Friday, 23 August 2013

Murukku (Melt-in-the-mouth Crisps) & Chennai Express Film Review

First - the Chennai Express Film Review.
So, my husband and I went to watch Chennai Express, and I have some strong feelings to share. There are a large number of South Indians who have watched this movie all over the world and expressed their sheer rage and offense over this movie, claiming that it "mocks" South Indians and stereotypes them as aruva-kathi gundas who fight in rings all day, feast on yoghurt rice and are part of large don-families who don't care about their children and siblings. It's rubbish - what they're saying. I will stand up and say very honestly that as a cultured and tamizh-speaking South Indian, the film was genuinely funny. We thoroughly enjoyed the film, and so did many more of my South Indian, tamizh-speaking friends. The film is out to provide comedy to the world and humorously display the way in which North and South Indians would interact, given the opportunity, not knowing each others' language. Sure, Shahrukh Khan's Tamizh was really, REALLY bad, but who cares? Has the world become so racist and racist-phobic, that we can't even enjoy a film for its sole intent to provide harmless humour? Will the world only criticize and ban films like this which don't have malicious intents, but do absolutely nothing when people are tortured, abused, spat on and hated all in the name of caste and race?

Shame on you. Get some perspective, you small-minded humans. Humour is humour. Racism is racism. Know how to differentiate the two, and react accordingly.

Deepika did a very commendable job. It wasn't an easy role, and her attempt, although not perfect, to imitate the Tamizh accent whilst speaking broken Hindi was well done. It was the first movie I saw of hers, where I enjoyed watching her acting. Their chemistry was great, and most of all, the film was decent. Apart from that one song where some half-naked woman is dancing provocatively and making a fool of herself, there was absolutely no vulgarity, no A-jokes, and no nonsense. But gone are the days when people cared about these things. These days, its all about misinterpreting dialogues and analyzing meanings behind films to somehow portray them in a bad light, all the while forgetting to criticize movie directors out there who exploit women for their bodies and videograph disgusting songs like Munni Badnaam Hui and Fevicol Se. The women are senseless too, of course. Apparently the excessive abuse of women in our country wasn't enough to wake people up, so women continue to exhibit more than half their bodies for the world to see. They make it look like it's excusable, and it is far from that. My point is, Chennai Express had none of this. It's a decent film which you can take your parents and your kids to watch, and guarantee everyone will have a memorable and wonderful time. This is my honest view in light of recent negative comments about the film. I respect that everyone might not agree with me, but this is my opinion.
Onto other things in life, the music in Chennai Express was quite nice. I especially liked the song Titli, beautifully sung by Chinmayi and Gopi Sunder. His voice didn't match Shahrukh at all, but strangely enough, it seemed to work; it didn't sound off. I loved the tamizh part and the picturisation of the bharthanatyam scene. The sunset in the background was perfect, and the lyrics were beautiful -
"Kondal vannanaik kovalanay venney
Unda vayan en ullam kavarndhanai
Andar kon ani arangkan en amudhinaik
Kanda kangal marronrinaik kanave"
Translation: I have seen the One whose color is like dark rainclouds
He is the one with the mouth that swallowed the butter of cowherds,
He is the Lord of the devas,
He is Lord Ranganatha (Lord krishna)
He is my nectar, my life!
My eyes have seen my Lord and will not see anything else! 
(written by a poet Thiruppaan Alvar (8th century A.D) several hundred year back) 

I've had this song on my mind for a few days now. It's pleasant on the ears and makes me feel good. Ideal to listen to on a weekend when you're relaxed and making some sweets and savouries for a festival. I made Murukku on the weekend. Whilst it's not my absolute favourite snack, it's one liked by many and easy to make. Don't believe me? See for yourself!

Total Time Required: 30 - 45 minutes (depending on how many you make)
Yield: Approx. 30 murukkus

2 cups Rice Flour (fine)
1/2 cup Ultham maavu / Urad Dal Flour (fine)
1/4 teaspoon of perungayam / hing / asafoetida
3/4 cup Ghee / clarified butter
3 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

In a large frying pot, fill it half way with oil and turn on the heat. It will take at least 5 minutes to reach optimum heat for frying. 
In a bowl, put in the 2 cups of rice flour, 1/2 cup of urad dal flour, hing, sesame seeds and salt.
In a frying pan, add the 3/4 cup of Ghee and heat it till it becomes aromatic. Pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix it through with a spatula. It should be partially combined. Sprinkle some water and mix it till you get a dough. You do not need to knead the dough. As long as it's well incorporated, that's sufficient. Have a look:
That snazzy little piece of equipment is available everywhere these days, even here in Sydney! My mother in law sent me this press (kozhal / acchu), and it's great. It comes with all types of attachments to make murukku, thengozhal, ompuri, kola vadai and ribbon pakoda!

Fill up the inside of the press 3/4 way with the dough. Take a plain plastic sheet or a zip lock bag as the base and press the murukku in concentric circles, close to each other, then seal the end like so - 
Check if the oil is ready by dropping a tiny piece of the murukku dough into the oil. It if immediately sizzles, the oil is ready. Carefully lift the plastic sheet, flip the murukku over on your hand and slip it into the oil carefully. Don't throw it in otherwise the oil may splash on your hand.

Fry till golden brown and then drain and transfer to a bowl with paper towels to absorb the extra oil. Serve warm or cold - they're awesome either way!


Sri Om