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Fan frenzy is on the menu

Two restaurants – one celebrating Dharmendra and another ODing on Salman-isms – find flavour with foodies and fanatics

brunch Updated: Apr 27, 2016 20:42 IST
Veenu Singh
Veenu Singh
Hindustan Times
Salman Khan,Dharmendra,Garam Dharam

A certain movie starring Shah Rukh Khan showed us loud and clear how far an obsessed fan will go when it comes to the object of his admiration. Fan, the film, might have been fiction, but real-life film stars are only too used to having infatuated people try and catch their attention with all sorts of shenanigans. Salman Khan motivated a fan to cycle from Bihar to Panvel to get a glimpse of his favourite star. Amitabh Bachchan even has a temple dedicated to him.

So it doesn’t really come as a surprise that among generic Bollywood-themed restaurants in the country, two are dedicated to two macho actors. Meet these fans.

Welcome to Bhaijaanz

For Mumbaikars obsessed with Salman Khan, joining the crowd outside his building in the hope that he will wave to them from his balcony is passé. So five die-hard Salman fans decided to shout their fandom from the rooftops and dedicate an entire restaurant to the actor.

The result: Bhaijaanz on Carter Road, Mumbai. The restaurant’s name was inspired by the Salman film Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

“We are passionate Salman fans who studied at the same Bandra school – St Stanislaus – as he did, and have followed every moment of his life,” says Zafar Sayed, one of the five partners. The other four are Rahul Kanal, Govind Narayan, Suhail Siddique and Khursheed.

The restaurant has what you expect it to have: paintings of Salman Khan, posters and dialogues from his movies. But it also displays memorabilia that only obsessive fans can put together. These include currency notes in the serial number matching the date of his movie releases; a wall panel with his hairstyles and even a balcony that is a replica of Salman’s balcony at his residence in Bandstand.

Mane course : Popular hairstyles of Salman Khan adorn the walls of the Carter Road, Mumbai, restaurant, charting the actor’s journey in Bollywood

Another friend and Salman fan, Darshan Juneja, is responsible for the panel of currency notes. “Darshan has been collecting notes for years. We gave him the release dates and he looked for matching numbers in his collection,” says Sayed.

A collection of notes with serial numbers that exactly match release dates of Salman films are on display (Aalok Soni)

“We wanted to give the customers an instant connect with their star and what better way to do this than to let them experience the famous balcony. It is used as the smoking area also and people can stand there and take photos,” explains Khursheed.

One of the paintings features Salman as The Hulk, to show patrons that for the restaurant owners, Salman is a superhero. The painting was done by a friend of the partners, Yogesh Joglekar, a fellow Salman fan.

For the owners of Bhaijaanz, Salman is the real superhero

The décor of Bhaijaanz includes a wall that showcases some of Salman’s own favourite dialogues, such as “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar diya” and “Dosti ka ek usool hain madam, no sorry no thank you”. As Salman loves cycling, so cycle parts like the chain ring, cycle keys and chains have been used to make tables, bottles and chandeliers. Even the iconic Salman Khan bracelet is part of the table design.

The real fans: Khursheed (left); Govind (centre) and Zafar Sayed (right), three of the five fans behind Bhaijaanz (Aalok Soni)

The menu too is an interesting mix of the actor’s favourite dishes. So the menu features Salman’s favourite biryani. Also on the menu is Anda Apna Apna, Doley Sholey Kebab, Dabangg 2 Chicken, Do You Want a Partner? (veg platter and kebab platter), among many other.

Where Dharam is cool

Adored by fans across age groups from 18 to 80, Dharmendra may be a grandfather now, but he’s as popular as he used to be in his heyday. Which is why restaurateur Umang Tewari decided to dedicate an entire restaurant to him.

Located in Connaught Place, Delhi, the restaurant is called Garam Dharam – Dhaba Te Theka.

“Dharam ji has a universal appeal,” says Tewari. “No one can escape the magic of the cult film Sholay. The iconic bike, the story and the dialogues gave him a special place in everyone’s heart.”

Tewari’s business plan was a dhaba-style restaurant in the heart of the Capital, with a focus on Dharmendra because of the actor’s rustic charm. In the restaurant business since 2001, he knew how such a restaurant would work.

“I was keen to open it in a central location and on the ground floor only, as Dharam ji’s fans are families and older people,” explains Tewari. “And when we connected with Dharam ji with the concept, he immediately said yes.”

A view of the restaurant Garam Dharam in Connaught Place featuring the iconic bike used in (Saumya Khandelwal)

Garam Dharam has the look of a dhaba, but with a strong focus on Sholay. The bioscope used in the film is at the entrance, the famous Sholay bike was recreated and the tanki concept was utilised in the balcony. Popular dialogues from his films are on the walls, from his classic “Basanti” line to the recent “Pehle ek Hindustani ko samajh lo… Hindi apne aap aa jayegi” from Apne, which also starred his sons Sunny and Bobby.

One of the walls features LPs of his films, with dialogues scribbled on the covers, and in the small outdoor smoking area, there are previously unseen photos, such as of Dharmendra playing tennis.

Many of the pictures on the walls are from Dharmendra’s personal collection – photos of his younger days, with his two sons and photos with Hema Malini. But he was especially interested in the menu.

“He was keen to add a few things that he himself is fond of,” says Tewari. “So we added dishes like Shalgam Ghosht to the menu, based on his own recipe. He told me, ‘Umang, roti changi honi chahidi. Mera naam na kharab karin’. (Please ensure that you serve good rotis otherwise I will get a bad name)’.”

The drinks menu has a lot of referernces to Dharamji- right from special inhouse cocktails named - Shera, Balram, He Man G D Cola to even offering interesting trivia about how Dharamji actually entered Bollywood. Not manmy would be aware of the fact that he entered Bollywood through a talent hunt contest. “Details like these are an added attraction for the customers, specially the younger ones,” says Tewari.

Umang Tewari, the man behind Garam Dharam (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

“Younger people come by for the food and to take selfies with the posters, and people as old as my father also make reservations. Every evening, we have a waiting list of around 50-60 people,” says Tewari.

Compared to Bhaijaanz, this restaurant, it appears, is more commercially branded than just an obsession with the star. Tewari has launched one more branch in Rajouri Garden and is planning to open a huge one on National Highway 1 soon.

Follow @VeenuSingh12 on Twitter

From HT Brunch, April 24, 2016

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