National Award-winning director R Parthiban found himself in the midst of a controversy after sharing what was essentially a personal story of fighting hunger and struggle in the early days of his career.
In an interview to The Hindu Metroplus, Parthiban talked about how upma was his saviour in the days when he had very little money, and, said jokingly that it should be declared the national dish of India.
“When there was enough money, I used to make kesari, and if there was no money, it was upma. Many assistant directors survive only on upma even today. It requires less ingredients and it is a one-pot dish that can be made in a short time. Upma must be declared the national dish of India,” he said.
In case you were wondering, “Upma, also called uppittu, is a kind of porridge originating in the Western and Southern parts of India. It is made with vegetables, and some grain – rice/wheat/semolina/rava/sago etc., with seasoning added and cooked to a thick consistency,” writes Jaya Shravan in TNM.
And while Parthiban’s comments were clearly about poverty, hunger and food, he inadvertently sparked a most inane controversy, thanks to a very superficial reading by some.
Outraged by his “culinary chauvinism”, English news channel NewsX decided to hold a debate on this very pressing national issue - Can upma be the national dish of India?
With tickers screaming “Now they ‘force’ upma upon you” and “Politics over the ‘humble’ upma”, NewsX went on to hold a 15-minute debate with four panellists including a chef and a nutritionist.
And while the channel came to the conclusion that a country like India, which was so diverse, could not have one national dish, the controversy that it helped fuel had Twitterati up in arms.
RT if you hate upma.— Domain Maximus (@sidin) June 20, 2017
Actually Kohli wanted Rajma Chawal as National food, but Kumble was stick on Upma.... rest you know— TweetZaade (@TweetZaade) June 20, 2017
All this upma talk on my TL somehow has reached my husband and now he wants to make some in the morning and pack it for daughter's lunch— Radhika (@rads) June 21, 2017
I don't get all this hate against Upma.— Michael Joseph (@Lost_Mikeys) June 21, 2017
One of the easiest dishes to make while also being delicious. https://t.co/NdvQMLu3Lm
But the point the director was trying to make in his interview was not lost to some.
Incidentally, the man in question took to Twitter to clarify his comment stating, “I told The Hindu that upma was my national dish during my days of poverty.” Taking a dig at NewsX, Parthiban jokingly added, “But these people have added masala and made it a khichidi.”
FB/tweet நண்பர்களே— R.Parthiban (@rparthiepan) June 20, 2017
என் Fb அதாவது Flash Back-ல்
ரவையூண்டு கூட வருமானம் இல்லாமல்
இச்சமூக கடாயில் வறுமை என்னையிட்டு கிண்டியபோது 'உப்புமா' pic.twitter.com/RCjY9Qc7ht
உப்புமா' தான் என் தேசிய உணவாகவே இருந்தது. என நான் The Hindu வில் பேசியது இன்னும் மசாலா சேர்த்து கிச்சடியாக வெளியாகியிருக்கிறது. இப்படி— R.Parthiban (@rparthiepan) June 20, 2017
இன்னும் எளிதான— R.Parthiban (@rparthiepan) June 20, 2017
சத்து நிறைந்த உணவை சொல்லியிருக்கலாம் அல்லது அடுத்த வயிற்றின் பசியை தீர்ப்பதே "தேசிய உணர்வு" என அடிக்கோடிட்டிருப்பேன்.
Now, go get yourself a bowl of upma.