A super easy recipe for bisibele bath, a cult Kannada movie and Sonu Nigam make our list of Bangalore recommendations.
In an ideal world we would retire somewhere to the outskirts of Bangalore- where the weather is still wet and the neighbourhood still verdant, not too far from Pecos and Empire, but far away from the traffic. This island will also have Bangalore’s special draught beer on tap, and its Rs.15-a-glass watermelon juice, and the sickly sugary filter coffee of one of its hundreds of Shanthi Sagars. But until some builder discovers this island paradise (and then mars it with an ugly condominium called Le Bellevue or some such), we reminisce about our favourite Bangalore with these pop culture memories.
The best depiction of Bengaluru in Hindi Cinema is probably in ‘Mard Tange Waala‘ . Please don’t hold that against the city- revel instead in the gorgeous vistas ahead of the Vidhan Soudha, mourn in heady nostalgia for the once-empty lanes, and enjoy a glimpse of Cubbon Park when it was still redolent with firey orange gulmohars.
You could watch Sholay for the umpteenth time in memory of your early morning bike rides to Mysore. But instead why don’t you try Lucia by Pawan Kumar- already a bit of a cult film. We don’t want to spoil too much except to tell you that it is the story of the attempted murder of a famous actor; but there is so much more to it. No other movie shows as beautifully the dichotomy of the two Bangalores- the multiplex viewing weekenders and the slowly diminishing single theatre world. The movie is available with fairly good subtitles here- watch it, make a list of the places and dialects you recognize from your time in Bangalore, and also get a head-trippy introduction to Kannada films.
We’ve mentioned Pecos before, haven’t we? Countless travel booklets will also tell you about the eat-till-you-drop desi-ghee goodness of the Mavalli Tiffin Rooms. We ourselves are partial to the crisp dosas of Vidyarthi Bhawan and the perfect hangover cure that is a chicken roll from Fanoos (suitably situated on the way from MG Road to – just about anywhere else). A special mention must also be made of Kudla which serves crabs and finely prepared Mangalorean curries from the coast line of Karnataka
If you want a taste of Bangalore at home, then try Madhu’s recipe of Bisibele bath (fair warning: we always soak the dal for half an hour and nuke the vegetables in the microwave for 30-45 seconds before making this recipe, otherwise it takes forever for amateur cooks like us!). The only respectable way to eat this Bisibele is with cucumber raita and too-spicy potato chips. Bon appetit!
Girish Karnad’s re-telling of old folktales in Kannada make for excellent reading even in translation- and you can also supplement them with a showing at the Chowdiah. In fact Bangalore seems to produce more than its fair share of genius playwrights and you’d also do well to read Mahesh Dattani’s Collected Plays. But if you must read a modern Bangalore book it should be Anjum Hasan‘s Neti Neti-a book about the aimlessness of the thousands of Bengaluru youth- all young, all monied and all a little unsure of the “what nexts” that life asks at every turn. As they hurtle from experience to experience, seeking the next high, comfortably ensconced in their modern confidence, you can’t help wishing that the city will protect them if and when they crash from these heights.
Those of you who’ve been missing Sonu Nigam (but not his Gaga-esque Avant Garde hairstyles); and his classically trained voice in Bollywood movies will be happy to know that he’s slowly built up a body of stellar work in Kannada. And just to show how much we love you, we’ve built an entire playlist of some of his nicest Kannada songs for you here. Enjoy!
Start with the beautiful Mungaru Maliye from the movie Mungaru Male which first made him a superstar in Karnataka
Then the lilting Usire Usire from Huccha which Youtube commentators admire thus – “what voice Sonu Sir, I love you“
And end with one of his more recent hits, the emotionally-charged Neenirade from Googly