Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

A bar with a view
We felt we’d walked into a science lab when we entered Zorawar Kalra’s soon to open MasalaBar, sitting pretty at Carter Road, offering a stunning view of the Arabian Sea. From test tubes, cylindrical flasks and glass pipes bubbling with a variety of foam-ey liquids, the bar takes a leaf out of the brand’s progressive cuisine concept.

MasalaBar’s Zorawar Kalra excited about the opening of his progressive lab-like restaurant. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
MasalaBar’s Zorawar Kalra excited about the opening of his progressive lab-like restaurant. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

On offer are cool and quirky concoctions like Bollywood Bhaang (lipsmacking vodka-infused thandai) and An Evening In Chowpatty (coconut fizz and vodka) along with small plates featuring everything from Calamari rings to paneer tikka, and even mushroom bruschetta, a fungi mash served on wafer thin phyllo pastry.

“It’s the only bar in the country that’s lit solely with candles. There’s not a single bulb here,” says Kalra, and that’s when we look up at the ceiling to verify his statement because until then, we were too busy staring at the sunset through windows fitted with magnifying glasses (the magic of the Basrai brothers).

Sip, swirl and swallow
It seems wine can bring people together. And what better way to showcase this than a new programme that gets 11 leading wineries under one roof. The aim of Wines of India is to promote a wine as a culture rather than a brand.

“The quality of Indian wines has grown tremendously over the years. In fact, Maharashtra and Karnataka are the leading producers of world class high-quality grapes,” says sommelier Nikhil Agarwal who has been appointed as director of the programme.

The challenge right now, he says, is to change consumer perception that all imported wine is better than Indian wine and to get a predominantly spirit and beer drinking population to try wine. Keeping this in mind, several tasting events, promotions at restaurants and festivals are being chalked out to expose customers to the varieties of wines available to us. Cheers to that.

Of a love that is unconditional
Pakistani troupe Siege The Band’s new single, Ki Kariye is all about propagating love that is not based on how a person looks. The band recently released their single, produced by Culture Machine, on their “Being Indian” channel. It’s about a boy who loves and supports his girlfriend even after she is a survivor of an acid attack.

“I used to have a crush on this girl in school and always wanted to write a song for her,” says lead vocalist Junaid Younus, “But I have also been working with an NGO in Pakistan that works with acid victims. It’s such a rampant practice in India and Pakistan and we wanted to address it.”

He also feels that the song could work as a tool to unite the two countries. “I live in Lahore, and I am barely 15 minutes away from the border. We are the same people. And music could be a way to connect.” Well said.

Creatives meet governments
While Only Much Louder (OML) had its share of fallouts last year (the Mumbai police revoked permissions for its Seinfeld show; AIB’s roast got pulled up), there is no stopping founder Vijay Nair.

As secretary of licensing and policies of Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), Nair has found a kindred spirit in Delhi’s CM Arvind Kejriwal. The duo, and other associates, are working closely to put up the Delhi Arts Festival, and will also initiate the Delhi Creative Industry Corporation in a month.

Nair is working with the Maharashtra Government too to bring about a “one-window system” for licensing of events, hoping it will be ready in three months. Hopefully, creatives, not restricted to Bollywood, will have an easier time after this. And perhaps, OML as well?

Gayle and his six machine
We wonder whether Jamaican blaster Chris Gayle is a James Brown fan. Or more precisely, whether he has a copy of the Godfather of Soul’s 1970 album, Sex Machine. Nevertheless, Gayle has decided to call his new book Six Machine. The subtitle is ‘I Don’t Like Cricket... I Love It’.

Penguin Random House, the publisher of Gayle’s memoirs, says he is well followed on Twitter and Instagram, but, “do we really know him? Do we know what took a shy, skinny kid from a tin-roofed shack in the back streets of Kingston, stealing empty bottles to buy food, to the top of the cricket world? This is a story not just of sporting genius but of battling prejudice; of coming from nothing to everything and yet not losing yourself along the way.”

But we also want to know what made him flirt with television reporter Mel McLaughlin during the Big Bash last January. We’ll wait and see if that gets touched on in detail. Hopefully, the book will also be insightful like the last one by a Jamaican cricket great — Michael Holding’s No Holding Back in 2010. Come June and we’ll know. Meanwhile, you’ll see more of Mr Cool during next month’s Indian Premier League.

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