Most legends become legends because they excel in a certain field, or because they blazed briefly in their career before being snuffed out due to unfortunate circumstances. Madhur Jaffrey, then, is a living legend, because not only is she a doyenne of many arts, from performance to culinary, but also because she has shone continuously throughout her many, varied careers.
Her latest exploit is starring in a just-released rap video, where she naturally, steals every scene. But first a primer.
The grand dame of Indian cooking in those United States is the role that Jaffrey is most known for, though she is also an accomplished actress who was instrumental in the establishment of Merchant Ivory Films, the production house founded by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory who met each other through her good offices. A graduate of the legendary Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, Madhur went on to marry Saeed Jaffrey, one of the few actors to truly straddle Western and Indian cinema. Not that she was ever known as Mrs Saeed Jaffrey.
The formidable Delhi-born woman went on to feature in several Indian and foreign films before she found her starring role as Indian food’s ambassador to the US, hosting several cooking shows as well as books, beginning with Invitation to Indian Cookery, which went on to win the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards Cookbook Hall of Fame award. It wasn’t a one-time thing either, with Jaffrey having gone on to author and host several award-winning books and shows respectively.
But back to the future.
Riffing off one of Jaffrey’s food shows, wherein she demystified Indian food for western audiences, the music video, titled Nani, by New York-based rapper Mr Cardamom showcases the trials and triumphs of Indian grandmothers everywhere, and so who better to play that force of nature than the 85-year-old Jaffrey.