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Courting padosan... the palate way



LOVE ACROSS THE TABLE: The heroes of "Nayee Padosan" treat their heroine to some food and fun at Le Meridien in New Delhi. Photo: Rajesh Kashyap.

IF THE padosan is hungry, padosis can do anything to satiate her. But when one of them has already burnt his fingers trying pudding, which turns out to be chicken, others are unsure of their culinary skills because they have never ventured beyond omelette and chai. As a last resort, instead of wooing individually, they pool in their resources to treat her to a lavish meal at Le Belvedere, Le Meridien's rooftop restaurant in New Delhi.

The padosan is not vegetarian as she tries to make us believe in the guise of Pooja. Mahek Chahal relishes Bhutta Seenkh Kabab and Tandoori Champ-e-Lucknowi. Born and brought up in Norway, Mahek, instead of crossing the Atlantic, took a flight to India. She is passionate about Indian culture and films, she claims. She may be used to seeing sun even at midnight but in India, her four years' struggle in music videos and a film across the Vindhyas, has now yielded an iota of sunshine with "Nayee Padosan" being lapped up by people for some refreshing humour.

Starting the enticing act, Aslam Khan, joins in with his story with Gosht Rara for Poo - the way he addresses his neighbour on reel. He tells that he can eat anything except pork and beef as it is against his and the religion of his friends. "I also avoid eating bheja." One can't be sure on that count as the expressions of his neighbour negate his claim. He has a Commerce degree but he graduated in the entertainment industry with Sprite advertisement, where he spoofed Big B. But perhaps to let his neighbour realise his potential, he keeps repeating, "I can do serious roles - especially angry young man types," showing his biceps in the process.

Vikas Kalantri realising that time is running out, joins in, and in an effort to be different talks about his education at the prestigious Scindia School and his oratory and theatre skills. He even tries to rise above the `padosi' rivalry, to share the credit for the success of the film. "As we are more or less of the same age-group and are not guided by egos, the jokes have come out natural on the screen."

He is doing "Dukan" with Iqbal Durrani, but he wishes to do a character as Shah Rukh played in "Darr". Again it dawns upon him that he has to sound different, so he starts narrating his love for exotic food - from Chinese to Mexican. Also in a way demonstrating camaraderie that he has sacrificed his taste for the team spirit.

Suddenly, Anuj Sawhney, till now busy savouring Lazeez Tangri Bharwan, shoots off a tangent about his culinary adventures. They may have failed on screen - Anuj is the one who tries his hand at halwa in the film - but in real life he loves creating new dishes particularly nouveau sandwiches and pastries. A certified dietician from the U.S., Anuj believes in the age-old adage of lightest breakfast, light lunch and a heavy dinner. But the presence of Pooja perhaps makes it heavier for him.

But the girl in question, unmoved by all these efforts of neighbours, concentrates on Dal Panchratan and Pudeena Parantha. When one asks about her activities in the kitchen, she coyly informs that she is good at Masur ki Dal but Aslam gives a suspicious look at her claims. To authenticate her culinary potential, Mahek says, "As there are no servants in Norway, we used to cook food ourselves and I used to get rave reviews from my friends."

Coming back to love for India, Mahek may sport western outfits with deep cuts but she conscientiously went barefoot to Sidhi Vinayak temple to pray for the success of the film. Her prayers have apparently been answered and she is elated about the recognition she is getting. The neighbours will be better placed if they follow the path of `padosan' as Anuj may have succeeded in the film but here they all fail to win her over the supper in the candle light with music as an appetiser. Perhaps they don't know that the way to a lady's heart is not routed through her stomach.

ANUJ KUMAR

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