PTE Academic Tips and Tricks

The three ‘P’s for cracking the PTE are Preparation, Practice and Paraphrase.

The following are PTE tips amassed from various sources across the net. Just wanted to put it all at one place so that I don’t have to run across the internet when I decide to write the PTE. Hope its useful to all. Thanking all who helped to compile this huge list.


Personally, I think PTE is a lot easier than IELTS. Also, because it is computer administered, the human subjectivity element is low. In addition, you get PTE results in a day while in IELTS, you get the results in 10-13 days.  A big disadvantage of PTE is that availability  of free study material for PTE is extremely scarce.  So, my personal opinion is that the choice of PTE vs IELTS would be dependent on the score you’re targeting. For a target of 6 and  above, I think the PTE is the way forward. If on the other hand, you’re targeting an 8+ score, then I’d suggest IELTS purely because there are study material available to prepare for it.  Mind you, its easier to score 8+ in PTE, however, if you find yourself weak in a particular area (say oral fluency), there are very less material available on the net to improve yourself in your identified weak area. For IELTS however, even though its more difficult per se, there’s tons of study material available to strengthen yourself in your identified weak spots. So ultimately it depends on your strengths. Do your research and decide for yourself which is better for you.

I bought the PTE GOLD TEST PREPARATION KIT for $59.99 but the only advantage I gained was that I got exposed to the exam format. You only get one run of  the timed scored tests and the scored tests never tell you which questions you got wrong – it merely gives you a score but does not help you in any way to assess your strengths and weaknesses.


PTE Exam Format

PTE Exam format

General Tips

Get accustomed to the test, not many people have taken a computer based test prior to taking the PTE.


Practice listening and writing at home as it will increase your speed

Results comes in your mail id even before you wake up


Invest in familiarizing yourself with the test format and be ready for all questions types before giving the actual exam.

Write with full sentences, capital letters and full stops. You can lose marks if you leave out punctuation.

Don’t repeat lots of words that you hear or read. Try to paraphrase.

Be confident of your answer choices when you answer the multiple-choice, multiple-answers tasks (Reading and Listening) and Highlight incorrect words (Listening) because you can lose marks for any wrong answers.

Well i did appear for IELTS 2 years ago and I find PTE to be a bit difficult because one needs to be really active… If u don’t say a word in 3 seconds for speaking then the question is marked completed and u score 0 for that question.


Just before the test

Get to the test center early (if possible be the first person) and ask the administrator to give you a corner seat, so you’ll have only one neighbor and hence is relatively more peaceful.

Arrive early. If you’re rushed, it will affect your performance.

Increase the volume of the headphone to 70-80% that would be the optimal level to negate other voices at the same time not hurting your ears.
Check whether the given pen (actually it’s a marker) is writing properly.  It is vital as my pen stopped writing during my listening section and I had to face few difficulties. If possible try to get from the assigned person a spare pen.



To assess speaking, your skills will be tested by asking you to repeat sentences, respond to questions and summarize passages.

IMPORTANT TIP: You must finish before the progress bar reaches the right hand side. If you remain silent for longer than 3 seconds, the recording will stop. You will not be able to re-record.

Speak calmly and with confidence . Focus on retell lecture and describe image as these two task carry more than half of the marks.

Sit upright and take a deep breath before you start.  Speak clearly and loudly (don’t shout though). And don’t think you are disturbing other test takers by speaking loudly – that should be the last thing on your mind.  One way to check your decibel levels is to observe the decibel meter while taking the practice tests. Try to hit the high greens and low reds.

As a personal note, I tried speaking just like this guy – if you notice, all the individual words coming out of his mouth are well enunciated, distinct and clear.

Speak calmly and with confidence. Focus on retell lecture and describe image as these two task carry more than half of the marks.

You must finish before the progress bar reaches the right hand side. If you remain silent for longer than 3 seconds, the recording will stop. You will not be able to re-record.

If you make a mistake, carry on. Don’t waste time correcting yourself.

Speak at a good volume and normal pace. If you speak too quietly or quickly, this may affect your score.


PTE Academic Personal introduction Tips

This is an opportunity to give your selected institutions some information about yourself. This item is not scored.

Tips for Personal Introduction:

  • Your interests
  • Your plans for future study
  • Why you want to study abroad
  • Why you choose this test
  • Why you need to learn English

Speak at least 3topics or more of above mentioned with in 30sec. Over all in speaking section most important is you’re “FLUENCY”.

PTE Academic Read Aloud

For this item type you need to read a written text aloud. The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You have 30-40 seconds to prepare, depending on the length of the passage. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded. You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush. Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed”. You are only able to record your response once.You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded.

Remember to start speaking ONLY after the tone/countdown starts. I made this mistake in the beginning and only later did I realize that I was losing marks.

Use the given 30-40 seconds to read through the text and identify the difficult words were you might struggle. Pay attention to flow of the sentences such as full stop, commas. Try to read the sentence like a news reader with some intonation and purpose. Quite straight forward. We get around 7-8 questions in this section.

Don’t worry too much about time. In this section, the computer will control the time you spend on each task – all you have to do is click ‘Next’.

Like this guy says, use hand gestures and open your mouth wide while talking.

SMILE while talking.

More Tips for Read Aloud:

  • Fluency is your first priority
  • Scan for hard words and Spell it clearly before it starts recording.
  • Rising and falling tone for some words is important.
  • Be aware of Plurals, don’t spell wrongly.
  • No long disconnection of sentences.(i.e. Gap to each sentence)
  • Uneven words, Irregular Phrasing
  • Beware of Inappropriate stress and incorrect pronunciation to some words.
  • Before it starts recording, read once the total sentence.
  • Don’t be too fast (in recording cannot understand) and too slow.
  • Time for this section is more sufficient.
  • Don’t keep silence more than 3sec.
  • And last tip is your tone must be NATURAL.

 Mind the “read aloud” items, you can maximize your speaking score by reading word by word, pronouncing each one clearly however if you don’t take care of word stress and rising and falling intonation patterns your reading score will suffer.
PTE Academic Repeat Sentence:

For this item type you need to repeat the sentence you hear. We get around 8-10 questions in this section. The audio begins to plays automatically. When the audio finishes, the microphone opens and the recording status box shows “Recording”. Speak into the microphone immediately (there is no short tone) and repeat exactly what you heard. Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed”. You are not able to replay the audio. You are only able to record your response once. You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.


With a right strategy you can ace “Repeat sentence” –  For example if you have to repeat “The director’s office has moved to the second floor of the administration building”, while listening to the audio you can quickly jot down the first letter of each word. In this case that would be T D O H M T T S F O T A B. You may not be able to finish it by the time the audio clip ends but you can take an extra second to complete it, remember you have 3 seconds before which you have start your response. You need some practice to ace this strategy so don’t try it directly in the exam. Practice it a lot and get comfortable with the strategy before the test.

More Tips for Repeat Sentences:

  • Fluency
  • Close your eyes and listen to keep concentration on listening.
  • No long pauses, Clear voice.
  • Be careful of adding new text or omitting Listened text.
  • If you can’t remember whole sentence at-least give importance to Keywords.

See tips from ‘Read Aloud’.
PTE Academic Describe image:

For this item type you need to describe an image. The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You have 25 seconds to study the image and prepare your response. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded. You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush. Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed’’. You are only able to record your response once.


Have a template prepared before the exam for each type of graph – the usual ones are pie charts, bar charts, line graphs and combination of them.

More Tips for Describe Image:

Please try to understand the graph or image given , and prepare an outline for given 25 seconds . Start with what image or graph is about and go on describing. Once you reach 35 second stop, if you try to add another sentence after 35 second there is high chance that you might not complete the sentence and you will be penalized for incomplete sentence.

One good point for my side is when you describe the graph and if you are not getting what to say, you can firstly describe what the image is depicting with words like The graph is showing,illustrating or depicting whatever you see as the starting words, secondly you can say about the numbers which are on the vertical axis and the years which are on the horizontal axis , following this you can add the units like the graph has degree celcius as unit or the million dollars or percentage . Please say these things if you feel weak as a speaker, your main focus should be to say at least 3 sentences

  1. you can say about the topic . can say the unit can say the horizontal and vertical axis points like years or percentage .

Once you reach 35 second stop, if you try to add another sentence after 35 second there is high chance that you might not complete the sentence and you will be penalized for incomplete sentence.

Please try to understand the graph or image given , and prepare an outline for given 25 seconds . Start with what image or graph is about and go on describing .

For the describe image, I followed my rule for giving out the following information only and it worked.

**Topic – 1 sentence on the topic. Make sure you paraphrase the topic and dont just say it as it is.

**Trend/axes – Say ” the x axis of the graph shows so and so and ranges from so and so while the y axis denotes so and so ranging from so and so.

**High – Speak about the highest value on the graph

** Low- Speak about the lowest

** Conclusion – Say a sentence on the conclusion if time is enough or else leave it.

Many of them feel it difficult, but it is not that much difficult. Just follow the below tips.

  • Use the words like To illustate…, It depicts to show that…,
  • Speak about Highest and Lowest figures or keypoints. ( Most Important)
  • Fluency, Speak with good voice.
  • In describing image use the words – on the left hand side, on the right hand side, next to, above, below or bottom, at the top, foreground, background. Just keep on practicing with these words.
  • For graphs you can use – ‘X-axis on graphs shows…. range……’, and ‘Y-axis on graph shows…. range….’
  • Use the words like over, about, under… to point out the values on axis. If you use those words no need to be exact value.
  • Don’t keep silent, speak something about the image you see.

Try to speak about most of the information from the image in an organized manner than sharing (all/most of) the information in an unorganized manner. We get maps, graphs (run-chart; bar graphs; pie-chart; trend graphs etc). We get around 6-8 questions in this section.

PTE Academic 
Re-tell Lecture:
For this item type you need to re-tell what you heard. The audio begins to play automatically. You may also see an image related to the audio. After the audio finishes, you have 10 seconds to prepare. The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded. You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush. Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed’’. You are only able to record your response once.

Note: While the audio is playing, you can take notes on the erasable note board provided.
Yet another demanding section. Luckily we get around 2-3 questions in this section. The image gives a bit of idea about the narration. Try to note the key points and don’t waste time on examples too much. Understand the theme of the lecture and try to start with that. Something like Topic sentence, references or examples if any and conclusion in 40 secs.

Focus on pronunciation and fluency.

In Retell Lecture : Try to get the overall idea and theme of lecture and repeat it within 40 seconds . Remember you don’t require to tell everything but only main points. Try to speak at least 4-6 sentence. That covers overall all ideas.

More Tips for Retell Lecture:

  • Note the keyword by understanding the context of the topic, so you can give your best.
  • For name you can use titles. ex: Dr. James Alexandra says…. so you can say just ‘ dr says…’.
  • If possible try to catch 3-5 sentences it’s enough to re-tell the lecture.
  • While taking notes just omit vowel and note keywords it saves the time. (Practice it)
  • Use phrases like ‘The lecture provides brief information about….’ or ‘According to the speaker, he said…..’ etc… to elaborate the given lecture.
  • Fluency is most important, whatever you speak also.
  • Don’t keep silent, speak something relates to lecture.

Retell lecture  understand the theme and note some points from the lecture and when starting please say IN the following lecture the speaker has talked about  name the topic and then add some points which you have heard and I would say please speak as it is the speaking module .

Try to get the overall idea and theme of lecture and repeat it within 40 seconds. Remember you don’t require to tell everything but only main points. Try to speak at least 4-6 sentence. That covers overall all ideas.
PTE Academic Answer a short questions in one ore few words:

For this item type you need to reply to the question in one or a few words. The audio begins to play automatically. You may also see an image. When the audio finishes, the microphone opens and the recording status box shows “Recording”. Speak into the microphone immediately (there is no short tone) and answer the question with one or a few words. You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush. Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed”. You are not able to replay the audio. You are only able to record your response once.

There are close to 10 questions. Few questions are straight forward. Like if time period before noon is called ante meridian, what is the time after noon called. But, there are few questions where you might need to go through a given picture which might vary from process flow diagram or a chart or whatever… to answer the short question. Just try to see and understand the give picture on the toe and answer. You should be OK.



Tips for Short Answer Questions:

  • If you don’t know the answer, just repeat the words in the question.
  • Don’t forget the articles a,an,the before some words.
  • Below is some questions and answers, whatever I have collected.
  • In speaking section, make sure that you include as many important points as you can in the short span of time that you get. Make use of complex and compound sentences and stress on words which you feel need to be highlighted.




PTE Academic Summarize Written Text:

In this item type you may get 2-3 questions on summarizing text. To talk about this it is not much difficult to say just we need some amount practice on it. Before attempting the try at-least 10 summarize questions. So you can give your best in the PTE-A Exam. To summarize the text you’ll have 10min for each question, so time is enough for it.


Take time to understand the content properly so you know the key broad idea of the text. Check for word count, grammar, punctuation and spellings before hitting ‘Next’.


  • Summarize the text about 30 words only, don’t exceed more than 50 words.
  • Use only one full stop at the end of sentence.
  • Capitalize the starting words and nouns (Names) in the sentence.
  • No more than 30 words for best answer. ( Min 5 words, Max 70 words)
  • Be aware of Spellings, Plurals, Pronunciations.
  • Concentrate on Topic Sentences, Repeated words.
  • No examples, Reasons and Illustrations.
  • Summary must written in third person form. Don’t use I, We… etc.
  • Most of the Summarize the answer from the last para so concentrate on it.
  • Try to summarize each para first later concentrate on it and make it single sentence.
  • Time manage – 3min Planning, 5min writing, 2min checking for mistakes(spelling, grammar).

Practice summary writing  and write below 75 words with only 1 full stop means only one full stop . For this you can search for the main word of the topic  in the first line only  and   and after reading the lower paras you will be  able to make a   good summary ,try to write in your own words by paraphrasing the words and sentences .

For essays 200-300 words  please be to the point and write what is being asked and use Firstly,secondly  in conclusion to end your paragraphs and please add some examples in essay as they briefs your idea .

Summarize written text, Write essay. Write within the word limits. Your answer for Summarize written text should be one sentence of 5-75 words and the essay should be 200-300 words.

  • While attempting writing tasks, use correct punctuations: commas, full stops, capital letters, etc. When asked to summarize text, make sure that your response must be between 5 to 75 words. Responses less than 5 words and more than 75 words will not be scored.

The trick is to write in ONE sentence. Try using transition words. Strategy would be to understand what the given para is trying to convey. Be objective, don’t dwell over finer example. Try to use as many own words as possible. A sample would be – “Agriculture has fallen into a debt; loans; high cost for seeds and manual labor, resulting more barrowing and loans and further example stating bad shape of farming and farmers relative to debt; barrowing etc etc” – Agriculture is caught-up in a vicious cycle; that should suffice. We get around 2-3 questions in this section.


PTE Academic Write An Essay:


Have a template for this section prepared even before the exam and try to fit your essay into your template. More often than not, it would require you to take a stand or share your position between two given points of view. You can use the template that this person uses.

More tips:

In exam you may get one or two questions, it cannot be exact. To write an essay you are having 20min for each (if 2questions).

  • While writing an essay, identify the main topic; areas one needs to focus upon and any specific point of view that you might be asked to take. Keep in mind the word limit which is usually between 200-300 words.


  • Plan your essay in an order by checking it whether it is a Opinion essay, advantages & disadvantages, or Problem & Solution.
  • Be aware of Spellings, Grammar, Plurals.
  • Use good Vocabulary to score good marks.
  • Essay structure – Intro, Body, Conclusion.
  • Try to write atleast 3-5 paragraphs. Intro – 1para, Body – 2-3paras, Conclusion – 1para.
  • No use bullet points.
  • In the body section give examples, reasons, and statistics to describe.
  • Time Manage – 3min Plan, 14min writing, 3min checking (spellings, grammar).

Note: To score more marks mainly be aware of spellings, grammar, and vocabulary. And just follow the above tips you can score maximum marks in the PTE Exam.

Essay: As I mentioned before, most of the essay types are argumentative or persuasive types. So, take any IELTS or TOEFL essays and practice . Now, to write between 200-300 words. 50 Words Introduction, 75 words Para1,75 words para 2, 50 Conclusion . You can juggle between word count in Intro and conclusion. The timings – 3 Mins planning, 7 Mins Intro and Para 1, 7 Mins para 2 and Conclu and finally 2-3 Mins revision. Hence, typing speed (around 30 WPM) and thinking English is utmost important.

The difficulty is on-par with IELTS for essay writing but here in PTE-A, we are going to type in a system than writing using a pencil. So, erasing, correcting and re-ordering of the text will be much easier. Trust me, it saves lot of time. That’s the reason we are able to write around 250+ words in PTE-A even though the given time is just 20mins. Most of the times the essays are something like give your opinion and do you agree or disagree. Try to follow Ryan (IELTS-Argumentative essays) writing videos from youtube. That will be of great help.


Reading is all about time management. This section has 15 questions that need to be covered in 41 minutes – so a strategy would be to spend about 2 minutes for each question and if you find yourself taking more than 2 mins on a question, leave and go to the next.  My tip here is to spend more time with both the ‘fill in the blanks’ sections, as they have the most marks and try spending as little time for Multiple Choice One Answer (MC1R) – maybe just a minute and a half.  Also, another tip is try visualizing whatever you’re reading – this helps to understand the key concept in most messages in one read only.

  • During speaking, respond quickly and keep on speaking. Microphone will automatically stop recording after 3 seconds of silence. You will be given 10-40 seconds depending upon the task, to look and understand the text before recording starts.


PTE Academic Multiple-choice, choose single answer:


I really liked this piece of advice – . Read and understand the question first. Then read the text to find “your” answer to the question. Then check the options to find your answer there.

We get around two to three questions.  Might be little bit tricky however read with purpose and don’t read the options before going through the text. This strategy helped me. Understand the purpose of the para and match the summary sentence. Difficult ones would be inferring the paradox of a given sentence from the para. Having said that, this section is OK to handle. Watch out for the timer, do not spending too much time.


The purpose of this task is to assess your ability to read an academic text for a variety of purposes, including reading for the main idea, reading for specific details, reading for the writer’s purpose, analyzing discourse, making inferences, and assessing the quality and usefulness of a text. The texts 23 are up to 300 words long and cover a variety of academic topics drawn from the humanities, natural

sciences, and social sciences. Each text has one multiple-choice question; there will be between three and five answer options to choose from, only one of which will be correct. You will have either two or three items in this part. The individual questions are not timed. You will have a fixed time of between 32 and 41 minutes to complete the entire Reading part, depending on which form of the PTE academic you receive.


  • Read the question before you read the text. This will tell you what information you will be reading for.
  • Scan the answer choices to further help you focus on the information you will be reading for.
  • Skim the text to get an idea of its general content and the main idea. You should be able to answer the question “What is the passage mainly about?” in your own words.
  • Read the entire text again carefully. Pay attention to details that support the main idea.
  • Read the question and the answer options again. Select the correct answer if you know it. If you are not sure about the answer, eliminate any options that are obviously incorrect, and choose from those that remain.
  • If you do not know the answer, and are unable to eliminate any options, guess. Never leave the question unanswered. If you leave the question unanswered, it will be marked as incorrect. By guessing, you have the possibility of answering correctly.


PTE Academic Multiple-choice, choose multiple answer:

Check above video – read and understand the question; go through the options and then try to read the text only once to find the answers.

More tips:

Try to select only the most appropriate answers as there is a negative marking for this section. Most of the times two options will be correct out of the five given option.

Note: It is not applicable always, Use this trick only when the time is not sufficient to answer.

  • Look for main reason/text and concentrate on repeated words to find the correct answer.
  • Negative marking is applicable for multiple answers.
  • Time manage: max 90sec each question in single answer type and max 2min for each question in multiple answers.


Tips for Multiple-choice, single and multiple answers:

  • Focus on keywords in question and search in the text and then look in options.
  • Most of the time, Pay close attention to the frequency words (always, often , sometimes, never many, all, never, only.. etc) eliminate those options and find the correct answer.


PTE Academic Re-order paragraphs:


I really liked this piece of advice –

More tips:

I got a bit easier stuff. While practicing I struggled big time in this section. Also this section, if I am not wrong has more marks under direct reading section. Strategy would be to identify the topic sentenceand they just follow the flow of the message this para is trying to convey. Got three questions in this sections. Couple of questions with four sentences to be placed in order and one question with just three sentence to order. Hopefully, I have done all of them correctly. Pretty straight forward, if you identify the topic sentence. OK, what is a TOPIC sentence? Sentence which can stand alone and looks like a statement then having some kind of reference or relation to other sentence in the given list. Sometimes a concluding sentence would also sound similar; however, major difference b/w topic and concluding sentence is that conclusion sentence try to recommend or predict or draws a conclusion.

Tips for Re-order Paragraphs:

  • Look at Proper Nouns-Common nouns-Pronoun-Articles Usage-Time Phrases(depends) order to form the sentences.
  • Consider the clue words
  • Frame the order of sentences using the Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Repeated words, Time phrases, etc…
  • Concentrate on pronouns he,she,him,her,they,them,these, those, etc.. these sentences will never come in first.
  • Repeated words – the hint here is, most of the time word one sentences if the same word in other sentences come in an order.
  • Adjectives – the hint here is, ex: better comes after good. so first is good-better.
  • Time manage – try to answer the question with in 4min


PTE Academic Fill in the blanks: (From Drop-down option or Drag and drop)

Yet another easy section, I would say. (My results are yet to come so I will not go over the board). Strategy should be not to see the drop down options. Read the para and understand the purpose and meaning it is trying to convey. Post-which you will know what word to fill-in even without seeing the drop-down options. Now, if you check on the available options, it will make life easier.

Tips for Fill in the Blanks:

  • Concentrate on parts of speech before and after the blank, it helps in finding the missing word.
  • Select the word, which is mostly collocates with words beside it.
  • Skim for the main idea of the text.
  • Most of the time, missing word synonym will be in the text, it helps in finding answer.
  • Time manage – 2min for each question approx.

Note: Follow the above tips you can score maximum marks in the PTE Exam. And the item types may not be in order in the Exam.


PTE Academic Listening TIPS

PTE Listening is very easy and scoring if you pay attention to all parts of test carefully. The following are the different parts of PTE Listening:

  • Summarize Spoken Text
  • Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Highlight correct summary
  • Multiple-choice, choose single answer
  • Select Missing word
  • Highlight incorrect words
  • Write from Dictation


PTE Academic Summarize spoke text:

Listen carefully and take notes.

Listen attentively to what the lecture is trying to convey. Strict to the word limits. Use synonyms and more effective words to convey the message. OK let me use the same example: “Agriculture has fallen into a debt; loans; high cost for seeds and manual labor, resulting more barrowing and loans” – Agriculture is caught-up in a vicious cycle; that should suffice. We get 2 questions in this section.

Tips for Summarize Spoken Text:

  • Make a note while listening the text, vomit the vowels and practice you can save a lot of time.
  • Use the words, “The speaker says….”
  • Concentrate on topic sentences and most repeated words.
  • Time manage- 3min plan, 5min write, 2min check (Spellings, Grammar).

Please write on the notepad what you hear, if not all but at least the starting topic and the main theme of the topic and write them in your own words for summarize spoken test and almost all the listening part.

Be smart about using the erasable note board booklet. Use it if you know you have enough time to transfer your answers onto the screen for certain tasks or just type notes directly onto the screen.

Manage your time. Don’t spend too long on particular tasks at the expense of others. Remember the Listening sections have the most task types to get through!

It tests your notes taking ability. Unlike, Toefl IBT , the sentences are about 90 Secs. So, take all the points in short forms, do not concentrate on spellings while taking notes. Next, you have 10 mins to write. Check your notes, write key points. Plan for 3 mins. Write 60 words in 5 mins and revise 2 mins. Check spelling and grammar.

Tips for Highlight Correct Summary:

Close your eyes, listen heard and find your answer in the choices

Mores tips:

  • Note keywords in question.
  • Skim the options with in given time.
  • Answers are paraphrased.
  • Catch the end of words and listen the ending of topic, you can catch the correct answer.
  • Concentrate on repeated words.
  • In reading section, use prompts and text boxes that appear along with the text in different tasks, carefully to get an idea as to what the text is about. These will help you understand the main idea of the text.
  • When you take notes while attempting listening section, make sure that you note down the main idea as well as the supporting arguments which will essentially help you to frame your response in a better way and will fetch you good marks.


Tips for Multiple & Single answer choices:

  • Multiple answers types have the Negative marking.
  • Most of the time answers rate of speech are fast so be careful and listen.
  • Answers are mostly paraphrased.
  • Most of the answers you can find at ending of listening so listen until it finish.
  • Most of the time, Pay close attention to the frequency words (always, often, sometimes, never many, all, never, only.. etc) eliminate those options and find the correct answer.
  • Effectively heard word may not be correct word because it may be frequency word as above point.


Tips for Fill in the Blanks:

  • Note the answers in erasable notepad given by them and later fill the answers.
  • Check the spellings, Plurals.
  • Answers may be high rate of speech and sometimes.

Tips for Highlight Correct Summary:

Close your eyes, listen heard and find your answer in the choices.

  • Note keywords in question.
  • Skim the options with in given time.
  • Answers are paraphrased.
  • Catch the end of words and listen the ending of topic, you can catch the correct answer.
  • Concentrate on repeated words.

PTE Academic Highlight incorrect word:

Skim through the text before the audio starts and identify key words as sign posts. Move the cursor as the audio begins and identify the wrong words. If you miss the audio the sign post words which you have identified earlier will help you regain your attention and will bring you back on track.

Tips for Missing words (Beep sound):

  • Understand the context of the listening so you can answer the correct option.

Then comes identify the missing word replaced by BEEP, select the correct summary for the lecture from the given options, multiple choice single answer, for all these sections listen carefully and take notes, you will be able to identify the answer quite easily.

Tips for Write from Dictation:

  • Close your eyes and hear the text, so you can concentrate and remember it.
  • Proof read for Spellings and Grammar mistakes.

If you follow these tips you can score maximum marks in this Section.

If you like my article, please do leave a comment or like it. I feel happy that my effort has been appreciated.

The sentences are 8-10 words in-length, write in the provided notebook because I am sure it will be difficult to type in system as the audio plays. Its more like a media persons taking notes during a press conference. You should be FINE!!!

Type as many correct words as you can remember in the correct order. Write what you hear and check your spelling. The purpose of this task is to assess your ability to write down a sentence that you hear. Both listening and writing skills are assessed. You will hear a sentence spoken only once. You must type exactly what the speaker said. The recordings are between three and five seconds long. You will hear either three or four sentences.


             There is a seven-second pause before the recording begins. Use this time to place the cursor at the beginning (i.e. top left) of the box where you will type, so that you are ready to begin typing as soon as the recording ends.

             Watch the on-screen progress indicator so that you will know when you can begin typing.

             Type the sentence as fast as you can so that you do not forget it.

             Once you have typed it, go back and check for any mistakes. Make sure you have not omitted any words, and that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are all correct.

             If you hear unfamiliar words, and are unsure how to spell them, guess.

             If you are able to write by hand faster than you can type, take notes using the Erasable Noteboard Booklet and pen provided. Type as many correct words as you can remember in the correct order.



Top Tips Do not take listening test for granted

Do not take listening tests for granted, forgetting the fact that your listening test scores can turn the table. Always remember that you get only one shot at listening to the tape. Understand what is being said because prediction is the key. LinguaSoft EduTech, Chandigarh, the best institute in language training, has well-equipped labs and unique methodology to improve listening skills of students.

Make notes in erasable notepad

In summarize Spoken Text, make a note while listening to the text; leave the vowels and practice can save a lot of time. Use the words, “The speaker says in the beginning”. Concentrate on topic sentences and repeated words. In Fill in the Blanks; note the answers in erasable notepad given by them and later fill the answers. Check the spellings, Plurals.

Manage your time

Manage your time in summarize spoken text. Plan for 3 minutes, write for 5 minutes, and check spellings and grammar for 2 minutes.

Be careful about negative marking

Multiple answers types have the Negative marking. Most of the time answers rate of speech is fast so be careful and listen. Answers are mostly paraphrased. Most of the answers you can find at ending of listening so listen until it finish.

Pay close attention to the frequency words

Most of the time, Pay close attention to the frequency words (always, often, sometimes, never many, all, never, only) eliminate those options and find the correct answer. Effectively heard word may not be correct word because it may be frequency word as above point.

Note keywords in question

For Highlight Correct Summary exercise, not keywords in question. Skim the options within given time. Answers are paraphrased. Catch the end of words and listen the ending of topic to catch the correct answer.

Concentrate on repeated words

For missing words (beep sound), understand the context of the listening so you can answer the correct option.

Write from Dictation

Close your eyes and focus on the sentence spoken by speaker. Concentrate and remember it. Always proof read for grammar and spellings mistakes.

Check Spellings

While listening to speaker, students do not notice spellings or grammar and focus on the word they are hearing. After listening to recording, always check spellings and grammar so that you do not lose score.

Skim the text before recording

Skim the text before recording begins. Ignore the gaps and try to get an overall idea of what the text is about. This will help you recognize the words that fit the gaps, as you hear them.

Reading -In this you have to manage time and try to spend only 1 to 2 min for choosing single and multiple type only because if you spend more time on this you may miss the last questions which carry heavy marks ,Secondly in multiple type it select only what you feel is right don’t select those options in which you have dilemma or you are confused as it has negative marking .

Focus on fill in the blanks and selecting from blocks as these have good marks content .

Multiple-choice, choose single answer, Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers, Re-order paragraphs

Manage your time. You have 32 – 41 minutes to complete this part of the test, so be sure of how long to spend on each task.

Give attention to the multiple-choice questions. They may look easy but they are quite challenging!

All the Best!

FAN (2016) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – Ask no questions and ye shall be rewarded with a fairly entertaining movie.

OK, first things first – there’s no ‘Jabra Fan’ song in this songless movie.   Secondly, it’s actually quite entertaining till a weak climax screws it all up.  But finally, we get to see SRK acting after almost half a decade of his association with the likes of Rohit Shetty and Farah Khan.  Of course, it’s not the ‘Aamir Khan’ kinda award-winning acting (though SRK’ll get the next Filmfare award for it).  But if you really think about it, it’s not even the usual SRK brand of movies where he romances heroines, has the best songs of the season and has an entertaining happy ending.  This is a SRK movie where somebody forgot to put in the songs, no heroines are romanced and the story suits Aamir Khan better.  Sometimes you think it’s a tad autobiographical. And there are glimpses of ‘Darr’ and ‘Baazigar’ but they remain glimpses and evaporate almost as soon as they appear.  But ‘Fan’ is way better than ‘Dilwale’, ‘Chennai Express’ and ‘Happy New Year’ put together and it’s gonna blow up the box office.  So there.

Why you should watch it – Cos you’re obviously an SRK fan.

Why I wanted to watch it – Cos I’m obviously an SRK fan.

Best scenes / lines – The recreation of SRK into the 20-something fan is pretty awesome.  And dialogues, oh well, how can you not notice the obvious….. ‘Rehnede, Tu Nahi Samjhega’?

Cool things about the movie – SRK is believed to have world’s largest fan following for a movie star.  The awesome ‘Jabra fan’ song, worthy of being a fan anthem, was made in Hindi, Arabic, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Odia, Bengali and Bhojpuri.  Yes, it’s cool in all languages (see all below).

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 3.8/5 (Could have been good)



One Minute Book Review – Murder in Amaravati

Bottomline – A killer ending elevates this good read to a great one.

Sharath’s first novel is also his best.  ‘Murder in Amaravati’ is a thrilling whodunnit that takes its time (maybe too long?) to build the background.  I also enjoyed the back-stories of the various characters that gave an added depth into their psyche though I did wish that few key characters could have been fleshed out even further.  But once the facts are laid out, the real fun starts when the dots get connected.   The killer ending, easily one of the best ever, overcomes the few hitches to elevate this good read into a great one.

Why you should read it – For the ending! For the ending! For the ending!

Why I wanted to read it – Well, I’m one of the latter wave of bloggers who volunteered to review this book.  Must say, it’s an awesome read – I finished the book in 5 days. This one has got the right mix of misdirection and unpredictability.

Cool things about the book – This is Sharath Kommarraju’s first book and he wrote it when he was a software engineer with IBM.  In his foreword, he mentions that he then spent 8 hours a day in his day-job and 2 hours writing and hoped that one day he’d reverse that ratio. Today, Sharath is a full-fledged writer with over 10 works and remarkably, he writes on multiple genres – fiction, fantasy, finance,…. – the list only grows.  .

Buy the book here.

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 4.4/5 (Great)

The Man from Nowhere (S.Korean – 2010) – One Minute Review



Bottomline – Pretty Awesome.

Wow, now this is an action movie! – though the action scenes are comparatively fewer.  John Abraham is supposedly remaking this as ‘Rocky Handsome’ out to release later this week and if he can manage to copy this movie frame by frame, he’d have a cult winner in his hands.  Like my friend Bansal rightly says, Johny could actually pull this off cos the lead part is devoid of any acting chops, which cud work for Johny baba.

This Korean blockbuster follows the age old story of ‘the-mysterious-loner-with-a-past’ who reluctantly befriends a little girl, who happens to be his only contact with the real world.  When the girl gets kidnapped, the man takes it to himself to get the girl.  Unknown to the bad guys and totally known to the audience, the guy turns out to be a highly skilled ex black-ops soldier who eventually mows through and destroys all who stand in his way without remorse.  The juiciest moments are when the bad guys grossly underestimate him and he exacts sweet gory vengeance on them all.

Best scenes / lines – In spite of being an action flick, there are a few beautiful emotional scenes which really tug your heart – the scene where the kid says that she doesn’t have anyone else and the scene where the lead’s reason for his withdrawal is revealed are really heart wrenching.  The ending has a bollywoodian twist which takes a lil away from the movie but it’s still nicely done.  The lil girl has acted beautifully. Two ideas I found to be very cool – the ‘Obama’ idea and the Chinese mafia’s strategy of doing business. Also, I kinda liked the line ‘ The ones that live for tomorrow, get fucked by the ones living for today’. There’s also a very cool jump.

Why you should watch it – If you’re into crime thrillers, this is another South Korean movie that simply delivers.  This one additionally has some heart melting scenes with the kid that really works. Surprising nobody remade this earlier.

Why I wanted to watch it – In the words of the great poet, “Man! South Korean movies are the shit!” – but seriously, their arsenal of crime thrillers is actually pretty awesome.  This one is just another movie in a whole list of other awesomer thrillers like ‘Old Boy’, “Chaser”, ‘I saw the Devil’ etc.

Cool things about the movie – This movie is themed similar to ‘Man on Fire’, ‘Equalizer’, ‘Joh Wick’, ‘Leon the Professional’, ‘Taken’….– and this one is the best.  Ok, not Taken.

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 4.7/5 (Awesome)

Kapoor & Sons(2016)- One minute review

Bottomline – Boring.

It’s ironic that this one turned out the way it did – I mean, it has great performances, great production values and great music.  It’s also talking of many things like gay acceptance, sibling rivalry, urban infidelity – it’s just that the connecting thread between all these scenes don’t really connect so well. For a long while, the movie doesn’t seem to go anywhere but finally, when the tone does change, multiple issues pop up simultaneously but it’s fairly too late into the movie.

Best scenes / lines – the only time I chuckled was a funny line from Rishi Kapoor in response to the photographer friend suggesting he’d have hooked him with his grandma.

Why you should watch it – Probably for the theater’s air conditioning – watch ‘Deadpool’ again instead.

Why I wanted to watch it – Guess I had too many expectations before watching this one.

Cool things about the movie – Not sure if it’s cool but every big star associated with the movie – Alia, Sid, Rishi – are actually playing second fiddle to Fahad Khan.  It’s more a Fahad Khan’s movie with everyone else playing supporting roles.

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 2.7/5 (Boring)

Thani Oruvan (Tamil -2015) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – An awesome high concept thriller whose intellectual fire power is miles ahead of what Indian Cinema offers.

Wow!  What level of thinking!  And yet, there is a high level of masala content to satisfy the standard Indian movie lover.  Thani Oruvan is a masalafied Nolan-esian idea, once again proving that there is no shortage of desi writers who can really kick butt. The weakest link of the movie however is actually the hero, who also happens to be the director’s brother; make no mistake, he’s pretty ok an actor but the villain, Arvind Swamy, with oodles and oodles of charisma, kills it even after making his appearance almost an hour into the movie. The hero comes across as just functional and is not a patch on the way-too-ubercool villain.  But it doesn’t take much away from this thrilling and smart conspiracy theory movie.

Best scenes / lines – Obviously the thought process is far above Indian film standards; so there are lot of enjoyable novel concepts.  The best scenes are definitely the hilarious scenes between Arvind Swamy and his dad.  Swamy also has the best lines; sample – ‘Love at first sight, kill at first betrayal’, the line at the end ‘Ella evidence’um kuduthutan, natukaga ilaa unakaga’ is simply killer.

Why you should watch it – These are the movies that Indian should be proud of.  It’s like a masalafied version of a Nolan idea resulting in a very enjoyable Indianized fare.  See the original before the remakes screw up the original thrill.

Why I wanted to watch it – Thani Orunvan is an interesting spin on the Tamil New Wave –in the face of the gritty realism that the New Wave portrays, I’d say Thani Oruvan is good ol’ Mainstream in all its glory.

Cool things about the movie – The director of the movie earned the sobriquet ‘Remake Raja’ as all the other 8 movies he’s made are all remakes.  Since remakes don’t need much intellectual investment, audiences were stunned to learn that good ‘ol Remake Raja came up with this powerful high intellect thriller.  Also as in the movie, people started connecting random news items across a newspaper, say news from page 4 with unrelated news on page 21, often to interesting results.  Try it!

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 4.65/5 (Excellent)

Jai Gangaajal (2016) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – A reasonably decent movie with the lead role surprisingly owned by the director himself.

It’s already kind of impressive how Priyanka Chopra’s Hollywood and Bollywood pursuits panned out over the last few weeks – first the Oscar jaunt, then the Rock’s tweets, Jimmy Falton show and now Jai Gangajal.  If this movie turned out the way the posters suggested, then PeeCee’s multitasking abilities would have definitely been the talk of the town.  But unfortunately for PeeCee, Prakash Jha had other plans.

Jai Gangajal has nothing to do with Ganga, Jai or Jal and ironically, not so much with the main face in all the posters, Priyanka Chopra.  It’s actually Jha and not PeeCee who is the movie’s main protagonist.  And as it turns out, that’s not really a bad thing.  Jha with his restrained acting trumps PeeCee and he also keeps most of the best lines and sympathy scenes.  When the acting cue does come to PC, she falters as being way too polished and unfit for the rural role that we kinda wish we get to see Jha again. The movie is the story of how a corrupt police station that pays allegiance to the local politician and his wily brother changes its ways upon arrival of the village’s first female top cop.  The rustic feel and the lack of any catchy music can affect the box office of this reasonably good movie.

Best scenes / lines – Jha’s awakening scene with the villain, W Pandey, is actually quite good.  The Hinglish lingo used throughout is also kinda cool – ‘death by suicide’, ‘galath misguide ho rahe hai aap’  – the movie abounds with lotsa other rural hinglish lingo; with characters called as ‘Madam Sir’, ‘Circle babu’, ‘Moti Pahalwan’, ‘Babloo and Dabloo Pandey’, there are moments when you feel the ‘Wasseypur’ influence.

Why you should watch it – Besides the disturbing and subtle endorsement of public lynching, ultimately it’s not bad a movie.

Why I wanted to watch it – Like I said, I really like PeeCee’s multitasking.  While the only thing common with fellow Bollywoodian Deepika’s Hollywood streak is that both the leading men are bald (and the Furious franchisee), Deepika seems to be focusing only on one movie industry at a time – you don’t hear anything from her Hindi side –  except when her beau Ranbir Singh gets a mood swing.

Cool things about the movie – Wonder if PC knew beforehand if the director would steal the lead from her – a lot of PC’s screen time is spent in getting out the police jeep.  Funnily, there a few scenes where PC in khakhi sashays like a glam ramp model so against the rustic background of the movie.

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 3.8/5 (Not bad)


Oscars 2016 – A quick review

Bottomline – Diversity aside, the Oscars this year gets it reasonably right in every department.

For a controversial year, Chris Rock started off getting right to OscarsSoWhite and by the end, he got it all just right with jokes that presented a protracted view of the issue.  Us Bollywoodians also had our moment with PeeCee playfully making her presence felt.  With mostly expected wins, a shock upset, and with moments funny and emotional, ultimately, with no songs, drama, costumes or internet breaking selfies (though using biscuits), it was funnyman Rock Chris who will be long remembered for helming one of the better Oscar opening monologues.  Him, and yup, Leo.

Check out the list of winners and nominees here and below’s a list of the best from the greatest show on earth.

Best Dressed – Methinks, it’s the effortless elegance of Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan.  But check out the best dressed ladies here.

Best Moment outside the Hall – Priyanka Chopra playfully teaching the nervous Michael Strahan “the S position” to nail the perfect red carpet pose Oscar. Check video.


Best jokes – Obviously, Chris Rock’s jokes mostly hit bull’s eye. My personal favourite was, amongst others, “You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. Y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now,” Check out his opening monologue here.


Best Presenter – I really liked the funny and blunt C K Louis’ as presenter for the Best Documentary Short.  In fact, we should have him to host next year.  Check him out here.

"5 seconds of Louis CK and now we all want him to host": Oscar viewers go wild for the comedian's blunt award intro

Best Acceptance Speech – Nothing wildly spectacular so I’d give it to Leo’s dignified speech as also the gracious one by Mark Rylance, for Bridge of Spies.

Biggest Upset – Obviously, Stallone.

Best Moment inside the Hall – While there were many entertaining moments inside, few of the ones that caught my eyes were: Henry Cavill’s (Man of Steel) majestic voice when presenting; the Mad Max sound editor’s F-bomb; the kids selling biscuits; Minions, Woody and Buzz Year; and, the standing ovations notably for Lady Gaga’s emotional tribute.

And yup, the show goes on.

Neerja(2016) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – A moving account of Neerja Bhanot’s astounding bravery.

‘Neerja’ finally gives Sonam Kapoor a respectable solo hit and Bollywood gets another strong female oriented movie.   ‘Neerja’ pays tribute to the baffling bravery of Pan Am purser, Neerja Bhanot, whose raw courage saved the lives of over 340 passengers, except hers. The movie convincingly recreates what happened, takes us into the mind of Neerja herself and shows how her parents handled the unbelievable incident.  If you, like me, do a slightly deeper research into the real Neerja after watching the movie, then the movie will really haunt you with its poignancy.

Best scenes / lines – I really liked the way the director shows Neerja’s mind during the hijack that goes back to past instances of her life where she could not act braver; this knowledge gives her the courage that pushed her to do the heroic.  The dialogue that haunts you with its poignancy even after the movie is over is ‘Bahadur Bacha Kaun?’  The hijack scene is also quite gripping.  Shabana Azmi’s monologue in the end and the climax tugs your heart and Rajesh Khanna’s ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’ gets its unhappiest version ever.

Why you should watch it – Like ‘AirLift’, this too is a story that deserved to be told.   During the hijack, Neerja Bhanot opened the emergency door and could have easily escaped herself but she let the passengers to escape first; she was the last person to leave the plane and she died shielding three children from the terrorists’ bullets. One of the children, then aged 7, is now a captain for a major airline and has stated that Neerja Bhanot has been his inspiration and he owes every day of his life to her. The heroine of the hijack became the youngest recipient of India’s highest military award for bravery – the Ashoka Chakra – and also won bravery awards from Pakistan and USA (all posthumous).

Why I wanted to watch it – Think I’ll stop believing ‘First Post’ reviews – they’re usually the first ones to review but their reviews are very-often very-off-the-mark.  This is simply a great movie.

Cool things about the movie – When Neerja Bhanot’s real mother met Sonam kapoor, the first thing she said to her was “My daughter was prettier.” The director is the guy behind the very cool Happy Dent ad. Check out below the haunting last recording of the real Neerja’s voice.

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 4/5 (Good)


Bollywood in 2015 – A Quick Short Review

Sometimes we need to look behind to see ahead.

A look into Bollywood of 2015 will unearth strong insights that can be used for future movie success. Few key reads from 2015 were:

  • 2015 was Salman Khan’s year all the way, dominating movies and TV simultaneously (a rare accomplishment), NRI lands, single screens and multiplexes, and also making a mark as a producer and as a singer to boot. There was no clear strategy behind this.  As early as 5 years back, multiplex audiences rejected Salman movies, which were huge single screen hits – remember Veer and Wanted. But with time, multiplexes audiences started accepting single screen movies, catapulting Salman to the stratosphere.  Single screen audiences still don’t accept multiplex movies completely.


  • Contrary to expectations, the India’s Top-Grossing Movie is not PK, but is 2015’s Bahubali. Though PK holds the top spot if foreign revenues is added.  Bahubali was a coming together of all the factors to make a successful movie – a large budget, brilliant marketing, a strong story and excellent execution.


  • So how do you make money in Bollywood? Simple – great songs and great marketing to build interest before release, a star to win the release weekend, a strong story to win the following weekdays and great direction to ensure repeat viewings. If the budget is below 20Cr and if the weekend is long, it bodes well for the movie.  ‘Pyar Ka Punchnama 2’ is a case example that inspite of having pedigree due to its cult first part, did the bare minimum in all the above departments and scored big.  Indians tend to go to the movies for escapist fare and generally avoid ‘heavy’ stuff, probably explaining the fall of the oh-too-serious ‘Katti Batti’.


  • Own productions are the way to go as demonstrated by Salman’s stupendous Bhajrangi and Anushka’s profitable NH10; this however strengthens barriers restricting entry of outsiders to the business of movie making.


Top 10 Grossers Bollywood

  • Expanding on the above point, over 90% of the biggest hits of 2015 were produced by insider big names – the only names beyond the big names is limited to just Tanu and Manu Returns and Welcome Back. Bollywood needs to let new ideas in that’ll hopefully herald its much-delayed ‘New Wave’ that has already hit most other regional film industries.


  • While the top hits were also multiplex darlings, most top flops were not single-screen friendly.


  • While Hollywood is getting Chinafied, India is making a growing impact in Hollywood. Priyanka Chopra is the most visible face of it (OMG! she’s freaking presenting at the Oscars!!!!) even though Irrfan Khan is the torchbearer. Deepika’s salsa with Vin Diesel, Nargis Fakrey in ‘Spy’ were the cherry on the cake.


  • Content is scoring! Even the biggest battle of the year – Dilwale vs Bajirao Mastani – saw content getting rewarded over star power. With movies like Talwar, NH10, Badlapur, Baby, Bhajrangi Bhaijaan, Bahubali, content won hearts and cash.


  • But great content still does not mean great returns – case in point – a good movie like ‘Meeruthiya Gangsters’ was virtually unheard of while the much panned ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ was a blockbuster. Marketing is still key to returns and 2015 saw social media and analytics giving extra teeth to movies. Hate Story 3 successfully leveraged social media to make a lot of money.


  • Indian Comedy finally found firm footing in 2015– gone are the days where Indian comedy was Archana Singh laughing at every flat joke; today, with a lot of help from Kapil Sharma and AIB, funny is actually funny and comedy is serious business. The Roast Rises, which divided not only India but also Bollywood into the tolerant and the intolerant.


  • While James Bond got sanskari-ed the Censor board  still passed movies with influential backings, debating to its possible revamp in 2016.


  • Music in 2015 was mostly time pass stuff, usually themed around NCR partying and boozing; few evergreen gems did come out like ‘Hero’ (Salman again) and ‘Afghan Jilebi’. Also, Badshah started making his presence felt as a likely alternative to Honey Singh.


  • The biggest letdown of the year was the cherished SRK-Kajol pairing, the charm of which took a serious beating due to Dilwale.


Viacom 18 stars

  • TV has become an extension of movies – Big Boss is probably the best platform for wannabes to step into movies. Viacom 18, owner of properties like Big Boss, Roadies, Splitsvilla etc – is arguably the best platform  grooming wannabes for Bollywood – examples – Kapil Sharma, Mandana Karimi.


Online India

Online India mirrored offline India’s fascination for Bollywood with the most followed Indians being only celebrities, baring PM Modi.


Most Retweeted Pic

  • The most tweeted Indian post is again by a Bollywood star, SRK.


  • The most viral video of 2015 was AIB’s awesome parody featuring what else, yes, a Bollywood star.

Now comes this blog’s list of the best of 2015:

  • Best Scene – The epic war scene in Bahubali is easily one of the best scenes ever made in India.
  • Best Dialogue – Of course, the question of the year is why Katappa killed Bahubali. The movie with the best dialogues is quite easily ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ but not very often does a whole movie run because of one long rant/dialogue – I’m lookin’ at you, ‘Pyar Ka Punchnama2.’
  • Best Talent – I’m tempted to say Salman for acing in production, singing and box office.  Or Priyanka Chopra for straddling across two industries. Even Zeishan Quadri produced, story and directed ‘Meeruthiya Gangsters’. But Sanjay Leela Bhansali was the most versatile talent of 2015 with his hand in production of ‘Gabbar is Back’ and ‘Bajirao’, direction and music composition for the latter .
  • Best Movie – It’s very rare that a movie transcends language to come up with something we’re all proud of showcasing to the world. ‘Bahubali – the Beginning‘ is my best movie of this decade.

Finally , a recommendation to the stars below:

Star Recommendations

So all in all, 2015 was a cool year for Bollywood and 2016 is expected to be bigger and better. As in the movies, expect a happier ending in 2016; cos like a great man once said, in life as in the movies, everything ends well in the end and “Agar theek nah ho, woh The End nahi….

Picture Abhi Baaki Hai, mere Dost”




image courtesy – Google.

AirLift (2016) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – Airlifts and Uplifts Bollywood Cinema.

I’m quite embarrassed that I wasn’t aware of this story since I too was one of those affected by the Gulf War.  More than a movie, this is a story that needed to be said.  India, in spite of her stumbling bureaucracy, still managed to evacuate 1.7L Indians in the middle of a war – the largest evacuation in history.  As a movie,  Airlift is a brilliant example of how a great story, great performances and able direction adds up to form a compelling film that’s miles better than the crap that superstars come up with today.  Akshay Kumar perfects his restrained acting that he’s been honing over the years with Special 26, Baby and Gabbar to come up with a great performance in Airlift.  But it’s the supporting actors – Prakash Belwadi, Purab, etc – who steal the show.  The Lunchbox lady kinda falters and the Iraqi General somehow comes across as a stooge and that does take a little away from the movie.   I do wish they had shed more light on the two real life heroes that Akshay’s role in the movie is based on – Mr Mathunny Mathews, and Mr Vedi.

Best scenes / lines – Lotsa good moments that’ll touch yourheart with good accompanying dialogues.  Everything with Prakash Belwadi is good.  In another fleeting scene, an Indian embassy official watching a cricket match on TV rebukes Indian selectors for their selection of a new, seemingly inconsistent young Indian cricketer, suggesting he has no cricketing future – someone named Sachin Tendulkar.

Why you should watch it – It’s ironic that all the recent superstar movies were absolute crap, in spite of being box office champs. This is a one of the better movies from the Bollywood stable involving a superstar.  And yes, this is a story that need to be said.

Why I wanted to watch it – After Special 26, Baby and Gabbar, I’ve been really looking forward to more of the Khiladi’s restrained acts.  If this one had a lil more of humor, I’d have said that this one is the best of the lot.

Cool things about the movie – Akshay Kumar loved the story so much that he worked for free and opted for 80% of the film’s profits.

Raj Reviews’ Rating: 4.3/5 (Good)

The Hateful Eight (2016) – One Minute Review

Bottomline –  Not much to Hate; Lots to Like. But also, less to Love.

If anyone else had made this movie, it would have been hailed as a great movie in its existing form.  But for the living legend that Tarantino is, it’s found wanting.  Maybe its cos we’ve seen more stylish gore in his ‘Kill Bill’, more n-words in ‘Django’, more non-linearity in ‘Pulp Fiction’ and a much more suspenseful ‘one amongst us is not who says he is’ tempo in ‘Reservoir Dogs’.  It’s not bad, but not Tarantino-great.  Nor it does it have any of Tarantino’s signature over-the-top moments.

It plays out more like a theatre play and tells a story about eight strangers who are forced to share a night together in a cabin to avoid a blizzard when they eventually realize that things are not really what it seems.

Best scenes / lines – Lotsa clever lines but nothing standout quote worthy. The ‘letter’ is a nice touch and the visuals in the beginning are kinda cool.

Why you should watch it – Well, it’s still entertaining.  Don’t go with too many expectations and you should find it good.

Why I wanted to watch it – For one reason –Tarantino.

Cool things about the movie – So supposedly this movie operates in the same universe as Django and there are subtle references to him.  Also, Tim Roth’s character supposedly is  an ancestor of Archie Hicox, the film critic-turned-British lieutenant played by Michael Fassbender in ‘Inglorious Basterds’

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 4.2/5 (Good)


image courtesy – here

Talvar (2015) – One Minute Review

Bottomline –A talwar sharp must see crime thriller.

The most fascinating thing about Talvar is that it paints a convincing picture of urban India.

You have successful and respectable, middle class professionals, rural migrants confused by urban sensibilities, authorities with extremely regressive mindsets and questionable interrogation methods, trigger happy media that pronounces judgements for trps, top bureaucrats repressing justice as favors for their own, professional sabotage and rivalry, rising instances of divorce, gross miscarriage of justice ; all these factors are pieced into the social fabric in rising India and these factors usually operate almost exclusive of the other.  The Noida double murder, like many other such events, bring all these factors in interplay with each other with worrying results.

The extremely well researched Talvar does not solve the mystery but, while being pro-Talwars, does a better job than the media (pen) in presenting the various possibilities for the audience to figure it out.

Best scenes / lines – The best line in the movie is obviously the one on the title by Prakash Belwadi’s character (don’t want to screw it for you by mentioning it here).  The best scene is the scene towards the end where the two rival investigating teams fight it out for acceptance with their conflicting versions of the story. And yes, ‘dharm-pracharak’ could be the new ‘vinamratha’. 🙂

Why you should watch it – For the amount of research that has gone into making this movie.  And Irrfan’s killer performance of a complex role. Its considered the best reviewed Hindi movie of the year.

Why I wanted to watch it – I’m hoping that this goes the way of ‘Nobody killed Jessica’ and start a movement. And serve justice.

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 4.6/5 (Very Good)

Simple Things to Improve Commute Productivity :: 1min-View




Simple Activities to Improve Commute Productivity V3

So the top Commute Productivity Boosters are :

  • Breathing Exercises
  • Planning Your next day
  • Self Assessment
  • Sleeping
  • Calls
  • Planning your Life Goals
  • Participating in FM radio Contests
  • Listening to positive audio books
  • Networking

The worst thing to do in your office commute is watching movies.

Prerequisite to make your commute more productive is a list of your big life goals. If you don’t have them still, well, you could use your commute time to figure them out. 🙂

Happy Commuting!

Furious 7 (2015) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – Faster. Furious-er. Fun-er.

So what can you NOT do with a car?

Furious7 provides a spectacular answer to that question with some ridiculously cool car action scenes stitched together with overcool dialogues, see-again scenes, cat fights, muscled fist fights, I’m-cooler-than-you-posturing, bouncy bare bums all fitted into a far-too convenient storyline to create a great guy-movie for a Saturday-Night-Beer-with-the-Bros-Bash.   The movie, faster and furiouser, proves that too much of the same is really a good idea as it multiples the goods of the earlier movies. The Walker tribute is not as great as it is made out to be but is still a nice way to rest the franchisee’s commonest lead character.  Going forward, Hobb’s will play second lead in the franchise.

Best scenes– Lots of great watch-again scenes – the hacker hijacking cars scene, the Abu Dhabi scene, almost all the intro scenes – Jason Statham, Rock, Walker- they’re all definitely paisa vasool. Also, see if you can pick out the digitally recreated Paul Walker scenes.

Best lines – Almost everything that the Rock says are too overcool and over the top that they’re sometimes unintentionally funny.  Sample this- “I’m gonna put a hurt on him so bad that he’s gonna wish his momma had kept her legs closed”, “I’m gonna break your finger in six different ways and stick it up where the sun don’t shine.”

Why you should watch it –  A critic said, “Furious 7 is the type of movie Michael Bay has spent his entire career trying to make:  filled with shots of scantily clad women, fast cars, and clever one liners” – that’s quite a compliment and a compelling reason for action aficionados!

Why I wanted to watch it – Well, I loved F6 (still the best movie in the series).  And yes, for the Paul tribute.

My rating – Good (4/5)                    IMDB – 7.2                     Rotten Tomatoes – 81% Fresh

The Raid 2: Berandal (2013) – One Minute Review

the poster made up of clips from the movie

Bottomline – Bigger, better, bloodier, badass-er, beautiful.

With a lot more money to work with in Raid 2, it’s like they analyzed what worked in the first movie and gave us more of that– so you have longer, cleaner and more stylized fights, quirkier assassins and a more wholesome story. Rama now learn that the villains of the first movie were just small fries and goes undercover to infiltrate a major crime family by winning the trust of the crime boss’ son.

The interesting part of the movie is that the many characters get more engrossing as one goes deeper into the movie.  Though Raid 2 flopped, it’s the much better movie. The Raid 3 is planned for 2018 or 2019.

Best scenes / lines – Like the first, almost all the fight scenes are dynamite.  The long car chase scene is better than anything dished out from the Furious franchisee.  The kitchen fight is spectacular.

Why you should watch it – Wow, now this is called an action movie – it’s very unlikely that you could get such a perfect storm of all action movie elements in one movie – great fights, car chases, superb characters and great story to boot.  Baring Tony Jha, the two Raid movies take action to a whole new level.

Why I wanted to watch it – Every serious action aficionado I know has the two Raid movies in their top 10.

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 4.65/5

The Raid Redemption (2011) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – Somebody said – “The Best Action Movie in Decades”.  Agreed.

So the story goes that they first made Raid 2 as another movie (called Berandal) which went over budget and over complicated; so they used most of the fights, added a simpler story line and released it as ‘The Raid Redemption’.  This Indonesian movie is now cult.

Raid is a simple plot of a SWAT team invasion into a 30 storied building, at the top of which is holed up, a notorious drug lord.  The 20 cop SWAT team gets trapped inside and gets their numbers drastically reduced as they fight the building’s residents – all criminals and murderers – on each successive floor, eventually with only a hand few surviving.  The multiple awesome fights are what make the movie.

Best scenes / lines – Almost all the fight scenes are amazing.  So you’d think that a dubbed movie would not have quotable lines – well think again.  Mag Dog’s quote ‘Biar Greget’, meaning ‘let’s make it more exciting’ became a viral rage.  Of course, the Mad Dog fight sequence and character of Mad Dog too are cinematic cults in coolness.

Why you should watch it – For the bone breaking, skull cracking, joints snapping fights.  And for Mad Dog.

Why I wanted to watch it – Every serious action aficionado I know has the two Raid movies in their top 10.

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 4.5/5

Memes associated with the movie:

The Raid Redemption Meme
  The Raid Redemption Meme

Piku (2015) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – Probably the most fun you can have with constipation.

One wonders why it’s called ‘Piku’ when you’ll agree it should be called ‘Bhashkor’ after Bachchan’s character.

Piku is a warm and charming lil peek into the life of a father-daughter family;  the daughter a career oriented lady, who is constantly pulled back by her responsibilities towards her ageing, clingy father – a selfish, tantrum throwing hypochondriac Bengali babumoshai obsessed with his (stuck) bowels.  Into this dysfunctional web is thrown a reluctant cab owner who’ agrees to drive the duo for a road trip from Delhi to Kolkatta.

Best scenes – Almost all the AB scenes are a treat to watch.  Also the light and frothy romantic build up between Irrfan and Deepika is also quite charming.  Also, Irrfan’s few scenes where he shuts AB up are also quite cool.

Best lines – “Insaan Ka Emotion Uska Motion Ke Saath Juda Hua Hai.”, “Kamaal hai, ap har baat ko pait ke sath kaise jorr dete hain.”  AB’s Bengali lines, mannerisms are all paisa vasool.

Why you should watch it – For AB’s crackerjack performance.  Kudos to the director too; for coming with a sweet and warm movie – probably the best constipation movie ever.

Why I wanted to watch it – This movie kicked ‘Bombay Velvet’s’ butt – Piku’s fun with constipation, BV was plain crap.

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 4.3/5

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015) – One Minute Review

Bottomline – Tom Cruise roars with one of the best spy action thrillers.

Popular opinion is that ‘Mad Max’ is the best movie of the year.  I disagree.

Max may be far more deliciously insane than Ethan Hunt but Hunt scores big with thrills, chills, intrigue and wit.  Add a high octane, pulsating bike chase, mid-takeoff plane jumping and a very strong script that integrates real life happenings, political conspiracy, lies and betrayals, and what you get is one of the best action spy thrillers ever.

This time, Hunt takes down a secret organization called the Syndicate – responsible for a series of seemingly natural disasters – while still convincing his bosses of its very existence.  While IMF is dismantled and Hunt branded a fugitive, he has to draw help from his trusty aides Benji, Brandt and Luther.  In comes also a femme fatale whom you quite don’t know if is trustworthy.  Like a ticking time bomb with each second running closer to detonation, MI5 maintains a strong sense of tension all throughout the movie till the very end.  The strong script holds all the mind blowing action sequences together with sharp jabs of humor at the right instances along with cool callbacks from the earlier MI films – bike chases, stealing from high security vaults, masks – in addition to newer crazier stunts.

Best scenes – The plane scene, the crazy bike chase, the sequence in Morocco, the ‘British’ scene etc… etc…. The ending also is a sharp and enjoyable humorous poke.

Best lines – Most lines are specific to the movie and not really quotable.  Samples – “Hunt is the living manifestation of Destiny”, “There are no allies in statecraft, only common interests”.

Why you should watch it – For awesome entertainment.  And yes, for Tom Cruise – while others his age enter the ‘Expendables’,  53 year old Tom Cruise still remains focused (unlike Will Smith) and proves that he can still cling off the side of a plane mid-takeoff and pack a powerful punch with this 2 decade old franchise.

Why I wanted to watch it – the plane scene in the trailers was unbelievable!  Also, I had a feeling that this could be the coolest movie of the summer – I was right.

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 4.5/5

Drishyam (Hindi) One Minute Review

Bottomline – Not a patch on the original but still a good ride.

Folks who’ve seen the original Malayalam ‘Drishyam’ envy those who still haven’t – for reliving the sheer unbelievable thrill of watching this edge-of-the-seat-rollercoaster ride the first time again.  Ajay Devgn turns that envy into pity.

After been remade in all other South languages, remake-king Ajay Devgn takes the story to Bollywood.  All remakes, including this one, carbon copied every scene with the difference being in the actors and the small lil things.  These lil things made the Tamil adaptation, Papanasam by the original director, the best yet and even slightly better than the original.  Here in Hindi, the lil things takes it many a step back and the characters aren’t as well fleshed out but the intact original scenes still make it an enjoyable ride for first timers.

Drishyam is the story of how an ordinary everyman protects his family extraordinarily.  More than the story, it’s the treatment that makes Drishyam one of the best thrillers.  The movie takes its time (truncated in the Hindi version) to introduce us to an everyman family and once the story shifts gear, it takes us with it through various twists and turns till it blows our minds gloriously in the climax.  The trick to enjoy this one is by not comparing to the original.

Best scenes / Best lines – This is a story movie – and it’s the story that carries you till the end. You’ll be so glued to the movie to even register lines.  Scene wise, the climax is the ultimate killer. The ending is also quite cool.

Why you should watch it – If you haven’t already seen any of the Drishyam versions, go see this one and you’ll be pleasantly captivated.  Else, avoid this one and go see Bahubali :).   But if you really want to enjoy the full unbridled thrill, avoid Devgn and watch the mallu Drishyam with subtitles.

Why I wanted to watch it – To check if it’s better than the mallu one.  Not even close.

Raj Reviews’ Rating : 3.4/5

One Minute Review – Baahubali -The Beginning 2015 (Hindi)

In the history of Indian Cinema, Baahubali will register as a rare instance when a great director with great resources came up with a great movie.

No, it’s still not superlative yet though close; but thinking of all the film’s unconsummated side stories– think fearless warrior Sudheep, the heroic mother in chains, the slave commander Kadappa, etc – you tend to believe that Baahubali 2, out in 2016, in the “strong hands”(;)) of this director would be epic.  Baahubali is the satisfying rendition of an age old, oft told myth – King Baahubali gets slayed by his stepbrother for the throne.  The baby royal prince escapes his family’s gruesome fate, and gets secretly transferred by the dying king mother, faraway to a valley.  He grows up a simpleton, but with herculean powers, unaware of his awesome legacy.  Baahubali tells the story of how the boy grows up, discovers his great heritage and returns to his kingdom. This involves a lengthy backstory that showcases the best war scene filmed in Indian Cinema, whose spectacular CG does not dominate, but rather enhances the shrewd storytelling – highlighting the director’s mastery of his craft.  The ending speaks volumes about the director’s clever story telling abilities keeping the viewer wanting to see the next part of the rightfully called ‘India’s greatest epic’.

Best scenes – This is a visual spectacle with awe-inspiring imagery.  Few awesome scenes – the war sequence, the Shivalingam scene, the waterfall scene, the bull fight, the incredibly clever ending, amongst others.

Best lines – The hindi dubbing does not take away anything from the movie with most of the humor, often dubbing’s first casualty, still shining through.  Has many lines that are grandiose, witty and funny – nothing quote-worthy but definitely enhances the movie watching experience.

Why you should watch it – for legitimately being an ‘epic Indian movie’.

Why I wanted to watch it – I think the first image that got my interest was that of the baby moved over choppy waters by a determined but drowning hand.  Everything about the movie was in superlatives – world’s biggest poster in Kochi, biggest budget, the leads’ hulking transformation, creating a new language called Kilkili, biggest box office…..  News of the movie snowballed into almost deafening crescendo that it became really hard to ignore.  By then, it became a must see.

My Rating : 4.75/5

Poetry in flavours -Mango Bistro Bar Review

With lovely people at the lovely Mango Bistro Bar Indiranagar
With lovely company at the lovely Mango Bistro Bar Indiranagar – with Kalaya, Kate, moi, Mr Nadeem and Ema.

Thai cuisine is often described as a beautiful musical note.

Because if it’s done right, this world famous cuisine is a harmonious interplay of sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy.

But getting Thai food right, with its complexity, intricacy and delicateness, is an art and an accomplishment.  The right ingredients have to be put in at the right time.  The Thai take great care is taken as to how a dish tastes, how it looks, how it smells, and how it fits in with the rest of the meal.

And Mango Bistro Bar does its Thai very well, I must say.

Mango Bistro Bar Indiranagar
Mango Bistro Bar Indiranagar

So I was invited for a bloggers’ meet at Mango Bistro for Saturday brunch.  Mango Bistro Bar(MBB) is the striking restaurant on 80feet road, Indiranagar, hidden under the comforting shade of a huge leafy tree.  And coincidentally, there’s a mango tree right next door too.  The restaurant provides valet parking and occupies the first floor with the Lebanese Mezzeh right above it.

I was greeted with the delightful company of the GM, Mr Nadeem, Kalaya and Kate, both of whom were visiting Bangalore from the MBB Bangkok office, and the charming Ema.  Over some lovely conversation about Commercial Street shopping, Shah Rukh Khan, the Indian ‘nod’, and the beauty of the Thai smile, we sampled some amazing food.

The food at Mango Bistro Bar is pan Asian with an emphasis on Thai. They’ve also just started a Thai streetfood salad bar, where you can choose your mix of meat, sauce and carbohydrates and wash it down with their great cocktails, mocktails and drinks.  MBB has a very innovative menu and some of their menu like the Clementine surprise, the injection shots and the delectable Fried Ice Cream are truly unique culinary experiences.

So this is how we gave our taste buds a treat.

The crunchy, fresh and spicy Grapow Sang Choi Bao
The crunchy and fresh Grapow Sang Choi Bao – wait till that hit of chilli gets you 🙂

Grapow Sang Choi Bao – We started our journey with this dish and my, my, this is a must try!  It kinda opens up all your taste buds and it goes superb with a drink.  It’s basically scoops of delicious flavoured chicken mince wrapped in crisp lettuce cups, garnished with basil herbs and chili cuts.  Once the aroma and soft flavour of the juicy minced chicken plays around with the cold fresh crunch of the lettuce in your mouth, there’s a sudden stab from the chilli and pepper.  This immediately opens up your taste buds and this is when a cold drink would simply add magic to this experience.  Definitely a must try!

Clementine Surprise
The very innovative Clementine Surprise

Clementine surprise – the philosophy of Mango Bistro Bar is to provide a young, vibrant and fun place for folks to unwind; so their food and drinks adds to this synergy, vibe and experience.  Most of the menu are inventive surprises that are thus great conversation starters that have to be shared with friends.  Sure, the Bistro Bar boasts of a lovely and well stocked bar; but if you wanna try something innovative, distinct and really cool, try the drink called Clementine surprise.  Clementine surprise is a rum based fruit cocktail that’s simply packaged daintily inside a brown paper bag. The top part of this ‘packet’ is also crowned with a heap of sweet potato chips that you can munch in between sips – it’s a very photogenic drinking experience that can give your selfie a refreshing twist.  And like I mentioned earlier, the Clementine Surprise goes very well with the Grapow Sang Choi Bao above and yes, with the jumbo prawns described below.

The delicious n my favorite Kung Pao Chicken
The juicy and crispy jumbo prawns

Salt & Pepper Prawn – Man, this one is the crunch!  When these juicy, giant pieces of meat land on your table, it’s usually presented as a pyramid of jumbo prawns decked atop one other. It’s a visual treat with the orange stripes of the prawns interspersed with its well-cooked pale color, with dashes of black pepper seeds crowned with garnish.  Presentation play a huge art in this experience and it tastes exactly what you think and hope it would!  As you bite gently into these crispy pieces of heaven, the crunchy exterior gives way to the soft, buttery and succulent insides.  This contrasting texture is enhanced with the flavours of the tangy soya sauce, the strong pepper and a faint garlic to treat your mouth to one of the juiciest culinary experiences ever!  Oh baby, you really need a drink with this!

Mine and Chandler's mom's favourite - the Kung Pao Chicken
Mine and Chandler’s mom’s favourite – the Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken – This was my favourite dish of the lot – I could just munch on these for hours.  These are incredibly delicious, tender, succulent chunks of stir fried chicken coated in soy sauce and mixed with peanuts, dried chilli, veges and garlic, with generous sprinkles of scallion greens. The soy sauce is thick, aromatic and pretty flavour-intense.  Biting into the juicy chicken cubes, it just falls apart in your mouth, enveloped in the flavours of the amazing sauce.  Its fragrance and flavour is a mesmerizing attack on the senses.   Also available in Fish.

A bit of fun fact – if you follow ‘Friends’, Kung Pao Chicken is the dish that Chandler’s mom has a craving for after she gets intimate. 🙂

SuperBowl Finger Food
the most famous SuperBowl Finger Food

Szechuan Chilli Chicken Wings – Now normally this would be a dish that would have scored high on my list; make no mistake – this is definitely a great dish – however after been wowed by the innovation and the novelty with the earlier dishes, this one kinda fell short for me on the innovation part – this is just the usual good and tasty chicken wings; but like I said, since I was bowled over by the earlier inventive dishes, this felt too ‘normal’ for me. 🙂

These are juicy chicken wings with the spicy szechuan sauce that just burns off your tongue.  Worldwide, this dish is often called as the ‘Super Bowl’ dish as it is usually the perfect finger food that accompanies the craziness of a great evening with friends and sports.  So as expected, this one goes really well with super chilled beer.

The global superstar dish - the inimitable Pad Thai
The global superstar dish – the inimitable ‘Pad Thai’

Pad Thai – this was my most surprising dish.  Visually, it’s a dish of slippery flat noodles served with assortments on the side, tossed with various garnishes.  After the first spoonful, I could not make out how I felt about it – it had the subtle but tasty slurpiness of thick noodles but also tasted gently sour and slightly sweet; it’s unlike anything I had before, it was slow to let the mix of flavours captivate me, it takes its time but eventually tastes a winner.

But make no mistake of its humble appearance – the Pad Thai, a national dish, is globally seen as the superstar dish from Thai cuisine that requires extensive preparation.  A lot of effort goes into choosing the right noodles, the right sauce, the right garnish and even the right pan.  Pad Thai is made by stir frying noodles – stir frying, a cooking technique in which ingredients are fried in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok; this quick, hot cooking technique seals in the flavours of the foods, as well as preserving their color and texture – then the right ingredient has to be put at the right time, thus requiring extensive skills to make this exquisite dish.

So ingrained is Pad Thai in the Thai street-food space that an easy way to spot a mediocre Pad Thai street vendor is if the Pad Thai is one of the many dishes on offer; the excellent Pad Thai makers almost always sell nothing but Pad Thai. In fact, many use Pad thai as an indicator of a restaurant’s quality: if the kitchen gets it right, they probably know how to cook.

The Pad Thai at Mango Bistro Bar is pretty awesome.  It has the chewy slippery taste of the sticky noodles with the sweet-sour balance of flavors – the powdered peanuts providing the gentle sweetness and the tamarind sauce and the lime bringing in the light sour.

Kalaya showed us the right way to savour Pat Thai – you first squeeze lime juice slice across the dish; mix the heap and then simply relish the awesomeness!

Pad Thai – Truly a winner and truly a new experience for my palate!

The subtle, delicate and yummy Mango Sticky Rice
The subtle, delicate and yummy Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice – For dessert, we had the fresh and subtle Mango Sticky Rice – delicious sweet sticky rice shaped into a bun served with generous slices of ripe sweet mangos. Again a very unique dish.  The sticky rice reminds you of kheer that’s solidified into a concentrated and intense cake.  But the sweetness of the rice is subtle and is combined with the natural sweetness, well roundedness and freshness of ripe mango – a light, delicious and hearty finale to a fabulous meal.

So that’s my taste bud journey at Mango Bistro Bar.  Will definitely go there again.  The best seat in the house, if you may ask, is the one at the extreme right corner that overlooks the beautiful green foliage of Indiranagar. It’s not only a great date-place with the innovative food and drinks providing crafty conversation starters but also a place you can go with your buds for a quick drink and finger food.


So the R-A-J recommends are:

  • MBB’s biggest advantage is its location. Its culinary experience is unique and differs from Indian cuisine in its subtlety, delicateness and balance.  Indiranagar, with its worldly residents, provides a perfect setting that accepts such a global cuisine. The restaurant occupies an imposing and vibrant persona that one is sure not to miss when driving on 80 feet road.  It’s a great date-place, a great place to hang out with friends and the ‘taste+health’ platform is a great option for kids.
  • Think the focus can be on building awareness about the place in the dainty areas of Indiranagar.  Newspaper inserts, with special focus on Defence Colony, around 6th, 12th and 13th mains can be a great way to start.  A video about its unique experiences, esp the ‘Fried Ice Cream’, the Clementine surprise or the injection shots, can create lotsa buzz and conversations on online groups like the Facebook Bangalore Foodies Groups, other foodie groups and their own online page.
  • Building awareness in the nearby tech parks of Bagmane Tech Park, EGL Domlur and RMZ Infinity with corporate deals, Friday lunch offers and corp meal deals may help.  Also, MBB can offer special deals for Bangalore’s rising startup group.  This calls for free wifi, laptop plug points (Indian and int’l) and int’l drinks; clearly the food and ambience already caters to int’l tastes.
  • On the topic of internet, a relatively inexpensive idea is to screen live camera feeds from the outside and inside of the MBB restaurants in Bangkok, Beirut and other countries.  Adjusting for time zones and privacy, it’ll be cool for the sophisticated Indiranagarean to see what’s happening real-time in other parts of the world.  A camera feed of the night life in these places can also be great conversation starters.
  • Awareness can be built with the nearby schools of NPS, Horizon, FAP with the ‘health+taste’ positioning.  Special deals for the students and teachers, maybe?
  • Indiranagar has a strong expat community who would really appreciate and welcome this cuisine.  Expat themed nights, standup eves and parties anyone?
  • How about serving the Indiranagarean lady?  She’s sophisticated, well-travelled and refined.  Can serve as venues for hen parties and Eve gatherings.
  • Another conversation starter could be having each table themed around some aspect of Thailand/Asia.  Thailand/Asia with its rich history and culture provides lots of interesting way to theme a table.
  • MBB staff are a very friendly set of folks. The hospitality is very warm, friendly and inviting.  Maybe, if asked, a history of their exquisite dishes, can be given – I never knew the cultural significance of Pad Thai till I made this post – the knowledge of the history of the food can be an unforgettable experience; of course, care again should be taken to not disturb the personal space of each table.

That’s my account of Mango Bistro Bar, a friendly, fun and vibrant place serving fine Asian cuisine in our very own Indiranagar.  Must trys here are the Kung Pao Chicken, Salt & Pepper Prawn, the Pad Thai, Clementine surprise, the injection shots and definitely the Fried Ice Cream.

So like I started, MBB’s cuisine is like a beautiful musical note – delicate, subtle and unique.

Make this the song of your next weekend.





Mosque Road+MM road Food Review – What to eat, how&when to go, and general tips for gastronomical awesomeness!

Mosque Road restaurants
A map of Mosque -MM road, with only the fixed hotels shown.  Of course, you’ll find plenty of temporary stalls, interspersed between the fixed hotels that come up during Ramadan. The ‘Mega Stall’ is a huge tent which houses a cluster of stalls from well known names.

Legend has it that when Aladdin’s three wishes were ‘Meat, Eat’ and ‘Street’, the Bangalore based genie send him off to Mosque road. And he lived happily ever after…..

OK, so clearly I don’t know my Persian stories, but lemme share with you what I do know about Persian cuisine – for me, Persian street food has always started and ended with the amazing street ware of Mosque street. Kebabs, Haleem, Sheek, Raan, Tandoor, Shawarma, sharbat – you name it, and this place has it. This is the meat eater’s version of a mini food heaven.

This post will help you get better armed for the food orgy that awaits you at MM road, with an idea of the stores that await you, what food you should try and a few tips to make the most of your experience.  Of course, like most Bangalorians, with over a decade of Bangalore days in me, I’ve never been able to visit this place. Yet.  But last Wednesday, I took my trusty Yamaha stud and headed off to Meat Heaven.

Mosque Road restaurants 1
A Meat Eater’s Paradise! Meat, meat Everywhere!

Where is it?

The eponympus mosque in the famous ‘Mosque road’ is the majestic mosque of Hajee Sir Ismail Sait Masjid, that sits splendidly at the intersection of two roads – MM road and Mosque road. For the foodies, its actually MM road, and not Mosque road (both perpendicular to each other), that houses most of the famous food joints.  Along the stretch of MM road, you’ll find both established hotels and temporary stalls, erected solely for Ramadan period.  I’ve managed to plot (see cool map above) most of the fixed hotels (which have proper seating options), though interspersed between them are many temporary stalls, which offer equally yummy Iftar food.  I’d say that the stalls start with Chichaba Taj at one extreme end of MM road and extends all the way till Al Madiha Special at the other end.  The adjoining Mosque road too has a few makeshift stalls and amongst the fixed ones, I did manage to see New Taj restaurant, though I didn’t notice any food displays in front of Mosque road hotels of Empire and Savory.

Bang opposite to the mosque is a huge erected tent (Mega Stall) that houses a cluster of stalls inside (see map) with familiar names like Empire, Chichaba Taj, Frontier etc.  I’d suggest heading out here itself as you have the whole gamut of food items under one roof, though I’m not sure if they serve sheekh kebab here.

How to get there?

Mosque road is a landmark – so almost anyone will know where it is.  The problem is everyone knows different ways of getting there – there are countless in-roads, one ways, passages that you’d stumble upon.  And once you reach meat-heaven, parking is hell!  Also, the place is teaming with cops so its advisable that you don’t ‘aaj kuch toofani karte hai’ with wrong parking – the cops simply take your number and sms you the fine.  My advice is to just take a rick to enjoy the food, hassle free.  However, if you do find yourself adventurous, you could find parking along Mosque road and take a short walk to MM, though getting parking space here also after 6:30 PM is pretty difficult.  Four wheelers would find even more trouble finding parking.  For once, I’m glad God made auto rick drivers.

Kebabs, Bombay Mix , Patthar Ghost, Mutton Keema Paratha, Rolls, Samosas……

When to go?

Mosque road becomes part of Bangalore consciousness during the four weeks of Ramadan (June 29th to July 27th this year, subject to new moon sighting), culminating with Eid, however the bustle of the place is supposed to be most vigorous in first 2-3 weeks.  The place comes alive after 6:30PM – after the Maghrib prayers, to be exact – however, you’ll find vendors starting off even at 5 PM.  Remember that this Iftar party goes well into midnight, but many items that are made in advance, like Haleem and Biriyani, gets over by 8:30ish.  At about 7:30ish, you’ll have to wade through oceans of crowds to get around and it becomes a hot jungle of humans, food and two wheelers with smoke, smells and sounds wafting through it all.

What to eat here?

Ah, thought you’d never ask!   A great way to start is to survey all the food items on offer by starting your walk from Chichaba Taj, pass through the Mega Stall opposite to the mosque and walk all the way till Al Madiha Special on the other end.  This is almost a kilometer in distance and you’re sure to repeat parts of this walk at least a few number of times.  If you really don’t have the time, start from the Mega Stall and walk till Madiha, but missing the Sheekh kebab at Chichaba would be criminal.

MM road’s highlight is the sheer variety of meat preparations in close vicinity – you will never get such a wide spread of meat items a walk away from each other, anywhere else in Bangalore.  And it’s very light on the pocket.  You’d be spoilt for choice out here – the food is both flavorsome as well as very rich.  The taste is average to mind blowing, and you might need sample quite a few stalls before you hit jackpot – hence going in groups making perfect sense.  I just follow the crowd and go to those places where I see a lot of people.  Besides the Mega Stall, I’ve seen maximum number of people in front of Zayan Kebab Corner, the cluster of stalls around Savera.  Some must trys are –

  • Haleem:– Clearly, the superstar Ramadan dish that everyone talks about – it’s actually meat slow-cooked for seven to eight hours resulting in a paste-like consistency, blending the flavors of spices and meat. Pistah House, near Al Madiha is known for their Haleem (Rs 140/-). Other vendors sell Haleem at about Rs100/-.
  • Patthar Gosht: Another unique dish, this is meat cooked slowly on a very hot stone, with the meat juices soaking up the flavors of both its marinate as well as that of the earthy stone.
  • Mutton Cutlets:  Taste varies across stalls, but still a great starter. A plate of two goes for Rs 80/-.
  • Kebabs:  And how can you miss these babies? Various varieties and tastes – an awesome plate of hariyali kebab, 6 pieces, cost me Rs 100/-. You have various options of meat, types and tastes.
  • Samosas:  At 10 apiece, I preferred the keema one over the chicken one. I saw the samosas getting over very fast at Al Madiha Special.
  • Rolls:   Some mindblowing rolls, taken straight off the tawa and a flavor bomb in your mouth. Beef roll cost me Rs 50/-.
  • Mutton Keema Paratha:   Somehow this did not meet my way-too-high expectations but was still good enuff.
  • Biriyani:  The chicken version was150/-. Sadly, I was too full by then to even try. L
  • Shahi Tukda:  Dessert – slices of toasted bread soaked in sweet syrup topped with cream and dry fruits.

In addition, you’ll also see Sherbet, Kheer, ghulab jamun, custard cake, sweet puffs, dilkush and much more.  And if you in the mood of fusion, you do have a Baskin Robbins also along this road too.  A meal for two here, along with auto fare, with ample experimentation, should not go beyond Rs 900 – 1100/-.

Vegetarian friends may find themselves quite out of place here, as veg options are quite limited – only about 5% of the total food was vegetarian, including desserts.  Few veggie options that I did notice amongst my carnivorous pursuits were only samosas.  But the amazing variety of desserts could make your day – however, when you brave the traffic and the crowds to come all the way here, you may find just eating desserts and samosas a tad too uninspiring.  But if you do make the trip, well, it is quite a feast for the other senses and hey, this is Bangalorean food’s biggest yearly buzzword at this time of the year, so you could drop in to soak up the party (and the desserts).

Mosque Road restaurants 3
Random pics trying the capture the mad bustle after 6:30PM – you gotta be there to experience it!!!

Tips and Tricks of the game

  1. It’s always a good idea to go in groups of non-veg foodies – there’s simply way too many food items for a single stomach to do justice to.
  2. Mosque road at its peak, is heavily crowded, so pick pockets are aplenty – so make sure you protect your wallets, purse and mobiles, esp when you’re maneuvering through the crowds.
  3. Beware of the birds sitting in the many trees above – my shirt got messed up with droppings.  So many a times, the weird taste in your phirni could just be something from above 😉
  4. Carry lot of tens and twenty’s with you – in the heat of things, it’s easy to forget that they have to give you back balance to your 500 rupee note.
  5. I’ve noticed that prices in some shops have a tendency to go up, as the day gets later and as the crowds get bigger.
  6. Carrying a bottle of water with you is always helpful, since you might walk across the length of MM road many a times.
  7. The food is extremely rich and heavy – so make sure you follow a light meal schedule before and after your MM road experience. Some Eno or Pudin Hara tablets can be handy.
  8. Dress lightly and appropriately as you’d be walking quite a lot and the crowds and the weather make it quite a hot and sweaty affair. Do remember that nowadays, it can also rain.

So what’s really the story behind it all?

In the holy month of Ramadan, adult Muslims observe fast, refraining from food and water from sunrise to sunset.  According to Islam, the thawab (rewards) of fasting are many, but in this month they are believed to be multiplied.  This fasting during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran.  The first food to break the fast in the evening is dates, after which they adjourn for the Maghrib prayer, the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meals are served.  Iftar refers to this evening meal with which the fast is broken, right before eth Maghrib prayers.  Iftar has always been a social event for bonding with families, friends and surrounding communities.

Coming to food part of Iftar, surprisingly the most important part of Iftar are the desserts.  The food is usually traditional offerings served in a buffet style, with water, juice and milk being the choice of beverages.

Mosque Road restaurants 4
The Desserts side of MM road – Shahi Tukda, Sherbet, Dates, Custard cake, juice….

So that’s the scoop.   For me, a visit to Mosque road is ticking off another item off my Bangalorean bucket list.

So, in the words of the great man below…

“Tonight we Feast!!!!!”

Have fun!


Readers can make this post even more informative by telling us which place they liked most for the best food – use comments below.

Mosque Roadpic from Ahmed Sharif‘s timeline.


Great ‘Lil Hearts’ – Yauatcha Restaurant Review


Yauatcha Restaurant Review
At Yauatcha

Distances separate, yet a simple shared cup of tea brings people closer. Couple tea with dim-sums and friends, and you have a Chinese tradition that’s won many a hearts across the world.

Yauatcha, is pronounced as ‘Yaow-ah-cha’, and literally means “tea with Yau”; with Yau referring to London-based culinary rockstar, Alan Yau, who taught the British to share tables and slurp like the Japanese. The ace restaurateur then went ahead and reinvented Chinese food in Britain – he designed an ultra-chic environment around the simple Chinese tea house tradition of ‘sharing tea and dim-sims’ (called Yum cha) with friends, and made the humble dim-sim a fashion statement. Little wonder that both his Chinese restaurants have each been awarded the Oscars of the restaurant industry – the Michelin Star.

And now, Yau’s award winning dim-sim experience comes to namma Bengaluru with the uber chic Yauatcha, fittingly lofted at the very top (5th floor) of 1MG Mall – the first address of Bangalore’s arterial vein, MG road.

Precision meets chic – It’s said that Yau oversees every detail of his restaurants, right from concept to execution, from the kitchen to the front of house and beyond. And it shows at Yauatcha – the magic of Yauatcha starts even before you savor it. From outside its glassed walls, Yauatcha stands tall with a deep regal navy blue tinge. And there’s a story behind this tinge – it’s a Chinese belief that the blue color lets positive energy inside and keeps its inside; so when you’re outside Yauatcha and look inside, the blue tinge appears but when you’re inside and look out of the glass, things are magically clear and well-lit as day.

Yauatcha Bangalore Review

Once inside, besides the many smiles that greet you, what strikes you are the precision and cleanliness about the place – in fact, we were told that before they open for business every day, they stretch a string tight from the last table to the first along the length of the room to make sure that every table and every object on each table – glasses, plates, forks/chopsticks- are all lined precisely in a straight line. The open kitchen pays tribute to the Chinese tradition that the eating place has to be noisy with the clangs and clatter from the kitchen expected to fuse with the crowd’s conversation. A note about the open kitchen – surgical quality stainless steel are used and running water is provided at multiple points inside the kitchen so that utensils are washed thoroughly after every dish to maintain the sanctity of veg and non-veg food. In fact, half the menu is vegetarian and Jain food option for some dishes is also available.

The bar – The other main area is the bar, unique for not only being one of the longest bars in the country but also for having community bartables, another throwback to Chinese yore, to encourage community bonding while savoring their signature mocktails, cocktails and liquid gold.

Private Dining – There is an option of private dining that can comfortably seat 10-20 seats also, else sitting options in twos, fours and larger can easily be arranged. My favorite seat in the house is at the extreme corner which has with a fleeting glimpse of the passing metro outside and a splendid view of the bustling kitchen inside.

Yauatcha Bangalore Review 2A personal yardstick of mine to judge a hotel’s attitude to cleanliness is to check out the way they maintain their washrooms.  And Yauatcha scores full marks here – in fact, the sturdy wash basins can be mistaken for being made of dark wood but a closer look will reveal how soft lighting and clever porcelain choice can fool the casual eye.  Again, the same sophistication and splendor of the restaurant runs into the restroom too.  The fly ash bricks blend in with the modern light hangers and the mustard leather sofas at each table to complete the ultra-modern look.

Sunday Brunch Yum cha -After having the senses suitably seduced by the setting, we then let our taste buds treated to the main event, the Sunday brunch, themed on Yumcha – tea and dim sums – with four varieties of herbal tea offered with as many as 24 different types of dim sums.  Broadly, the served dim sums are of four types – steamed, baked, pan fried and fried.

The striking feature of the food at Yauatcha is the presentation – as much as the taste, the way it is presented stays in your heart long after you’ve left this blue tinged glass house.  In fact, it’s hard to resist not instagramming pics of the food here.  And speaking of Instagram, Yauatcha has a very interesting connection with this social media photo sharing forum – cos one of India’s most instagrammed food item is a item from Yauatcha.  A lil more about that later in this post though.

Yauatcha Bangalore Review Yum Cha Dim Sums

Dim Sums – Back to the dim sums, they’re look as great as they taste as these soft little pieces of heaven glisten charmingly in the lil steamer baskets.  The lil dumplings give away a hint of the magic in store through their creatively fashioned translucent skins, each of the 24 having a distinct persona of its own.  As you bite into these pursed lil hearts, you’ll find the glorious softness of the skin bursting open to unleash a natural freshness and juicy flavor, never overpowering your palate by any particular flavor and yet understating your experience with the distinct essence that distinguishes the 24 from each other.  Of the 24, each one tasting better than the last, my favorite bites were the Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun, which is also their bestseller dim sum, and the Baked Veg Puff.  The Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun surprises you cos as you bite into it, the tender softness of the skin is suddenly and unexpectedly met with a crispy crunch of juicy prawn and the soft and crunchy combination turns to be a satisfying treat for the mouth.  The Baked Veg Puff is a feast for the eyes too with the dish resembling a cloud of golden brown cotton candy sitting proudly in its muscular Grecian bowl.  Hidden inside this fluffy network of crispy awesomeness, is the actual baked dim sum, which tastes divine in its combination of fresh vegetables seasoned with fragrant spices.  The dim sums can be enjoyed with accompanying sauces that add an additional flavor to your taste buds and the herbal tea fills you with a warm and happy feeling as it cleanses your palate, leaving you ready for more.

Main Course – After Yum cha, we were treated to the main course.  Quite honestly, we were already too full; but the sheer visual spectacles that the main course dishes were, it made us savor a little from the various, many choices.  Again, each dish was one better than the other but my standout choices would be the braised pork belly in truffle sauce served with steam cooked mantao sweet buns, the stir fried beef and the wrapped chicken in pepper.  The braised pork swims in truffle sauce and has to be eaten with the shell shaped mantao sweet buns – the combination of the strong taste of the pork along with the mildly sweet yet flavorless sweet buns will blow your mind away!  The stir fried beef again is a treat for the eyes with the beef and vegetables tucked cozily under an arch made of stiff white noodles.  The wrapped chicken is a very innovative dish –a slab of boneless chicken is generously seasoned with pepper and spices and is then enveloped in paper; this paper wrapped chicken, now a packet, is then oil cooked to let the delicious marinate caramelize onto the chicken.  After cooking, the packet is transferred directly to the plate and brought straight to the table.  The paper is torn open to expose the well-seasoned and succulent meat and is a riot in your mouth when savored with sauces!

Yauatcha Bangalore Review Raspberry Delice

Desserts – And now comes the Instagram part of Yauatcha.  One of Yauatcha’s biggest talking points is their desserts.  Yauatcha dedicates separate chefs and a separate open space for making their world famous desserts.  You can see how the skilled dessert designers engineer these gorgeous desserts right in front of your eyes.  Yauatcha’s Raspberry Delice is supposedly one of the most instagrammed dish in the country and one look at it will tempt you to take out your camera.  It simply looks divine – it’s a shame that you have to eat it.  The other three desserts that completed our gorgeous meal were Mango Mousse, Chocolate Hazelnut Mousee and the Chocolate based Religieuse.  Each dessert was served with a carefully carved scoop of ice cream.  My personal favorite was the Mango Mousse.

So the Raj recommendation for Yauatcha are:

  • Yauatcha ‘s Word of Mouth(WOM) is pretty phenomenal.  The food presentation, the quality and the quantity of food are simply outstanding.  Yauatcha should continue to focus on maintaining this phenomenal WOM by preserving the same attention to detail, the wow presentation and the strict efficiency they have.  Basically, methinks that they should just focus on keeping things prim and proper within their four tinted walls(as they currently have) and it should work out just well for them.  If they have the resources, they could engage a sturdier social media presence to fan this strong WOM.
  • Of course, social media is often a difficult animal to tame.  So even if they do choose to employ social media, they have some highly ‘Like’able dishes like Raspberry Delice in their armor to win many a hearts.  But they could also use this medium to clarify on customer observations.  I remember reading some unhappy customers saying that Yauatcha does not allow taking home your leftovers, even after paying its high price tag.  I completely agreed with the comment but later, the general manager explained to us that dim sums are to be eaten straight from the steamer and subsequent reheating will harm the delicate balance of flavors they have. This change in flavor is not acceptable for a Michelin starred restaurant and hence they strictly avoid take aways for the dim sums. However, they have now started allowing customers to take away other dishes.
  • If I could change one thing about Yauatcha’s amazing experience, it would be the order in which the dim sums are served.  After I had the Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun, nothing afterwards could match its outstanding taste, even though they were pretty awesome in themselves.  A more choreographed order of serving by saving the best for last could make the experience even more awesome.
  • For a Michelin starred mother brand, Yauatcha’s prices are quite reasonable, however not everyone would choose to afford it; and that could actually be good thing.  Yauatcha’s customers seem to be the urban rich and this group are very conscious of the type of people they’re seen with.  So a price-off discounting for their ware may not be a great idea for their classy brand equity.  Of course, Yauatcha’s fantastic location can be capitalized – advertising with the patrons of the nearby upmarket hotels of Taj, Oberoi and Park should help it reap rich dividends.

The Sunday brunch will set you back by Rs 2000/- and you can check out the menu here.  The Yum cha menu here.  Our experience at Yauatcha was accompanied by our lovely host, Ema Trinidad, the lady behind ‘Expatlife India’, and Jaideep, the general manager at Yauatcha.  The other wonderful bloggers who provided amazing company were Vidya, Vamshi, Sijo, Hina, Smitha, Neha, Vaibhav and Raksha.

It’s said that the literal translation of the word ‘dim sum’ is to ‘touch the heart’.

With its spectacular experience, Yauatcha certainly does.

And how