When MasterChef India tried to ruin my Diwali

“Write two lines about chef Vineet Bhatiya”.

These were the exact words that came out of the young, uber cool, too smart, director who was apparently shopping for people from the tired and exhausted crowd to make short videos, based on how they looked, literally.

Apparently, she was looking for people who were different and who could create drama for reality tv.

Mind you, this was MasterChef India, not a daily tv soap. But, I thought, MasterChef India was about food.

“You should know better”, my husband told this after I came back home disappointed.

After hours of waiting in queue, outside the gate, inside the gate and then eventually in the big audition hall, I was excited to hear my name announced. Some random crew member came to me and confirmed my name twice before seating me in the front row.

Now this young twenty some director-girl-lady was shooting short videos of select individuals who had come for the audition. She shot a video of twin girls who were asked to fight with each other on the camera. Then there was a guy with super curly hair.

This guy was interesting enough for them to stop the crowd and make fake videos of people interacting with him. All the while, asking others to not talk among themselves. Even yelling at them to shut up. Talk about hypocrisy much?

Going back to my video, this boss lady asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was an entrepreneur. To which she asked me if I could sing or dance. Imagine my shock. Me, a director of a company, have meetings with clients on a daily basis, came all the way to Mumbai on Diwali weekend, to follow my food dream, never once thinking if I could sing or dance. Damn! Why didn’t I think of it.

I said NO with a shocking look, apparently not enough drama for them.

She asked what my skills were. An amateur and naïve that I was, I said, baking and cooking were my skills. To which she replied, what else could I do other than cooking?
Damn again.

MasterChef should have a chef in there somewhere, other than those roaming in white coats across the halls in the waiting area.

I replied, writing, swimming and, before I could finish speaking, she said, “Write a shayari for chef Vineet Bhatiya.”

“OK”, I said. “I’ll go back to my seat and write”.

“NO, write now.”

“Right now?”

“Yeah, you are a writer, aren’t you? Can’t you think of two lines?”

I wish I could muster things up in seconds, but unfortunately, writing does not work like that. It needs time and patience, but apparently she didn’t have that. “How about”-she started spitting words non stop, all the while also pretending to think.

“Jinke dishes hai itne colourful and sweet
Wo hai hamare one and only chef Vineet Vineet Vineet!”

“Be expressive”, she said. “Emote.”
Then she started adding more such cheesy lines for chef Ranveer Brar and chef Vikas Khanna.

She wanted me to recite all of this on camera, without break, without any time to prepare, with expressive eyes, hand gestures and more drama.

I have spent my last month working on new flavours, different cuisines, new ingredients trying to bring out Umami Taste in my dishes, but never did I think about working on my acting skills. Had I nailed her video round like few others, I would have made it directly to the next level.

This was the condition at MasterChef India Mumbai Audition Center that was held on 26th October in Thakur Public School.

No arrangement of tea and snacks, rude crew who doesn’t respect people or their time or have any skill other than judging people based on their looks.

I did meet some great people at the audition, a half Nigerian-Tamilian girl spent hours making Sushi and dips, who lost to another candidate who made Chakli in the shape of MasterChef logo.

A Goan friend that I met there was lively, beautiful and an amazing cook who made puff pastry with prawns and kokum butter, also didn’t go forward as she didn’t have a sob story.

The list is endless. A broken woman, a jilted lover, a senior citizen with a bad past, a sweeper from Omkareshwar whose video went viral and many such people made into the next level just because of their background and acting skills.

The dishes they made were mediocre to say the least.

I am all for upliftment of the society but there are many such platforms for that.

MasterChef India was not supposed to be that, or atleast I thought so.

Now, lets look at this objectively. We had already auditioned a month ago in our cities and they knew what our strength and weaknesses were.

Then why did the make us audition again in Mumbai with rest of the crowd? Maybe, they just wanted to show that they had people auditioning from all over the country and they just used us to show on TV.

Whereas in reality, the list was already prepared and they knew exactly who was gonna make it to the TV round to be presented before the judges.

They segregated everyone into various batches, where the ones that were already shortlisted were sent to the main room and the rest of the crowd, including me, were sent to another.

The crew never told us what their main objective or plan was. They had a list of people who were moving ahead and others likes me who were just sitting ducks so that we could fill in as a crowd to showcase.

This would have been totally fine had the show been an Ekta Kapoor serial, but the MasterChef logo fooled us to believe otherwise.

I prepared my ingredients a day before and spent hours making individual elements that would go together to make a beautiful dish.

When I presented this dish in front of the chef, all he said was, who made these edible pearls? Seriously?? Aren’t you auditioning for MasterChef?

Food spherification is challenging but don’t you expect the people auditioning for a show like MasterChef India to have a bit of a skill?

The lady from Endemol Shine team who auditioned me for level two cringed when she licked a drop of my white chocolate whiskey mousse. Apparently, she doesn’t like alcohol.

So, I should know their personal likes and dislikes other than training myself for acting, singing and dancing and have a sob story to make it through ahead.

They ruined my whole Diwali weekend to tell me that I was not worthy enough for them. I could have sat and sulked over it or resumed the festival that we celebrate and cherish each year.

So I buckled up and went back to my family, who were eagerly waiting for me to come home and resume the preparations for Diwali next day.

We bitched about the whole saga for a while and took out the new dresses, the diyas and played a game of cards.

We celebrated our Diwali with an awesome photoshoot, a couple of cricket matches and carried on with our merry. I wasn’t going to let some foolish, greedy, and shallow people ruin my Diwali.

In retrospect, I realised I needed to write about my experience. And to think about it all, I would like to ask the boss-director-girl-lady, is this writing good enough for you?


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