Monday, September 20, 2010

The Bangalore Experience

When I’m travelling, I try to take in as many sights as possible, and experience as much of the local culture and cuisine as I can in my short stay in a new place. Yet, I’ve lived in Bangalore for over four years, and have missed out on some incredible Bangalore experiences. So I decided I’m going to list all things Bangalore that I want to experience – and I am going to complete this list in the next one year (I know one year sounds like a long time for such a small list, but I’m not going to be in Bangalore from October to February, so am going to start working on the list only once I’m back).

1. Kannada Gothilla: Quite shameful that I still can’t speak Kannada, after over 4 years in Bangalore. Even more shameful considering Telugu is a close cousin. I can read, I can understand, but I can’t speak. I even went to Kannada classes for a couple of days, and picked up a smattering of the language, but those skills are rusted from lack of practice.

2. Dosa at Vidyarthi Bhavan: Yeah, you read that right! I’ve never had dosa (or anything else) at this legendary Bangalore eatery. Largely because I don’t care much for Masala Dosa – I prefer plain dosa – and I know dozens of other places much closer to where I live where I can get a really good dosa. Still, I intend to go to VB one day to figure out what all the fuss is about.

3. Kannada Movies at the Theatre: I’ve wanted to watch a Kannada movie in a theatre ever since I moved here, and never got around to it. I did see Mungaru Male in a bus once, but watching it in a local theatre is the real deal. Mostly it is because there are usually so many movies I’m desperate to watch in a week that this fancy takes a backseat.

4. MTR: Sigh! So I’ve never had lunch at the legendary Mavalli Tiffin Rooms. Went there twice, and still didn’t get to eat there. The first time, we landed up at MTR without any cash, found out they didn’t accept cards, hunted about for an ATM, and by the time we found one and drew cash and got back, they were closed for lunch! The second time we went, we were super hungry, and couldn’t quite handle the long wait, so we left after half an hour and went elsewhere for lunch. Maybe third time lucky.

5. Bangalore Palace: It’s rather sad that I’ve never visited the Bangalore palace, given how I’m really into palaces and forts and other historical structures. When I’m travelling, I try and visit as many historical places as possible – so it’s ironic that I’ve not been to a palace just a few kilometres from where I live.

6. India Coffee House: Now this is a place that tourists associate with Bangalore, and I have not stepped into its hallowed portals once in the four years I have lived here. It’s funny really – I’ve even directed foreign tourists to the India Coffee House, and yet never been there myself. Must. be. rectified.

7. Lalbagh: Okay, before you gasp, I have been to Lalbagh. But that was before I started living in Bangalore – when I was here on holiday many years ago. Once I moved to Bangalore, I never stepped into Lalbagh. Every year, I think I will go when the flower show is on, but I’ve never implemented that ambitious plan.

8. Breakfast @ Max Mueller Bhavan: Puzzling why I’ve never tried the famous breakfast at Max Mueller Bhavan, given how I love continental breakfasts, and considering I’ve lived in Indiranagar for so long. It probably has to do with the fact that I never managed to get up early enough for breakfast on weekends.

9. Bannerghatta National Park: All right, I know this is not a typical Bangalore thing to do, but I lived on Bannerghatta Road for two years, heard that BNP made for a fun day trip, and yet never got around to doing it.

10. Shopping @KSIC/ Mysore Saree Udyog: Every female I know who’s ever visited Bangalore has bought Mysore silk sarees, either for themselves, or to take to relatives back home. My unfortunate mother has certainly not been the recipient of any such gift from me in all the years I’ve lived in Bangalore.

All you Bangaloreans – is there anything else you would recommend on this list?

And for everyone else – what are the things you want to do in your city, which you think are an essential ‘your city’ experience, and which you still haven’t done?

Monday, September 06, 2010

I'm Loving It

I like to think of myself as a global citizen. I’m widely travelled and pride myself on being more globally aware than most. And this reflects in my taste – in clothes, in my style of holidaying, in my thinking and attitude, in my food preferences. However, one aspect in which I am ‘local’ as one can get is in terms of movies – I will watch all the international cinema you can show me, and I will watch it with much admiration – but for better or for worse, my heart and soul belong to Telugu cinema.

It is the cinema I grew up with, and it reflects a part of the tradition and culture I grew up in, in a way no other cinema can. Telugu cinema is what introduced me to the magic of movies, and though I have discovered a wider and richer world of movies out there, this discovery has been made because it was Telugu cinema that originally stirred my fascination for movies. It introduced me to the fascinating world of movies, it inspired in me a love for cinema, and for that I am eternally grateful to Telugu cinema.

And so, dedicated to this first love of mine, is a list of my all time favourite Telugu movies (in no particular order).

1.  Swarna Kamalam: This K. Viswanath movie about a dancer from an artistic family with starry ambitions, who is tied down by family circumstances and her own inability to appreciate the beauty of the art-form and a painter who loves dance, and how their paths cross. This is Bhanupriya’s show all the way – she is a beautiful woman, and a very graceful dancer. Great score by Illayaraja and some lovely dancing.

2.  Chantabbai: This Jandhyala comedy is a hoot. I consider this one of Jandhyala’s best comedies, and that is saying something. It is a pleasure to watch Chiranjeevi play a bumbling detective – that man has fantastic comic timing. It’s one of those early movies where he isn’t bound by his stardom and fan expectations, and consequently gives a truly endearing performance. Pond.....James Pond, indeed!

3.  Kshana Kshanam: This irreverent road trip/ heist film by Ram Gopal Varma is a gem that combines thriller, drama and comedy very smoothly, and the result in one helluva ride. It really makes me miss the Varma of old, before he got into making self-conscious movies (or movies for himself). The cinematography stands out. Sridevi looks drop-dead gorgeous, and her comic instinct carries the film.

4.   Aithe: This offbeat thriller, made by a brand new director (Chandra Shekhar Yeleti), with no known faces, can actually claim some credit for creating a mini-revolution in the industry. It proved that you don’t need stars, or fights, or song and dance sequences – all you need is a brilliant storyline, catchy dialogues, passable acting, confident direction and tight editing – and you have an awesome movie on your hands which will go on to become the surprise hit of the year. I love this movie because it took courage to make it, because it came like a breath of fresh air among all the stale offering during those years, and most of all, because it’s a bloody well made, gripping thriller.

5.  Seetharamaiah Gari Manavaralu: This beautiful family drama by Kranthi Kumar had an unusual storyline, wonderfully real and etched out characters that you start to care about, and a rarely seen glimpse into how rural, old-fashioned Andhra really lives. Outstanding performances by almost the entire cast, and some lovely music. It does get over-dramatic and weepy in the end, but its still a wonderful movie. (Now) embarassing confession: this film saw Samee and me becoming Meena fans, and the fandom lasted for a long time afterwards. (Samee will kill me for putting this on my blog, but she adored Meena so much, she’d go kiss the TV every time she came on screen. What? She was only 3 years old then!)

My other all time favourites are Mayabazaar, Gundamma Kadha, MissammaNuvvu Naaku Nachavvu, Rudraveena, Khushi, Gamyam and Manmadhudu. There are just so many!