From Winning the MasterChef Season 1 to becoming a Celebrity Chef, an author and the Brand Ambassador of many renowned brands, Pankaj Bhadouria has come a long way. Hers is a journey marked by many illustrious milestones.
A great story in writing, from a high school teacher to the well-known Chef, Pankaj Bhadouria has sailed through each difficulty with perfection.
A truly inspirational personality, she has hosted the TV shows Chef Pankaj Ka Zayka, Kifayati Kitchen, 3 Course with Pankaj, Rasoi se — Pankaj Bhadouria ke Saath, Sales Ka Baazigar. She was the first MasterChef Winner worldwide to have an official MasterChef Cookbook in her name and has written two more cookery books, namely Barbie- I am a Chef, and Chicken from my Kitchen.
Wordhazard brings you the tête-à-tête with the Chef. Read on!
WH: How will you describe Pankaj Bhadouria? Is she different from the one on the screen?
Pankaj Bhadouria: (smiles while thinking for second) I really don’t change myself, be it on-screen or off-screen.
The only difference is that, off the screen, let’s say, I am teaching a class of about 20 to 30 people, and the camera is taking it 20 to 30 million people.
WH: How were you as a kid? Did the cooking talent come to you naturally or did you learn it by years of practice?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Well, I was a tomboy till late in my life. I loved food, both eating & cooking it. Both of my parents were excellent cooks. The best thing that strengthened my bond with food was family time.
Giving most of the credit to family, Pankaj Bhadouria says, “The kitchen was the common room for us where me, dad mom and my younger brother, all four of us used meet, where my mother cooked and my father helped and we used to watch and enjoy cooking.”
WH: You chose English as the subject of your graduation and authored many books. Which book/s made a great impact on you and you would like the young generation to read?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Yes, of late I read the book ‘The Alchemist’.
I was a voracious reader anything that came into my hand. Newspapers, travel magazines, food magazines, Mills and Boon, Barbara Cartland, you name it! I loved reading History too.
But ‘The Alchemist’ really made a great change. One of the best, concise and deep novelty, it will really help you if you understand it.
WH: Apart from MasterChef, did any metamorphic experience influence you in a monumental way?
Pankaj Bhadouria: When I was 13, my father passed away. We had to do everything on our own, had no support system so it kind of hard for us and made us very self-sufficient. I don’t get worked up easily.
God has given me a lot of patience and it was the one drastic period that molded my personality.
WH: You have a great sense of dressing as you have over cooking. What is your take on that?
Pankaj Bhadouria: I dress to please myself. Up to this point, I didn’t change myself even after the Masterchef.
WH: Your husband and you make a very cute couple, and for sure you give serious couple goals! What is that makes you both different?
Pankaj Bhadouria: (proudly & lovingly ) He is the one who has built the brand, you must understand this. Pankaj Bhadouria is just this person who won the Master chef, but he is the one who has actually built everything– the restaurant ,the Academy. It is his brain behind it. He has been a big support, rock of the family. He is not behind me, he is right next to me. He is the reason why I’m able to roam around the world very easily without any thoughts.
WH: How did MasterChef happen to you? Right from its highs down to the lows, what led you to the greatest winning?
Pankaj Bhadouria: There was this advertisement, a commercial running on the television. My kids said “Mom you are an excellent cook” and inspired me to go for it. I made the call got selected!
And this was the first of its kind. I said “why not” I went there, sailed through the auditions, journeyed from Mumbai to the last win.
WH: You always keep Lucknow inside you and in your dishes always reflect a Lakhnavi touch. What does Lucknow mean to you?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Lucknow is all about its refinement and my food reflects how the city is. So somewhere down the lane, you learn a lot about food that it isn’t necessarily needed as loud and robust that’s what I love about Lakhnavi food. When I went for my audition, I carried a French dish “Chicken Roulade” and the stuffing inside was the Galawati Kebab. So you know, Lucknow somewhere lived there.
WH: You are an inspirational figure to millions of women. How do you suggest them to find that push to become what they want to?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Please understand this, the urge comes from within. Nobody can push you to do anything, it only comes from within. For me, quitting my job was a personal decision and, fortunately my entire family supported me. If somebody wants to do something, then they must do it themselves. It is you who decide why you want to do that, for personal satisfaction, for supporting your family.
WH: How do you think women must be empowered?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Woman is a very powerful force in driving the society. Social norms and rules are very deeply grained, but then nobody is asking anyone to play by the rules. If you are good in whatever you do, if you are managing your home efficiently, you are a good manager.
If you are doing things on your own, you are an empowered woman. You want to step out and work, that is entirely your choice. If you have support, so much the better. If you don’t have that support then you have to generate that support for yourself.
If you want to do something and your family is not supporting you, then you should ask yourself that “what it is that I want to do?” Also, you must have a shared responsibility with your spouse.
There is nobody who could push you to do anything, nobody who can force you to do anything. It is you can always make a way out. It’s just that simple.
Lata ji : Unforgettable moments from her journey
‘On the first day in school, she started teaching songs to other children. When the teacher stopped her, she was so angry that she stopped going to the school.’
Queen of melody, voice of the nation, Nightingale of India and the Voice of Millennium, there is just a dearth of good epithets for the singing Virtuoso, Lata Mangeshkar.
Lata-The Naming of the legend
Lata ji was named Hema at her birth. Her parents later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays, Bhav Bandhan. She is the eldest daughter of her parents.
The family’s last name used to be Hardikar. Her father changed it to Mangeshkar in order to identify his family with his home town Mangeshi.
How Lata ji developed her own style
She is said to have imitated the famous singer Noor Jahan, but later she developed her own style of singing. Actor Dilip Kumar once made a mildly disapproving remark about her Maharashtrian accent while singing Hindi/Urdu songs so for a period of time. Hereby, Lata took lessons in Urdu from an Urdu teacher named Shafi.
Owing to her mellifluous voice, Lata ji developed her own unique style which we know to be the voice that is heard in over 40,000+ songs.
Lata ji’s Godfather
In 1948, Music Director Ghulam Haider mentored her as a singer. He introduced Mangeshkar to producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, who was then worked on the movie Shaheed, but Mukherjee dismissed Mangeshkar’s voice as “too thin”. An annoyed Haider responded that in coming years producers and directors would “fall at Lata’s feet” and “beg her” to sing in their movies. Haider gave Lata her first major break with the song “Dil Mera Toda, Mujhe Kahin Ka Na Chhora” in the movie Majboor , which became her first big breakthrough film hit.
In an interview on her 84th birthday, in September 2013, Lata herself declared,
“Ghulam Haider is truly my Godfather. He was the first music director who showed complete faith in my talent.”
PM Nehru cried because Lata ji’s was a voice that could move anyone to tears
On 27 January 1963, against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War, Lata ji sang the patriotic song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon” in presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, then the Prime Minister of India. The pain in the voice and the great sacrifice by the brave soldiers moved the Prime Minister so much that he was in tears.
Lata – An Inspiration to a Magnum Opus
Raj Kapoor directed Satyam Shivam Sundaram in 1978. Lata Mangeshkar gave her voice to the main theme song “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”. It was among the top blockbuster songs of that year. The story of getting inspiration from Lata Mangeshkar is revealed by Raj Kapoor’s daughter Ritu Nanda in her latest book.
“I visualized the story of a man falling for a woman with an ordinary countenance but a golden voice and wanted to cast Lata Mangeshkar in the role.”
Hindi cinema’s greatest melodious voice will sing till eternity and beyond and in Martin Luther King Junior’s words,
“As long as we live, there is never enough singing.”
Neerja Bhanot: Remembering the queen of hearts on her 32nd birthday
Neerja Bhanot, majorly known as the HIJACK HEROINE was a decent, affectionate, beautiful, courageous and selfless lady who sacrificed her life to save hundreds of passengers on board!
She was the miracle baby for her parents, and they often called her their Laado! Who knew that soon their 23 year old Laado would become a source of inspiration for million! Let’s get to know about some of her major life events.
Neerja was a ‘no problem’ child.
A child without any tantrums, she followed whatever her father said, without even questioning. She was mature from very young age. Neerja always wanted to make her parents proud which she wrote in a letter to her mother, right an year before she was killed by the terrorists.
A very successful model!
After graduating from St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, Neerja was approached by a photographer. This took her career to great heights and she was consequently approached for modeling in famous ads of various companies.
Neerja got married at the age of 22
Neerja’s early marriage was a decision by her father, and proved to be an ill-fated one.
She was constantly subjected to physical abuse, mental torture on the pretext of not providing with dowry. However the marriage ended in just 2 months.
Brave? She truely defines what bravery is!
Neerja showed exceptional amount of dare while dealing with the terrorists.
She was alert enough to understand the situation and immediately inform the pilots to abandon the plane, so that the plane couldn’t take off in an hijacked situation.
Her bravery saved the lives of about 300 passengers. She was shot dead while trying to save a 7 year old. She had an option to escape, but her conscience couldn’t allow her to leave the kid with the terrorists.That same kid is now a pilot and considers Neerja as his role model!
She was a workaholic
It is known that on the night of the flight, her mom tried to convince her to call the PAN AM and ask for a leave, since she had been working on a modeling project the whole day. But, her committed self didn’t allow her to skip.
Remembering who Neerja Bhanot was, can definitelty not be summed up within these lines. If one really wants to pay tribute to her, then it is by being more selfless, brave and compassionate, whatever the situation be.
Gulzar : The art of weaving magic with words.
“Ek taslim ko har baar meri aankh jhuki hai, aapko dekh ke badi der se meri saans ruki hai.”
This is how we feel when we read or listen to the eternal lines penned by the living legend, Gulzar Saab. His words are so intricately written, they never fail to make our heart skip a beat. Born as Sampooran Singh Kalra, he adopted Gulzar as his pen name. For so many years now he has excelled the art of Urdu and Hindi poetry.
He has always believed that nostalgia is the most important aspect for a writer. Even though nostalgia is distracting, he feels it and brings out the deepest thoughts to paper. If we talk about his genre, it is something uncountable. He has written for almost everything we usually wonder about. From “Aey zindagi gale laga le” to the patriotic “Aey watan, watan mere abaad rahe tu”, he has written about everything. Generations have loved to listen to his lines, for they are so full of realism and life.
Patriotism, love, heartbreak, life, relationships and even some item numbers: Gulzar saab has made them all feel so powerful. His love for words and expressions reflect in his work. His exquisite quotes have inspired many and still continue to remain the best. Here are some of his glorious works:
The man whose charisma reflects in his work has ruled Bollywood for ages. His personality in itself portrays a poet who has the honor of weaving most beautiful thoughts into words. There never was and can never be another Gulzar. He has given the industry the gift of unmatched literature.
When his words are given the beats of music, they become the most echoed songs of Bollywood. His poetry creates the magic that is absolutely soulful. Every soul feels the words written by Gulzar saab. His greatest possession as a poet has been the respect and connectivity people feel with him.
On his birthday today, Wordhazard pays tribute to the only unique man with an extraordinary art: Gulzar Saab.
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