My love for food is well known in social circles. And to top that I married into a community who also love their food. In our house, the most common discussion is “Aaj jevaila kai karaicha?” Marathi for “What should we cook today?” We think of food in our waking moments and in slumber mode too. And the icing on the cake or the Kesar on our gulab jamun is that we don’t just love to eat, we love to cook it. So when people called us, all out of the blue, and said “You guys must watch this Marathi film called Gulabjaam” we knew we shouldn’t miss it for the world.
This week my mother-in-law came to spend a few days with us and to keep her happy and busy I thought I’d run some Marathi movies or serials on Zee5. We don’t have cable at home. While going through the titles I found Gulabjaam and knew this is what we should watch. So while babyT took his afternoon nap, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, laughed, cried, licked our lips, hoped, despaired and rejoiced in the whole of the 2 hours that this movie runs for.
It felt so relatable of our passions, a manifestation of many dreams which we had covered up in white dust blankets to make way for the daily grind. To say that this movie felt like it was made for me is an understatement. Something has stirred in me after I saw Gulabjaam and I am sure it will touch a chord with every person who watches it too, do take my word for it. With an 8.4 rating on IMDB, this movie is making hearts happier everywhere.
And that’s what I want to talk about.. food, glorious food. But first, let’s talk about the movie, shall we?
Gulabjaam movie review
Aditya the male protagonist feels stifled in a surprise engagement with his childhood friend Neha. While Neha can’t wait to join Aditya in London and splurge away the big figure income he earns working with a bank, Aditya has other plans. Instead of catching the flight back to London he arrives in Pune with an aim to learn simple, homemade Maharashtrian food – food that reminds him of his grandmom, feeding him lovingly when he was a child. He meets a reluctant teacher who tests every bit of his patience and sanity in order to make him earn his keep. But does the teacher need some schooling herself? And how does Aditya pay her back for the skill she imparts to him. A story that will move you, make you cry and rejoice at the end or even cook.
Why I loved Gulabjaam – the movie
It’s all about food. What’s not to love? And to top it Maharashtrian food.
The movie is a virtual feast for anyone who loves typical Maharashtrian dishes like ukdichey modak, puranpoli, kothimbir wadi and so on.
Maharashtrian cuisine is as diverse as its land. Famed for spicy non-vegetarian curries – think of the fiery Tambda rassa from Kolhapur, Marathi cuisine also serves up delectable vegetarian food, almost divine, holy, pure and Godlike. In fact, despite being a hardcore carnivore, my husband and I go weak at the knees when face to face with a pure vegetarian thali or jevan resplendent with a variety of things to eat.
Sweet, spicy, bitter, sour, tangy, cool, citrusy or crispy you can find all these flavours & textures on a Marathi jevan thali. Most often cooked on holy days or as naivedya for the Gods. Only after it is tasted by the God are lesser mortals like us allowed to even have a bite.
And it’s healthy too… with a balance of vegetables, proteins, grains and millets it is a meal that will make you feel good.
Even laying out this jevan is an art. very item has its own allocated place and every dish must go in the rightful place. I’ve earned the stink eye from my MIL on many occasions when I’ve just splashed on food in any random order. But to be right this is my reference point for laying out a jevan thali.
I can’t stop thinking about Gulabjaam
When my husband and I were dating, he often told me about his childhood days from summer vacations or Diwali when his mother would make bowls full of gulabjaam. His friends who I met also accorded the Gulabjaam a legend like status. Needless to say, I could not wait to taste it too. And when I did, I knew what the tales stood for.
My husband and I resolved to preserve the food culture of our respective communities and pass it on our future generation too. We spoke to the elders in our family and wrote down recipes in a yellow diary.
With the passage of time, however, we stopped writing recipes, we reduced the cooking and feeding we did. Watching Gulabjaam reminded me of all that. And now I can only hope we have found our lost passion for food and more specifically for jevan.