Friday, August 24, 2012

On the sweet trail news

During Ramadan, the Minara Masjid lane on Mohammed Ali Road, Mumbai, turns into a foodie’s fairyland with delights to treat incurable sweet-toothed souls, says Swetha Amit, who visited it one evening as the devout were feasting after day-long fasting  

It’s a road that is less travelled on normal days. However, the Minara Masjid lane in Mohammed Ali Road during the month of Ramadan is jam-packed and turns into a sparkling street of joy that spells lights, laughter, mouth-watering delicacies and more. We experienced the vibrancy and warmth exuded by the folk of the sweet street during our recent visit. Being residents of South Mumbai, India, it was easy to access this place via a cab which took us there in 15 to 20 minutes.

Glimpse of the castle: Post a hard day’s work; this was an outing we looked forward to, to liven up our tired souls. As we drew closer, we got a glimpse of the mesmerizing Minara Masjid adorned with dazzling colourful lights. The resplendent sight reminded us of a castle right out of Grimm’s fairy-tales. 

The festive fervour: The street bustled with activity. The shop vendors had placed chairs outside their tiny stalls. Busy as bees in creating Iftar (evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan) dishes, they were multi-tasking: hurriedly chopping vegetables, preparing piping hot dishes and catering to the demands of customers. 

The great Ramadan feast: We seated ourselves at one of the stalls. After a warm welcome, our orders were taken down in a jiffy. From the varied vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare available, we ordered ‘baida roti’, which was flat bread filled with white flour and egg. The other recommended dishes were potato and chicken rolls. Kebabs and pakoras, served with hot green chutney, were aplenty. The ambience made the meal even more enjoyable. It was not a plush five-star setting; however the continuous animated chatter and toothy grins of the waiters made it a memorable evening. After a sumptuous feast, we headed towards the sweet shops.

The sweet tooth syndrome: Colourful displays of sweets set our mouths watering. We were transported back to our childhood when we would hover around sweet shops hungrily gazing at delicious-looking goodies. The vast variety was a treat to the senses. The most famous amongst these were the heavenly malpuas, pancakes made from milk and flour and served with a generous helping of saffron milk on top. It melted in our mouths and we blessed the soul who invented the delicious dessert. 
The next speciality offered to us was the phirni, another popular sweet made during Eid. This rich, creamy dish is a must-have for milk lovers. Saffron phirni and almond phirni were the flavours on offer.

The shopkeepers also recommended a sweet called the meetha idlis, which were white in colour and resembled mini pancakes. Other sweets like jamuns, jalebis and halwa were on display as well. A few shops even sold cakes as an option. However malpuas and phirnis ruled the roost when it came to popularity.

The stroll at dusk: After giving in to the cravings of our sweet tooth, we strolled around. It was fascinating to see how the sleepy lane came alive during the month of fasting and feasting. It was a season where class, caste, community and religious restrictions were shed and everyone was welcomed to join in the joyful feasting. It is the most sought-after location during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan coincided with the monsoon season this year. However, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the young and old from venturing out for a fun-filled evening. We headed back to the main road to find ourselves a cab home and the Minara Masjid twinkled on, radiant as ever.

How to get to Mohammed Ali Road
For residents of Mumbai: One can take a cab if residing in South Mumbai which would cost around Rs30.
One can take the train to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, if residing in the suburbs, and take a cab which will get you there in 10-15 minutes.
For non-residents: There are several flights available from most cities / countries to Mumbai. It’s a one-hour drive away from the domestic / international airport subject to traffic.

Price to pay: One can get their money’s worth of food. All items are reasonably priced and don’t burn a hole in one’s wallet.
A plate of baida roti: Rs30-40
Rolls: Rs30-40
A plate of pakoras: Rs20
A plate of kebabs: Rs40
A plate of malpua: Rs60
A plate of phirni: Rs35

Other guidelines:
  1. Being a conservative area, one is requested to dress modestly.
  2. It is advisable to go post sunset to enjoy the atmosphere and spirit of Ramadan.
  3. One needs to keep in mind the thronging festive crowds.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

‘And Gandhi goes missing’: Irony to the core


Some films are short, yet create a lingering impact on the viewers. Despite their 20 minute duration, they tend to leave the audience stunned with their powerful message. An impression that is left deeper than a three hour film one is usually accustomed to.

Quite a few movies were made with Mahatma as a protagonist. They were mostly based on his life and his movement towards freedom. What makes G.K.Desai's ‘And Gandhi goes missing’ unique is the entire approach to exhibiting Gandhi’s principles in a subtle yet intense manner.

The film’s background is set in the rural village school of Maharashtra. Sadashiv Godse alias Sada (Shreyas Paranjpe) is a happy go lucky school boy and enjoys the company of his best friend Sunil Damle alias Sunya(Soham Kadam). One day a new History teacher ( Kamlesh Sawant) is introduced to the class. While getting to know the names of the students, the master frowns on hearing Sada’s name. Much to the bafflement of the boy, he is made to sit in the last bench.

During one lesson on Mahatma Gandhi, the history teacher reveals the name of the great leader’s assassin as Nathuram Godse. All eyes turn towards Sada in an accusing manner as the latter cringes with confusion and embarrassment. Hounded by questions regarding his relations to the killer, Sada rushes home in despair. On questioning his parents, he realizes that his sole connection the assassin was nothing more than just a common and coincidental surname. With relief, he eagerly rushes to school to share this news only to fall prey to the most unexpected turn of events that leaves one bleeding with emotions.

And Gandhi goes missing explores the prejudice vastly prevalent in our country. It makes one realize how one negative impression can set a chain reaction enabling the mass to turn against an innocent individual such as the boy here. The film displays irony in every aspect. Education which is supposed to enlighten others causes a plunge into darkness due to some inexplicable judgement stance.  While Gandhi is revered and respected, his principles were failed to be incorporated. What is taught in classrooms is unfortunately not implemented in reality causing bloodshed and wounds.

Kiran Motion Pictures manages to capture the soul of the film in a commendable manner. The original concept by G.K.Desai and good direction by Devendra Shivaji Jadhav is weaved and exhibited in a flawless way, evoking varied emotions from the viewers. Its stupendous execution helps it obtain the honor of being the Official Selection for The Indian Film Festival in Berlin, Germany. The film will be screened on 16th August, 2012.