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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Jul 2014

Crazy characters on Masterchef!

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 15, 2013
First Published: 23:11 IST(15/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:15 IST(15/3/2013)

Is it about food? Is it about individual stories? Or is it about crying? Auditions for Masterchef Kitchen Ke Superstars (Star Plus) have just begun and we've already been subjected to more weeping than even our saas-bahu soaps can come up with.

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Here are three examples (out of many):
In his audition, Navnit Rastogi from Banaras who had participated last season too, makes the very dish for which he'd been previously eliminated. But this time the judges (Vikas Khanna, Kunal Kapoor and new entrant Sanjeev Kapoor) like his dish, whereupon Navnit promptly sinks to the ground and bursts into tears.

Yasmin Shaikh from Madhya Pradesh, who left her good-for-nothing husband and is bringing up three children single-handedly, is quite composed in the beginning when she walks into the studio (which, by the way, is lit brightly, in an almost shaadi-style sort of way; I expect a wedding announcement any second). But by and by, she too begins weeping inconsolably.

Khokhu Patra, a Bengali maid who works in Delhi, cries a little while narrating her story and then sobs uncontrollably when she's told she's made it to the next round.

And many, many others.

In the middle of this cryfest there's a laughfest too, with contestants teetering between being ultra-lively and ultra-bizarre.

There's a food stall owner called Happy who goes "Balle! Balle!" (or was it "Bhalle! Bhalle!") and does some energetic bhangra steps.

A giggling woman participant waltzes in and without much ado, breaks into a dance, item number-style, before the gobsmacked judges (she also keeps referring to herself in the third person, leading to even more alarm).

A matronly schoolteacher from Meerut bounds towards the judges and envelops them in bear hugs, all the while beaming into the camera, saying, "Bachchon! Bachchon! Dekho mujhe! Main Masterchef mein aa gayee!"

A paanwala from Indore, clad in a shiny red ensemble, offers a paan while executing the most intricate hand mudras.

And many, many others.

There are plenty of housewife-participants too who have done little else but cook for their families all their lives and who see this show as a way to get their moment in the spotlight. To all these ladies in their roomy salwar kameezes – may the bhindi masala and shahi paneer rule.

Meanwhile, Life OK has embarked on an unusual promotional idea.

In anticipation of producer Ekta Kapoor's new film Ek Thi Daayan, the channel will telecast a series of supernatural-themed stories (starring TV's best known leading ladies), called Ek Thi Naayika.

I saw the first one with actress Ankita Lokhande, about a young married woman haunted by visions of cloaked witches while her skeptical husband keeps dismissing them as products of her overactive imagination and backward thinking. The two-part story was all right; maybe the next few episodes will be better.

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