“Mirch Masala City etc.” is the pictorial story which uncountable unknown Indians can connect with. From the ones who peddle food on streets, the ones who depend on them for their daily dose of raw authenticity to the ones who cannot afford anything different or more. The poking of the plump Pani-puri by trained fingers with questionable finger-nails and the tang of molten Imli pouring upto the brim gives a tingling sensation just like the filling of a dry mind with joy. The licking with tongue the distracted drops of cold sugarcane juice from scorching lips, this is a luxury exclusively reserved for Street foodies, regardless of what the society and its set of manners dictate them to or not to.
Told with a tinge of fun and frankness, the interaction with college-going youngsters and how they perceive footpath-hopping for food and how they try to impersonate in their own kitchen, the street-chef’s sophistication and pace in making their dishes. They are also seen to feel the sensitive part of these vendors’ harassed lives and how they still continue to spread happiness by means of food and our responsibilities to encourage them, which our PROTECTION OF LIVELIHOOD AND REGULATION OF STREET VENDING BILL promises them. “Mirch Masala City etc” with its reflective interviews of street-food vendors and the dignity of labor that they harbor and their dreams for a better future for their children and their pride, can induce a faint smile to the viewers faces that even in nothing, something resides.
These migrated street-vendors have, against all possible threats of overtly regional forces, topsy-turvy-ed the corporate belief that only class sells. When it comes to street-food, what actually engages us is more than just food. It is the spices and oils and their imperfect yet delicious proportions. It is the transfer of a slice of economics from the pockets of extravagant foodies to those of the taste-makers with which the little daughter somewhere in India gets the joy of being sent to school. It is the aroma of the kitchen of North in the West and that of the South in the East. This documentary involves in their barter of culture. A ‘belly-belly’ tasteful one!
Screened in 18 Degrees Festival, Shillong, 2013