New Delhi: The fervour
and frenzy of an India-Pakistan contest has gone beyond the realms
of cricket and entered the reality television pitch, with shows
like "Foodistan" and "Sur-kshetra". Simmering on the small screen
is rivalry and bonding over food and music.
"Foodistan", which went on air on NDTV Good Times Monday, brings
together 16 professional chefs - eight each from India and
Pakistan - on a common platform to battle it out for culinary
Sahara One's "Sur-kshetra", a yet-to-be-launched music-based
reality show, will have singers from both the nations competing
with each other.
But the idea is not to rub in the rivalry and cash in on it for
entertainment purposes, says Smeeta Chakrabarti, CEO, NDTV
Lifestyle. It will also be about bonding.
"It's all a mix of rivalry and bonding. I don't think we have
abused the rivalry at all. It is pretty healthy. Sometimes all the
stress is not between the two nation teams...it is within the team
itself because there's so much national pride at stake that they
are really tough on each other. There was a lot of bonding and
brotherhood during the show and, of course, cultural exchange,"
Chakrabarti told IANS.
Karachi-based chef Khursheed Amina Agha, popularly called Poppy,
came down to India for "Foodistan" and says "it's a home away from
home". She not only loved the experience but also took home some
recipes that would have otherwise remained out of reach.
"The show didn't really feel like a face-off. And even if it was,
it was against the judges. I think such efforts are great for
cultural exchange because I've found new ways of looking at a
particular dish....like I learnt the use of breadcrumbs, which we
don't really use in our cooking. But I've taken that learning with
me," Poppy told IANS.
She is totally sold out on south Indian cuisine.
"South Indian cuisine is not there in our country. It was not
available in that part of north India before partition. So I've
learnt rasam, dosa...a lot of Mangalorean and Chettinad cuisine
that I might never have learnt otherwise," said the star cook, who
wants to redevelop subcontinental cooking and modernise it for
Pakistani food enthusiasts.
In the meantime, preparations are on for "Sur-kshetra".
While the team of "Foodistan" managed to arrange visas for eight
chefs from Pakistan, the "Sur-kshetra" team has had to shift
shooting base to Dubai.
Producer Gajendra Singh, who has attempted to bridge the gap
between India and Pakistan through shows like "Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
Singing Superstars" and "Chhote Ustaad" in the past, believes his
new show will also act as a catalyst between the two nations.
"I don't believe there's a better tool than songs to bring India
and Pakistan together," Singh has been quoted as saying.
"Sur-kshetra" already has Pakistani singer Atif Aslam associated
with it as the captain of his country's team and efforts are on to
get more big names on board.
Over the years, several Pakistani singers have found a foothold in
the Indian entertainment industry. Be it Aslam, Adnan Sami,
Shafqat Amanat Ali, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Zafar, Sonya Jehan,
the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen or controversy
queen Veena Malik, these talents from across the border have
garnered popularity in India -- and the trend will hopefully
continue thanks to such reality shows.
Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)