CURRYBOND #12 Namak Mandi + For Your Eyes Only
The Curry Leg
We're half way there. We're halfway through the year. So much curry so many Bond films but so much still to come.
Our latest outing is what CURRYBOND is all about. Namak Mandi sits close to Tooting Bec and sandwiched behind a bus stop and between the myriad of pound shops in Tooting for all your plastic mop needs. You would be forgiven for walking past Namak Mandi not realising the potential spicy delights waiting for you inside. But for CURRYBOND all are welcome.
We therefore approach our venue with mild trepidation and cautious optimism in equal measure. From the entrance Namak Mandi certainly looks more takeaway than restaurant, but we pass the chef manning the grill and take our seats in the somewhat dim area towards the back. There is apparently a soft furnished seating area upstairs but not having been to yoga class in a good 12 years my knees decide they need proper chairs. There's not a great deal of "vibe" with a handful of other patrons appearing so overall the venue scores come in a little low.
Venue score - 4.0/10.
Nonetheless, we press on with our ordering and get stuck into the menu on offer. It arrives with a thud, an impressive wooden slate surely concealing a treasure trove of curry delights. The first page, a laminated affair looking like your average takeaway. Next page, hmm nice picture from the orient, then another and another...no more menu then. So just the one page in our wooden compendium and therefore not a great deal of choice on offer. Six grilled dishes, four curries, five veggies dishes and some common sides. As we have seven CURRYBONDers due around the table we say screw it, let's have one of everything!
On order then we have, the mixed grill (Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Lamb Chops, Lamb Kofta), Lamb Karahi, Charsi Chicken Karahi, Chicken Curry, Charsi Chicken Tikka Masala. Unfortunately no bhaji for the latest verse of the bible but we line up a couple of naan and a pilau rice dish which turns out to be huge and hides a secret, succulent joint of lamb beneath!
The mixed grill is ok, a little dry all round. The curry however is very tasty. The Karahi come in proper steel dishes the chicken is served for two and is well spiced with tender pieces. The Tikka Masala is quite sweet, very mild but pretty good. The highlight however comes when the naan arrives. We get two metal stands with giant naan breads hanging offwhich I expected to pipe up ala Mighty Boosh..."not you Naan Bread!". So generally we're pretty happy with our limited curry selection. Namak Mandi gets a
Food Score - 6.7/10.
With just five portions of curry and one giant rice between seven we actually finish the majority of the food on offer! That being said the portions are good. There are also no drink drinks on offer again so our bill comes in at a ridiculously reasonable £58.85 that's just £8.41 per CURRYBONDer!
Value Score - 8.3/10.
So to sum up Namak Mandi, I certainly wouldn't choose it for a date night, but for a hardened curry veteran this is certainly worth a visit. Namak Mandi gets an
Overall Score - 6.6/10.
The Bond Leg
After Moonraker's space lasers I feel we reached peak cheese in the franchise. History suggests that we tend to get an adjustment by the Broccolis when Bond stretches the limits of plausibility. These adjustments are perhaps necessary but often implemented with the subtlety of blind man putting up a mirror with a sledgehammer...something's probably going to get broken.
Our first indication that Bond is going back to his more brutally serious roots is with a visit to his dead wife's grave...downer! Fortunately on the helicopter ride on the way back things pick up. Look out it's Blofeld! Haven't seen him for a while, he was always a good baddie...hang on...why is Bond...oh really...down the...ok...
So turns out someone else owned the rights to the Blofeld character so the film makers decide to kill off their most famous villain in the first 5 minutes by not referencing him then dumping him unceremoniously down a chimney...just to make a point. Well I'm glad they included everyone else in the joke.
The titles kick in and we're treated to one of the most underrated theme songs provided by Sheena Easton. In fact it's probably the only thing that stuck in the mind once we left For Your Eyes Only.
Our plot for the evening is a classic Bond trope. There's this thing which is really important, it gets nicked, Bond has to figure out who nicked it, get it back and kill said nicker. Simple. Soon enough bond is joined by a ravishing sidekick, who on this is occasion is less of the "Oh James" type and more like a vengeful Katniss Everdeen. Melina Havelock is on a crossbow killing spree after her parents are strafed down on a rather lovely yacht in the Med before she bumps into Mr. Bond.
With Bond girl in tow, Sir Rog heads to Northern Italy and links up with local Italian agent Luigi, yes that's right. Who points him to our villain for the evening Kristatos, he's a fairly uninspiring presence, particularly as we just killed off the cat stroking King of the bad guys. The potential was clearly there, this is Julian Glover who played bad-Holy Grail-choosing Donavon from Indiana Jones and General Veers, one of the cabal of British bad guys on the Death Star in Empire Strikes Back! These days he cruises the halls of King's Landing as Grand Maester Pycelle and is joined on screen by a rather lithe looking Charles Dance clearly honing his evil Lannister ways. British thesps really do make the best bad guys.
Mr Villain's main aim however seems to be pushing an American ice skating protegee he's "mentoring", already a bit odd, onto Bond. Bibi, portrayed as young-ish, then throws herself on Sir Rog, now well into his 50s and therefore feels even more odd...fortunately Jimmy Bond, for once, rejects the advances and moves on to every other female character in the film.
We're soon treated to some action. A variety of Winter sports chase scenes including skiing, ice hockey and bobsledding on skis and motorbikes! It's a collection of pretty amazing set pieces but all pretty confusing who, what and why it's all happening...
The remainder of the film however is somewhat hazy...after a recent visit to Korea (yes the good one) my body clock was still closer to 5am than the early evening. The less than engaging plot doesn't really help and therefore I subsequently drift in and out of consciousness...
But clearly some exciting music kicks in and I'm back! Bond is wandering down a beach, beauty in hand, not that one...or that one but this one. Until WHAM!! Dune buggy attack! In one of the most brutal stunts we've seen so far said beauty gets run down my Tywin Lannister, damn he's evil!
We scoot forward to our denouement and it's another evil lair on something high. This time we're at a Greek monastery atop a rocky pillar. Right James better bust out that helicopter in a suitcase, or that jet pack or just plain old helichopper...nah Bond fancies some rock climbing. The filmmakers then decide we need to watch the rock climbing...in silence...ooo there's another crampon...then a carabiner...oops he almost fell...and on, and on. Needless to say the curry coma claimed a number of victims.
Soon enough bad guy is dead, the Mcguffin is recovered...then destroyed and Bond is inevitably with his Bond girl on a sex boat when his congratulatory call comes in from MI6, no wait, from the PM. Oh dear...we're treated to a horrendous 5th rate sketch comedy Margaret Thatcher + Dennis speaking to a parrot...those cheesy shackles seem a little harder to shake off than planned.
For Your Eyes Only therefore has few redeeming features, no classic Bond moments, no classic characters just a stonking theme tune. It scores
Girls n Gadgets - 3.9/10
Cheese - 6.1/10
Action - 4.6/10
Overall - 4.6/10
So a middling curry and pretty deep trough in the Bond schedule gives CURRYBOND #12 an total score of 5.6/10.
CURRYBOND will return in Chennai Dosa + Octopussy