De Thali | Restaurant Review

Place: De Thali
Location: White House, Next to Life Style, Begumpet
Cuisine: Rajasthani, Gujarati
Meal: Lunch (with mom, dad and aunt)

I’ve been wanting to try this place since it opened recently. I’ve been to both Rajdhani and Golden Star while in Mumbai, and loved the food and service, especially Golden Star. When Ohri’s came up with a similar concept, that too for the most reasonable price of Rs. 189 /- all-inclusive, I needed to hog.

We were cordially invited into the restaurant by the amicable staff. Tilak was marked on my forehead when I entered. The place had decent interiors, was very bright, and quite full for a weekday. We sat at a table where four huge thali’s were laid.

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It took a while, and I mean a while for the waiters to attend to our table. And the food too was  all not served at once, but in batches, which made it quite difficult for us to begin with. But a little patience, and our thali’s were full.

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In the menu today, for starters, Dhokla and Dal Baati Churma, and the curries were (in order from left) Gobi Masala, Palak Paneer, Aloo Jeera, Kaddu Dal (listed as Pineapple Dal), Chole, Gujarati Dal and Kadhi. The Dal Baati was good, and Churma excellent. Dhokla was hard and not up to the mark. On the curry front, all of them were yum, with Chole being best of the lot. The Gujju Dal was not so sweet and perfect, and Kadhi was alright. I didn’t taste the Kaddu Dal.

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Three types of breads were served: Pulka, Masala Puri and Bhakris. The Pulka’s were a little hard, but not so bad. Masala Puri’s and Bhakris were good.

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On the rice front, they had Khichidi, Pulao and Curd Rice. The Khichdi was made of wheat gram, and was mediocre. It had no proper taste to it. The Pulao was excellent though. The rice was perfectly cooked, and it had a nice flavor to it. I didn’t have the Curd Rice, but amma said that it didn’t taste so good.

For desert, there was Gajar Ka Halwa and Double Ka Meetha, both of which were yum. There was also a sweet digestive drink served upfront, which was alright.

Overall, a nice meal. For the price we paid, I should actually say excellent meal. The waiters were very nice and forced us to eat more even though we were full. The only issue was the slow service, for we had to wait for quite a while before the items we asked for were served. Also, the waiters were at times in such hurry that they didn’t bother to hear what we were saying. Other than that, the whole experience was really good.

De Thali is not a place which you can visit very often for the same kind of food might bore you after a while. But it’s definitely a place you can visit when you are really hungry and are in a mood to eat some good food for a reasonable price.

Food: 8/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 189/- (all-inclusive)

Verdict: 8/10

Liu’s Chinese Restaurant | Restaurant Review

Place: Liu’s Chinese Restaurant
Location: S.D Road, in the lane behind Nanking, Secnderabad
Cuisine: Chinese
Meal: Dinner (with a couple of friends)

On a Saturday night, we decided to go hog at Nanking (listed as of my favorite Chinese restaurants in town). Since it was packed, my friend pulled us to its sister restaurant, which apparently shares the same kitchen. Liu’s is a small little place, interiors very similar to Nanking, a little brighter, and with a table available right away since not many people are aware of its existence.. I was kinda pissed the moment I entered, for when we asked if we could occupy an empty table with a reserved board on it, the manager rudely asked us if we couldn’t read the sign. Anyways, we sat at another table ignoring what just happened.

The moment we sat down, the waiter was behind us to place the order. They have the same menu as Nanking. My non-veg eating friend ordered for Chicken Drumsticks and Ginger Chicken. Me and my other vegetarian friend asked him to suggest a starter other than what the menu had to offer, and we zeroed on Chilly Mushroom. Later on, we again asked him to help us with some kinda Noodles for the main course, and he suggested Soft Noodles with Vegetables, Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots. We also ordered a Vegetable American Chopsuey.

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Both the Chicken items were served in about 10 minutes, and it took another 5 minutes for the Mushrooms. Firstly, the quantity looked quite less when compared to either of the Chicken items. Next off, they tasted horrendous. There was too much sauce, and the mushrooms tasted very very bitter. We expected it to be spicy, for it was Chilly Mushroom, but it turned out to be fiery spicy.

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After a disastrous start, I was hoping for a turn around with the main course. The noodles with Mushrooms looked yummy to look at. Once we dug in, the noodles were under-cooked, and were dripping with oil. Except for the flavor for the Shiitake, the curry was pretty much bland., and I could barely find any bamboo shoots. Again disappointment.

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The worst though was yet to come: American Chopsuey, which I happened to like the last time around (it was at Nanking though). The noodles were crunchy, and the vegetables well cooked, okay, but the curry was so bloody sweet that I couldn’t eat more than one serving. I know American Chopsuey’s are sweet, but I never tasted anything this sweet. It was as if the chef added all the left over sugar into this. Horrible!!

The only part of the meal we vegetarian guys were happy with was our Coke!! The Chicken was  apparently good, but whats the use when I don’t eat it. As if the terrible food wasn’t enough, a bunch of waiters suddenly appeared at our table, trying to rush us out while we were struggling to eat through what we ordered. I really started to doubt my choice of Nanking as one of my favorites after this pathetic experience. I’m never ever coming back to this place, even if it means that I have to wait for an hour at Nanking (which I might never come back to as well).

Food: 3/10 (Vegetarian only)
Ambiance: 7/10
Service: 4/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 786/- (Veg – Rs. 400/-)

Verdict: 3.5/10

Ishq | Movie Review

Well, I expected Ishq to be a mass film, but it turned out to be this classy, entertaining romantic comedy. Someone on my facebook page said Ishq is a hit for Nitin after a long time. I don’t know how big a hit it will be, but for what it is, it will definitely run.

It could have been way better with a little more effort from the director Vikram Kumar (Story-Screenplay-Direction). The movie starts of well, but the first half was such a drag. Good, but the screenplay ruins the moments. It resembles Ala Modalaindi quite a bit too. Nevertheless the film picks up pace in the second half and takes you on a roller coaster ride.

Nitin looked dashing, Nithya Menen bubbly, and Ajay superb. Plus points are good acting performances and entertaining second half. A pacier first half could have worked wonders for the film. On the whole, Ishq works both for class audience and mass audience and is a nice rom-com.

Verdict: 7.5/10

For a detailed review, read on..

Plot
Rahul (Nitin) is a happy-go-lucky guy. He bumps into Priya (Nithya Menen) at the airport and they both take the same flight from Delhi to Hyderabad, which gets diverted to Goa due to bad weather. They spend time together in Goa and ultimately fall in love. Once back in Hyderabad, Rahul realizes that Priya is Siva’s (Ajay) sister, with whom he’s had some differences in the past. The rest of the story is about how Rahul convinces Siva to agree for his wedding with Priya.

Actors Performance
Nitin looks really cool and dashing in the film. For a second, I couldn’t believe this was the same guy who made debut with Jayam. His modulation was pretty good, but it looked like he was trying to imitate Pavan Kalyan on a number of occasions. His comic timing was pretty good. He even turned out to be a good singer.

Nithya looked gorgeous as ever. She had a meaty role and she utilized it to the max. She was absolutely fantastic in the chase episode. Her self dubbing is a definite asset to her acting.

The dark horse though was Ajay. He was brilliant as the maniac lover, possessive brother and doting son. The variation he showed was really good. Ali shined in a brief appearance. Sindhu Tolani looked old and odd. It was surprising that Ramesh (drunkard from Ala Modalindi) didn’t have any role in the movie. The rest of the cast was alright.

Story-Screenplay-Direction
Director Vikram Kumar had a good concept at hand, but he wasn’t able to execute it to the best. The first half was very classy and very well picturized. But at the same time it was too slow with a weak screenplay. The second half gets better with the brother conflict point, but it too had it dull moments. Nitin and Ajay’s characterization seemed very inconsistent for it was as if Rahul was throwing attitude at Siva instead of convincing him for the marriage on most occasions. Similar problems with Ajay’s character. And there were episodes which seemed like rip off’s from Ala Modalaindi. Otherwise, he was able to handle the fun episodes, especially the airport and Goa ones beautifully. A little more pace, better screenplay and narration could have worked wonders.

Other Departments
Music by Anoop Roobens and Arvind Shankar is good, but out of sorts for the situations in the film. Even the background score by Anoop seemed good, but was very inconsistent. My best pick is “Lachamma Di”, but was very disappointed that it was barely used. Dialogues by Samala are decent. Cinematography by P. C. Sreeram is first-class, but the color grading, especially in the Goa episode could have been better. Editing by Sreekar Prasad is good. Production values by Producers Vikram Goud and Sudhakar Reddy are superb. The film looked very rich on the technical front.

Poola Rangadu | Movie Review

I’ve never seen a comedian, or should I say a hero, build a six-pack body for ten minutes of a film. Sunil, respect. And ya, take a bow!!

Poola Rangadu is a regular mass masala flick with not much depth to it. It’s a film which makes no sense in reality, but who cares about the story and practicality as long as it caters to the mass audience, right? The plot is very similar to Maryada Ramanna, and there isn’t much scope for Sunil to change his style. Yet, he managed to carry the film on his shoulders and entertains to the fullest. His dances are superb, and his body, well, he could give Salman Khan a run for his money.

Plus points are Sunil, comedy and the climax fight. It’s been a long time since I laughed so much for a Telugu film (though it made no proper sense). On the flip side, the story is very predictable with nothing new to offer, and the screenplay is mediocre. It kinda stumps me that Sunil accepted to do a similar kinda film all over again.

If you don’t happen to love mass comedy flicks which make no sense, Poola Rangadu isn’t for you. If that’s what you crave for, it will entertain you to the fullest. Go enjoy the “Pocha Mummy Festival”!

Verdict: 6/10 + 1 for Sunil!

For a detailed review, read on…

Plot
Ranga (Sunil) is an unlucky real estate agent in Hyderabad who owes huge debts. As a last resort, he lends his ancestral property to buy and make money out of a 30 acre land. He later realizes that the land is being fought over by two factional landlords. The rest of the story is about how he gets the land and manages to marry Anita (Isha Chawla), the daughter of one of the landlords.

Actors Performance
Sunil is really good in the lead role. I have seriously not come across an actor who’s worked hard just for a few minutes of a film. His dances were awesome, but I felt they could have been better choreographed. He worked really hard on his body, and it shows (initially though, thanks to the bad cinematography, his body looks like a mannequin under his face). The response he got from the audience was no less than what Chiranjeevi would get. I strongly believe that he now needs to keep up his mass following and take up a few sensible projects instead of repeating the same kinda scripts.

 Isha Cahwla looked good, and was alright. Ali entertains after a long time. Rajesh is okay in his limited role. Dev Gill and Pradeep Rawat were adequate for their respective roles. Kota looked quite odd as Sunil’s dad, thanks to his horrible wig. Rest of the cast was alright.

Story-Screenplay-Direction
I have obviously not watched the original Mallu version of the movie, but from what I read, the plot pretty much looks the same but for the climax. Director Veerabhadram was able to get his mass act right. He handled the comedy episodes with ease, but the senti episodes looked kinda patchy. Since the story is very similar to Maryada Ramanna, he should have tried to modify it a bit to give it freshness. Nevertheless, direction is alright. But its the screenplay which could have been way better. Most of the initial scenes had no proper flow.

Other Departments
Music by Anoop Roobens is alright. It is clear that all songs were composed so as to make Sunil show his dancing skills. Background score is okay. As already mentioned, the choreography could have been better. Cinematography by Prasad Murella is average, though he kinda lost it towards the climax fight. The color grading could have been better. Editing by Gowtham Raju is nice. The climax fight was good. Production values by R.R Movie makers are okay.

Love Failure | Movie Review

Firstly, I thought I was going in to watch a straight Telugu film, not a dubbed one. With that out, let me talk about Love Failure.

M. Balaji has made some awesome short films. I absolutely love his work. He kinda makes you feel that it is you he’s talking about. Love Failure is one such short film, unfortunately, one which is dragged for more than two hours. If you’ve seen his work before, there nothing new the film has to offer. He’s got a couple of episodes from Mittai Veedu, and the rest is an extended version of the original nine minute Kadhalil Sothapuvathu Eppedi. He’s even got most of the cast reprising their roles.

Siddharth is good in the leading role and really tries hard to woo you. Amala Paul is decent to look at, although I kinda felt her to be outta place. The dialogues are brilliant, music is decent, and direction spot-on. However, the draggy never-ending story pulls the film down. First half is pacy and the second half makes you yawn. The biggest blunder, atleast for me, is that the film actually ain’t about love failure; it’s about infatuation failure. (I say that with a lot of experience. If this is love, then, argh, nevermind!!)

It’s got its moments in abundant and reminds you about yourself a zillion times. But Love Failure fails to create the magic. It’s more of a teenage love story (infatuation) with a predictable ending, and looks more like a youtube film than a commercial feature film. Bottom-line, it’s not something you need to run to the theaters for, nevertheless, a decent watch.

Verdict: 7/10

For a detailed review, read on..

Plot
Arun (Siddharth) and Parvati (Amala Paul) are batch mates in an engineering college. They become friends, and over a time develop feelings for each other and get into a relationship. Arun is a regular, nonchalant guy and Parvati happens to be one who expects Arun to be more serious about their relationship. They break up. Rest of the story is about how they realize their immaturity and get back together.

Actors Performance
Siddharth is pretty good in the lead role. He looks young, and is performed with ease. His dialogues are very well written, and he manages to carry them off to perfection. But at the same time, I kinda felt that he had too much unnecessary screen space (I believe the director had no other choice with him being the producer). Amla Paul looked really odd. She passed off like a teenage girl, yes, but I thought she didn’t fit the bill.

Vignesh and Arjun are brilliant as Arun’s friends. They perform with super-ease. Suresh and Surekha Vani are alright as Parvati’s parents. Suresh has a meaty role after a while. The rest of the cast is alright.

Story-Screenplay-Direction
M. Balaji is a fine director with great potential. His short films are a craze on the internet. The way he showcases teenage emotions is brilliant, and you’re able to connect to them in some way. Love failure makes you connect at different levels (I’m guessing that most of us have gone through a similar teenage love story in our lives). But what fails is his reasoning towards the end. It kinda makes you feel like “this is what they broke up about?? seriously??”. And since  it’s an adaptation of his short film, he had to drag it for over two hours. The script should have been much better than what it is. I was seriously yawning in the second half.

At the same time, it had moments of sheer brilliance, like the episode where he compares girls crying to opening of a dam (isn’t that true ;)). The screenplay is pretty alright, and the direction is perfect. With better scripts, Balaji will be the next Shekhar Kammula. But he seriously needs to get out of the youtube zone and add some commercial elements to the movie. There were points where the audience was talking louder than the characters on-screen for they were getting bored!

Other Departments
Music by Thaman is alright. A couple of songs are really catchy. Background score is more of a ripoff from the short films. It could have been better. Lyrics by Srimani are horrendous, especially for the title song (Parvati). Dialogues are brilliantly written. They have a regular conversational tone to them which makes them work really well. Cinematography by Nirav Shah is alright. He captured the beach shots well. Editing by T. S. Suresh could have been way better. The film was way too long for its plot. It’s a film made on a very small budget. The cast and locations are very limited, but they meet the purpose. The production work though could have been way better. Having announced it as a bilingual, they should have made a proper Telugu film!

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu | Movie Review

Post Jab We Met, we’ve had a bunch of chirpy love stories release. Most of them had the same old concept of rich kids (either one) falling in love, then breaking up, and finally ending up together (Anjaana Anjaani, Break Ke Baad, etc). From the trailer, this pretty much looked like one of those films. There were even rumors of it being a Hollywood rip-off. But, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is nothing like those idiotic flicks, nor is it a rip-off. It’s a very cute little movie with some excellent, if not brilliant performances.

Directed by debutante Shakun Batra, EMAET has its heart in the right place. It is not one of those typical love stories (I would  infact not categorize it as a love story). It’s more of a lighthearted comedy with friendship as its backdrop. Imran Khan is getting better as an actor, Kareena, well, is just gorgeous, and their chemistry is great. Perfect casting, decent music, excellent cinematography, slick screenplay, what more do you need to make a good feature film??

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu might be predictive, but is a very well executed movie with a refreshing feel  to it. Some might not like it, but I did, and suggest you go watch it.

Verdict: 8/10

For a detailed review, read on…

Plot
Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) is a parent’s pet, one who doesn’t live a life of his own. His dad (Boman Irani) expects him to be work for the best architecture firm, while his mom (Ratna Pathak Shah), a fashion obsessed socialite, wants him to work on his hairstyle. Meanwhile, Rahul loses his job. As expected, he bumps into the lovely-lively-bubly Riana (Kareena Kapoor), a girl who lives her life to the fullest. They get ‘Talli’ one night and end up getting married. They plan on annulling it, but before that happens, spend two weeks together. The rest of the movie is about how these two weeks change Rahul’s life.

Artists Performance
Imran Khan has improved so much as an actor. He’s getting better and better with every movie. He’s fantastic in the serious episodes, and pretty good at comedy. Though his mom keeps going on and on about his hairstyle, I kinda liked it. I strongly feel that he’s got the potential to make it big, but he definitely needs to try different things instead of working in films with similar genre (something like Delhi Belly more often).

Kareena Kapoor plays Geet all over again, but its more of a dignified and controlled performance this time around. She is the soul of the film, and looks gorgeous. Being a senior artiste, she gives Imran enough space, and not once overshadows him.

Rest of the cast is perfect. Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah are an awesome as the obsessive, over concerned parents. Kareena’s bunch, each and every one of them, are absolutely fantastic. Ram Kapoor is perfect in his small role.

Story-Screenplay-Direction
Scripted by Shakun Batra and Ayesha DeVitre, EMAET borrows concepts from various sources , a bunch of films we’ve already seen, but it’s the execution which makes this movie stand apart from the rest. Its got ample amount of freshness to it. Direction by Shakun Batra is good. He uses his cast to perfection, and so was able to create few great moments. He was also able to generate subtle humor from the actors at ease. More than the direction, it’s the screenplay which makes the movie work. It’s very slick, and there is not a single dull moment in the movie. I especially loved the parallel story telling shots at the therapy center. And I loved the climax!!

If he sticks to his basics and makes movies with such freshness, director Shakun Batra might make be the next Imtiaz Ali.

Other Departments
Music by Amit Trivedi is a definite asset to the movie. It’s actually a worth buy album in itself. My personal favorites are ‘Aunti ji’ and ‘Gubare’. Background score by Clinton Cerejo is good. I liked the way he used an old classic for one of the most hilarious scenes in the movie. Lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya are perfect. Dialogies, I am assuming by Shakun Batra, are excellent. Editing by Asif Ali Shaik is really good. At 1 hour 50 minutes, the film, as already mentioned, is never boring. Cinematography by David MacDonald is very innovative. After the agni pariksha of Agneepath, Dharma Productions comes up with a feel-good breezy film.

100 Degrees | Restaurant Review

Place: 100 Degrees
Location: Necklace Road, Ranigunj, Secunderabad
Cuisine: Continental
Meal: Dinner (with mom and dad)

After a long long long wait, I finally got to visit my favorite restaurant in the town. I once used to be regular customer of this place, but it’s been a while since I’ve last been here. It’s a place with great ambiance. The closed is section is dimly lit, with a wine cellar feel to it. The atmosphere is really good, but the place can get really loud when it’s packed. They have party rooms and terrace area facing Hussain Sagar. We sat at a corner table on the terrace. The view from up here was pretty good.

I kinda already decided on what I wanted to have, so it didn’t take much long for us to decide on our order. We ordered a Spicy Cottage Cheese Pizza as a starter, Crumbled Melting Cheese Sizzler and Ajwaini Tandoori Paneer Sizzler for the main course, and a Vanilla French Kiss Mocktail as a thirst buster. The guy taking the order was decent, but he seemed to lack enough knowledge on the menu.

We asked our waiter to get us some bread before the meal was served. I asked for warm bread, and two portions of excellent bread was served.

The mocktail was very well presented, and served in about 10 minutes. It was a mix of peach, orange and pineapple juices with cream. It was yum. Mom loved it.

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I’ve been craving to have their pizza for a while now for I think they serve the best pizza in town. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was amazing. Not very thick crust (neither too thin), perfectly baked, and cheese melting in your mouth. Add to that the crunchy veggies and spicy paneer. Heaven!!

We were pretty full by the time we were done with the bread and the pizza, even before our main course was served. We were even contemplating on canceling one of the sizzler, but they were already out.

I’ve already tasted the Crumbled Melting Cheese sizzler once before, and it looked delicious. Like always, though I knew it was gonna be piping hot, I couldn’t stop the temptation and burnt my mouth. It was cheesy and creamy, just the way I like it. The cottage cheese cutlet was well cooked and had a good flavor to it. The barbecue sauce on top, and fried rice served underneath were yummy. Overall, excellent!!

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I ordered the paneer sizzler with an Indian touch for Mom and dad. It was spicy, and had a very authentic taste to it. The huge chunks of paneer were well marinated and cooked, and the gravy was pretty tasty. It kinda felt like having Pulao with Paneer Tikka Masala, with loads of vegetables in between. Again yummy.

Overall, an awesome meal. Right from the bread, everything was great. The ambiance is excellent and service is pretty neat. Only problem with the waiters was that they did not understand English, and so everything had to be translated into Hindi. But they were sweet, and made us feel comfortable. Of all the Ohri’s restaurants in the city, I think this place has the best value for money, for it ain’t as expensive as other restaurants in their chain. The buffet they serve is also pretty decent and reasonably priced. But again, as it is with every Ohri’s restaurant, the tax is exorbitant (200 bucks for a bill of 800).

This place definitely serves the best pizza in town (not the one served with the buffet, please). Go grab a bite soon, and do let me know if there’s anything better than what they serve, cos I’d love to try it 🙂

Food: 9/10*
Service: 8.5/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 1006/-

Verdict: 9/10*

*With some feedback, and my own prior experiences, I’d like to make a note that this place is pretty inconstant on their food quality. I was served good food on this particular night, and I guess I was lucky. Make sure that you ask the manager for a replacement in case something’s wrong (these guys are pretty good on their customer relations). And please do provide your feedback on your experience in the comments.