“Kya samajhkar aaye thhe? Ki Sarkar bahut khus hoga, sabaasi dega, kyon?”
“Jo dar gaya, woh samjho mar gaya.”
“Holi kab hai, holi?”

Indians across three generations of film lovers know these lines by heart. Sholay is the first Hindi films the entire dialogue footage of which was sold separately in the form of audio cassettes and were very popular much after the film had finished its record run in some Mumbai theatres.

Gabbar Singh defined the villain in Hindi cinema for all time and there will never be another Gabbar again. Last year, Sanjay Leela Bhansali produced Gabbar is Back with Akshay Kumar donning the robe of a new age Gabbar, a mystery man out to rid the society and administration of corruption in Maharashtra mainly through elimination as a crusade to get justice for the common man on the streets. Gabbar is the superhero in this film and not a super villain like Gabbar Singh in Sholay.

But all this proves that Gabbar Singh has become a metaphor for cold-blooded and skilled action for personal gain unlike the 2015 Gabbar in the Akshay Kumar film. The Gabbar of Sholay chewed tobacco while he talked in his distinguished lingo, talking more with his hands and his power over his men than with his voice.

The first jeans-clad dacoit Gabbar Singh is probably the most famous celluloid villain in the history of Indian cinema if not world cinema. He is alive and kicking on biscuit packets, in advertisements of every sort and through referential slogans and dialogues spouted forth by every Tom, Dick and Harry on the streets of any and every Indian city and village, or, in other Hindi films.

In a special tribute to Indian cinema’s most famous villain, three young and enterprising friends decided to open a restaurant named after Gabbar Singh. The three young men are Harsh Sonthalia, Aman Chitlangia and Apurva Salarpuria who formerly owned the city’s first authentic Mexican restaurant Amigos now extinct. Where else but in Kolkata will you find such a restaurant where people thrive on food, think food, breathe food and practically live food? The name of the restaurant is Gabbar’s Bar and Kitchen.. Gabbar’s Bar and Kitchen, very strategically positioned at 11, Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Kankaria Estate, Park Street area, Kolkata.

As a food critic of relatively recent origin, my perspective on restaurants is a holistic one that demands focus not only on the menu never mind how fascinating the dishes might be named or how mouth-watering culinary delights they may produce but on the entire aesthetic, culinary, physicality and intelligence invested in the restaurant that defines its own culture.

Gabbar’s Bar and Kitchen surely takes the Malai Kofta for the cultural ambience it has done with aesthetic and imaginative décor and design and art work all blended to bring out a cohesive and beautiful whole.

Gabbar Singh is spread across the entire space of the restaurant from the naming through the décor with posters from different films alongside big drawings and sketches from Sholay and famous dialogue from villain-famous films. The bottom line of the restaurant is that it celebrates villainy in mainstream Hindi cinema. The space is divided into two sections – the main hall with tables backgrounded by a beautiful brick-painted wall with slogans and titles of different films and sketches of Vijay Dinanath Chouhan of Agneepath, Thakur of Sholay and Gabbar drawn in simple lines and filled out in solid colours. There is an inner section called Hideout. “Hideout’ is themed around the villains of Bollywood. It can accommodate 24 guests. The space can be booked for celebrating any occasion including birthdays, corporate lunches and kitty parties at attractive rates. It has low-level sofas and couches. The walls almost look like the inside of a prison with posters like the sketch of a mustachioed face and hair falling on one side shouting out, Hum Angrez Ke Zamane ke Jailor Hain. The cutlery and crockery are a treat to watch and make their own fashion statements.

Mogambo Khush Hua appears several times across the walls with one poster of Amrish Puri in his famous Mogambo get-up designed by Shekhar Kapoor often said to be a cross between Dr. No and Hitler. That character, with the looks and mannerisms and the cheesiest phrase ever: “Mogambo…khush hua!” uttered in his inimitable style, was an instant hit with the masses. Mogambo, during the seventies and eighties remains the second most memorable and popular villain after Gabbar Singh. More modern variations of the filmy villain are introduced through slogans like Teja Main Hoon, Main Hoon Teja (Tezaab), or, Nayak Nahin Khalnayak Hoon Main (Khalnayak) and Ek Chutki Sindoor in a slightly different context picked from Om Shanti Om. Dharmendra’s famous abusive slang kuttey kameeney main tera khoon pee jayoonga is also there alongside Kanoon Ke Haath Itne Lambe Nahin Hote (Ajit), There is a poster with the Gangs of Wasseypur title set against a blood-red background.

Some of the mouth-watering dishes in Gabbar’s Bar and Kitchen have intriguing names like Makhan Singh Butter Chicken which has pieces of boneless chicken caressed with creamy, buttery gravy that will practically melt in your mouth. The Kheema Pao has the bread inside and the kheema outside in a new garb which is exciting enough to ask for more. Aam Papad Chicken serves slices of chicken rolled in Aam Papad. Baigan Cornetto is a complete makeover for the humble brinjal! We went crazy after the Chicken Potli Kebab served beautifully and translated as tiny refined flour and crisp sacks filled with chicken.

Among the desserts, the two that stand out both in their names and their imaginative concoctions are – Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi which is actually chocolate soil served in small earthen pots with a few dollops of vanilla ice-cream inside and Gabbar Ki Loot Ki Chaat which is a mind-blowing dish and a visual treat of mango served in four different forms – spaghetti, caviar, sphere and mousse. For the mocktails, the watermelon-basil mojito is served in a big-sized, upside-down electric bulb with the straw standing out proudly. Gerua is another mocktail in which grated orange is teamed with orange and lime.

Gabbar’s Bar and Kitchen goes to prove that Gabbar Singh who has lived for 40 years in the hearts of film lovers will live on through beautifully served dishes created through imagination that can work like magic on our taste buds and add to our culinary versatility.

Mogambo Khush Hua.