Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Vengeance of Indra by Shatrujeet Nath; cover reveal

~ Cover Reveal ~
The Vengeance of Indra 
(Vikramaditya Veergatha #3)
by Shatrujeet Nath


In their greed to possess the deadly Halahala, the devas and the asuras have employed every dirty trick against Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine. But the humans are still standing, bloodied but unbowed.
When the wily Shukracharya discovers the secret to breaking the Council’s strength and unity, he forges an unlikely alliance with his arch-enemy, Indra, to set a deceitful plan in motion.
As cracks emerge between the councilors and their king, ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Vikramaditya and Kalidasa’s friendship, signaling the beginning of an eclipse that will cast a long shadow over all that Vikramaditya holds dear. And into this shadow steps Indra, bearing an old grudge — and a devastating new weapon.
How much longer before the Guardians of the Halahala finally fall apart?

Other Books in the Series:
(Click on the Covers for more details)

About the Author:
Shatrujeet Nath is the creator of the runaway national bestseller series Vikramaditya Veergatha, a four-book mytho-fantasy arc which includes The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru and The Vengeance of Indra. Described as “a new face to Indian mythology” by DNA, Shatrujeet writes for movies and web shows as well. He is also the author of The Karachi Deception, an Indo-Pak spy thriller.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Be My Perfect Ending by Arpit Vageria: a review

Arpit Vageria. This name, in today's date, symbolizes the epitome of love in books. Being a reader, I get to read a lot of books but these days a proper romantic book is something that I do miss at times. All these years, Arpit has managed to bring the shine out of my daily life through his books. His latest offering, Be my Perfect Ending is no less. His 4th love story, this book actually has a lot more than only love and I can say this safely that any lover would fall for the book.

According to the book cover- Not every story has a happy ending, but is a perfect ending all that matters? Armaan is a young television writer and seems to have it all – a dream job, ample money and a good place to live in Mumbai. Despite all that, his heart lies somewhere in his hometown Indore. Merry and beaming through all of life’s ups and downs, Sara is a little desolate and now needs a different space to rethink her life as she joins a leading television channel in Mumbai. Armaan and Sara meet in FILMY style and quite obviously then, cannot help but fall in love. The passionate new romance in his life throws everything else aside, but little does he know that there’s a storm headed their way. Walking together, they stumble upon long-buried truths, shocking new twists and tough decisions.
Be My Perfect Ending is a story of love that knows no bounds, of endings that are far from ordinary and new beginnings that hold a promise of LOVE.

Exactly as the cover suggests, this book is that and much more. It starts with a promise and Vageria keeps up the promise till the end. It all starts when it all ends. The message of the book is loud and clear and the way the story has been woven is beautiful. One look at the cover of the book and I can say that the designer has done a great job in interpreting what the true essence of the book is. The main characters of the book: Armaan and Sara reminds you of your own life and the sheer fact of them being your own can't top anything else.

Speaking from a third person view and written in first name basis, it is majorly the story of Armaan and his love. My favorite character was Sara, though. Easily relatable to the author’s life because his bio says he is himself a television writer, the personal connect to the story is something you can't miss. There are other characters in the book like Sandy, Vikky, Nisha and Tanuj who brighten up the page whenever they're into it. Each character brings forth a different angle and characteristic with them and that brings out the true essence of the book.

Speaking of the cons of the book, there has always been a complaint that I had with books by Arpit and that remains constant, even though improved. That is: the depth of the story. Each story by the author has potential to become forever etched in the heart but somewhere down the line, from a reader's point of view you would want to read a bit more about a few situations. Some characters have blink and miss scenes and you end up thinking: why? Some characters have their potential to becoming an important catalyst in the story but just when you think about it, woof! The character vanishes.

The development of the story and the characters could've been worked on a bit more. The ending of the story, after ages, I've read something written in this way. It ends where the story starts or shall I say- vice versa? This brings forth a belongingness to the whole book. There are quotes by the author which are beautiful. The grammar mistakes are few and can surely be ignored given that you want to know what happens next. The twists are fantastic as it leaves the reader thinking. The conclusion, though, might be a bit predictable. All said and done, a few things here and there would've made this book a perfect one but who believes in perfection anyway? For now, Be My Perfect Ending would be a 4 out of 5 for me and I would want to definitely more from the author. 

Friday, 22 December 2017

Amazon Adventure by Kamleshwar Mukherjee: a review

I was waiting for this day. Amazon Obhijaan released yesterday and I guess this is the best time for me to post what I felt about the graphic novel which I received a long time back. Amazon Adventure: the graphic novel is director Kamleshwar Mukherjee's tribute to Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay's Chaand er Pahar. The book carries forward Shankar's story to another adventure. Here's the blurb of the book…

According to the blurb- Amazon Adventure is an enthralling story of two adventurers – Shankar & Anna who travel thousands of miles to reach the mythical city of Gold – El Dorado. With natural difficulties, wild animals, savage tribes, and vicious gold digger, it’s story of discovery & knowledge, unrelenting courage, survival, loss & pain. But above all, it is a tale of universal human bond and connection & the wisdom an individual gains from it.

Just as the blurb says, this story is a tale of universal human bond. The book has beautiful illustrations made by the talented artist- Arghya Das. One look at the book makes you go back to your childhood. Talking about childhood, this generation’s favorite actor essays the role of Shankar and kudos to Arghya for actually making the character of Shankar in the book look like him at places.

This 71 page book brushes through the main pointers of the book and you might as well feel that this book is a great introduction to what the larger than life film would look like. But I must warn you that if you're looking for a book that matches the scale of Chaand er Pahar then I would hold you there for a second. NO. This is a tribute and should be read as one.

The main story is told through shorter dialogues and makes you crave for what the movie might have in store for you. All inclusive of the pros and cons keeping in mind, I wanted to read probably more of the story that the movie holds. A few more pages of the book wouldn't have harmed. The characters are nice but in the book, certain things lack depth. Probably because this book is a translation of the movie and not Vice versa as is usually done. For me, it is a 3.5 out of 5 and I would really wanna congratulate Mr. Mukherjee for even attempting this. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju: a review

Winters and books come hand in hand. Along with that, childhood memories grasp our thoughts. Talking about childhood memories and books in the same line we cannot forget the beautiful and witty stories that we have all grown up with. One such witty person we all looked up to as children was Birbal. There were reasons why we could relate to him the most. The first being his wit in the court of Akbar. The second was reading about Akbar in our history books. So when I got to know, all these years after, about a novel that features Akbar’s favorite courtier in a royal tale of murder and deception, how could I not read it? Sharath Komarraju presents The Tree Bears Witness: book 2 of A Birbal Mystery. The cover of the book has to be one of my favorite book covers of this year!

According to the book blurb- Barely a month has passed since the royal wedding of Emperor Akbar to the legendary Jodha when the new Queen’s brother, Sujjamal, is found murdered in the palace gardens. With his honour and reputation at stake, Akbar asks his trusted advisor Birbal to solve the mystery. The murder has taken place in a garden, at a spot between two mango trees, and the two guards who are eyewitnesses have conflicting versions of what could have happened. Was it suicide? Was it Akbar himself who ordered the killing or was it the Rajputs who accompanied Sujjamal, his uncles and cousin, who are guilty? Set in a period that has been described as the golden age of the Mughals, the novel draws us into the royal court of Agra, abuzz with political intrigue, personal enmities and hidden rivalries, where everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise.

The book starts with the murder itself. Okay! I agree to the fact that the whole idea of the murder of Sujjamal, the Queen's brother reminded us of so many things but admit it: isn't it interesting to again go back to a Birbal Mystery? With that childhood excitement in mind I started reading the book. We all know the characters: Akbar, Hira Kunwari (Jodha), Sujjamal, Birbal and the likes. The familiarity with the characters had me connected with a special bond. As I turned the pages, I just had to know how it happened and moreover, how Birbal cracked the story.

I can't help but draw a comparison to the stories I've read growing up. For a Birbal story, it was always about the wit and the crispness. This book had the wit. Now, since it is a novel the crispness was at times, to me, missing. The descriptions that are given in the book and the way the story has been woven is beautiful and with everything in their places, you would know for sure that this book is going to be a great read. The chess board is set and clean.

Birbal goes from one person to another, doubting everyone on his way to find out who murdered and why did the murder happen? The biggest mystery in this story is not who and why, though. It is how did the murder happen. My most favorite character in this book would not be Birbal. Who is it? I'll leave it to you as a reader to read the book and let me know your guesses. Coming back, the narrative used by the author sets for a description which is so beautiful that you would be able to picturize every single scene.

Having said all that and keeping the ending of the book in mind, I am somehow left feeling that something was missing. As with all Birbal stories, this book also has a 'mystery cracked’ ending and ends when everything is all right. From a novel’s point of view I felt that it could have been written and developed with more crispness and clarity. The whole process of cracking the mystery could've been more witty. All said and done, this book would surely be a wonderful book for the children of today's time to read and add to their collection and collective love for Akbar’s favorite courtier. To me, this book was 3.5 out of 5 and I am so badly wanting to read more of the author and more Birbal stories...

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Economic Times Architectural and Design Summit

Winter evenings come synonymous with the greatest events of all times and this year was no different. The 5th Edition of Economic Times Architectural and Design Summit is a multi city edition and this year's theme was “Designing for Diversified India.” The summit took place at Park Plaza and was an interactive and insightful session on designing and colors.

©Sagnik Karmakar

A multitude of people from the industry took part in the event that started with networking coffee, high tea and ended up till dinner. Mr. Rohit Goyal, the Design Manager of Kansai Nerolac Paints and a representative of ET Edge were on stage to deliver the first session which included a presentation on the varieties of colors and how it affects daily life. They also took pleasure in unveiling the latest range of Nerolac Paints titled “Nerolac Impressions Ideaz”.

This range of paint is has a designer finish and the drying time is high as opposed to any other competitors in the market which makes it easily the best available paint in the market. According to Mr. Goyal it's high time we all do our best to bring out the “Pain out of the paint”.

© Sagnik Karmakar

Having 7 different variants in the range, the next session of the evening had two canvases where this new range was applied and the audience was asked to pick up any item already placed at their table (household items such as sponges, combs, cloth, spoons, cups) and design at their own will. The audience interaction was high and the application of the paint also showed how firm the paint is because it never dripped.  

Also sharing a few tips of painting a wall and making wallpaper designs, it was a very engaging session. The next few sessions were majorly by the architects of the industry who have done their fair share in the economy, discussing about the theme of the summit. Wrapping it up, the audience got more tips about the products, materials and designs that can be used while you plan to make your house into your home.

© Sagnik Karmakar

As they said, “The purest and the most thoughtful minds are those which love colors the most” the whole evening taught a lot to the one's in attendance. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Samantaral: a review

bésame mucho
como si fuera esta noche
la ultima vez.
bésame mucho
que tengo miedo a per-derte,
perderte después…”

The first time I had seen the trailer (or rather, stumbled upon the trailer) I knew that I had to watch this movie. By hook or by crook. There was something there. Something that probably I still can't pinpoint, which attracted me to the movie. I am a person who hasn't watched any movie at a movie hall alone and so I badly needed a partner to accompany me. Sadly, no one was free enough. Finally, I decided that l will watch the movie alone but not before having that one last try. Guess what? A friend agreed. So at last, one Saturday evening, decked up in warm clothes we reached the multiplex. A 5:35pm show of a bengali movie in Kolkata at a place like Diamond Plaza, I got to have this special mention: the screen was houseful. Enough for us to get seats where we have to crane our neck to watch. All thanks to the push back chairs that made it at least a bit comfortable.

Once inside the hall, seated, I knew that finally Samantaral is waiting for me. An out an out Parambrata Chattopadhyay film, this film surely deserves a mention. I wonder why it wasn't promoted that well or not many people know about it. But what I do know is the fact that you, as a viewer don't choose the film. The film will choose you. I would like to believe that the film is not for the masses who love watching action or romance but it is for the selected few. Also starring in a family as the head is Soumitro Chatterjee, his sons- Kushal Chakraborty and Anindya Pulak Banerjee and their wives- Aparajita Addhya and Tonushree. In comes the new entrant of their family, the son of the only daughter of their family and now an orphan- Riddhi Sen. His returning from hostel to carry on his further studies is liked by a few family members, while the others don't really like it.

Riddhi’s Arka comes in with a fresh mindset and has no idea about what has happened all these years in the house and instantly shows a liking towards his mejo maamu, Parambrata’s Sujan. And dare I say, we start showing a liking towards him too. Throughout the film and his journey in understanding his mejo maamu, he is supported by his Facebook friend of 3 years turned college mate, Titli played by Surangana Banerjee. Their friendship off screen reflects on their on screen chemistry. A special cameo is also reserved for Sambit da, Titli’s cousin who is a psychiatrist. Guess who aces the role? Our very own Sidhu (Siddhartha Shankar Roy). Now, having you introduced to the characters it is time for the story and its presentation.

Partha Chakraborty, the director of the movie has taken a bold step into showing what he has shown through the movie. The societal message that the movie portrays would leave every viewer gobsmacked. I am a lover of books. I love to read a good fiction and try to predict what's gonna happen in the end. A lot of times I am correct while other times, I am wrong. But this time, the director takes us on with the journey of Arka and Sujan and it is during the climax that both Arka and the viewers (including myself) know what actually is the truth. I would like to give kudos to the director for achieving such a feat. The end surely gives you the answer of why this movie was made. Small incidences make this movie what this is. Like the one where Sujan is sitting quietly with his food in front of him while he watches the ant eat all away. The reason, why? A smiling, innocent Sujan with dreamy eyes of a child says- the ants have come over to dinner at his place. Or the one where he runs away from home only to be found later on. And the  only two scenes with Surangana where it shouts Parambrata all over the scene. The easy camaraderie shared between Parambrata and Riddhi makes your experience watch worthy.

Aside from the climax and the why's of the movie, this movie didn't have enough weight. Heavy actors failed to put in the much needed impact on the story. Certain things, I believe, should've been shown with more convenience or more strongly while the others, according to me, could've been left to the imagination. For me, the screenplay was weak. Padmanabha Dasgupta has a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders and he could surely have given the movie the much needed push which somehow went missing. The first half of the movie to a certain extent at times felt dragged but I know that it was creating a base for the movie to stand. Another thing that put me off the movie a bit was the fact that the shots were too tight and close. Too many closeup shots and lose subplots doesn't do much good to the movie.

The sub plots of the movie didn't give in much of the punch needed. Neither were all the characters memorable. I still do feel about the movie that it could've been a stellar book if written rather than a movie but again, a movie is the only way to show what the director wanted to. This movie will get its share in due course of time, I am sure. Coming to the music, Indraadip Dasgupta has done a splendid job and songs like Dekha hobey boley and Tui chhuli jokhon surely catch the mind of the viewer but the only song that stayed with me throughout the movie and even now in repeat mode has to be Bhalobashar gaan, originally a song of Lalon Fakir and Mexican Pianist Consuelo Velázquez, recreated and sung by our one and only- Parambrata. The innocence, the eyes, the profile, the bold attempt at even agreeing to do such a role shows how versatile an actor he is (and now even a singer too).

I can somehow go on and on about the movie because I still can't pin point, after writing over 900 words on it now, what about the movie I like and dislike. I hope, I just hope, this movie gets its due. I just wish this movie was promoted more strongly. I just hope this movie is made into a book. So if any of you reading this (if at all you could make it till the end of the write-up) want to discuss the movie and make me talk about it, mail me, ping me and I promise I will be there.

To the spirit of being equals. To the spirit of Samantaral. Let us, like Sujan, open our arms wide and know that everyone deserves happiness. Let us sing out loud...

“Khuji taare aasman jomi

Amare chini na ami..
Ki bishom bhromero bhromi
E bishom bhromero bhromi
Ami konjon se konjona
Ke kotha koy re dekha dey na...”

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Liar's Weave by Tashan Mehta: a review

It has been a day that I've finished this book and if you're thinking why am I so late in writing this review then you must know that I am still looking at this book and taking it all in. Would you believe that The Liar’s Weave is Tashan Mehta’s debut book? This hardback book by Juggernaut ticks all the right boxes. From the feel of the book to the content of the book. Let's not talk about the cover of it because if I start, I'll not end anytime soon. So, what's so special about the book? Here's the book blurb for you.

According to the book blurb- Born into an alternate history of our world where birth charts are real and one's life is mapped out in the stars, Zahan Merchant has a unique problem: he is born without a future. This cosmic mistake gives him an unusual power: the ability to change reality with his lies. But there is a catch, of course. How like the Gods to build a catch. Zahan’s older brother Sorab becomes the only one to share his secret, and help him keep it, while from afar the Greatest Astrologer That Ever Lived (the Second), Narayan Tarachand, continues to quietly ponder the mystery of the child whose birth chart he couldn't decipher. But when Zahan's adventures with his best friend Porthos- who had his own secret- bring them to the attention of the hatadaiva, the ill-fated who must bear the brunt of fate’s cruelties, his power becomes more dangerous to him and those he loves. From a Parsi colony in early-twentieth-century Bombay to the urban hinterland of Vidroha, Forest of outcasts, Tashan Mehta’s debut novel transports the reader to an India both familiar and strange, where the consequences of magic on reality can be wonderous yet heartbreaking.

Oh God! Wait. Am I to say this after reading this book? The surreal mixture of reality and 'reality’ makes this book a must read. When you start off with the book, you feel an instant connect with the characters. Zahan and Sorab Merchant. The brotherhood that they both share is something that can surely be termed as #siblinggoals for the GenY. I got reminded of my own sibling while reading about them. Zahan changes reality with his lies and both the brothers learn about the Notebook of Lies together.

The way the lies have been woven and written is such that you count yourself as a member of the journey both the brothers make towards learning the world before, after and within the lies. Samit Basu, in his review, writes that the book is “intricate but wild, fragile but bloody” and indeed it is so. The introduction of Porthos and every scene in the book is a visual treat and you can't help yourself but visualize every single moment clearly. It feels as if you're watching a movie and not reading a book.

The Greatest Astrologer That Ever Lived (the Second) and his companions of the in-betweens give us a peep into the lives of astrologers who write what the stars have to say. This 300 above page book at places looks chaos. Some characters seem out of place and unnatural. Some scenes unnerving. But aren't these also the traits to make a great fantasy fiction book? The main agenda of the book : the ever going battle of good against evil is shown in a very sophisticated way. Neither too loudly, not too softly.

Throughout your read, you may be rooting for one person at one time and the other person the next but what will never leave your mind is your connection with Zahan Merchant. There's a mention of hatadaiva in the book. The ill fated. A pun to societal norms? I'll leave for you to ponder on and decide on that. Keeping the intent and the essence of the book in mind, a lot of things worked for me. The characters stay with you even after you finish. And the twists! The twists, unexpected, had me at their mention. Having said that, a lot of things didn't work for me either.

One thing that I, as a reader felt about the book and that is the fact that the end seems abrupt. Though beautifully written, when you're in the flow and reading the book and reach the end, you would find it fitting and indeed it is so. But, when you sit and think about the book, you might feel that the ending deserved at least a prelude. Barring that and the chaos of the book, this would be a 4.5 out of 5 for me. 

Friday, 20 October 2017

Forever is TRUE by Novoneel Chakraborty: a review

Pulling my hand just an instance after pushing me, Novoneel whispers in my ear... 'Forever is True!' As I steady myself and look in expectation,  he is nowhere to be seen. "We are an echo of our wounds," his last words ring in my ears. A few months post that, as I hold Chakraborty's latest release in my hands, I can't help but smile. His 10th presentation, the concluding installment of the Forever Series, Forever is TRUE proves just that. The blurb of the book, gives an insight of the book...

According to the back cover: In book one, Forever is a Lie, Saveer pushes Prisha to her death. It is the price she pays for loving him with all her heart. However, she miraculously survives. But certainly. survival aren't easy and leave many unanswered questions in their wake. Why did Saveer attempt to kill Prisha? Is he really who he claims to be or is there more to this mysterious man that Prisha is yet to discover? By the time she closes in on the truth, Prisha's life is at risk again. Only this time she may not survive; this time she may lose Saveer too. In this concluding part of the Forever series, master of twists Novoneel Chakraborty takes you on a roller-coaster ride to the climax of the story, leaving you satiated yet hungry for more.

The blurb, I would suggest, doesn't really highlight what this book stands for. Picking up from where it left in the first installment, the prologue again speaks of the adrenaline rush that this book promises to give you. If book one was a built up to the mystery then this book is the layer and the climax. I had once heard that Novoneel aims to become a director. This story is surely the baseline of it.

Saveer: Undoubtedly one of my favorite characters in this series and this book is surely Saveer's journey. Anyone who comes near him or anyone he loves, dies. Is that the only premise of the story? Oh my sweet little one, read on to find out. 
Prisha: My darling. What seems like a supporting role in a movie in book one shines her way out in this part. Just as Saveer's story, Prisha brightens up the screen (err..the page) whenever she's there. 

As much as it is a thriller, it is a love story at the core. Emotions, relationships, bonds being tried and tested N number of times. I had mentioned, I presume, that this series is easily Chakraborty's most twisted take till date and rightfully so. You may keep guessing from Page 1 to Page 222 but you'll still not know what is going on. There are Novoneel Chakraborty quotes and his "skill in writing informal interactions that are so close to your soul" that make up the book. And yes, they make love too. 

You'll always be 'almost' there. The saddest word in the dictionary, isn't it? I knew at the end of this book that after a long time I've found one book where you can read and even tell somebody else the whole story, including the climax but when that somebody reads the book, he/she would not want to believe what you said is right. They'll have their conclusions. Well, right or wrong: I can't say.

The way the story has been written stays back in your mind as if you've watched a movie and that is one of the pro's of the book. The other pro of the book has to be the way questions remain unanswered. Speaking of the cons, some scenes were a bit abrupt. Or probably it came a bit abruptly because it was the need of the hour in the story. An interactive story indeed, I'm sure you as a person, more than a reader, would've wanted some other things to be happening.

The climax, the answer to Why would leave you thinking. Inspired from a real life incident, a social message engulfs the whole saga. This book will fuck your every happiness! I'll stop right here and not speak more about this 'almost' 5 on 5 book because someone had once told me that if you say everything you lose the magic... 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Forever is a LIE by Novoneel Chakraborty: a review

A basket of life comes knocking when I open a Novoneel Chakraborty book. "What's life?" Novoneel says, "Life's a beautiful bitch!" and then adds with his quintessential smirk and raised eyebrow, pulling off his glasses "Life's also a lie and so is Forever." Always remember, Forever is a lie. Chakraborty's recent release (today being the last day for the pre order) after the record breaking Black Suits You, Forever is a Lie proves (?) just that. The Mean Monster and an eighteen year old girl is by your side throughout the journey. I fathom a majority of you reading this has also read the blurb but what harm is there in sharing a piece of a book I loved again?

According to the blurb: Prisha Srivastav turned eighteen two months back. Hailing from Faridabad, she studies mass communication in Bengaluru. She meets a mysterious man, double her age, who goes by the name 'the mean monster' in the Bengaluru party circuit. Intrigued, she pursues him and falls for him. However, there's a problem. Prisha doesn't know he kills the one who loves him. Literally.

First and foremost.
Meet the characters: Eighteen year old Prisha.
The Mean Monster Saveer.
As trademark Novoneel as it can get, the character names have a feel good factor in themselves. The names of the characters give in a lot about the character than the book. Can we play a quick game here? Prisha. What do you think of the name? Give me adjectives. How do you think is the girl? Same wise for Saveer. (The comment/inbox section is all yours to leave your answers).

Coming back to the story, as you might have read the prologue it goes without saying that the adrenaline that's needed for the book is set high standards from page 1. As you pace through the book (this goes to the ones who has mixed reactions for Black Suits You) you would see that the Novoneel Chakraborty magic has not faded. It's back and how! Quotations fill the book and dare I say, life changing ones. There wasn't a moment when I felt that the story was dragged or any scene that could've been omitted.
Having said this, Forever is a lie is not a 'psycho sexual thriller' as the write is famous for writing. It is a triller and a thriller which is more twisted than his most twisted tale till date. The layers and sub layers had me in shackles. So had the writing style and usage of words. Novoneel has evolved as a writer and today, I see no point in commending him on how he writes.

For the story, I am in love with Saveer (and that surely was the intention). Too many similarities to things happening around me could make me relate to the book more. Let's not speak of the cons as of now (trust me you'll know why!) As I turned towards the end, (DO NOT. I REPEAT, DO NOT TURN TO THE LAST PAGE FIRST) Novoneel smiles. Finally, putting his glasses back on he whispers out loud... "Happy Independence Day, Sharanya" as he pushes me out in the open. Unharnessed. My coffee lay untouched for the past 3 hours taken to complete this 4.75 out of 5 book, never to be drunk again... Until next time, Novoneel. Soon.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Rains off a Smoky Sky by Pritam Mandal: a review

It has been a long time that I have read a book and that amounts to a real long time. I am so sorry for doing this to myself but I have been so caught up with other commitments that I couldn't help but not read. That is when I received Rains off a Smoky Sky by Pritam Mandal. The book had something in its cover and also in its blurb that almost broke me off my slumber and read it. So to begin with, I would like to thank the book for bringing me back to reality. Having said that, I would like to tell you what attracted me the most. It was the cover. Yes, written in bold and beautiful letters the title of the book spoke to me. I have always been fond of reading books by debut authors and this book is surely one of them. The rain and the girl (err.. Anurita) on the cover made me fall for the book. So, here is what the back cover says about the book.

According to the back cover- Do you want to work, walk, relax, breathe, smile and cherish your wonderful life under a clear bright blue sky?..Then, under the smoky sky, say a little prayer for the rains of love to wash away the smoke. Strap yourself for an emotional roller coaster ride as you experience Anurita’s world through the pages of her diary. Laugh with Anurita, wipe away her tears, revel in her wisdom and be a part of her life’s conversations.  A bold and daring young woman from a little village in India, Anurita chooses to tread the untrodden path, against the dictates of a judgmental society. But she is determined to seek the true meaning of her life at any cost. As she follows her heart all the way to the city and beyond, she is met with turbulences of all kinds. A stunningly handsome middle-aged man stirs in her feelings of love and passion; but her romantic fantasy meets with an abrupt end. And then, in a faraway country, she loses her friends to an unexpected tragedy.  Just when everything seems to be going awry and she is about to give up on humanity, it rains. As rains from the smoky sky fall on the Earth, Anurita discovers fireflies in the darkness, dancing on the rain-bathed petals of lovely carnations, the flowers of god.

If I have to speak of the book one of the first things that I have to say is something that these days I often end up saying about the books I receive published by Notion press. That is, commending them on the quality of their books. The cover quality and the paper quality, added on with the feel of the whole book when it comes to touch brings a beautiful feeling. You know what another thing that attracted me towards the book was? The subtitle that says "From Anurita's Diary..." 

As I kept flipping through the pages of Anurita (err... Rita's) diary, I felt that at places I am reading about my own life. The feeling of reading about our own life brings forth more interest in the story. The struggle of every village girl is shown in the most realistic way and so has the solution. If you have to say that this book is motivational, then this is because there is nothing that can be more motivational than reading about someone's personal life (even though its fictional) and seeing how that person overcomes what you thought would be very difficult for you.

Perhaps, the book has been written with this in mind where it encourages the young mind to be motivated in life and to know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking of the narration of the book (as I can't say much about the story or protagonist and you would have to read the book to find out about it), it is very simple and that at places gets the pace of the book down a lot of notches. Keeping in mind the fact that the book is written in a diary style, this narration speaks to the audience but for me, it somehow didn't work out.

Also, there are spelling and grammatical errors in the book and I thought that some places has been stretched. Only if, these places weren't as stretched as it is, this would have been the perfect book for today's time. The inner meaning of the book and the underlying intentions that the author wanted to convey is present and that is what makes it roadworthy. Definitely a promising read, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 and would be waiting to read more from the author in the future.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Music Diaries: Avik Ganguly

In the last post of the month, I would first like to thank every person who has helped me reach where I am. Especially with this endeavour of mine. Inviting me to events, giving me references or simply by being by my side. The questions that had been raised on me and my endeavour in the very beginning by close people has been answered. Ironically, those people aren't close anymore. Close are those who've seen me through and continue to do so.

For today's session I present to you a keyboardist who have had a lot of experience in this field. Very fortunate to have met him, his music shinesthrough his words. Avik Ganguly, to everyone has been an inspiration. So here's hoping this helps you...

You have been in this industry for quite some time now and have been the closest to music in your own sweet way. What has been the tune that you first played ever on your instrument? 

Avik Ganguly— Yes, it's been almost ten years I've been playing as a professional and I remember my first tune was Anondoloke of Tagore. 

Keyboard- the most important and yet such a silent instrument. By silent I meant that the keyboard is always there. The best friend. How would you define the keyboard? How unique is its sound? 

Avik Ganguly— I use it in the same manner as an artist does his canvas. In a band, it is a cushion sometimes and at other times an elevator. And with synthesizers one can design his own sounds and that's what make me super happy. But keyboard players are forced to play from ethnic instruments to the latest commercial hits to even the bizzare. For this reason alone some become Jack of all trades (kinds of music) but master of none.

You also arrange tracks. How is it arranging the music of a song from the scratch?  

Avik Ganguly— Being a perfectionist makes me a bit slow as it takes a lot to impress me. I redo my tracks a zillion times before I am satisfied. Often when a track is completed, I wonder did I really make that happen? This is so because there is an abyss between what I started with and what I ultimately have now.

Having been a solo musician and also as a part of a whole troupe, what’s the pros and cons of both the types? What would you prefer and why? 

Avik Ganguly-- They are the two faces of the same coin; in one hand a soloist makes me the boss of myself and I have no limitations. While a group restricts my creativity to an extent as music is planned and rehearsed and one works with a periphery. A soloist like myself can improvise and create as I go along. In fact I enjoy both as they give me plenty of scope to learn and explore.

How does it feel performing in public? All these years of experience, what do you experience during sound check before a concert? 

Avik Ganguly— Playing for public is the goal for most of the musicians. And I am no exception. Yes, it gives me immense pleasure when people appreciate the music I play. As a lobby pianist at Lalit Great Eastern hotel, I've seen people siting beside my piano and enjoying the soft and soothing music. I've also seen people dancing like crazy with the band music. Now and then when my music has not been appreciated, I do not feel depressed or disappointed. Instead it feels me with energy to learn and shine to get better. I want my music to touch people. And soundcheck... well, for me that's the place where you can really explore a musician. Because during the show a musician might have to play what he is asked to play but during soundcheck musicians play whatever is there in their heart. And I love jamming with the fellow musicians on stage during soundcheck.

It is common ground that the taste of music varies from person to person. Some people like some kind of music. But what kind of music do you, as a listener, like to unwind with? 

Avik Ganguly—  Seriously, I love music from all genres. For me if it's good music it's good music. Whether it's loud or soft, whether it's in bengali song or instrumental. But as a pianist I have weakness for Chopin. Specially nocturnes. And Yanni and Yiruma are two of my favourites. I find their music very musical and meaningful. And one of my favourite keyboard player is Cory Henry. His solos are crazy.

You know, there are moments in life where we end up getting ideas in the weirdest of places. Happens with me. How do you come up with the music that you make? 

Avik Ganguly— Yes, weird places indeed. One day I was on my bike and blowing the horn. The  I realised it was a 5/4 pattern and returned home that day and put down a track with that. And some obvious places like Sea,  Mountains and rain make me think new tunes. And sometimes a fight with my wife too.😉

Now that we are on the topic, what are you working on right now? Anything in the recent times that we all should look forward to? 

Avik Ganguly—  Currently I'm working on two private albums. But my project VEDATRONICS is probably the biggest project of mine. It's a electro fusion band where we do vedic chants and Indian classical stuff with electronic music where I work as the music producer along with playing my keyboard and keytar. Some fantastic and finest musicians are involved in it. And also I play for the band WAGAH ROAD  and we have some big plans in recent future.

In 5 years from now, where do you see yourself? And of course, where do you want to see the whole music scenario of Kolkata in 5 years from now? 

Avik Ganguly-- Well,  I would like to see myself as a music director because I did background music of some movies and short films and I feel that I can do that quite well. And I want to score music for different projects. Then I would like to own the most expensive keyboard. And want to do music videos of at least two of my piano solo compositions.And kolkata music scenario, in five years I expect a change in mentality where musicians will not get a call for work saying "BHAI BUDGET NEI. EIBAR PLEASE KORE DE". I expect kolkata to be the place where people would pay for good music, good studios and good musicians. I expect where a music director will be free to express himself and not do the work according to the producers. Where one musician would not take the credit for another musician's work. And  where musicians playing original music will have places to play and earn a good life.

To sum it up, what would be your piece of advice to the upcoming musicians? How should they go about what they do and what should they always keep in mind? 

Avik Ganguly— There is no shortcut to success. You need patience, hard work and humility. Don't let go of your dreams. And in tough times, hold on to them even tighter. One more thing, upcoming musicians should attend live shows of every genre. That's where they'll get to know what to play and also what not to play.

Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.

If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Music Diaries: Sudipto Banerjee

Stepping into this new bengali calendar year, it is a very proud moment for me to be introduced to some great musical people of this industry. Having visited a few such events too, not only has my interest been keener, I have started to know a lot more than what I knew when I started with my endeavour.

For today's session we have Sudipto banerjee. Also known as Buti, this keyboard player has been in the industry for as long as a person can remember. A person who excels with the keyboard, his views on music has heightened up with his days in Cactus- a leading band that is also one of the founding members of the bengali band circuit in Kolkata. So here's presenting, Sudipto Banerjee; unplugged...

It is more than a privilege to interact with you and especially on music. If we go back to your roots, what was the very first tune that you learnt to play?

Sudipto Banerjee— Smoke on the water-Deep Purple.

And from there on started your musical journey? You play the keys. The keys, as I fathom, are surely one of the most important instruments that can be. How would you define the keyboard? What is its importance in a band?

Sudipto Banerjee— Raymond Kurzweil is a visionary who built an instrument which would emulate any sound source right from a Piano,EP, Strings,or an Analog synthesizer . This was the 1st keyboard digital instrument which took the music industry by storm. The keyboard instrument to me is a colouring pallete which I use to make a piece of music or a song sound full and edgy at the same time. Hey there are lotta bands who may not have a keyboard player but they do use keyboards for fx & enhancing their sound. Keyboards actually play a major role in

POP/JAZZ/FUNK acts where the Artist/ BAND is looking to use sounds which aren’t guitar, drum and bass :) RIGHT from ADELE TO MAROON5 they all use keyboards. It is the backbone of contemporary music.

For the uninformed, how would they be able to differentiate the sound of the keyboard from the others in a song?

Sudipto Banerjee— 90 percent of whatever music we listen to globally are made my music producers & DJs who are using electronic sounds, it is actually nowadays pretty easy to distinguish

the sound of a keyboard or synth from anything else if you’re an avid music listener.

The keyboard is a broad term if I am not too wrong and under that term a lot of types fall. Piano, organ etc. One of the confused terms is keyboard and synthesizer. You play both. What would be the difference between the sounds that they both have?

Sudipto Banerjee— Synthesizers are instruments which transform electrical signals to sound & keyboard emulate synths & other instruments through a digital process called sampling. A Synthesizer can primarily make electronic sounds but the keyboard can do both because the engine of a keyboard is made up of a chipset & its much more complex.

You play with one band that is known to be THE band in the band circuit of West Bengal for years now. How does it feel? How has it shaped you up- as a musician and a person?

Sudipto Banerjee— I have been playing for the last 12 years with CACTUS so I actually grew up in this band. It actually feels really great playing rock music around the world & that too

in my own mother tongue. Playing live music with a premier rock band for 12 years is quite an experience. I have played more than 1000 concerts with CACTUS & playing live is a very volatile situation. Kinda like WAR if your sound engineer is incompetent or your PA system is not up-to par or your monitors quit working just before the concert. I have faced all this but now we have a set team as CACTUS is a 25 year old band & the production that we use now is the best available.

If you were given a chance to be asked what you always wanted to be asked but no one asked you ever before- what would the question be. And of course, the answer would be?

Sudipto Banerjee— What would you do if you landed up with 10 million dollars no strings attached? I would buy myself a studio with all the gear I wanted to buy & an ASTON MARTIN DB10 for weekend getaways.

To any musician in todays time what would you like to ask? It can be any musician, it can be any question.

Sudipto Banerjee— I see young guys doing music or whatever their own thing, they are much into their work than I used to be & that is a very good thing. The competition in any field is so fierce that you have to be the best in whatever you do. Honestly THE WORK WILL SPEAK FOR ITSELF.

What, currently, are you working on? Anything new that is forthcoming?

Sudipto Banerjee I am currently working with PROJECT DREAMCATCHER & releasing new material with them. This is the outfit of Ritaprabha Ray that primarily produces folk fusion with a hint of electronica & I play keyboards with them. I worked on a new song with my ex band mate & friend Shayok Banerjee’s latest hindi single & the video is going to be released really soon. I am really enjoying playing with PT Tanmoy Bose’e WORLD MUSIC outfit TAALTANTRA

where I’ve been playing keyboard from december 2016 with incredible virtuoso musicians of INDIA.

I cannot help but ask you this question. The person you were before you became a full time musician and the person you are today- what is the most significant change that you notice in yourself? And where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Sudipto Banerjee I dunno about the future but yeah it has been quite a ride for the last 16 years of playing ROCK N ROLL. The most significant change would be ummm … I used to be a party animal even 5 years ago, but nowadays I just feel like driving to different places with my wife over weekends, escaping the roar of the city keeps us sane. PARTY is onstage with screaming fans :)

If I may ask, what are your thoughts on the current music scenario in West Bengal? Where do you see it going?

Sudipto Banerjee I see great promise in the eyes of young Artists. There are so many killer acts from Kolkata who are really killing it in the national scene. I love bands like UA, GANESH TALKIES, WHAT ESCAPES ME, BODHISATTWA TRIO, FIDDLER’S GREEN,

THE RITORNELLOS, PAREKH & SINGH they are all very artistic & their music is both cerebral & visceral. PAREKH & SINGH, the guys from ballygunge are touring UK & they played a radio show on the BBC. FUTURE LOOKS GOOD.

The upcoming musicians have a lot to look up to in terms of music and they are brimming with ideas. Being in this industry for quite some time now, what would you like to advice them?

Sudipto Banerjee— Just do your thing is what I would advice them, as long as you as an Artist think what you create is making sense to you & IF the effort is honest there is no looking back. There are no shortcuts in performing arts.

Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.

If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical!