Monday, November 14, 2011

Ra.One and Caramel Custard...

I know… I have gone on and on defending theokmovie Ra.One to anyone willing to listen. I have stood by Shah Rukh Khan (even though he has no idea about my courageous stand) and lashed out at all those people who have been cracking Ra.One jokes. I have loyally added to the Ra.One box office collections by watching the movie twice – first in 2D and then in 3D. I have encouraged non-believers to go and watch the film and not go by the reviews and bad word-of-mouth publicity. I have fought with people on FB about why Ra.One is just as good, if not better, than the highly over-rated Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard.  So much so that friends have been asking me if I’m being paid to do PR for Shah Rukh.  I also know that many friends and colleagues who have hitherto respected my opinion on cinema, now feel that I have lost the plot. So I thought I might as well go the whole hog. Either you are a believer or you are not. No point standing on the fence.

So this is a post in defense of Ra.One. And Caramel Custard. Oh no, they are not two different things! See, either you love Caramel Custard, or you don’t. Just like either you are a Shah Rukh fan or you are not. There is usually no middle ground. 

In all my years of being in love with SRK, I have noticed one thing - us fans can be fairly non-judgmental. Even the most die-hard SRK fan will grudgingly admit that he/she couldn’t stand him in Devdas, or couldn’t sit through My Name is Khan with a straight face… and couldn’t understand why he had to play that grumpy, limping husband in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. In the same way that a Caramel Custard aficionado will hate it if it’s too eggy, or too wobbly, or the caramel a little burnt.  You like caramel custard for being what it is – simple, yummy, comforting. Not for being a fantastic dessert! Just as you love the on-screen Shah Rukh for being charming, cocky, emotional, eternally romantic – not for his great acting capabilities. He is comforting, makes your insides wobble, makes you believe in love, and makes you go ‘awwwwwwww’!

But those who aren’t SRK fans are not so forgiving. They will bay for his blood come what may. The film need not be all that bad, but it will be termed worthless anyway. All those bad Salman, Akshay, Golmaal-type films that become huge hits, somehow, never attract so much hatred or mud-slinging! But these critics and SRK-haters will harp on about Shah Rukh and his bad film choices and his bad acting no end. It makes me wonder if it has somehow become ‘cool’ to diss SRK. Maybe, if you are an SRK fan or like any of his films, it has come to mean that you are just not cool enough. Just like it has become cool to like Salman Khan and his hare-brained films. Because I honestly think that this time around, Ra.One got unprecedented bad publicity. People have gone on and on about how bad the film is like it was the sole purpose of their lives to stop the junta from watching the film. And I’m amused and a bit irritated by that! Because I honestly think Ra.One was not that bad…

For me, it was the perfect Caramel Custard. Ok, let me explain.

The last time I had homemade Caramel Custard was years ago... Mom used to make a huge bowl in her monster-sized pressure cooker when I was in school, and yet it used to barely last a day or two. Every trip past the refrigerator would call for a spoonful of steamed custard shoved into the mouth. It didn’t need any fancy serving suggestion or pretty china bowls. Just a steel bowl and spoon would do. But after I left home, it has mostly been restaurant caramel custard. And that’s just not the same. The servings are too small, the taste never the same, and they try and make it too fancy which never works. So when I made Caramel Custard at home after all these years, the pleasure in digging in was indescribable! I could close my eyes and recall those summer holidays, fighting over the last serving of custard with my brother, and drinking up all the caramel-y juices straight from the big bowl!

That’s exactly how Ra.One was. After Kal Ho Na Ho and Main Hoon Na the SRK we know and love had disappeared. Yes there were Om Shanti Om, Don and Rab Ne Banaa Di Jodi, but they were like the restaurant versions of Caramel Custard. Ok, but not great. He was not the “hero” who makes everything alright, who makes you want to fall in love again, who makes you believe in romance again. He was being all fancy-shmancy with cherries on the side and chocolate sauce on top. 

But in Ra.One, when he enters as G.One with that mind-blowing background music, I was hooting and screaming and ready to whistle aloud if I could! Here was the guy who was sweet, charming, vulnerable yet a super hero. This is what I had been waiting for! A film that has unadulterated Shah Rukh; the romantic, heroic SRK in all his glory. And that is what I liked as an SRK fan. I could have done with a better script, a larger climax, and a bigger reason for Ra.One to come out of the game than to just beat a Iittle kid…  But I never said I felt it was great cinema. It was good fun, it was entertaining, it had great VFX and it was Paisa-Vasool. And I see nothing wrong with that. On that note, I end my looong defense of all things Shah Rukh and move on to the Ra.One inspired Caramel Custard :P
My favorite scene in the film!! Yaaay G.One!!! :D

Sugar - 3/4th Cup

Milk - 3 cups
Eggs - 4

Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp

First to make the caramel, add a few drops of water to about 1/4th cup of sugar in a pan and heat till the sugar caramelizes.
It should turn a lovely golden brown, but shouldn't harden or crystallize.Pour the caramel into a steel or heat-resistant glass mould, swish it around to cover the sides, and let it cool. I just used a regular, deep, medium-sized steel dish for this, but you can also use individual glass or aluminium moulds so you have many separate servings at the end.

Heat milk either in a microwave oven or on gas flame. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining half cup of sugar, vanilla essence and 4 eggs. Add the warm milk and mix well. Pour this egg-milk mixture into the steel/glass mould in which the caramel has already been poured. Cover with aluminium foil and place it in a pressure cooker or idli steamer that's filled with about a glass of water. If you are using a pressure cooker, remember to not use the whistle! You have to steam the custard, not pressure cook it :) 

If using an idli steamer, just close the lid firmly and let it steam.  Whichever method you use, the custard will need 30-40min of steaming on medium flame. After 30min, turn off flame, remove lid and let it cool. Now take a large serving dish or plate with high sides, place it on the mouth of the custard mould, and turn it upside down in a quick motion. The custard should come out easily with the caramel side up, onto the plate. 

The way I like it:
Refrigerate, slice it up and serve cold with a generous serving of the liquid caramel!

Post Script - If you would like to read another review by a like-minded fellow blogger Suhel Banerjee, then you can go here.

And just to prove that I CAN take criticism where SRK is concerned, here is another link to a review by one of my favorite Film Bloggers - Dolce and Namak. She and I don't always agree on everything, especially when it concern Shah Rukh (!), but I love her take on films anyway :)

Also, the most hilarious comic strip on Ra.One ever!!! See, when the review is in good taste and not getting all personal and abusive, I'm all for it. Especially if it is this funny :D

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