CURRYBOND #19 Spice of Raj + The World is not Enough
The Curry Leg
Eighteen CURRYBONDs in and we've been to Tooting Broadway, we've been to Tooting Bec, we've been to Tooting Graveney now we must venture south, further south than we've ever been before. Crossing the railway at the bottom of Tooting High Street, leaving the warmth of Wandsworth and its cheapest-in-the-country council tax housing into the unforgiving borough of Merton, home to Colliers Wood and our next venue, Spice of Raj.
We're greeted with a warm welcome, a cosy atmosphere and tablecloths! It's very much your slightly dated but feels like home type of curry place.
Venue Score - 7.3/10.
The menu is significant, with pretty much every curry house staple on offer, Bhuna, Madras, Dopiaza, Jalfrezi, Phaal. There are also a number of interesting looking specials. We get the popadoms in quick smart and get the always pleasing rotary pots of chutney. With a quorum of CURRYBONDers we get the orders in with Lamb Tikka, Prawn Puuri and thankfully, Onion Bhajis. The Lamb is lovely, well Tikka'ed and tender, unfortunately the same can't be said for the bhajis which come in a little dry. Bhaji score - 4/10.
The mains arrive in good time with a selection of Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi, a special Nawabi Chicken, Chana Masala, Chicken and Vegetable Balti and another reference Chicken Tikka Masala accompanied by garlic naans, egg parotha and a pilau rice. On arrival, things look good. The curry is vibrant and not just a study of brown. The CTM, is a hot pink but on shovelling into the curry cave on my face it was a mild experience, much more akin to a korma. The Chicken Balti was enormous and very tasty. My fellow CURRYBONDers however were less enthusiastic. The Jalfrezi was seeringly spicy with chilli-a-plenty and the special chicken dish got a middling reception.
Food Score - 6.8/10.
The curry remains left on the table are significant, portion size is certainly not a problem. Alcohol was on the menu and so empty Cobra bottles adorn the table top. The bill arrives at £87.70 which is a hefty £21.93/CURRYBONDer, the first time we break the £20 barrier. So not the cheapest of curry houses accounted for in its value score.
Value Score - 5.3/10.
Our adventure out of Tooting to the depths of Merton was therefore pretty successful. A cosy curry house with all the choice you could want from the curry classics, but if you want a bargain, head up the road to Tooting, the true home of curry.
Overall Score - 6.9/10.
The Bond Leg
We leave satisfied and make the interesting journey to The Gorringe through the wilds of Colliers Wood and to take our seats for the Bond Leg.
We're thoroughly embedded in the Brosnan era and next up, The World is not Enough. We'll see if it holds our attention to make it through this effort without slipping into the curry coma.
We start with the coldest of cold opens in Bilbao, with bankers...sexy stuff. Fortunately someone gets shot pretty quickly and Bond legs it with a suitcase of cash. Certainly an odd way to introduce us to Bond...Hard cut to MI6 in London and Bond is delivering said cash back to M until lookout, someone put an alca-seltzer in Bond's bourbon and for some reason that means there's a bomb in the building…? Good instincts James, some pesky bad guy just made a serious hole in MI6. After a slightly confusing intro we settle in for a more satisfying chase scene as James jumps in a pretty nippy speed boat and gets after a sniper...who was also there...We get some excellent boat on Thames action and what better place to conclude our chase than a hot air balloon over the Millennium Dome, it is 1999 after all. Henchwoman realises a hot air balloon isn't the best of getaway vehicles when you're trying to get back to Russia and blows herself up leaving Bond to test out the structural integrity of the Dome. Surely he rolled on down to enjoy the Millennium Experience and that weird half man, half woman giant plastic body thing...thank god they turned it into a gig venue!
The credits role and are of a particularly oily nature with our Bond theme provided by those 90s behemoths...Garbage, oh well I heard it's Madonna next, she's good right?
Back at base and its plot time. Pretty simple from M, find the guy who blew a hole in my building! Turns out the top suspect is none other than Britain's favourite Scottish male stripper Robert Carlyle doing an impression of a sort of Russian called Renard, menacing! We've had Goldfinger, Blofeld, Janus, Dr. No, Zorin! I feel the name of our bad guy sums up the overall feeling of this Bond film, flat... It gets better though, because the most interesting thing about our super villain is he's already been shot in the head. Clearly being shot in the head isn't what it used to be and it seems this bullet was able to make an expert landing in his brain making the Ruskyscot immune to pain...aka a superhero!
Bad guy Renard was also responsible for kidnapping Bond girl number one, Elektra, (now that's a Bond name), who is daughter of guy who accidently blew a hole in MI6 and therefore due to inherit his oil fortunes...hmmm I wonder where her motives lie…
Before Bond jets off to his latest exotic location, he needs his gadgets and so we get our scene with Q. Which is a little melancholic as it’s the last outing for the Bond stalwart and only actor to appear in every Bond film so far, Desmond llewelyn who makes his exit before his passing via trap door leaving the gadgetry reigns to R aka John frickin' Cleese!
Our exotic location is a new one Azerbaijan. First up is Baku and Bond is off to keep Elektra company as she investigates a pipeline in the snow. Queue a classic Bond ski chase as Jim and Elektra are chased down by flying skidoo things with guns! It's fun, its Bond on skis, what more do you want? How about an avalanche which Bond promptly escapes from with a self inflating zorb!
We then get a series of scenes that Bond jumps around the outskirts of Russia meeting the rest of the cast. We get our second Scot masquerading as a Russian with the returning Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky.
Bond then turns up at an old nuclear missile silo to greet Bond Girl number 2 Denise Richards as Christmas Jones, that's right first name Christmas...I wonder why that is…
To be honest, the middle third suffers from that all too familiar slacking in pace and interest, I for one start to nod off between scenes of oil pipes, nuclear missiles and the inevitable double crossing Elektra. Things pick up briefly whenever Cracker makes it back on screen but the rest of the supporting cast is pretty bland, I mean where's our henchman!?
The final sequence takes place on a submarine in the Bosphorus dividing Istanbul. Why? Because our dastardly plot is revealed as stealing a nuke so Robert Carlyle can set it off underwater near Istanbul so that oil tankers no longer want to use the channel and therefore all oil has to go through now bad Bond girl Elektra's pipeline. Seriously…
Fortunately Bond is on the case and proceeds to make a big hole in the sub which makes things a little damp inside. Dr. Jones is with him and spends most of the time wearing a wet T-shirt and trying not to drown. In the meantime Bond is having a punch up with Renard in a nuclear reactor...sigh. Bad guy ultimately meets his demise via a nuclear fuel rod through the chest...double sigh.
Danger averted, Brosnan is left to celebrate his latest mediocre Bond film in bed with Dr. Jones and delivers the piece de resistance of cheese, "I was wrong about you…", "How so?", "I thought Christmas only came once a year…" and groan…
One can only conclude that the line came before the character name, which sums up everything you need to know about The World is Not Enough. Badcharacters, bad accents, silly plot but some pretty good Bond action. The World is not Enough scores:
Girls n Gadgets - 7.2/10
Cheese - 7.8/10
Action - 7.4/10
Overall - 7.0/10.
So it's safe to safe both the curry and the Bond will nestle nicely in the CURRYBOND mid-table, as Roy Walker so wisely said, it's good, but it's not the one.
CURRYBOND #19 Spice of Raj + The World is not Enough scores 6.9/10.
CURRYBOND will return in Jaffna House + Die Another Day.