ten Bollywood movies to watch instead of Slumdog Millionaire

About a year back Slumdog Millionaire came out to much fanfare and hype. I'd bristle every time someone told me they'd watched their first Bollywood movie. Ugh.

Don't get me wrong, I like Slumdog Millionaire. I thought it was an okay movie. The narrative and cinematography were interesting. Two things irk me about it: 1) Some people think this is a Bollywood movie. It's not. It's a British written, British directed move, with British actors, filmed in India. If this exact film were directed by an Indian director, I don't think it would have received as much attention. There are so many great Bollywood movies that deserve more attention than this one. If you're interested, I've listed them below. Btw, that dance number at the end was pathetic. 2) This one is a minor but.... Some people think the movie portrays everyday India. Indiana Jones Temple of Doom presented India as the land of elephants and snake charmers. Slumdog replaced that stereotype for another, now we're the land of slums and call centers. While the poverty and violence shown isn't an exaggeration, it's just some of the worst. And of course all this crazy stuff happens to one person. Yea, right.

Here are some real Bollywood movie recommendations you can rent from Netflix or your local library. They all come with English subtitles. I've kept it to the last 20 years or so of Bollywood. I've left older classics out, because they're a diffrerent class of Bollywood altogether. I've included the link to the Wikipedia articles for each and kept my personal notes brief. These are in no particular order:

1. Tare Zameen Par - This movie really moved me. It's the best performance I've seen of any child actor. I just read on Wiki that it's being released under an English title Like Stars on Earth in Jan 2010.

2. Lage Raho Munnabhai - A wonderful comedy about the power of truth and humanism. And it's inspired "Ghandigiri protests" around the world. Read about it in the wiki.

3. Dil Chata Hai - I'm a sucker for a good romance, and this is my personal favorite. Might be more of a typical Bollywood "bubblegum blockbuster" that critics wouldn't include in their list, but I can't help but like it. Good songs too! Ladies, you'll want to watch this one for sure.

4. Rang De Basanti - Great story, themes of repatriation, political activism and a mix of history.

5. Black - One of Sanjay Leela's best movies. It's an adaptation of Hellen Keller's story, told beautifully.

6. Lagaan - Set in Briish raj, about the game of cricket. You have your football movies, we have cricket. :) THIS one was nominated for Best Foreign Film. Wish this had won instead of Slumdog.

7. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) - One of the biggest bollywood movies of all time, and longest running at 700 weeks in Mumbai, and 15 years of non-stop running. It's long, it's typical, it's about love and marriage and I just can't help but like it. If you like Dil Chahta Hai you'll like this one too.

8. Salaam Bombay - Mira Nair's movies about slum life, released 20 years before Slumdog. This one is better.

9. A Wednesday - Not typical Bollywood, but an interesting thriller drama.

10. Swades - this one didn't do so well in the box office or with critics, but it has all the right pieces for me. Grassroots Bollywood, some comedy/romance, an AR Rahman soundtrack, and a repatriation theme.

green bean spicy soup

This recipe was SO delish!!

1.5 pounds of local FRESH green beans chopped
2 cups of milk
1 spring onion chopped medium
3 yukon gold potatoes half boiled and quartered

3 small beets roasted at 400F in oven and peeled

2/3 tsp. black pepper
1/3 tsp. thyme
1/3 tsp. basil
1/3 tsp. cayenne red pepper
2/3 tsp. garlic powder
salt to taste

1. Steam the green beans until tender. At the same time heat up milk until scalding but not boiled
2. Puree the beans and milk together in a blender, until mostly smooth. This mixture should be rather thick, almost like a smoothie texture. Scoop into a pot and bring over a low flame.
3. In a pan, saute the onions and potatoes with ghee and salt. Cover for 5 minutes.
4. While onions/potatoes are cooking, add all spices to green bean soup.
5. Throw in onion/potatoes into the green bean soup. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
6. LEAVE the beets out of the soup! Cut the beats and portion into soup bowls (serves 4).
7. Ladel the bean soup mixture on top of the beets, making sure some get potatoes and onions in there.

Amazing I tell ya! Can be enjoyed without the beets. But the beets... they give the soup this wonderful bite of sweetness. It's good.

baked sturgeon & mixed vegetables

Besides the wonderful Door to Door Organics service, I've been really happy that a new fresh seafood market has opened only 1/2 a block away from me in downtown Denver. I think walking over there and picking up a fresh slice of fish is becoming a habit! Last night Well's had some fresh and hard to find sturgeon. Sturgeon is a wonderful white fish, mild and almost the texture and taste of black cod.

Baked Sturgeon & Mixed Vegetables

Pre-heat oven to 425.

0.75 pounds sturgeon filet
miso dressing
black pepper
1 tblsp. olive oil

2 garlic pods minced
1/2 onion diced into medium pieces
1 hot house tomato finely chopped
1/2 a head of cabbage torn by hand into pieces
1 zucchini thinly sliced
1 russet potato cubed

1/3 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
sweet paprika to liking
1 tsp. ghee

1. Boil a potato cut into quarters in a pot of water and salt to speed cooking time.

1. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil and put sturgeon skin side down.
2. Coat the top and sides of the filet with miso dressing. Then crust with coriander and pepper. And a dusting of cayenne.
3. Place in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, or until cooked.

1. Put ghee in a medium skillet over medium/high heat.
2. When melted, throw in garlic and onions. Fry until almost clear and add tomato. Add salt and pepper.
3. Fry until onions are soft and clear.
4. Add the torn cabbage leaves. Add all spices. Add salt. Cook 7-8 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.
5. Add in zucchini and cut up boiled potato. Add salt. And cook until zucchini is somewhat translucent.

Serve with warm wheat pita bread.
Serves 2.


collard greens and lentil curry

I've recently signed up for Door to Door Organics. (If you sign up, please put me in the referral field!) And I love it.

Last week's box had some collard greens. I didn't exactly want to cook it up in bacon grease. So I ended up making this which turned out super tasty!
Collard Green Lentil Curry

4 garlic pods
1 thai green chili
1/4 inch ginger
1/2 an onion
1/2 pound carrots (3 medium sized)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 bunch collard greens
1 can of lentils

2 cloves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. corriander
1/3 tsp. tumeric
1/3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ghee or 1.5 tblsp. olive oil

I used a food processor to cut up all the veggies into bits.

1. Heat and melt ghee in a pot.
2. Throw in minced garlic, ginger, cloves, chili, and bay leaves. Cook over low-medium heat.
3. When the garlic starts to brown, throw in chopped onion. Turn up heat to medium-high. Add a little salt. Cook until clear.
4. Throw in chopped carrots and the juice from the dice tomatoes. Throw in rest of spices, little and stir. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.
5. The carrots should be somewhat soft. Throw in chopped collard greens and stir. Add more salt. Cook covered for 5-7 minutes.
6. Food process the diced tomatoes to finer pieces. Throw in the tomatoes. Cook covered 5 minutes. Stirring occassionally.
7. Add drained can of lentils and mix thoroughly. Cook until lentils have heated.

Taste, and add more spice and salt if necessary. Should be flavorful, ginger overtones first, tumeric/cumin mid, and that fiberous taste from the lentils and collards. At this point you can serve as is. Or take half the mixture and puree in a blender, and put it back into the pot to give it a smooth/chunky texture.

Yum! Serves 4.

Some thoughts/comments: Collard greens smell wonderful when you chop them up. They have this sweet alluring aroma. I took off some of the stems of the collard greens, and chopped only a few up so the texture wouldn't be too tough. I don't use a lot of salt in my cooking. Maybe a total of 3/4 tsp max went into the whole dish. But salt as you go. I also used organic everything. Ghee: is amazing. If you aren't already cooking with it, you should. The taste and health benefits just awesome.  You'll wonder why you ever used olive oil.


quote for the new year

Your fear is the sharpest definition of your self. You should know it. You should feel it virtually constantly. Fear needs to become your friend, so that you are no longer uncomfortable with it. Rather, primary fear shows you that your are at your edge. Staying with the fear, staying at your edge, allows real transformation to occur. Neither lazy nor aggressive, laying your edge allows you to perceive the moment with the least amount of distortion. You are willing to be with what is rather than trying to escape it by pulling back from it, or trying to escape it by pushing beyond it into some future goal.  - David Deida
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just do it. completing goals.

I bit the bullet, paid an instructor and got it done in a hurry a week before Thanksgiving. I kept putting it off because I knew once I got the license and car, I’d start bleeding money. :)

Learning to drive is worth doing. Buying a car on the other hand… the jury is still out on that!