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Cooked, composed and delicious

Photo: S. Subramanium

Sandeep Chowta relishing Indian cuisine at Le Meridien's Pakwan restaurant.

`MUSIC AND food have a strange similarity. If they are badly cooked or composed they could leave a bitter taste in the mouth.' "Ganda hai par dhanda hai ye", Sandeep Chowta was never meant to fit in the common man's definition of Indian melody. However, he perfectly fits into one of a food lover.

Opening with Chhas on a cold Delhi afternoon at Le Meridien's Pakwan restaurant, Chowta does not want to miss his favourite North Indian delicacies. "I love Delhi's food. From butter chicken to chaat everything." And sources say Chowta's demands include downtown jaljeera as well. Opting for non-vegetarian fare, Chowta starts with lahsuni murg tikka and seekh pa, which is a giant seekh made from cardamom scented lamb mince, stuffed with a creamy filling of cheese, cream and grilled charcoal.

Dead End

Flying by the Rehman tangent, first he brought the background music to the forefront with scores like Satya and Kaun under the banner of master genre bender, Ram Gopal Varma and then blossomed in his company with films like Mast, Jungle, Pyar Tune Kya Kiya and Company. Soon the growth seemed linear and talented Chowta looked as if being churned in his image. But the man opted to stir nests beyond Bollywood. And before long he was composing tunes for the Beijing Olympics and shocking people with his dark short film Dead End on drug abuse which was shown in Delhi recently. The film catches you unawares with its treatment where protagonists lose temperaments over music; hedonism amounts to stapled tongues and murders are committed for a joint! "Yes, shocking is the word. When the idea came to me, I told the non-government organisation there is no point in making a film for those unaware of drugs or those have become possessed with drugs as both couldn't understand the point. It is the casual drug users who are at the maximum risk and could be brought back to normalcy. The film is supposed to shock such people." Chowta is speaking from experience. During his college and struggle days, he has been in the company of youngsters, who started for the hack of it but soon fell prey to the fatal addiction. "It is a misconception that it is only the glamour world which is the centre of drug abuse. It is there but it is equally rampant in the elite circles of our society where it is taking the form of status symbol." Chowta believes drug users cease to behave at a human level and that's why his film hits you with "nobody can kill you as you are already dead" at the end.

Chicken tales

Time for jhinga golmirch. Finished on griddle plate, the fiery prawns manage to hold the attention. "At home it is usually dosa and idli. My mother makes very good kori roti. It is like papad made out of rice. She is also good at coconut-based chicken curry." Once upon a time, Chowta says he used to cook as well. "I was a decent cook particularly chicken recipes but I used to make people wait for so long that they usually used to run out of patience," he quips.

Films like Dead End suffer on the distribution count and Chowta is making a serious effort so that it could reach out to the maximum. "PVRs are showing it during intervals. I am appealing to other theatres as well to show it. It eats up their commercial time but we have to join hands for the cause."

Chowta sums up the pakwan with rabri falooda and the talk with the assurance of his arrival on the Bollywood stage with "Rokda" where the composer known for giving voices new styles - ask Alisha Chinoy, fresh voices a platform - ask Sonu Kakkad is now optimistic about Master Saleem from Punjabi gharana. "He has a unique voice fit for the freedom to experiment that director Jaideep Sahani gave me." Experiment remains his middle name, some misfires with rabri faloodas notwithstanding.

ANUJ KUMAR

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