Monthly Archives: June 2011

Book Review: When the Tiger was King

Published in Jet Wings, the in-flight magazine for domestic Jet Airways flights for the month of May. (My name at bottom right)

When the Tiger was King – a collection of short stories – edited by Ruskin Bond.

Please click on image if you can’t read properly.

If you like my take on books, read my review of Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon.

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Restaurant Review: Cafe Bean Garu, Powai

I was very eager to go the place that served Pesto Dosa, Desi Canapes, Malbari Risotto and such other bizarre combinations. Boy, was I disappointed!

Since Cafe Bean Garu is located in a food court at Haiko Mall, Hiranandani, the seating is minimalistic. But the table was too far away from the seat to be able to rest your back and eat comfortably. Much to our annoyance, the waiter asked thrice in five minutes if we were ready with our order. We were the only people at the Cafe – what was all the rush about?

When I asked for some water, they said they din’t serve regular water. This is, according to me, the biggest turn off at a restaurant. It is SUCH a rip off scam. Bottled water was for Rs 25, while the MRP read Rs 15 only. Isn’t it basic to serve your customers water without charging them for it?

We eagerly read through the menu and were keen on trying the Chilli Cheese Mushroom Dosa (Rs 95). On hearing our order, the waiter said, “I think you will not like it”. HUH?! He then tried to push us to order Idli, which is supposed to be their speciality. I said we love mushrooms and wanted to try it. He made a face and mockingly said, “Hope you like it.” I was appalled! First, which waiter says you will not like a particular food they serve. Second, which waiter makes a face and behaves sarcastically with customers.

The Dosa quickly arrived with sambar, coconut chutney and another curd based chutney. Sliced mushroom, some cheese and some chilli pieces – the Dosa had everything the name promised. While the taste was not bad, I was disappointed with how little effort went into making it. I was expecting something along the lines of mushroom sauce applied on the Dosa. Not just a sada Dosa with some mushroom and cheese.

My friend Nishtha called for a cup of the famous Andhra Filter Coffee which she said tasted nothing different from regular coffee. By then we were not in the mood to sit there and experience any more of the pathetic service.

The range of the menu is painfully short and their tagline of “Don’t be Shy… Why not try” is just plain silly.

Service: Sucks.

Food: Strictly OK.

Ambiance/Seating: Minimalistic/Uncomfortable.

Pricing: Economical.

Bottomline: I am thankful I went with a friend living in Powai and not friends from Thane who would have killed me for taking them to such a horrible place.

Details: Cafe Bean Garu, Level 1, Haiko Mall, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Call 40153258. Rs 400 for a meal for two.

If you consider my reviews fair and helpful, find out how some other restaurants fared:

Jughead’s – The Unrestaurant

Pop Tate’s – The Unrestaurant

Manali

Movie Review: Cats and Dogs 2 (2010)

Starring (voices by): James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate, Katt Williams, Bette Midler, Neil Patrick, Harris, Chris O’Donnell, and Jack McBrayer.

Directed by: Brad Peyton

Barking up the right tree

Rating: ***

 A vengeful feline, an over confident German Shepard, a spunky spy cat, and a hilarious pigeon with an African-American accent – put them together and you have a 3D sequel to Cats and Dogs. The movie takes off by introducing us to the arrogance of our ‘heroic’ lead dog, Diggs (voiced by James Marsden). The arrogance is however miscontructed to be bravery by the Canine Spy Agency and they recruit Diggs on an important mission, failing which, the entire dogkind would be in grave danger.

Diggs is paired with senior spy agent Butch (Nick Nolte) and together they set out to save the world from the aforementioned vengeful cat, Kitty Galore (Bette Midler), who vows revenge against dogs and humans alike using sophisticated and stolen gadgets. As the events unfold, they are joined in their quest by a feline, with an unimaginative name, CATherine (Christina Applegate) from MEOWS and a pigeon, Seamus (Katt Williams).

A still from Cats and Dogs 2

There is little connection to the prequel and the movie is decent enough on its own. Primarily meant for kids, Cats and Dogs 2 does guarantee ample chuckles for parents and other adult audiences, thanks to the witty dialogues and laugh-inducing references to other movies such The Silence of the Lambs, James Bond and romantic comedies in general. The 3D effect is quite mesmerising. However, the climax sequence which takes place at night is not comprehendible due to poor lighting. And the 3D glasses do not help. The premise and plot are simple enough and it they not even meant to be full of surprises. The movie is just a ride that you enjoy without giving much thought to the plot. It is a children’s flick, at the end of it.

Verdict: Do go along with your kid. And on your own if you don’t have one!

If you like my opinion on movies, see how I feel about:

Gridiron Gang (2006)

English v/s Indian adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

 

Movie review: Gridiron Gang (2006)

Starring: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner, Kevin Dunn, and Leon Rippy.

Directed by: Phil Joanou

Rating: **1/2

In Gridiron Gang, Dwayne Johnson plays a juvenile probation officer named Sean Porter at the Kilpatrick Detention Center who is dismayed at the statistics showing that 75% of the kids who leave their system end up either right back there or in prison, or are shot dead. Sean is agitated, knowing that he could do very little for the kids out there. He figures he needs a new method to help keep these kids from getting killed on the street. Sean and his colleague Malcolm Moore (Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner) decide to install football into their correctional center program, so as to fill up the ‘void’ that the kids experience at the centre where they’re forced to give up their illegal activities as well to teach the kids a sense of responsibility, discipline and to make them feel they’re more than a bunch of losers. That they can be winners too!

However, with only 4 weeks remaining for the football season, the team must sweat it out doubly hard. Porter must overcome numerous odds to form a team that competes with the opposing team and not among themselves as the centre consisted of teenagers from various different street gangs.

The film is loosely based on the true story of the Kilpatrick Mustangs.

The outstanding aspects of the film are definitely the superb acting of the cast and the direction. Mix that up with a feeling of motivation that is given out and we have a really fine movie.

Dwayne Johnson has delivered a fantastic performance. He is believable as a supervisor, as a pushy no-nonsense coach, and as a doting son. He can look tough while dealing with his team and emotional while with his aged mother. Best of all he doesn’t embody the character like a guy trying to prove himself – the familiar trap for aspiring thespians – but plays each moment, whether a bit funny, serious or something in between, with just the right emphasis.

Another central character in the movie is Wille Weathers (Jade Yorker). Wille had killed his abusive step-father which is why he landed up at the detention centre. His cousin, Roger, who was also once at the centre was killed by a rival gang, in a drive-by. He is a brilliant player but is enemies with Kelvin (David Thomas), who is from a rival gang. Slowly, as the movie progresses, it shows how the two learn to play together putting aside their differences and rivalry, how they learn to play as a team and even began to love their team mates. At one point of time, Willie actually saves Kelvin from getting shot in the head by Willie’s own gang member.

On the downside, however, the storyline has nothing new or unusual to offer to its viewers. Its wafer thin plot is predictable and obvious. However, Director Phil Joanou’s handling turns the mundane into the heartening. The on-the-fields shots are shot very well. The different camera angles used is a refreshing and welcome change from the same old. Lively direction, decent background score.

Towards the end of the film, Porter teaches some hard lessons (and learns a few himself) as the kids gain a sense of self-respect and responsibility. The film sends out a message that one man can make a difference and the most hopeless kids in our society can change the course of their lives through hard work, commitment and bold leadership. It comes across as a very grounded, yet motivational film.

While gang struggles and the perils of street life are vividly depicted, the film treads lightly on the race issues as well. This is a film about kids getting a second chance, and the film really celebrates that possibility without trying to overdramatise it.

If you find my views on films agreeable, I have also written about:

Cats and Dogs 2 (2010)

English v/s Indian adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

Manali

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