For Vijay Jodha food is more of a way to catch up with friends.
“I am not a fussy eater and thanks to expansion of multi-cuisine restaurants and sports bars in Delhi and NCR, you don't have to travel a distance to reach that exclusive standalone restaurant. Nowadays, most of these restaurants have big television screens so you don't lose out on an important match as you bond with friends,” says Vijay as he settles for a leisurely lunch at Kaffa restaurant of Hotel Hans Plaza.
On a sizzling day he starts with pineapple mint cooler. Such days are few in the hectic life of the documentary filmmaker, who loves to look beyond the obvious. One such effort is The Weeping Apple Tree, the opening film at the Vatavaran film festival starting in Shimla this Friday. The film focuses on the climate change by exploring the shifting apple cultivation in Himachal Pradesh towards the higher reaches of Himalayas. “Warmer temperatures have caused decline in production as apple cultivation requires six inches of snowfall. Scientists are worried where farmers will grow apple when the higher altitudes will get warmer.” The film is recommended by Dr. R.K. Pachauri. Vijay points out that IPCC's research on global warming has been vindicated. “See the newspaper has apologised. As there is an environmentalist lobby, there is a corporate lobby as well which wants to protect its interests in whatever way possible.”
A trained hand
Trained in filmmaking at New York University, he has assisted the likes of Mira Nair and Ang Lee before realising that documentaries are a better way to leave your impression for posterity. “Mughal-e-Azam can be recreated but can anybody recreate the Chandni Chowk of pre-Metro era? Only a person who has the footage of the place could tell a story. And what Indian documentary filmmakers like Anand Patwardhan and Mike Pandey have achieved on the world stage, no Indian feature filmmaker has managed.”
As Thai rolls make a crisp entry, Vijay shares that when it comes to food his Rajasthani background beckons him. “I still remember as a kid I used to be scared of the chillies, which in a way define Rajasthani food. The process used to take so long that by the time food was served we started to feel sleepy. Today we have no such hard and fast rules as experiment is the new way of life.”
Talking of novelty, Vijay says when he was new in New York he was always vary of fire alarm going on while cooking Indian food in the apartment. “We used to take out the battery of the alarm . It was illegal but we had to do it!” However, on a different note he adds, “Too much of experimentation has resulted in food of different regions losing their identity.”
As a documentary filmmaker, Vijay says, one has strange schedules. “For months you are sitting in front of your computer doing research and plotting. And then one fine morning you lend in a remote village, which doesn't even have basic amenities.”
But today his options are not so frugal and Vijay opts for Mix Grill from a rich menu.
A combo of grilled chicken, mutton patty and chicken sausages served with pepper sauce and topped with a fried egg, it is a non vegetarian's delight. Like his food Vijay picks topics which are fresh. Right now he is working on a biopic of late artist Paritosh Sen, whom he thinks art world ‘discovered' quite late. Sen introduced modernism to Indian art. He went to Paris in the 1940s and met Picasso. I started shooting when he was alive. .He didn't need to make grids to start painting.” But we have to, as we dig deep into our frozen kulfis!