Bodyguard | Movie Review

Lovely Singh (Salman Khan) is a bodyguard working for a security firm. He is hired by Sartaj Rana (Raj Babbar) to guard his daughter Divya (Kareena Kapoor). Lovely regards Sartaj Rana as god, for he once saved his life. Divya does not like Lovely following her around, so plays a trick on him by making prank calls. She falls in love with him and confesses her love anonymously. She later fears that Lovely wont accept her out of respect for her father. The consequences form rest of the story.

Actors Performance
Salman Khan is brilliant in the lead role. High on success after Wanted, Dabaang and Ready, he entertains with one of his regular dumb flicks (oops!!). He looked very stylish in the movie. I loved the way he flexed his muscles in the title song. Its a tailor made role for him and he did absolute justice. Looks like Kareena put on tons of wight post the size zero effect, she looked fat in certain scenes (I was shocked to see her with thunder thighs). She was alright, nothing great. I loved the salwars she wore in the film (designed by Manish Malhotra). Hazel Keech plays Kareena’s friends role, and was ok. She wore tons of make up though. Asrani and Rajat Rawail tried to produce some humor. Raj Babber, Aditya Pancholi, Mahesh Manjrekar were adequate. Katrina Kaif sizzled in half a title song.

In simple words, there was absolutely no story. The consequence of a prank call was dragged and dragged to make a two and half hour movie. I haven’t watched the original Malaylam version of the film, but looks like director Siddique stuck to his original without any changes (he provided the story, screenplay and direction for both the versions). The first half was funny and alright. The second half was a bore. It had its moments, but went on and on. The climax was pathetic. People started laughing for senti scenes, imagine that! Direction was good in parts, but could have been much better. Screenplay was alright.

Other Departments
Music by Himesh Reshammiya was alright (for a change). I loved the title song for its peppy beats (sung by Salman himself). The best track though is the one composed by Pritam (I Love You). Its a soothing melody Il remember for a while. Background score by Sandeep Shirodkar was average. Cinematography by Sejal Shah and Editing by Sanjay Sankla were acceptable. Production values by Reliance Entertainment and Atul Agnihotri are passable. They banked a lot on sponsorship (Blackberry, etc).

Its a out and out Sallu bhai’s film, made for the masses with class people in mind. It should be a hit among the B and C center crowds, only if they can sit through the boring climax. It might prove to be his fourth consecutive hit. It has its moments with high energy supplied by Salman. Plus points are a couple of fights, entertainment quotient, and Salman. Kareena had a meaty role, but she dint live up to expectations. Overall, a time pass entertainer. Do not watch the film with high expectations. If you can bear Salman Khan, and dont mind the dismal climax, you might actually enjoy the movie.

Verdict: 6.5/10
Amma’s Verdict: 5.5/10

Santosh Banjara | Restaurant Review

Place: Santosh Banjara 
Location: Rd. No. 12, Banjara Hills, next to Pizza Hut 
Cuisine: North Indian 
Meal: Dinner

I’ve been wanting to visit this place for about a month now, finally did with mom and dad. This branch they opened up a year ago, main Santosh Dhaba is at Abids, opposite Rajdhani Hotel. They do have another branch opposite Paradise in Secunderabad. They serve awesome vegetarian food, usually within minutes of placing the order. They have more than 50 varieties of North Indian curries on their menu.

We ordered Rani Kofta and Paneer Lababdar, along with Butter Naan, Roti and Stuffed Kulcha this night. I usually order their Special Dish (Kofta stuffed with Cashew nuts) which tastes really good, but wanted to try something different this time around. In less than 5 minutes, everything was served at our table.

The Rani Kofta was a red spicy gravy, but to my surprise, there was not a Kofta piece. The Kofta was pretty mashed up. The gravy was full of onions, which made it taste really good. There were a couple of paneer pieces here and there. Paneer Lababdar was ‘laajawab’. It had huge chunks of paneer in it. There was not much gravy, but whatever was there tasted good. Yummy food, but my only complaint, too oily!

The Tandoori Roti was kadak, and was alright. It was pretty huge. Butter Naan was not so great, I’ve had better. But the Stuffed Kulcha was excellent. It was stuffed with cashew nuts and aloo, and was baked to perfection. Not too greasy either. It made my meal.

Overall, a good Indian meal for a decent price. They have so many more dishes I want to try out. I hope there is a day when I’ve tasted their whole menu. The ambiance of the restaurant (all three branches) is not so great. But the food balances it all. The ones at Paradise and Abids are little cheaper than this one.

If you are looking to dine at a good vegetarian dabha in Hyderabad, this is a place be at. Dont forget to hog on their Stuffed Kulcha.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 360/-

Verdict: 8.5/10

Southern Food Corner (SFC) | Restaurant Review

Place: Southern Food Corner 
Location: Road No. 10, Banjara Hills, next to City Center 
Cuisine: Indian and Chinese 
Meal: Lunch (3 consecutive days) 

I was at project management workshop on Rd. No. 10 for the last 4 days, and happened to lunch out everyday. The first day I chose McDonalds, for a McVeggie Combo. I don’t think I need to write a review on that, so skipping it. The next 3 days, I happened to visit this small restaurant called SFC, which is right next to City Center.

It looked like a pretty decent place from outside, with both self service and seated service options. The self service section looked a little crowded with chairs and tables placed in a haphazard manner. It dint look so clean either. But having walked in, decided to give it a try.

On a Friday, the place was jam packed, full of office crowd. I opted for the self service section. They had quite a huge menu – South Indian, Chinese and North Indian. Their South Indian food was selling like hot cakes, but being me, I ordered a Chole Batura. It was out in about 5 minutes. It was a little oily to look at, and I thought he gave very little Chole for such huge Batura. The Chole tasted a little sour, but was good. The Batura too was light. I had to get some extra Chole to finish it off. On the whole, decent food.

On the second day, I was kinda forced to return to the place, as I was with a bunch of people. We happened to sit on the first floor, the service section. This looked much better than the self service on the ground floor. They had Air-Conditions, but they weren’t turned on. People around me ordered Masala Dosa and Lemon Rice. The Dosa was huge, looked really crispy and tempting. My mouth was infact watering. I again ordered something different, Veg. Soft Noodles.

It took a while for it to be served, by which every one around me were done with their meal. But it was worth the wait. A huge bowl full of Noodles was placed in front of me, with Hot Garlic sauce. I normally don’t tend to order only Noodles for the reason that I like to eat it with an accompaniment. But seeing the Hot Garlic sauce made me really happy. The noodles was yummy good. It was properly cooked, the vegetables in it were crunchy, and it wasn’t too spicy either. The Hot Garlic sauce added extra taste, and was tangy. Impressed!!

I wanted to come back to this place after my last meal, but no so early, the very next day. This time it was a much bigger gathering, and we again took to the first floor. Everyone today ordered MLA Pesarattu. I happened to have the same last night at Chutneys (review), so this time ordered American Chopsuey.

Again, it took a while. The MLA Pesarattu looked really good. Everyone around me were going gaga about it while I waited on my food. Again, large quantity of food was served. The Fried Noodles and the Sauce were served separately. Adding the noodles into the sauce, it tasted delicious. It was actually as good as the American Chopsuey I had at Nanking about a month ago (review). Serving the Fried noodles separately helped them remain crispy. The sauce was not so sweet, and the vegetables were very very crunchy. Excellent food this time around. I happened to empty the dish in about 10 minutes and everyone around me were actually surprised to see me eat so much.

Overall, a good find. Though I wasn’t impressed initially, the Noodles served with the Hot Garlic sauce, in a slightly better ambiance on the first floor got me to write this review. The South Indian food looked really good, and people were saying good things, so am assuming that it was actually good. For a food place at Banjara Hills, the prices were very very reasonable as well. Also, the quantity of food served (on all 3 days) was excellent. I would definitely come back to this place. Its certified!!

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 60/-
Meal for 6: Rs. 300/-
Meal for 11: Rs. 600/-
Verdict: 8.5/10

Urumi | Movie Review

Krishna Das (Prithviraj) owns ancestral property in Kerala, which he about to sell to a multi-national mining corporation, without realizing the history and heritage of the land. To make him realize its importance, Thandachan (Arya), chief of the forest area, narrates the story of Kelu (Prithviraj), Vavvali (Prabhu Deva) and Ayesha (Genelia D’Souza), on how they fought against the tyrant Portuguese in the 16th century. Kelu’s fight against Vasco Da Gama forms the basic story line of the movie.
Artists Performance
It’s been a long time since I saw a movie with so many top-notch actors (reminded me of Mayabazaar). Prithviraj, as the main lead was good. Though his body was well toned, I thought he looked a bit bulky. Prabhu Deva was excellent as Kelu’s sidekick. He provides the only laughs in the movie. I never really realized how beautiful Genelia is until I watched this movie. She looked absolutely gorgeous. Her character though was a very inconsistent. She is angry at Kelu for destroying her kingdom, but at the same time falls in love with him (all in the same scene). Nitya Menen and Vidya Balan have very short roles and are adequate (We get a glimpse of Vidya Balan’s “Dirty Picture” in one song). Jagathy Sreekumar is superb as the prime minister. His is the best performance of the movie. He is rivalled only by Amol Gupte, who is excellent in his role as the helpless king. Tabu and Arya have guest appearances (Tabu looked old!)
Santosh Sivan happens to be a very talented cinematographer, period. But his choice of films as a director has always been strange. After delivering a period dud like Asoka in 2001, he once again tried to create something similar, but this time on a much larger scale with a bigger ensemble of cast. And to his credit, does a good job this time around. But it is the story by Shankar Ramakrishnan which disappoints. For starters, he tried to relate historical characters with current generation, which I thought was absolutely unnecessary. The mining corporation wanting to buy the land, the NGO, etc were totally unnecessary and helped the story in no way. He should have stuck with the 16th century to develop a much better script. Also, being a movie about Kerala, it seemed like a lot of the story line was edited for the Telugu version, which made the screenplay horrible. Few scenes ended so abruptly that they made no sense.
Other Departments
Music by Deepak Dev is really good for the songs. But when it comes to the background music, he rips off tunes from Pirates of the Caribbean and Gladiator. Something more original would have done better justice to the movie. For a dubbed movie, the lyrics happened to be really good. My favourites were “Chinni Chinni” and “Neevevaro”. The later was brilliantly picturized. Editing by Sreekar Prasad was fine. Being a Santosh Sivan film, it is supposed to be visually extravagant, and he does not disappoint.
Now I understand why they don’t usually dub Malayalam movies into Telugu. Forget lip-sync, it was as if I was watching a Japanese dubbing movie initially. I heard really good reviews about the film from my Mallu friends and therefore decided to give Urumi a try. But I was actually disappointed. Having such a great ensemble of cast, Santosh Sivan could have made a much better movie. But lack of punch in the script, at least for the Telugu audience, is a big let-down. Great cinematography, good acting, but half-baked script and untidy screenplay thwart my expectations. There is absolutely no entertainment in the movie (It was like watching a story from my history book). I would have preferred watching the Mallu version rather than spending 150 bucks on this. I suggest you do what I dint!
Verdict: 6.5/10

Shanbhag | Restaurant Review

Place: Shanbhag
Location: Basheerbhag, under the flyover
Cuisine: North-Indian
Meal: Dinner

Shanbhag is one of my all time favorite restaurants. It holds the honor of being my first favorite restaurant too. Being as old as I am, it was one place I used to throng every now and then while I was a kid. There is a branch at Panjagutta, but the main Shanbhag menu is still served at Basheerbhag. So here I was on a Friday evening, with mom and dad.

It was supposed to be a simple meal as none of us were really hungry. But looking at a menu I was so familiar with (albeit the prices) made me order the usual – Malai Kofta, Veg. Sizzler, Butter Naan, Masala Kulcha, and the ever so famous Ghee Rice. The Sizzler normally takes a while in the making, so it was quite a wait before dinner was served.

The Malai Kofta was excellent, creamy and butter oozing out of ever bite. It was probably not as great as what it was maybe 10 years ago, but still, was finger licking good. Their Sizzler is not what you get at every other restaurant. It’s rather a mixed vegetable curry served on a sizzling plate with a cutlet in between. On first sight when served, it looked lesser in quantity than the last time I had it. It tasted alright, nothing so great. It was much better before.

The Butter Naan was really good. Again, their Naan is one of the best I have had in the city. It was served tepid though. Mom and Dad ordered the Masala Kulcha, which turned out to be a bad choice. For 45 bucks a piece, it was totally dry and dint have any stuffing in between.

Then came the Ghee Rice, my all time favorite food. It smelt as good as ever. It tasted good too, but dint have enough salt in it. Adding a little made it taste excellent. I was a little disappointed that it dint have as many cashew nuts as it once did, but the amount of ghee was still the same. The gravy it is served with is their trademark recipe. My brother, while he was a Chef, tried to cook something similar but never could match their taste. It was full of flavor, delicious.

Overall, a walk into the past. The food was really good, but I have to admit that it was much better before. Before their change of menu, the one at Panjagutta served much better food than the Basheerbhag branch. But now Ghee Rice is available here only. The quantity of food served was good (we had to pack and bring home most of the food). Prices were alright for today’s times (I remember the Ghee Rice being Rs. 18/- once upon a time, now Rs. 75/-). The place needs a revamp, the furniture was in horrible state. They probably need a change of cutlery as well.

If you’re not a diet conscious person and looking for a place to hog properly, Shanbhag is the place to go to. Their Panrer Butter Masala used to be out of the world, so give it a try. Tiffins are great as well, try the Rava Bun, Rava Masala Dosa or the Besibele Bath.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Service: 8.5/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 455/-

Verdict: 9/10

My Kitchen: Chole/Chole Rice

Chole is one of my all-time favourite dishes. Very easy to make if you have canned Chick-peas. Otherwise, soak them overnight and boil them until tender before using them.
Ingredients Required
3 Onions (diced), 2 Tomatoes (chopped), 2 cans of Chick-peas, Ginger-Garlic paste, Cumin seeds, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, Chili powder, Salt, Oil/Butter.
In a pan (preferably a pressure cooker), heat some oil and add Cumin seeds. When they pop, add the onions and fry them until golden brown. Add some ginger-garlic paste and let cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes until the oil separates. Add the cumin, coriander and chili powder. Add the boiled or canned chick-peas along with one cup of water, and mix well. Add salt to taste. Close the lid and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, add chopped coriander and some butter, and simmer for about 2 minutes.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes
For dinner, I decided to modify the Chole and make some Chole Rice.
Ingredients Required
Left over Chole, left over White Rice, 1 Onion (chopped), Foreign Cumin seeds (Shahjeera), Cashew Nuts, Ghee/Clarified Butter, and Salt.
Heat some Ghee in a pan and add the Shahjeera, followed by Cashew nuts. Add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add the leftover Chole and Left over ice and mix will. Add salt to taste and serve.
Preparation Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
PS: It is very easy to mix rice and Chole by hand, but mixing it over flame with addition of ghee, cashew nuts and salt gives it an awesome flavour!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes | Movie Review

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a Scientist working for GEN-SYS, a company which manufactures drugs, first testing them on Chimpanzees. Drug 112 helps improve the intelligence of a female Chimp “Bright Eyes”, but she is shot down due to unforeseen circumstances and the project is put off. Will takes in her child, names him Caesar (Andy Serkis), and raises him. Caesar inherits his mother’s genes and is born intelligent. After years, Caeser attacks Will’s neighbour and therefore is put in a private facility, where he is mistreated. He develops rage, and with his intelligence, decides to free other Chimps. The consequences form rest of the story.
Artists Performance
Being a CG film, there is not much role for the human actors. Will Rodman is alright as the scientist. Freida Pinto has no role in the movie, and she is ok. Rest of actors are fine, with no great performances. Andy Serkis is brilliant as Caesar (motion capture), and is the undoubted star of the movie.
Story – Direction
Being the foundation film for revive of the franchise, there is not much happening in this film. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (writers) dedicated most of the script to establish the character of Caesar, with very little of a rebellion in the film. I dint really understand the importance of Drug 113, it might be something for the sequel. Caesar avoiding killing of humans is something I liked. I thought the movie ended very abruptly. Direction by Rupert Wyatt is good. The Screenplay was alright.
Other Departments
Music by Patrick Doyle is forgettable. It was good in parts, but I would have expected a more haunting score for such a movie. Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is alright. Editing by Conrad Buff and Mark Goldblatt is fine. The motion captured digital apes created by Weta Digital are of top-notch quality, but I thought that their faces looked a little distorted. Other than the apes though, the graphics were real shoddy. I expect something much better for such a high budget film.
Having heard and read good reviews about Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I was expecting something spectacular. Alas, I was disappointed. I am not saying that it was a bad movie, but there was that spark missing. There is no real bond between Will and Caesar, which according to me was really important. Overall, it’s a decent watch, but nothing you have to run to the theatre for.
Verdict: 6.5/10

Jivas | Restaurant Review

Place: Jivas 
Location: Raj Bhavan Road 
Cuisine: Multicuisine Buffet 
Meal: Lunch 

After my high profiled job interview yesterday morning, I felt like eating a heavy meal. Someone recently told me about this place called ‘Nautanki Galli’ at Hitech City, so decided to give it a try. The place was great, but the buffet priced at Rs. 388/-, was full of non vegetarian food. So I decided to give this one a skip, and instead go to their sister restaurant Jivas (both owned by Ohri’s group). Picked up mom and dad on the way.

I love this place for their lavish buffet. The moment we were seated at our table, a plate of starters – veg Kababs and veg Manchuria, was served. A little later came in Noodle soup, followed by Papdi Chat. Both the Kababs and Manchuria were yummy delicious. The soup was nothing great, but again, the Chat was really good.

Once done, I started off with their Chinese food – Schezwan Noodles, Vegetables in Hot Garlic Sauce and American Sweet Corn Fried Rice. The Noodles was appetizing. The Rice and Hot Garlic Sauce were alright. The Rice though tasted much better with the Manchuria.

Next, the Indian food. On this day, they had Mutter Paneer, Aloo Tindoora, Baingan Masala, some Mixed Vegetable curry, and Biryani. There was a live Phulka counter, but I preferred their Butter Naan. The Naan was good, but the curry’s weren’t so great. The Paneer was not so fresh, Baingan Masala was too thin, and the other two were just alright. I don’t like their Biryani much, so I preferred to skip it. Also, I was already bursting!

Tried a little of their Besi Bele Bath. It dint taste good initially, but was actually good. I gave a skip at their Dal Makhni, Tomato Dal and Curd Rice.

Finally, plunged into their deserts section – Mango Ice-cream, Chocolate Pastry, Rasgulla and Sooji Halwa. The Rasgulla and Sooji Halwa were out of the world. I wanted to have more of them, but there was no place left in my tummy. The Pastry too was excellent.

Overall, a lavish, sumptuous meal for a very decent price. Wanted to take pictures, but was too lazy after eating so much. The ambiance was great, but the place was a little too loud for they were two big parties sitting at the adjacent tables. You get similar vegetarian buffet at Bikanervala at Banjara Hills, at a slightly higher price.

Food: 8/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 699/- (Rs. 185 + Taxes per person)

Verdict: 8.5/10

* This restaurant is now moved to a new location and renamed as Jiva Imperia.

Kanchana | Movie Review

It is impossible for me to write a detailed review on Kanchana. I already wasted 3 hours of my precious time watching it.
A thriller which was comical, wherein every actor overacts, a message-oriented movie which makes no impact on the audience. With its concept, the film could have been much much better with a better script. Direction was horrible, screenplay and cinematography average, music mediocre.
Overall, a disappointment!
Verdict: 3.5/10

Chutneys | Restaurant Review

Place: Chutneys 
Location: Nagarjuna Circle, Banjara Hills 
Cuisine: South-Indian 
Meal: Lunch

I’ve been wanting to go to Chutneys for a long time, it being the closest restaurant to my house, but have been avoiding it for the reason that I feel like having their entire menu whenever I am here. Now that my parents are back from the US, I had some company to help me with my ordering. So, late Sunday afternoon, we headed off to Chutneys. They have three other branches now, but I still prefer the one in Banjara Hills.

We had to wait for about for about 10 minutes for a table at 3:30. We were seated on the first floor, which they renovated recently. It looks much better than what it used to be before. We ordered Poori-Upma, Baby-corn Masala Dosa, MLA Pesarattu and Chole Batura. They guy was quite surprised with my ordering, but he dint know that I could have more of it.

First came the Poori-Upma, along with their usual four chutneys – Coconut, Ginger, Groundnut and Roasted Chickpea. I love the first three, with coconut and ginger being my favorite. The Upma was amazingly delicious. Ghee was oozing out of it and was full of cashew-nuts. The Poori was alright, the combination was really good. It was served with the masala curry of Masala Dosa and a wet Aloo kurma, which was tasty. Then came the MLA Pesarattu. Thanks to the Upma again, it was delicious too. The Pesarattu was crisp and perfect.

The Baby-corn Masala Dosa was served next. I think it took a while for it to reach our table from the kitchen, cause it wasn’t hot. But it was really crispy, just the way I like it. The masala was a little too spicy, but still good. I remember him serving this Dosa with butter smeared over it, but there was no butter this time around. Disappointing!

Finally, Chole Batura. Yum! The Batura was a little oily, but not soggy. The Chole was again delicious. I finished the Chole after my part of the Batura was done. All together, I ended up eating most of the meal, with little help from Mom and Dad! (they weren’t really hungry you see)

Overall, a very good sumptuous meal. I infact skipped dinner that night. The food really tasty, chutneys finger licking good. I don’t like their Sambar one bit though! They can do much better than what they currently serve. But again, who needs Sambar when you have such good Chutneys.

If your hungry for some South-Indian Tiffins, Chutneys is the place to be. Its a wee bit expensive, but serves good vegetarian food.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 470/-
Verdict: 9/10