Saturday, 29 March 2014

"I like to preserve myself" - Rajeshwari Chauhan in conversation with Vanya's Notebook...

Today, as I am all set to interview the authoress of the much awaited book Daniel’s Diary, here is a sneak peek to what actually is Rajeshwari Chauhan. We can describe her as a freelance writer, artist, and teacher who loves to create realistic paintings on canvas as well as doing wall paintings; she has also contributed as a script and content writer for many creative and promotional literature, short movies, and plays. “History brings tremendous joy in our existence...” says the writer. So, here I present to you a chit-chat with whom her near and dear ones call the Pied-piper...........

Vanya’s Notebook: Before stepping in to the how’s, when’s, why’s and where’s of you and the book, let me welcome you to the Literary world. With this note, I would like to know your feelings. I mean, all your readers or ‘fans’ to be precise are dying to know, how you are feeling, now that you are the author of a book?

Rajeshwari— Thank you, Sharanya. It feels simply great... like all my efforts have paid off as the book is well received.

Vanya’s Notebook: Now that the book is in your hands and is getting such a wonderful response, I would like to ask you, why did you choose this specific genre to write in?

Rajeshwari— I wanted the story to oscillate between past and present, fact and fiction, ecstasy and agony, history and mystery; a kind of a double delight – like a fruit that offers succulent pulp, and also a seed that contains an edible nut; a story that has soft as well as crunchy episodes.

Vanya’s Notebook: Statistically keeping in mind the readership market these days, weren’t you scared of how the readers would accept your work, it will work or not, etc?

Rajeshwari— It was pure passion that drove me to write it. Of course, as you said, the statistics of readership market is of valid concern, but, at the same time, as a writer I did my best to perform my part.

According to the back cover- When Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, ventures into the ruins of Rang Mahal and the Palace of Sumangarh, an accidental discovery of a skeleton and a manuscript detailing the exploits of Daniel, a Portuguese artist, opens a window to the forgotten era of grace and grandeur. The blossoming of love between a Moghul Emperor and a Rajput princess, is seen through the eyes of a foreign traveller, who himself falls in love with the Rajput Princess. The plot revolves around Daniel’s quest for beauty and passion, the ecstasy and agony of love. He meets the famous courtesan Mahamaya only to lose her. It also draws a modern day parallel in the life of Mrinalini, a woman who seeks refuge in artistic pursuits and architectural ruins when relationships in life confuse her. Will she be able to decode the clues left behind by Daniel? Will the curse of centuries-old unfulfilled love break into a happy ending for Mrinalini?

Vanya’s Notebook: After reading your book and talking to you, I have learnt that you are very much similar to one of the protagonists of your novel, Mrinalini, to be precise. Was the character of Mrinalini etched to represent you to the world?

Rajeshwari— Bits of your life are bound to creep in when you write a novel. Yes, I have similarities with Mrinalini; and, they are not few in numbers, but still, Mrinalini neither represents me, nor is she my alter ego.

Vanya’s Notebook: Your novel has two parallel tracks running at the same time, the modern era and a time that is roughly around 4 centuries back- Which era was more difficult to write on?

Rajeshwari— As such, none of them was difficult, but not that easy at the same time. Historical era dealt with certain facts, so that narrowed the frame down, and received a sharp focus; whereas, in the modern era, there were many possibilities, and it could be chaotic with your imagination going haywire.

Vanya’s Notebook: I had read somewhere that if given a chance you would like to transfer yourself to 300BC or to the Maurya Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya rule to be precise, then why did you choose to write on the Moghul Dynasty or Akbar’s rule rather than writing on the Maurya Dynasty?

Rajeshwari— I was fascinated by the secular union of Muslim king and Hindu princess. The Indo-Islamic synthesis rippled along various fields, like culture, cuisine, art, music, architecture, literature, and language, to name a few. I hope, I am able to capture at least a spark of that volcanic fire of Akbar’s personality. He was like an entire Sivakasi firecracker factory on fire!
As far as 300 BC is concerned, I am obsessed and working frantically on it. But, since it required greater research, I dealt with Mughal era to start with.

Vanya’s Notebook: You had also mentioned that you would’ve loved to be Megasthanese’s niece and write an account of the life of people living in royal chambers, so, with that statement of yours, can we presume it to be the topic of your next book?

Rajeshwari— Yes…though it is in its embryonic stage, I am as delightful as a child with Kaleidoscope about it.

Vanya’s Notebook: Who do you owe your success to? I mean, name one person who is the strongest and the most vital reason of you being at this stage.

Rajeshwari— As mentioned in the acknowledgements of Daniel’s Diary, there are number of people to whom I owe for this literary trip; but, if I have to name one person, then that person has to be my mother, Nalinidevi, who initiated reading and painting habits in me. She is a disciple of Somalal C. Shah, renowned artist and student of Abanindranath Tagore of Oriental Art Society, Calcutta. My mother’s stories and anecdotes would keep us spellbound. Few years back, she took us to see her school and hostel in Bhavnagar, and, I knew everything by the back of my hand, each painting, each hall, because I had seen everything in my mind’s eye while listening to her vivid description

Vanya’s Notebook: Describe one incident in your life which ignited the love for History in you for the first time.

Rajeshwari— My mother and father had their separate libraries. Mamma allowed us to use her books, but, papa was strict, and kids were not allowed in his library; so, secretly, I would turn the key, tiptoe inside, and pull out a book - one at a time. He had studied world history, and had lovely collection of biographies and political essays.
 Once I had picked this book of Russian ‘Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra’. It had lovely pictures and footnotes. Hearing someone approaching, I hid under the recliner and read about their tragedy with tears rolling down my eyes. I even scratched the picture of Rasputin, and made a hole where his face was.

Vanya’s Notebook: Prioritize and state the reason why? - Fame, Money, Family, Yourself, History

Rajeshwari— Family first, as they give us the sense of belonging.
Second I would place myself, because I am the center around which my world revolves.
Third, history, as it brings tremendous joy in our existence.
Money would come next, because it buys comforts, and my hobby material. It allows me to be more generous.
Fame is the last on the list, as it dilutes you; and, I like to preserve myself.

Vanya’s Notebook: To the most tricky question of the questionnaire, owing to the fact that you are not much into socialising, I, on behalf of your fan-base would like to ask you- who/what actually is Rajeshwari Chauhan?

Rajeshwari— I am happiest when I am reading on a swing or a hammock in my garden. A birdbath there is a visual treat as many species of birds love to visit it. This is the place where my imaginations get manifested – either on canvass, or on a notebook, i.e. painting and writing.
My near and dear ones call me pied-piper, as I love to be with my students, and there is always something new round the corner; be it studies, games, projects, plays, funfair, tree plantation, animal care, short film making, quiz, or something or the other.

Vanya’s Notebook: Hope, I didn’t bore you much with my questions. For the parting note, I would like to request you to leave a few words for our blog and of course for your readers.

Rajeshwari— Oh no! It was absolutely delightful. Thank you so very much for giving me this opportunity.
Your blog, ‘Vanya’s Notebook’ is a wonderful initiative where you are not only providing an opportunity to the writers to get their work neutrally evaluated, but also an important platform to let their readers know about their creative process.  
To my readers…what I can say, “I am grateful to you for your wonderful response to Daniel’s Diary. I hope, I will keep on fulfilling your expectations for times to come.”

Hope you liked interacting with Vanya’s Notebook throughout the interview. Wishing you loads of success for Daniel’s Diary and more to come.

“Thank you so much, Vanya for this interesting and meaningful interaction. My best wishes to you and your entire team for all your present and future literary ventures.”
Talking to the Royal blood of Chhota Udepur- Rajeshwari Chauhan; has been bliss for Vanya’s Notebook. We feel really honored to have been able to talk to such a wonderful talent of this Literary world and also to share her message to her readers.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Trisha by Swagnikaa Roy: a review

“ShE BELIEVES” is the first thing one sees when they hold the book “Trisha” by debutante author Swagnikaa Roy in their hands. Well, according to me, the cover says it all. The story of what, who and how, is Trisha all about.

On the back cover- Life is a journey and no matter how beautiful the destination is; what counts at the end is the memory of that long journey one has traversed. A vital part of this journey is decided by those people who allow us to metamorphose into a person we become. Trisha is the story of a young girl who loved to live her life on her own terms and conditions. She was ambitious and goal oriented girl but away from the emotion called love until destiny finally brings love to her doorstep. Love strikes each human being but what do we call those who fall for two people at the same time? A two-timer, cheater, fake? This is probably that what you can call Arnab whom Trisha met under some bizarre circumstances and fell for instantly. Trisha risks her all just to be married to the love of her life, but her life is reduced to a sham when instead of a proposal her beau hands over a card to her- his wedding invitation. With a self-effacing self, she questions why her destiny is so twisted. Neither is she a keep nor a wife, neither is she satisfied, nor she is angry. She feels her life dangling in between all extremities. Will Trisha emerge victorious after life punched her in the face? Is this the end of the road or just a new beginning? Unfold the pages of Trisha’s life and experiences on her journey as she moves from the realm of fantasy love, betrayal and deception.

Well, the story begins when Trisha’s parents fix a guy for her marriage and they are told to sit and talk about themselves. Introduction of the characters, at every point of the book catches the reader’s attention.  The ups and downs of Trisha’s life have been well portrayed by the writer.

The book, written in a narrative style is something every reader can look forward to. Any girl who falls in love just to be left alone again to suffer throughout can relate to the book and the centralized character, Trisha.

The scenes were well written but there are a few parts which could’ve been written in a better way. The writing style is very simple but a bit immature and it reflects that it is written by a debutante author. The love making scenes could’ve been articulated a bit more which would’ve kept the reader glued to the book.

Being from Kolkata myself, I could very well relate to the places mentioned in the book. All the men in Trisha’s life starting from Arnab to Abaan were very well conceptualized and executed. The story had a nice flow throughout but at parts it seemed a bit too stretched. The end, however, was unexpected and it left me with a smile on my face and maybe a feeling of satisfaction too. Wishing the author luck for many new ventures to come, I would rate it a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Unsatisfied Satisfaactions by Riitik Babbar: a review

“Unsatisfied Satisfaactions...” doesn’t the name send tickling sensations down the spine? Yes, this quirky name did the same to me and thus the name went on to be the sole catalyst for irking me to read the book written by debutant author Riitik Babbar.

On the back cover- Unsatisfied satisfactions, a combination of two words, are the feelings when someone close to you, whom you loved the most, is no more in your life but you are still satisfied thinking about that someone’s wellbeing and happiness. You bequeath your happiness to see that person satisfied. Riitik, a common boy from a Punjabi family, fell in love with Niyati who belongs to a Brahmin family. After a good, unforgettable time spent together and having one of the best love moments anyone could think of, they dreamt of being together to measure every thick and thins of life. They thought that nothing in the world was strong enough to put them apart. No other relation was more important to them than theirs. And they were meant to be for each other truly, madly and deeply. But then, destiny, which made them meet first, played its game again and things changed with its one masterstroke.

Dressed in the colours of life, of love, the cover is a classy combination of Red, White and Black. A girl in red and a guy in black makes up a broken heart and that’s a pretty interesting and fresh thought and match perfectly with the title of the book.

Coming to the plot, the story is written mostly on the love story of Riitik and Niyati and the ups and downs of their life and how they face it. An inter-caste love of a Punjabi guy and a Brahmin girl is something to look forward to. The description of the typical tendencies of both the families is very interesting.

I, specifically, liked the way the author has described, introduced every place, character of the book. The characters of Riitik and Niyati have been well etched and can be related to any common guy or girl in everyday’s life. The beginning to a few chapters with shaeri’s and quotations are an interesting read.

With all these points, there have been a few downfalls of the book too. Firstly, about the storyline I felt that it is too common for any avid reader to guess what is going to happen next. Secondly, the writing style of the author could have been articulated. Though the words used, way the descriptions are done and a well proofread-ed script shows the author’s flair and grip on the language, the writer could’ve given a bit more work on the writing style and the storyline.

The storyline was very fast paced, not giving much time for the reader to keep pace with what happened when. But the ending is the show stealer. The urge to know what is going to happen next makes the reader forget the downfalls of the book. The story of every couple next-door who are bounded by destiny is all in all a good read and I would rate it 3 out of 5.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Moonlit Matinee by Pulkit Gupta and Harshita Shrivastava: a review

“Moonlit Matinee- and love takes over”, the name itself seems very appealing to all the people who even have a look at the cover. An amalgamation of 14 stories by 13 handpicked authors makes this book a worth read.

On the back cover- Welcome this season of love with never before effort by thirteen resplendent writers to pen most fascinating love scripts. Cheer the feeling of love with “Moonlit Matinee” and love takes over. It is an unparalleled concept and the blend of Anecdotes, Sonnet, Lyric and Ballad. This curbs the tale of Lust, Hatred, Sacrifice and Revenge in Relationship but finally its Love which ultimately overshadows everything.

The anthology starts with Bon Voyage by Harshita Srivastava ensuring the readers a great journey throughout the book. The story of Khushi and Akash shows us a very interesting perspective on Long Distance Relationships, Flirting and finally love. The writing style being really good, the story leaves a smile on your face at the end.

Next, we move on to Emptiness by Pulkit Gupta. Rachit and Radhika, the story of two strangers, who meet and their destines collide in Manali. What happens next is something you are bound to look forward to. Well, written in a very tell-tale way, this story is bound to catch every reader’s hearts.

Rasgulla by Abhishek Atul is the story of Aniket and Rhea, their love, the sacrifices and what they are now after moving ahead in life. The peer pressure a girl has to face, the circumstances that arise when one thinks of a love marriage is what the story is all about.

Wish you were here by Ila Garg is next in line. Aakash Vaani is what the story is about. The way Akaash Vaani is written is enough for any person to understand the depth of their love and the relationship they share. The climax was unexpected though. The ending to the story is so well crafted that the reader is left with a smile on their lips and a tear in their eyes.

The Rosemary Letters by Ashish Sharma, a wonderful ballad written in a very unique way, it tells a story with every word that is written. The devotion of Meera to Lord Baanke Bihari is wonderfully described here giving the ballad a feeling of purity throughout.

Next up is All I want is you by Sonia Kundra Singh. Abhimanyu and Devyani being the main characters of the story that revolves around their lives and how destiny brings them together. A cute story of Love realization, family life is what brings them together. And finally love is what overpowers them.

The Love Story by Harpreet Makkar is the tale of two long lost lovers. Situation had forced them to go far away from each other and then again destiny reunites them after a long time. Why? What? When? How? Where? Are the questions, the answers to which are there in the story.

The Gift by Ishita Bhown is the next in the line. The love story of Jia and Raj is described here. The support Raj always gave to Jia is one of the plus points of the story. The true meaning of love s defined here which leaves the reader smiling at the end.

Ayaan Basu’s Bollywood Affairs is something whose name attracted me the most. Something apart from the regular love stories, something pretty much more than love stories. Yes, this is how I would describe Farzin and Nishant’s story. They were friends, yes they were. The reality is portrayed in a very different yet interesting way. It shows how situation is the catalyst behind what a person is in real life.

Flavoured Smoke by Pratham Devang is the story of Aisha and Aviral, how they collide with each other one random day in an unexpected place and complete their incomplete story. For knowing what happened in their past and why did the love birds depart one needs to read the story. The end of the story is very heart grabbing.

The beautiful ballad, Lyrics of Lavish Rain by Rachna Seth is next up. The feeling of rains is something we all look forward to, the touch of the rain drops, cherishing every drop of the rain is very well written in the ballad. This one is a recommended read for every rain loving person, a person who is in love.

Cupid’s Arrow, Bull’s eye by Siddhartha Yadav is the story of a triangle between Naman, Asmita and Mohit. The story of Sacrifice, love, revenge teamed in one, this one is a really good read. Love is one true form and it can overpower everything and this is what is written in the story.

Then there is Ehsaas- The Feeling by Pulkit Gupta. A wonderfully thought piece of story gives us so much to think about of the reality of life, Of Orphans, Of Old Age homes of everything. Of a parents love, of a child’s love. As written by the writer, yes, it’s all about ehsaas- the feeling.

An Ode to Relationship by Nandini Garg is how the voyage through different forms of love end. All the forms of love are very well put into one wonderful piece of poetry which leaves the reader smiley faced.

Apart from all these, the book had a few errors. Some of it could’ve been written in a more matured yet compact way, with which the effect would've
lasted longer than it did. All in all, the anthology gave me, as a reader a reason to smile and I would give the book a 3.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Whispers of the enlightened Souls by Saket: a review

Amidst all these different genres of novels I keep on reading every day, I passed upon this exquisite piece of work, an anthology of Poems... Yes, poems... we don’t find much of the type and thus, can proudly name it one of a kind.

Enclosing inside itself a bunch of poems by Saket, Tanveer Sharma, Romika, Varsha Sharan and Akshay Prakash, this poetry book screams of wonder. This book has poems of all genres. Written specifically for the youth of the social heterogeneity, this book is a great way to show the world the reality. Having poems upon women, mother, earth, world, poverty, and last but not the least, love, this book is an eye opener.

The cover of the book is very soothing to the soul and the title of the book being very attractive. Whispers of the Enlightened Soul actually are what an enlightened soul thinks about the world. Every poet has his/her different way of writing a poem and I personally loved the poems by Saket and Tanveer. Dark Room and A Homage to Rape cases being my favourite. I would also like to say that a few poems could’ve been improved and the compiling part could’ve been in a better way.

A few more poems added to the book would’ve been better as it seems like a very small book. The poets should improve their poetry writing skills and mostly the usage of words in their poems as it matters the most. Welcoming more such poems to come and more poetry anthologies to be precise, I rate this book 3.5 out of 5.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Daniel's Diary by Rajeshwari Chauhan: a review

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference...” The lines of my favourite poem by Robert Frost welcomed me to the mystery of a book named Daniel’s Diary and what I experienced was goosebumps all over my body as the pages unfolds itself....

According to the back cover- When Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, ventures into the ruins of Rang Mahal and the Palace of Sumangarh, an accidental discovery of a skeleton and a manuscript detailing the exploits of Daniel, a Portuguese artist, opens a window to the forgotten era of grace and grandeur. The blossoming of love between a Moghul Emperor and a Rajput princess, is seen through the eyes of a foreign traveller, who himself falls in love with the Rajput Princess. The plot revolves around Daniel’s quest for beauty and passion, the ecstasy and agony of love. He meets the famous courtesan Mahamaya only to lose her. It also draws a modern day parallel in the life of Mrinalini, a woman who seeks refuge in artistic pursuits and architectural ruins when relationships in life confuse her. Will she be able to decode the clues left behind by Daniel? Will the curse of centuries-old unfulfilled love break into a happy ending for Mrinalini?

Just as I held the book in my hands, I fell in love with it. Not exaggerating but the cover page, the paper quality, the font, the way everything is placed in the book, my first expression was “Wow!” Personally, this genre is a very new genre for me. I haven’t read much of this genre but with this book, I earn to read more and more not only of this genre but also from the author, Rajeshwari Chauhan. Written in a very exquisite way, every page of Daniel’s Diary is like turning the pages of history. The author has very well described the history, the present and mixed both of them in such a way that the reader feels a part of this journey from the very first line till the very last line.

The characters have been etched in such a way that the reader feels connected to them and the situations at every point of time. As the diary unfolds itself and the puzzle pieces settle in and you feel that it’s over, there’s another secret waiting for you to reveal itself! Majestic is the only word I can find suitable for the book. Not many writers have the power of combining the history and the present in such a wonderful way. Rajeshwari, being a debut author did her best and it couldn’t have been better.

The reign of the Moghul Empire is the best part of the book. We all have had lessons in our childhood about the history of Akbar’s reign or the Moghul Empire to be precise, but no history book could’ve given such a wonderful insight to the period. I would like to term the writing style simple yet royal. The book has been beautified with couplets here and there and that being the best part of the book.

With every turning of the page you wish to know what is going to happen next and as a result, you keep on turning pages and reading it having a loss of the time you have been reading this. While the protagonists unravel the mystery of the clues left behind by Daniel, you find yourself sitting and trying to unravel the mystery with them and that, according to me is a writer’s achievement.

Yes, the book is over and it ended in a very predictable way and that’s the only part of the book which I do not like. I also feel the author could’ve made the present day story of Mrinalini more interesting. The History was an eye-catching feature but the present, compared to the history, seemed a bit dull... While I rate this book 4 out of 5, I would give Daniel’s Diary an opportunity to say- “Veni...Vidi...Vici... I came... I saw.... I conquered....”