Art & Entertainment

Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar: I Was Initially In Two Minds About Acting

He is currently hosting Disney+Hotstar ‘s new show ‘Dum Laga Ke India’.

Ranveer Brar
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Celebrity chef Ranveer Brar made his acting debut with ‘Modern Love Mumbai’. The six-episode anthology — the Indian adaptation of the smash-hit Modern Love anthology — tells stories of all kinds of love, with Mumbai as the backdrop. He was part of a short film named ‘Baai’ along with Pratik Gandhi and veteran actress Tanuja, directed by Hansal Mehta. However, being an actor doesn’t take away his attention from his first love, which is food and he is back as a host Disney+Hotstar ‘s new show ‘Dum Laga Ke India’.

Honoring the food, heritage, and culture of four prominent Indian cities - Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Bengaluru, the show brings back the nostalgia of your childhood days through the eyes of popular celebrities. In an interview with the writer, the celebrity chef talks about his acting, culture, and cuisine.

You are an actor too now so is that taking away attention from being a celebrity chef? How do you keep a balance?

I was initially in two minds about acting. But to be honest, it has helped me discover a new aspect of myself, push my limits and know myself better! For instance, in BAAI, I played a chef, which was like second nature to me, with the added layer of someone who had whole-heartedly embraced their identity, and orientation and had only love to give. It was an extremely heart-warming experience that warmed up to my own heart a little more.

How different this series is from other nonfiction food content you have done so far?

For me, Food and travel always go hand in hand. One makes the other exciting! The idea this time was to also touch base with select celebrities who have a special connection with their respective cities and its food. Plus of course, making a trail of one of India’s favourite foods, Biryani! That’s something the audience will definitely enjoy and relate to.

In your opinion, cities which are featured in the series, which is the closest to your heart, or which food or delicacy do you cherish the most?

Difficult to pick one! Each city holds its culture and food with pride and you can feel it when you converse with the natives too. But personally, after Lucknow, Kolkata has always fascinated me with its food and people. Every time there’s something new to discover.

Has your perspective broadened while having candid conversations with celebrities?

Like I said, experiencing food through people who are passionate about it, makes a lot of difference to one’s personal take on that dish. We can have almost any dish anywhere, but when you sample it in the city of origin or popularity and with the people who share a special connection to it, that’s the game changer. The celebrities I met via this show, Vani Kapoor, Pranitha Saubash, P V Sindhu and Armaan Malik, they simply light up when talking about their childhood memories associated with their city, especially food memories. And I find connecting to people via their food stories most endearing and kinda instant!

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The show is honoring the food, heritage, and culture of four prominent Indian cities - Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. Would you like to talk about your personal favorite aspects of these four cities in terms of food and culture? ( please cover all cities where he is talking about the food specialty that he likes most)

Mumbai, the city where I have spent a good decade and then some, is my second home. The street food culture is absolutely unique in this city as anyone would agree. Given the busy, always on-the-go lifestyle, the street food matches the pace of the people.

Bengaluru gives you a high like none other, it’s fast paced, super techno, while at the same time, retains its cultural roots and absolutely spoils you in terms of food offerings. When you meet a typical Bangalorean like Pranita, you can see the spark in their eyes when they talk about the city and all its endearing aspects.

Kolkata is again, home. I have grown in a Bengali neighbourhood in Lucknow, so Bengali food is my 2nd love after Lucknowi cuisine. The city moves to its own tune and pace, I can get lost in the meandering lanes and find myself and find something new every single time.

Hyderabad, I find, is a little bit of everything. If you are looking for heritage, tradition, amazing food, technological and economic advancement, history, you name it, the city has it.

The audience will see all of this and more on the show and I am quite excited about it.

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We often see India’s diverse food palette belongs to the interiors ( read rural parts) of India so why is the show not covering that aspect and would you be keen on taking up that theme as well?

I would definitely love to take that theme up. This series is just a beginning and one that I and the team are sure will hit home with the masses. So yes, broadening the peripheral itinerary would be most interesting in more ways than one.

Talk about shooting with celebrities from different backgrounds, who carved a niche for themselves in their respective fields but hold the same passion for food and culture. Which episode was best to shoot and the takeaways?

We zeroed in on celebrities from different professions who were connected to their respective cities and we tried to find that connection, in general..and specifically to food. For instance, I could relate to and totally identify with Vani Kapoor’s typical Punjabi household and food anecdotes. Armaan and I go back a long way when we shot together for a show titled Ranveer’s café. We share a common love for Kolkata and of course music. Pranita Subhash, in the Bengaluru episode, is an absolute livewire and you can see and hear that spark when she talks about her city. It’s infectious. About PV Sindhu, a person that I’d most commonly relate to; her competitiveness is addictive. She is very connected to her city, it’s very heartwarming the way she fondly remembers her upbringing. I could relate to both her competitive spirit and fondness for the place where you grew up. In terms of Food choices too, we had a fun and inevitable banter about Lucknow vs Hyderabad Biryani!

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Which food and beverage trends do you follow and unfollow and why?
I am a more trend-agnostic person. I believe more in eating seasonally and local. That’s what our DNA identifies with and we need to honor it. But yes, when it comes to unfollowing, Molecular Gastronomy definitely tops the list for me.

What is your signature dish and what differentiates it from other dishes?

The signature would be sort of limiting it, so I would say, a dish that excites me and intrigues me is the Dorra Kebab. I learnt and perfected it over the years, watching the masters, i.e, the street kebab vendors of Lucknow. The flavours that go into it are quite exotic, especially the sandalwood, and the best part, one that requires deftness and patience is pulling off the silk thread or Dora in a single stroke while leaving the Kebab intact! 

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