us with his enthusiasm and of course his food!

Chef Dhruv Oberoi … charmed us with his enthusiasm and of course his food!

Not my first meal here, and the service standards remain impeccable, I was among familiar faces and privileged to be invited to sample Chef Dhruv’s menu. Olive has always let the guests be at leisure and even the service is relaxed and not over bearing or like an express train. Sit back, talk and eat throughout the evening and I have never had a meal which lasted less than 3 hours here. One might assume since The Gourmet Studio is part of a promotion and a much discounted rate the service would be otherwise, but I was pleasantly happy to observe that the Olive staff was having fun like usual.

Olive is about style!

Olive is about style!

Settled down, a served a welcome drink we were party to a holiday experience at an island of a fellow diner. So hungover was he with his holiday (and not in a pleasant way, mind you) that everytime a guest joined us at the table, he narrated it again. And, then we were rescued by the humus and the crackers and stopped pulling his leg. The way the humus was served speaks of the style with what Olive does it dishes and along came the Chef to tell us briefly about his thought behind the meal and how he is excited to reach out to many more people through this initiative.

Of food and conversations ...

Of food and conversations …

A fixed menu and the servers took a note of our preferences, most importantly along with a note of any food allergies. I of course (those who read my posts often know) took the all non-vegetarian choices along with a note that I am allergic to veggies. A smile from the server and I was confident he got the message.

Chef’s Special Hors D'Oeuvres

Chef’s Special Hors D’Oeuvres

I can talk about the food, but will try and let you sample the dishes I had through the pictures I took. However what stood out for me was the Belgian Pork belly in aromatic red wine stock served with mashed potatoes. Slow braised pork belly in aromatic red wine stock and served with pickled piccalilli purée, sautéed kale & potato mash, if you are a pork lover this one is for you. The other options are mentioned in the menu and you can check them out on the Menu link when you book through nearbuy.

Cured Tenderloin Tonnato - Inspired by “Vitello Tonnato” an Italian classic; thinly sliced tenderloin carpaccio served with tangy tuna & anchovy dressing

Cured Tenderloin Tonnato – Inspired by “Vitello Tonnato” an Italian classic; thinly sliced tenderloin carpaccio served with tangy tuna & anchovy dressing

The Mango Ginger Palate Cleanser!

The Mango Ginger Palate Cleanser!

Stone Bass, Prawns - A fish preparation grilled to perfection, served with romanesco & accompanied by shrimp and squid salsa!

Stone Bass, Prawns – A fish preparation grilled to perfection, served with romanesco & accompanied by shrimp and squid salsa!

You gotta love the breads at Olive!

You gotta love the breads at Olive!

My Star ... the Belgian Pork Belly!

My Star … the Belgian Pork Belly!

And I could skip to the dessert and recommend Chef’s signature Tiramisu in a coffee macaroon sandwich served with coffee ice cream & salted coffee crunch, unless you are a panacotta fan. The Tiramisu would not be anything like you’ve tasted before and the presentation is something I would leave for you to experience first hand.

Tiramisu V:3 - Tiramisu in a coffee macaroon sandwich!

Tiramisu V:3 – Tiramisu in a coffee macaroon sandwich!

Now there is a good part and the sad part. First the good (or the best) part is that the whole 6-course meal (including one soft beverage) is 1300 bucks per person for lunch and 1550 for dinner. The sad part is that this edition of The Gourmet Studio ends this month on October 31. So I’ll be a little helpful and leave a link for you to book the meal (Click here to book the experience).

A meal which would be specially curated for the Gourmet Studio guests, whether you are a meat or a veggie lover, this one sure is a steal. I might just go back again for the Pork Belly.

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