Vanity Fair

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Compiled by Sunaina Kumar

Age is Just a Number

She is the closest we have to Madonna. As the promos of English Vinglish hit the air, one thing’s for certain — Sridevi, at 49, has kept age at bay. Which is probably why, unfortunately, the only question interviewers asked her on her comeback was the secret to her young looks. To her credit, her patient answer in each and every interview was yoga, dieting and spending quality time with her children. When the questions about botox persisted, she finally lost it and asked everyone to zip it. We like the feisty Sridevi far more than the simpering one.

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Smackdown

Kissing And Hoping

As much as Emraan Hashmi tries to be taken seriously, his own uncle lets him down. The publicity for Raaz 3 is based on the marathon kissing effort put in by Hashmi, a solid 20 minutes of smacking effort. Mahesh Bhatt has been gleefully and rather proudly going around appealing to Hashmi fans that he sets the bar higher with this, his longest kiss yet. If you’re still interested, then the kiss between Emraan and Esha Gupta breaks the record of Aamir Khan’s kiss with Karisma Kapoor in Raja Hindustani.

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Formula One

When shooting in India, Hollywood filmmakers have all of two ideas, both in severe need of an update —Danny Boyle’s successful slumdog genre and the land of the spiritually awakened as established by The Beatles in the 1960s. The summer’s biggest hit, The Avengers, has two scenes set in Kolkata, showcasing the best of Indian poverty. In Christopher Nolan’sThe Dark Knight Rises, the setting of Batman’s philosophical turnaround is a well in Rajasthan. And now Ashton Kutcher is in India for the Steve Jobs biopic to shoot the scenes of Jobs’ spiritual awakening. And we accuse Bollywood of following the formula.


‘You’re on stage when you open the restaurant doors’

WHO Mumbai-based chef and restaurateur Akerkar grew up shuttling between Mumbai and Manhattan. His first restaurant was Under The Over. He is currently managing director and director cuisine at deGustibus hospitality that runs Mumbai’s famous restaurant Indigo.

Rahul Akerkar
Rahul Akerkar, 52, Chef

How did you go from a Master’s in biochemical engineering to being a chef and restaurateur?
During my Bachelor’s in the US, I was so broke I worked at a French restaurant as a dishwasher. When I was studying for Masters at Columbia, I had a fallout with my adviser. Two years into the program I decided to do what I love — cooking. My parents sent me leads with pharmaceuticals where they had contacts, for me to send in my resume, but I never did. I had lost interest in academics. It was a huge leap of fate — here I was, with all these degrees, going to be a cook.

How did moving back to India pan out?
I came back to India when things were changing economically. It was the early ’90s during the boom, and I was able to ride this wave. I don’t think I would’ve achieved what I have here, had I stayed on in the US. Nine out of ten New York restaurants fail. Here, there was a void in the industry. I was in the right place at the right time.

How do you concoct your exotic dishes — cakes that are spicy and chicken that is sweet?
The ideas come from things I taste — you think “what if?” and try something new. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I tend to follow my heart a lot but an engineering education brings a sense of discipline, organisation and analytical ability.

What would you tell a budding chef/restaurateur?
Find another line of work. Everyone thinks this is a glamourous business but it’s not. You work when everyone else plays and then clear up after everyone is done. You are on stage every time you open your restaurant’s doors. If you don’t truly love the work, you’ll be mediocre.

What is the future of restaurants in Mumbai?
I think the restaurant industry here is growing but in order to keep pace with this growth, there needs to be an improvement in the supply of ingredients, laws and infrastructure. The more restaurants there are, the more exposed people’s palates get and the better they are at discerning good from bad.

Ria Mirchandani

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