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Chef, actor….rapper? Madhur Jaffrey’s latest role.


Actor, chef, writer, broadcaster and Patron of the Oxford Cultural Collective, Madhur Jaffrey recently took on an unexpected new role – rapper!  She tells Don Sloan about her first experience of starring in a music video – a video that has gone viral.

Best known for her many award-winning books and television series on Indian cookery, Jaffrey is also a successful actor. She trained at RADA alongside Glenda Jackson, Diana Rigg and Siân Phillips and went on to find critical acclaim, winning the 1966 Best Actress Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for the Merchant Ivory film, Shakespeare Wallah.

After an approach from rap artist Zohran Mamdani (aka Mr Cardamom), Madhur could see that appearing in the video for his new track ‘Nani’ (Hindi for grandmother), was an opportunity too good to miss.

“Zohran sent me the song . I listened to it again and again. I would not be inciting murder as I did in the role Lady Macbeth or killing my children as I did when playing Medea. It was another extreme and a wonderful challenge. I love challenges.”

Playing a character who has had enough of the constraints of family life, Madhur had no problem mouthing the uncompromising lyrics: “Fuck top five nanis and fuck top three, I’m the number one nani, don’t fuck with me.” She is then seen recruiting a group of kids into her crime syndicate!  She was more concerned about coping with the pace of Mamdani’s delivery: “I understood Nani’s rage. What worried me most was the speed of the rapping. The words just tumbled out at jet speed. Could I manage that and keep the beat? Despite my fears, I asked Zohran over for tea and said yes.

“We shot the video in Queens, in an area filled with Indian and Pakistani groceries and restaurants. That made me feel instantly at home. That and the absolute sweetness of Zohran and all his techy friends. There was a wonderful sense of exhilaration during the two days of the shoot.

“We kept exchanging recipes as we shot. The cast and crew got to eat kababs for lunch on one of the days. They tasted so good. I still dream about them.”

Madhur’s surprise new career choice caught the attention of the international press, with coverage appearing in the New York Times, the Guardian, Huffington Post, Irish Times, CNBC and Gulf News, amongst numerous other outlets.

Mamdani told the New York Times that Madhur would not accept payment, but she did insist on keeping the yellow beret.

Madhur recently starred in a more mainstream role, in the popular NBC comedy series, I Feel Bad.


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