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#TheCrow’sEgg: The little film inspired by a £10 slice of pizza.

Despite the surfeit of insipid mega-blockbusters advancing “traditional” values and commentators going gaga over box office figures, the Indian film industry – a vast behemoth with little in the way of uniformity – continues to produce little films that tell compelling stories and showcase India warts and all. The likes …

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#JBBSir: Meet J B Bernstein – The Man who inspired Disney’s Million Dollar Arm

Everything is relative, some people say.

Take Premiership footballers, for instance. 

For all the bashing that Wayne Rooney receives for his £300,000-a-week pay packet (not to mention his questionable after-hours hook-ups with grannies in leather cat suits), his doubtless ridiculous salary (don't forget, to kick a ball around) pales in comparison with what athletes earn out across the pond in America.

Floyd Mayweather makes more for a single fight than Rooney does in an entire year.  The highest-paid quarterback in American Football (which isn't really football) made more than twice as much as Rooney last year.  And that too in a sport that only Americans 'get' and watch.

American sport - even at university-level - is so competitive and flush with money that each discipline - be it the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball or the professional Lacrosse league - requires a management style that's comparable to the trading floor of a commodities exchange: men (and occasionally women) hustling each other, screaming down phones, making deals, scrapping for a piece of the pie.

While the boxers and the quarterbacks and the pitchers hog the headlines, American sport is underpinned by these trading floor scrappers. 

Scrappers like J B Bernstein.

Bernstein however, has a quite unique story, one which is the inspiration behind 'Million Dollar Arm', Disney Pictures' marvellously entertaining drama about a jaded baseball agent who comes up with the outlandish idea of staging a talent contest in India in 2007 to find a Major League pitcher from amongst India's countless millions of dreamers.

The film, directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Gillespie, features an exceptional turn by 'Mad Men' star Jon Hamm as the hard-nosed Bernstein.

The idea for s contest, ironically enough, was the direct result of money and the corrupting influence large amounts of it can have on sportsmen, especially young players.

It's 2007.  Bernstein is living the dream of the sports agent.  Among his clients is the legendary and controversial baseball player Barry Bonds.  He had the million-dollar home, the sharp suits, the most expensive watches money could buy, the obligatory Porsche. 

But, as is always the case, there was something amiss.

Months before he dreamt up 'Million Dollar Arm' he had been in talks with a rookie footballer who had promised that he would sign with Bernstein.  

However, days before the deal is finalized, the player asks Bernstein to cough up a cool one million dollars in cash as a sweetener for the privilege of representing him. 

"That was an emotional moment when I saw that on screen.  It was very real, very authentic",  Bernstein says.

"It was the breaking point for me being a sports agent.  I was asking myself, 'is this what my business and my work has come to?'  It was deeply frustrating and terrible. 

"Essentially my career had become bankrupt, not necessarily monetarily but morally and spiritually.  It just wasn't fulfilling to sit across from a young kid who had never really done anything, demanding money for me to help him build his career.  I felt emotionally exhausted at that point."

One young kid's extraordinary greed would turn out to be a blessing of sorts for two young kids thousands of miles away in India. 

But Bernstein's mind at that point was even further afield, in China.  He was thinking of Yao Ming, the 7' 6" tall, Shanghai-born basketball player who had become a global phenomenon just as Bernstein began his soul-searching.

"I started asking myself: what kind of client did I want to represent?  Yao Ming immediately came to mind.  The kind of guy with whom there's a huge upside and it's not all about the parties and the riches.  The kind of guy with whom you can actually impact on other people's' lives and make a difference. "

New York-born Bernstein had been a sports agent since 1994 and had represented some of the biggest names in the American sports business.  Now he was looking outside. 

China had Yao Ming.  Where else could he go where another Yao could help sell a billion t-shirts, a billion hats and get hundreds of millions tuning in to watch baseball?

Although Bernstein is today hazy about when the idea exactly hit him, he acknowledges that credit is due to Scottish 'Britain's Got Talent' sensation Susan Boyle, Simon Cowell and a re-run of an old World Cup cricket match, a sport that Bernstein's on-screen version describes as a bunch of guys running around in a lunatic asylum.

"I didn't use those exact words but it was pretty close to what I then thought about cricket", Bernstein assures me.

Bernstein with Jon Hamm at the US premier of 'Million Dollar Arm'

The rest, as they say, is the stuff of, well, a quintessential Disney feel-good movie, the kind that gets men blaming non-existent dust inside the movie theatre for their watery eyes.

"My business partner Ash Vasudevan (played in the movie by the brilliant Aasif Mandvi) and I came up with the title and we were inspired by Mr Cowell.  But we were careful not to call it a baseball contest because we knew that nobody would know what we were talking about, but the concept of winning a million dollars, throwing a ball, having a strong arm were things that we thought that they were able to relate to a little bit more easily."

Despite travelling the world, Bernstein had never been to India and Jon Hamm's pitch perfect bewilderment in the film - complete with perpetually harassed demeanour and soaking wet shirt - captures Bernstein's own disorientation when he first landed in sweltering Mumbai in the summer of 2007. 

"It was the most dramatic place that I had ever visited for sure.  It was pretty crazy when we first got there and Ash had told me some of what I was supposed to expect.  But I immediately fell in love with the place and I'm not just saying that".

Quite apart from the battle to overcome traffic, chaotic logistics, vague head-shakes and the bane of human existence in India, the new telephone line, Bernstein was also up against a religion called Cricket.

But India, for all its pandemonium,  seemed to spark something in the worn-out sports agent. 

"The one thing that struck me was that Indian people are genuinely happy in a way that you don't find in the west.  They have this cosmic view of life and a longer-reaching view of things.  Americans tend to think that the world didn't exist more than 250 years ago.  

"I was also struck by people's sense of family and love and life, taking pride in their accomplishments, and the sheer fulfilment they got from supporting someone else." 

In spite of the positive vibe, the talent search was frustrating.  Most young Indians didn't have the physical strength to throw a baseball at 90 mph.  Even when they found someone with the right-sized shoulders the throw was, to use cricketing parlance, "wide even in  a Test match".

But the search went on as vans were dispatched to hundreds of colleges, school campuses and even public parks in dozens of cities across India.  Ultimately, the contest organizers chose two winners instead of one.

The two boys were Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, two teenagers from poor farming families from Lucknow (played in the movie by Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal, respectively).

Bernstein with Dinesh Patel (Centre) and Rinku Singh

Just as the two javelin throwers are turned to baseball, Bernstein fell for the charms of cricket by way of Indian spin legend Anil Kumble.

"Anil and his brother Diinesh took me to a lot of IPL games.  I'm fully converted.  I can watch Tests and ODI's but T20 is really my game.  Anil really hammered a lot of cricket into me.  Knowing that I was in town to find a baseball star!"

The whole endeavour had been financed by a baseball tycoon back in the United States who wanted a quick turn-around on his investment: namely one or both of these new prodigies to make it big in Major League Baseball and in-turn inspire their countrymen to start tuning in and buying millions of baseball jerseys and hats.

But Rinku and Dinesh were raw, to say the least.  Initially they would use their baseball mitts as defensive shields.

But Bernstein had enlisted the help of Tom House, a top pitching coach from California, to mentor the duo.

The pair showed extraordinary diligence and determination and were eventually signed for the second tier sides of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a side which has a reputation for championing minority players having previously signed the first ever Arab American Major League Baseball player as well as being the first ever team to field an all-African American side.

The Assistant General Manager of the Pirates at the time, Kyle Stark, said about Rinku and Dinesh: "They both were quality kids.  They were very respectful, and they were raised right.  From the beginning there was an element of, 'There's no turning back now. This is our chance.'"

The duo's small-town sensibilities and warmth began to impact on Bernstein's life as well and he found himself going from being a sergeant major type to a protective father figure.    

Despite their rigorous training schedules, Rinku and Dinesh were particularly concerned with 'JBB Sir's' love life.

Baffled as to why their benefactor was not married, they proceeded to play Shaadi.com between Bernstein and his pretty and painfully charming neighbour Brenda.

Bernstein recalls: "I hadn't paid much attention to Brenda until Rinku and Dinesh came along.  They kept harassing me to get married and there I was trying to get these guys to get practicing and meeting the deadline I was set. 

"And that's the other thing.  Even after they came over to America, sure they were in awe of everything around them but they weren't overawed by anything.  They were more concerned about the fact that, according to them at least, I was lonely and I should have a companion in my life."

A lovely scene in the film shows how the boys organize a romantic Diwali  dinner for the couple.

"That dinner took place exactly like it does in the film.  Even the sari used in the film is the same one that I once brought back from India for Brenda.  When I related it to the screen writer, he said he's going to put it in the film exactly as it is without changing anything."

Despite the cynics, who thought Bernstein's show was a gimmick, Rinku and Dinesh's new contracts garnered plenty of attention in India although for Dinesh it would turn out to be a short journey. 

After 13 professional innings, he was released by the Pirates with some experts saying that he could not maintain the 85mph speeds that the top league sides demanded.

He returned home, bought some land for his family with the money that he had earned and enrolled in a Hindi and English course at a university in Varanasi.  Weeks before the film was released in the US this summer, he got married.

Rinku remains with the Pirates but has struggled with injuries. 

Irrespective of their professional tangents, Million Dollar Arm utterly changed their lives.  They hobnobbed with sporting royalty and visited the White House to present their jerseys to President Obama.

Rinku and Dinesh, in turn, changed the life of a jaded sports agent.

"I remember sitting with Rinku and Dinesh and watching the film for the first time and it was extremely emotional because it was the culmination of this amazing journey that we had all gone through as a family", Bernstein says.

"We all had so much invested in this story and it had been such an emotional roller-coaster and then to re-live it by watching the film was a slightly surreal experience.  It felt jubilant." 

"From crippling poverty, they went on to meet the President of the United States, to have their uniform enshrined in the White House.  They were interviewed in more than one hundred countries.  There are no real words to describe what they achieved.  And it was such an honour and a source of pride for me as kind of their pseudo father.   It changed me forever".

But does he wish that Rinku and Dinesh had advanced further than they actually did?

"I would say that first of all they surpassed my expectations in a way that has made me more proud than I could ever have been.  Having said that, professionally it's really difficult.  For every Sachin Tendulkar there are millions of young kids who aren't going to make it.  For every Michael Jordan there are millions of really good players doing their thing in thousands of basketball courts everywhere in the world. 

"You need to understand what these two guys were up against.  They didn't know what baseball was until we came calling in India.  If it wasn't so difficult to make it, Major League Baseball teams aren't going to be paying twenty million dollars a year to someone to throw a ball.

"Rinku and Dinesh showed the world that they were real prospects.  Rinku still very much has the chance to go all the way to the Majors and if he continues at the pace that he is progressing currently, then he can very well make it.  And he's still so young.  I really believe that our contest will yield the first Indian player and I believe it is going to be Rinku. 

"The process itself has been an immense success no matter how you look at it because it has proved that there is talent in India.  We have proven that it's a fertile ground to recruit and it's a potential market for baseball.

"Above all, Rinku and Dinesh did something that had never been done before in the history of the world.  And for these two lads to accomplish what they did in just a year, becoming the first Indian men to participate in baseball in America was almost a miracle."

The reality TV contest returns to India this winter and Bernstein says he's in talks with Disney-owned UTV as well as Major League Baseball on potential collaborations.  He is convinced that baseball can exist alongside cricket in India.

"Nothing is going to supplant cricket.  It's a religion.  But the potential for baseball is there.  In America, for instance, we have more than five dozen professional sports leagues, everything from baseball to bull riding.  And all of them are highly competitive and offer significant financial rewards.

"In India the sports industry is not so fragmented.  Fans  are quite nationalistic.  They are fanatical about sport.  I'm hoping for the kind of conversion that happened with me.  I still love baseball and I now love cricket.  The fact that Twenty20 Cricket, a short format, is so popular is good for us.  Imagine, even if we get 100 million of India's population interested in Baseball, my work would be done."

JB and Brenda

Even if that doesn't happen, Bernstein is content. 

"The best job and most important job that I have now is that of being a husband and a father.  It's probably the most gratifying of all the jobs that I've ever done and I spend the most time on it."

Worryingly, his and Brenda's three-year-old daughter is a gifted equestrian.   

But what of the kid, who demanded a million dollars, who started it all?

"The same player is a good friend now.  He's a lot older and a lot more mature now.  I forgave his abuse of the situation and ultimately I thank him because without that one act of insanity, I don't I would have embarked on the journey that I did."

'Million Dollar Arm' is in cinemas now.

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#WIN: Fabulous ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’-inspired Gift Hamper!

Here's your chance to win an exclusive gift hamper inspired by Disney Pictures' 'The Hundred-Foot Journey', Lasse Hallstrom's charming and delectable take on Indo-French fusion cuisine

The film, adapted from Richard C. Morais' novel of the same name, has already gone down a storm in the United States, whetting the appetites of cinephiles and gourmands alike.

The story of migration, love and culinary delights deep in picturesque France was so appealing that the film adaptation is backed by the likes of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, both executive producers on the project.

And of course, 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' boasts the not-inconsiderable talents of Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Bollywood heavyweight Om Puri.

Ahead of the film's release in the UK, the UKAsian is giving away a fabulous and stylish gift hamper inspired by the 'The Hundred Foot Journey' and containing all manner of foodie delights, including a cookery journal featuring Indo-French recipes and herbs and spices jar.

For a chance to win, all you need to do is upload a picture or video of your own interpretation of Indian, French fusion cuisine and upload it on to the UKAsian's Facebook page.

If you're after some inspiration, visit the UKAsian's cookery page for some inspired Indo-French dishes.

Get cooking and snapping!

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#BridgingCultures: Indo-French fusion cuisine inspired by The Hundred Foot Journey

"'The Hundred Foot Journey' is the one-hundred-foot divide between cultures", said Oprah Winfrey about the new film that she has executive produced and so tirelessly promoted.

"It's more than acceptance.  It's about human beings coming to understand other human beings", the American talk-show queen adds.

It's all quite profound and the film, about an Indian family who moves to a particularly idyllic part of the French countryside and sets up an Indian restaurant across the street from a Michelin-starred French eatery, is thought provoking about myriad issues.

Ultimately however, 'The Hundred Foot Journey' - which stars Oscar-winner Helen Mirren and Bollywood veteran Om Puri - is all about the food and how two great world cuisines square up to each other and offer the tantalizing prospect of fusion.

However, whilst enticing, achieving true fusion of the two cuisines would be a challenge for most people, not least given the rich history, traditions and insularity associated with both Indian and French cookery.

One of the most successful chefs to have achieved a successful fusion is the late, great Rajji Jallepalli who made waves in New York in the early 2000's with her stunning Indo-French cuisine.

South India-born Jallepalli was the head chef of New York's iconic Tamarind restaurant and became renowned for combining classic French techniques and ingredients with traditional Indian spices.

Here are some of Jallepalli's best-known recipes for a perfectly sumptuous late summer dinner to tempt you ahead of the release of 'The Hundred Foot Journey' on 5 September.


Ingredients (Serves 6):

2 Tablespoons Rapeseed Oil
1/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds
2 large cucumbers
4 cups buttermilk


Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the mustard seeds and sauté for about 2 minutes or until the seeds begin to take on some color and are very aromatic.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Peel and seed the cucumbers.  Cut into 1/4-inch dice and place in a large non-reactive container.  Stir in the buttermilk, dill, salt and mustard seeds.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until chilled.  When ready to serve, pour into a shallow soup bowl and serve.  Pan-seared Scallops with garlic-scented dill and mustard seeds


Ingredients (serves 6):

24 medium scallops
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and chopped
1/2 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed ajwain seeds
6 Tablespoons ghee
6 sprigs fresh sage
A pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt


Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the zucchini, jalapeño, garlic and ajwain and sauté for about 4 minutes, or until the zucchini is slightly soft but remains bright green.  Remove from the heat and cool the mixture slightly.  Place in a food processor and process until it has a very thick and smooth texture.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.  Combine 1 teaspoon salt with the sugar and season the scallops with the mixture. Rub each scallop with a bit of ghee.  Heat the remaining ghee in a large sauté pan over high heat.  Add the scallops and sear for about 3 minutes, or until the scallops are golden and just cooked through.

Place a portion of the zucchini in the center of a warm plate.  Push 4 scallops into the zucchini purée on plate and serve, garnished with a sprig of sage, if desired.


Ingredients (serves 6):

2 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup fresh blackberries, well washed, picked clean of stems, and patted dry.  You can use a good quality frozen variety.
1 teaspoon curry powder (can be roasted curry powder)
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons black peppercorns
1/4 cup fresh curry leaves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Three 8-rib baby lamb racks, frenched, meat removed from top of the bones
3 cups rapeseed oil
Approximately 6 Maris Piper potatoes, cut into twenty-four 1/4-inch thick slices
6 sprigs fresh purple basil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Heat the peanut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the blackberries and curry powder and stir to combine.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.  Pour the sauce into a blender and process until smooth.  Season with salt.  Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees Celsius.  Place the peppercorns in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until the peppercorns are nicely toasted.  Process in a spice grinder until finely ground.  Combine the ground pepper with the curry leaves and salt to taste in a small bowl.  Add the olive oil and stir to blend.

Rub the spice mixture on the lamb racks.  Wrap the bones with aluminum foil to keep them from burning while roasting.  Place the lamb racks in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before carving.

While the lamb is roasting, prepare the potatoes. Line 2 baking sheets with a double layer of paper towels.  Place the oil in a deep-fat fryer over high heat.  When the oil begins bubbling, add the potatoes, a few slices at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan.  Fry, turning if necessary, for about 4 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown. 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue frying until all of the potatoes have been browned and are well drained (on the same baking sheet).  A few at a time, return the potatoes to the hot oil and fry, turning if necessary, for about 2 more minutes, or until crisp.  Drain the potatoes on the clean paper towel-lined baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the blackberry sauce onto the centre of a dinner plate.  Carve the lamb racks into chops, allowing 4 per person.  Stack 4 potato slices in the center of the plate and crisscross the lamb chops over the potato stacks.  


Ingredients (serves 6)

Spinach Purée (recipe below)
Fried Leek Nests (recipe below)
3 Tablespoons rapeseed oil
2 Tablespoons black lentils
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dried cayenne peppers
1/2 cup tamarind pulp (recipe below)
1/4 cup fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons jaggery
1 1/2 pounds swordfish (or any meaty fish like tuna or halibut).  Steak should be cut into 6 equal 1-inch thick pieces.
12 chives (optional)
Coarse salt to taste

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the black lentils and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the mustard seeds and stir for another minute.  Stir in the cumin seeds and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is very aromatic.  Add the chillies, tamarind and ginger, and cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes, or until the ginger has begun to soften.  Stir in the jaggery and cook for an additional minute.  Scrape into a blender and process until you have a purée.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.  Allow to cool slightly.

Place the swordfish in a dish and generously coat all sides with the tamarind chutney.  Cover and marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius.  Place a large, ovenproof, nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the marinated swordfish and sear for 2 minutes per side, or just until golden.  Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the swordfish is firm to the touch.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of the Spinach Purée in the centre of each of the 6 dinner plates.  Lay a swordfish fillet in the center of the puree on each plate.  Place a Leek Nest on top of each piece of fish and serve immediately, garnished with chives.

Tamarind pulp
Combine a 1 pound block of tamarind with 4 cups of cold water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the tamarind is very soft.  Pour into a blender and process for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is of a soupy consistency, adding cold water, a bit at a time, if necessary.  Strain the mixture through a medium sieve, pushing with a spatula, to separate the fibres and seeds from the pulp.  Store the pulp in 1/2 cup amounts, preferably in zippered plastic bags, in the freezer.

Spinach Purée
3 pounds fresh spinach, well washed and stems removed
3 Tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Coarse salt to taste
Wash spinach thoroughly.  Spin or pat dry.  Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Stir in the spinach, a bit at a time, and sauté for about 3 minutes or until it is wilted.  Scrape the spinach into a blender or food processor.  Add salt to taste and process until spinach is a thick purée. Scrape the spinach purée into a nonstick saucepan and place over very low heat to keep warm until ready to serve.

Fried Leek Nests
3 leeks
4 cups vegetable oil (approximately)
Pinch of ground cumin
Coarse salt to taste
Trim the leeks of all but 1 inch of the green part, wash thoroughly.  Cut lengthwise into a fine julienne.  Pat dry. Lay a large double layer of paper towels on a clean counter.  Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer over high heat.  When the oil begins cracking, add the leeks, a few at a time and fry until golden brown but still soft and pliable.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to the paper towels to drain.  When cool enough to handle, use your fingertips to shape the fried leeks into 4 small nest-like shapes.  Season with cumin and salt.  Transfer the nests to a baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels. If the nests cool, put them in a very low oven for a minute or two before serving.


Ingredients (serves 6):

3 Tablespoons ghee
1/2 cup onion, finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
One 2-inch cinnamon stick
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup finely dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Coarse salt to taste


Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and sauté for 5 minutes.  Stir in the rice and turmeric and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the rice is shiny.

Raise the heat and add the water, coconut milk and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan.  Cook for 10 minutes; then stir in the raisins and apricots.  Cover again and cook, without lifting the lid, for 10 more minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and, without lifting the lid, allow the rice to steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and stir in the pine nuts. 


Ingredients (serves 6):

12 firm but ripe small peaches, (plums, apricots or nectarines may also be used)
1/2 cup ghee
1/2 cup jaggery
2 Tablespoons sherry or port wine (optional)
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper


Wash the peaches and pat dry.  Cut in half lengthwise, remove the pits, and season the cut sides with salt and pepper. Place the peaches, cut sides down, on a platter, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat the ghee in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the peaches, cut side down, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the fruit and ghee begin to brown. Add the jaggery.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the peaches begin to soften and the ghee and jaggery mixture is golden and syrupy.  Add the sherry and cook for an additional minute.

Place 4 peach halves, cut sides down, in a shallow dessert bowl or soup plate.  Pour syrup over peaches and serve.

'The Hundred-Foot Journey' is in UK cinemas 5 September.

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#LGBTQ: Celina stars in UN’s Bollywood-inspired gay rights campaign

The United Nations this week unveiled a new music video inspired by Bollywood in a bid to raise awareness about gay rights in India.

The two-and-a-half minute clip could have been taken out of any Karan Johar movie and features actress Celina Jaitly and a family preparing to welcome a young man and his "special friend".

Much to the family's - initial - shock, the special friend turns out to be the young man's same-sex partner.

The ravishing Celina then breaks into a rendition of the unforgettable 1979 classic 'Uthhe Sab Ke Kadam Tara Ram Pam Pam' in a bid to appease the family's matriarch, who - in true Bollywood tradition - eventually comes round.

The video is part of a campaign called 'Free & Equal' spearheaded by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and is a response to the re-instatement of 'Section 377', a Colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.

“Now I am a mother of two-year-old twins, I do not want my sons to grow up in a world where one is judged on your gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Jaitley who has been a long-term campaigner for LGBT rights in India.

“No setback is irreversible,” said Charles Radcliffe, chief of the global issues section at OHCHR referring to Section 377.

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#INSPIRED: Hansal Mehta to create film about India’s gay community

Acclaimed filmmaker Hansal Mehta is to direct a film about the struggles faced by the gay community in India.

Mehta is renowned for films about those on the margins of Indian society and said the inspiration came from an email he received from a young gay Indian woman.

"It's a story that was mailed to me by a girl called Ishani Banerji.  It just blew my mind.  I have to tell this story because marginalised people in our society always interest me", Mehta said.

Mehta added he intends to cast Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the film. 

"I need an older actor to play the gay character.  The story takes the character through a very wide chronological arc.  Nawaz is more suited to the character."

Mehta's upcoming film will be about another ostracized community in India: the rural migrants who flock to the big cities in search of work.

'City Lights' is reportedly adapted from the critically-acclaimed British-Filipino production 'Metro Manila' and stars the director's regular collaborator Rajkummar Rao, who won the National Award for Best Actor for his turn as the murdered Muslim lawyer and human rights campaigner Shahid Azmi in Mehta's powerful biopic 'Shahid'. 

'City Lights' tells the story of an impoverished young couple who move to Mumbai and become lost among the countless, anonymous millions forced to subsist on the margins of society.

"We've stopped seeing these nameless migrants in the cities. Their lives never concerned us. Now they've become invisible", Mehta continued.

Rao will star alongside his rumoured real-life girlfriend Patralekha in the film. 

Both actors were deliberately placed in what Mehta describes as "harsh" conditions to help them get into character. 

"My producers Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt were willing to provide all the comforts required for shooting.  However, I deliberately made them shoot under gruelling conditions. No make-up van, no luxuries were allowed."

There is already a steady buzz about the film and in particular about Rao's acting with Mehta's long-term editor Apurva Asrani describing Rao as "sensational" in the role.

The 29-year-old star is arguably the most respected young acting talent in Bollywood and has been steadily building a fabulous body of work, from Dibakar Banerjee's 'Love Sex Aur Dhoka' through Anurag Kashyap's 'Gangs of Wasseypur' and 'Kai Po Che' to his acclaimed role in 'Shahid'.

'City Lights' is certain to be yet another memorable addition to his filmography and it certainly won't stop there.

Rao is reportedly working with Mehta on a lavish "biographical" film set in the glamorous Bollywood of the 1950's.

Official theatrical trailer of 'City Lights':

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