Jan 12, 2018

Movie Review: Mayanadi

Mayanadi, Ashiq Abu's latest directorial venture comes after a gap of two years. His work is not always to my taste. I loved Salt n' Pepper. 22F Kottayam was okay. Didn't like his later ventures till Rani Padmini which I liked enough to watch more than once. So I was a bit skeptical about what was touted as a "newgen romance", but decided that for the sake of keeping an open mind, I would go and watch the movie. 

Let me tell you straight away - I liked the movie. Liked - not loved and I don't think that it is awesome to the nth degree. It is the "love" or "friendship" story of two very flawed people - Mathan (Tovino Thomas) and Aparna (Aiswarya Lakshmi). The two form an attachment while in college. They break up due to trust issues. Mathan goes on to become a bit of a conman till he gets into real trouble. But he has always kept his love for Aparna alive. So he asks her to run away with him to the Gulf.

Aparna, on the other hand, never got to complete her studies and is a struggling actress. She auditions as much as she can, models for ads and moonlights as an MC for lavish weddings and such. She has to support her mother and brother. The family is not a close one. She knows she cannot trust Mathan since he broke that trust once before. But she also cannot say no when he tries to get back into her good graces.

As a story it is a change from the routine and cliched fare of filmy romance. And it is picturized beautifully. The actors deliver superb performances and are very easy on the eyes. There is no denying that logic and common sense have been sacrificed at the altar of dramatic tension and elicitation of tragedy. But it is watchable and engrossing. The ironic comedy scenes are superb. My knowledge of Tamil is pretty basic and I would have loved to have some subtitles.

This is what I felt in the movie theater. But after I came out, one of my friends pointed out to me that the picture has been touted as the epitome of women empowerment. Say what??? Walking alone in the streets of Kochi after midnight, stringing along a guy who loves you and just using him for sex and moral support and keeping mum when a good friend is carried away by her overbearing brother so that you can snag her job - these are supposed to be what women need to feel empowered??? I am sorry, I must have missed a memo somewhere... 

IMHO, that is just kowtowing to the male-defined model of achieving "success" at any cost and using emotionally vulnerable people just for physical satisfaction. Is the adoption of that historical male prerogative the definition of feminine empowerment? Sorry, I beg to differ. May be the makers of the movie want to spread this "empowered attitude" in society so that they have more misguided girls to pick from???

Having said that, the movie is eminently watchable and refreshing. Just don't take your kids to watch.

Jan 11, 2018

My New Year Gift to You!

Happy New Year, dear readers!

Oh I know it's almost half way through the first month of the year... Things get way unsettled from mid-Dec to mid-Jan here at Karthi. We have been fortunate enough that a prediction hasn't come true, but Ockhi happened and showed us that even if there is a warning system in place and information had been handed to government agencies, it didn't percolate down to the people who really needed the warning. There are still 300+ souls whose fate is unknown. Let us continue to contribute what we can to ease the suffering of the loved ones that the departed and the lost have left behind.

Back in the summer of 2013, my kids made an amazing discovery - they learned that cakes can be baked at home! Blame the summer camp that they attended at DH's workplace. And although they saw and helped in the baking process at the camp, did they want to be bakers themselves? No sirree, they colluded with their father to buy a microwave and made ME do all the hard work! 

Even though baking is one 'craft' that I didn't adopt on my own, it has become dear to my heart. It satisfies the creative, the eternal student and the gourmand in me. And it gets me raving accolades from my family! Frequent baking makes for expanding waistlines, so I bake cakes only for birthdays, bake sales at the kids' school and for guests.

Last year I was bold enough to try baking a cake without a recipe!!! I know, sacrilegious, isn't it? The amounts have to be just right to make the chemistry that is almost alchemy work for the novice. I got news that two of my cousins were coming to visit. Karthi's snack box was empty and they weren't staying for lunch. So I decided to bake a quick chocolate cake. I didn't even have to break out my hand mixer! My cousins didn't mind being guinea pigs - in fact they asked for more! Then I knew I was on to a good thing! And indeed I had the occasion to bake it twice afterwards and they both came out very good. So here goes:

Quick and Easy Microwave Chocolate Cake 

Dry ingredients:

All-purpose flour - 1 cup
Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp

Wet ingredients:

Vegetable oil - 1 cup (I found peanut oil the best. Coconut oil makes for a heavy cake) 
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk -  1 cup
Eggs - 2, lightly beaten
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Whisk together sugar and oil till sugar is somewhat dissolved. Add milk and mix well. Sieve dry ingredients together and add to the mixture while whisking. Pour in the beaten eggs while whisking. Add the vanilla essence.

Pour batter into greased baking mold and nuke at 80% power for 12 minutes. Check whether done with a toothpick or skewer.  It's yummy and moist served either hot or cold.

This cake is not overly sweet - it suits our tastes perfectly. The batter may look runny, but that is how it is supposed to look. 

And as I was writing this, a memory came to me and I chuckled thinking those days are far behind me. Touch wood!

Do have a go at my new year gift. Let me know in the comments!

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