On Maharashtra Day today, dive into the rich cultural heritage of the state through its music, movies, books and performing arts.
Ramesh Warkhede, a writer and academician, says there are many interesting books on the state's history. "From political biographies to contemporary Bombay, one has a library to choose from," adds the writer of Maharashtrachya Samajik-Sanskrutik Sthityantarancha Itihas. "While Manasa by Anil Avchat throws light on the castes of the state, Mumbaiche Varnan by Govind Narayan Madgaonkar takes the reader to life in old Bombay. Ardhi Mumbai by Unique Features is about working-class Bombay and why it is called the city of dreams. For more on political growth, pick up Lokmanya te Mahatma by Sadanand More. Among English titles, he suggests 19th Century Maharashtra by BR Sunthankar and collection of poems Majhe Vidyapeeth by Narayan Surve, which captures the problems of the working class and struggles of the urban population."
Mahatma Gandhi. Pic/ Getty Images
Vaishali Polke does Maharashtrian cuisine pop-ups with her mother Sugandha in the city. Explaining the map, she divides the state into five regions: Konkan, paschim Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh. "It would be an injustice if we judge the cuisine based on just five regions as taste changes every 20 kilometres. Overall, our state has extreme weather conditions which resulted in flourishing local cuisines as per the region and crops. Konkan, which sees heavy rain, grows coconut and rice; the Deccan touches temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius, is ideal for wheat, jowar and bajra," says Polke, adding, "We like our food teekhat (spicy) and it also keeps the blood thin in hot weather." While chillies came in only 400 years ago, the cuisine uses black pepper and cloves and a variety of masalas. Masalas are the soul of the cuisine including ghati masala, Malvani masala, agri Koli masala, saoji masala, varhadi masala, kanda lasun masala and yesur masala.
Vaishali Polke with mother Sugandha
"We are from Solapur and our food is very spicy. Dishes like jungli mutton, khare vange (green brinjal), chandkyachyi dal, bajar amti and sweet dishes like lapshi malida and puran poli are favourites. While on Ganesh Chaturthi, we prepare modak, on Holi we consume puran poli; on Eid we have Sheer Kurma while chakli and karanji is reserved for Diwali," shares Polke.
Asking writer, curator and theatre producer Bhushan Korgaonkar for recommendations on performing arts is like hitting a jackpot. Co-founder of Kali Billi Productions, a theatre company in Mumbai known for their popular production Sangeet Bari that is based on traditional lavani performances, recommends watching Consent Lavani, which is based on the concept of consent before sex by Agents of Ishq with Sangeet Bari. He also suggests Shahir Vitthal Umap. Shahirs are lyricists and singers from Marathi folk culture who sing powadas (veer-ras pradhan songs meant for praise of rulers) and highlight socio-political evils. Listen to Kadubai Kharaat, an Ambedkari folk singer from Aurangabad. One short film on his must-watch list is Khidkee by Rohan Kanawde. "It deals with our limited versions of life. A middle-aged housewife, Madhu, and a young screenplay writer, Ashween, live across the road from each other, and get glimpses of each other's lives from their living-room windows. Little do they realise that their minds have their own windows!"
Sharad Kelkar and Sonali Kulkarni
Actor Sharad Kelkar, who was recently seen as Shivaji in Tanhaji, says he had to work on his accent as he grew up in Gwalior. "My film recommendation list includes Shyamchi aai (1953), based on a book by Sane Guruji. It's one of the first films I watched growing up," he says, adding Killa (2014), films by comedy trio Ashok Saraf, Laxmikant Berde and Mahesh Kothare including Dhum Dhadaka. "Katyar Kaljat Ghusali (2015) is another film that makes for a good watch. Set in the British era, it's about a classical singing competition for the coveted status of a royal singer. My all-time favourites are Lai Bhaari, Sairaat, Natrang and Dombivali Fast."
A still from Samna
Actress Sonali Kulkarni recommends Samna (1974) and Sinhasan (1979) by Jabbar Patel. "He presented the socio-politcal issues with an amazing command; it's relatable even today. I also have an ear for music, and would highly suggest listening to Bhimsen Joshi's video interviews where he talks about his gurus, his upbringing and art form. I feel so happy that we have access to old recordings that transport us to the golden period of the arts."
Vanamala in Shyamchi aai
- 3 cups yogurt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- Dry fruit slivers (for garnishing)
Hang yogurt in a muslin cloth for three to four hours. Remove the thick yogurt from the cloth in a bowl. This thick yogurt is called chakka. Add powdered sugar, cardamom powder in the chakka and mix well. Transfer the shrikhand in the serving bowls. Garnish with slivered dry fruits. Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Serve with puri.
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