Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ode to aromatic biryani

Ode to aromatic biryani

The finest quality basmati rice from Dehra Dun at Rs 20 per kg? That's not possible say traders and other marketmen. But Y S Rajasekhara Reddy garu
thinks otherwise. Andhra Pradesh is the rice bowl of the country and was once the nation's granary.
People's eating habits have revolved for centuries around rice and rice preparations. So why should rice be out of reach of the people? If the government can supply rice at Rs 2 per kg to the masses, it must also ensure that the prices are not unreasonable for the rest of them. The price of no variety of rice— whether it is sona masoori or any other superior grade— must not be more than Rs 20 per kg. Period. That is the diktat of the chief minister. To a suggestion from his advisors that providing rice of all qualities at below Rs 20 kg for too long would be impossible economically, YSR has said that let us do it for a few months at least, then we shall see. So here's to the fabled biryani made out of aromatic, long grained basmati rice.

Searching for a new script and role

He made a buy back offer, promising to refund the ticket money (albeit sans entertainment taxes) to viewers not happy with his movie. Yet the spy thriller `Mukhbiir' even with its taut script and stars including Jackie Shroff, Suniel Shetty, Samir Datani and Raima Sen, bombed at the box office. So much so that even with its rather modest budget, the producer Sudhish Rambhotla is yet to recover costs. The ending of the movie was 'reshot'- after it was shown to critics and much to the chagrin of director Mani Shankar--to change the death of the protaganist in the last shot to a happy ending. But obviously this did nothing to endear the rather interesting film to the viewers. But Rajmundhry boy Rambhotla who runs a successful animation and web design company - Color Chips- in Hyderabad is not ready to say quits. Looking for a script for his second movie, the not quite 40-year-old Sudhish is also pressing forward for his own scheme of bringing youth into politics. He is going around various political party offices seeking a commitment from the bosses to reserve a certain percentage of candidates for 'youth' in the forthcoming elections. Let's see if he is able to convince the dyed in the wool netas.

No, drinking liberation!

Hyderabad isn't warming up to women tipplers just as yet. For a city having undergone a sea change over the last few years, women drinking with men in some restaurants still seems unthinkable. So, when a bunch of young women decided to have some fun on a weekend night and do `dhaba' outing on the Medchal highway, they were in for two surprises. One, the `dhaba' they visited was fairly evolved or so it appeared from its menu card which was not restricted to dal makahni and butter chicken alone but had a fair sprinkling of Chinese dishes and mocktails. Two, drinks were out of bounds for women guests here. "No, drinks are served only in the gents section,'' the waiter curtly informed the bunch of ladies who then realised that they were being made to sit in the `family' section with over a dozen children jumping around and smug joint families enjoying their warm soups with kalmi kababs. That women who wanted to enjoy a peg or two could join the drinking men was clearly an idea that had not occurred to the dhaba management as yet. Women's lib, anyone?

How much will it go down?

Of course politics is on everybody's minds these days, but the biggest topic of discussion among the public is on the meltdown and its ramifications on the aam aadmi. Nobody knows that for sure and people are even more fuzzy about the likely southward movement of property prices. Meanwhile, bankers are in a tizzy because they expect defaults from borrowers who have taken huge loans for properties. Finance minister P Chidambaram has called bankers for a meeting in New Delhi today to take a review on their non-performing assets (NPAs), a large part of which may be due to housing loan defaults. Experts on real estate now predict that property prices in Hyderabad already down 10 per cent in the course of the last one month will take a downward dip by another estimated 10 per cent by the end of this year if not earlier. But mind you, even at this level, real estate in Hyderabad will be far above that in 2005 when prices started escalating astronomically. But for how long is the issue, because even at these lower prices there may not be buyers.

Rs 12 crore for a house, anyone?

But even in these adverse climatic conditions some builders are taking chances or perhaps they have no choice. Last week saw Mandira Bedi, Boman Irani and Kay Kay Menon at a show set up to hawk swank town houses on behalf of a realtor for a staggering Rs 12 crore a piece in Hyderabad. The limited edition houses -31 of them are up for sale - will have a covered area of 11,000 sq feet, will be four storied and will have room for eight domestic servants and five cars. At another location in the same week, another realtor had used drummer Sivamani for a show organised to sell flats that would cost Rs 2 crore each. How much buyer interest the show elicited, we do not know but at the shows there were large numbers. May be the food, drinks and entertainment were interesting.