Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Kilings in November by Rajesh Talwar : a review

There are books and then there a few books that keeps you wondering what it is all about. Rajesh Talwar’s The killings in November is a play based on well, killings in November. But trust me when I tell you this the book is not what you think it is. The small play (well yes, it's not a novel it's a play) has in itself a lot of things that is being said and being unsaid at the same time. Here is what the blurb says about the book.

About the book- A killer is on the loose in New Delhi. He is no ordinary killer, and for the past few years, for some unaccountable reason, goes on a relentless killing spree, with murders mounting each day, particularly in the month of November. Always elegantly dressed in a grey suit and a red tie, he is a stylish, soft-spoken man, who appears to be fond of Western music. He carries a guitar with him and performs to an often unwilling audience. On occasions he has been spotted by witnesses inside a steel grey Mercedes near the site of a killing. The killer is merciless. No one is spared it seems, be it a pregnant mother, a young boy, an elderly man or even a baby. The Delhi Police are at their wits end and seek outside help. India’s leading detective, Col Ranjeet teams up with the famous Herlock Holms to try and crack this case. It is the biggest case that has come to either the Colonel or Holms in each detective’s illustrious career. Will they catch this elusive killer, or will he catch them? This is a heart-rending tale of life – and death – as it exists in one of Asia’s most important capital cities. No spoilers here, the story will keep readers guessing till much the play is over, when slowly all is revealed. The play ends with a shattering climax.

And God, the play delivers what it promises. In the wake of whatever is happening and the situation in Delhi currently, placed is set up in the modern day setting where the killer is left on a loose. The play, as they usually do, have a lot of characters where you can get confused as on what is happening in which scene. Personally speaking, since I have been dealing with theatre for quite some time now I got used to the characters very soon.

Every character has been wonderfully placed and so has the whole format of the play being written. The dialogues and the actions that the characters are making and delivering has been well thought of. What can strike you, though, is the pace of the play. For the people who are not used to reading plays and love reading novels, this can be a bit lengthy read even if it cut shorts in hundred and something pages.

After few scenes you actually get to know about what is happening but the playwright keeps you guessing till the end and that is something that I liked about the play. I loved the way the killer has been described. From his whole attire, to the way he makes the killings, even the superficial element added to the murders adds up to the play as a whole.

If I have to speak about the cons of the play, then I would say on the path of the unnecessary lag in the play, which I feel would not matter much if it is staged at all, there have been too many characters to think of. Some characters according to me warrant given the proper ending while some could've been ignored if that is the right word. The ending to bring forth a very important issue and the way that the subject has been handled is commendable according to me. For me, though, wanting to read more such plays from the playwright, I would like to the give this a 3 on 5. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Rainbow Jelly: a review

“....bhaabo toh, rotation na holey, ki hoto?”

I finally get to watch the film that I have been willing to watch for a long time: and I mention long because it's been a huge wait from the time the teaser has been released or rather from the time I first got to know about such a film being made till date. As I type this, hours after I come out of the movie hall; the Jukebox of the film still plays on my YouTube in the background. Soukarya Ghoshal’s Rainbow Jelly.

I kid you not, the film had me at first go. Technically (and I seriously don't know if this sounds technically to you or not) the whole concept of the beginning credits of the film written in the way it is, catches the attention. Then comes our loved, Ghoton. Finally, a whole journey is lived through the duration.

In this world where we present everything in such a complicated matter, this movie deals with the basics in such a free flowing manner. Dreams. Yes, our inner child never fails to dream of a world where we will be the king/queen, have everything that is ever possible and live happily ever after. Ghoton’s story relives those dreams through the seven tastes brought to him by PoriPishhiiiiiiii…

Young Mahabrata Basu’s real life story is as big an inspiration as his reel life story. Sreelekha Mitra’s PoriPishhiiiiiiiii (okay! I'm sorry I can't just say Poripishi because that is the effect the character and the song has on me) as a ray of hope with her box of wonder, brings the much needed layer in the film. Kaushik Sen’s Gondaria mama is terrific in his accent and his antics. Complimenting them all is cute Poppins (Anumegha) and Anadi Da (Shantilal) who play their parts beautifully.

Metaphors fill up the film in many ways than one but what strikes a chord is the subtlety of it. Like Ghoton, I would also love to believe when PoriPishhiiiiiiiii says that if you wish for something real hard and an aeroplane flies just then, know that your dream would come true. And I turned, for those minutes inside the movie hall, to my inner child. Crying my heart out and wondering how intimate it is to gift a dream, to get gifted a dream, to loving a dream, to living a dream. And all dreams aren't just dreams. As the movie says, shob roopkotha mitthey hoy na!

Adding to the film is the music and it deserves a separate paragraph. The Jukebox, as you have already figured, has been a part of my daily playlist since the time it was released. While watching the film though, the songs made so much more sense. They speak of a journey of its own and it depicts the film exactly how it is. Moushumi di’s Ei chheleta and young Totini’s Koshto Tumi steals the show. The combination of Soukarya Ghoshal and Nabarun Bose I've been a fan of since the time I had watched Loadshedding and they seal a fan in me through this film. The title track of the film (not to be heard in the film) deserves special mention as do the Power Puff girls who have sung it. The other 3 tracks adds a certain dimension to the film.

I wish and I can solely wish that this gem of a film gets its fair share of accolades and the motive behind the film gets sown in everybody's mind in due course of time.

Rainbow Jelly has the power to transform someone; so be it… Let's all focus on resting those odds and cruelty of life and being a better human being in life. Let's all sow the seven flavors of life in everybody's heart…

“...rainbow jelly bhastey thaak khaali, maakkali!”

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Mother in the Presence of the Sacred Feminine by Rajesh Talwar's: a review

Usually what happens for me to read any book is that I have to be attracted to what the back blurb has to say about it. But this case was different. Here, I was attracted to the very title of the book and then I went on to the blurb. Rajesh Talwar’s Mother in the Presence of the Sacred Feminine. I know, right! You have a smile and want to know what's in the book too. So here's the blurb and of course the cover, for all you people.

About the book- This little volume contains the words of the Mother Goddess as heard by a disciple during a visit to Her holy shrine in northern India. The Goddess addressed eight devotees who were together in a cave towards the end of their pilgrimage while She gave them Her darshan. She spake with them as a group but also addressed those present individually. In the gathering were present a Merchant, an Aged Man, a Childless Couple, a Prostitute, a Scientist, an Artist and a Seeker. She spoke for as little as two minutes the time allotted for the darshan yet miraculously Her words were heard all at once like a symphony in which the music is one organic whole but the notes played by each individual instrument can be picked up, if attention is paid.

This 107 page book reflects on life in so many lines than one. Reminds me of the time back in ages when I had gone with my family for a trip to Vaishno Devi. Somehow things weren't right. I and my brother made the first walk super fast and we waited at Adhkuwari for a longer time than it should be for our family members. Then, they took the rest of the climb while I and my brother couldn't really make it. We went half way but couldn't see the Goddess. Was it that, it wasn't her calling? Does she really call her devotees? Will I ever go back again. Of course I will.

Post completion of the book, you are sure to feel a renewed sense of energy as the devotees who the Goddess speaks to, feels. The devotees are from various factors of life and that is probably one more reason why you will feel connected to the book at first go. The book combines myth and truth perfectly. All the major myths about Vaishno Devi are brushed off again for the people who already had heard about it and for the people who are yet to know.

But is the truth really said? From the myth's perspective, I felt that the truths mentioned are completely a point of view of the author. Of the rise and rise of Vaishno Devi to Bhairon Nath, everything is explained. Throughout the journey that you make, in this short compilation, you can feel the journey to rejuvenation. Easy language and good flow adds up to all the more reason you would read the book.

For the cons, understanding the fact that the book is a nonfiction, spiritual, I would have preferred, personally for the author to write more on the pain and the hurdles the devotees have to cross on their way up to Vaishno Devi. It is explained, why but it is not explained how. For the people who have visited, the picturization is clear. But for the ones who haven't, they would have to rely on the stereotypes that they must've heard about the arduous journey. Which not always is true. For the book, I would've wanted to read a bit more. Looking forward to more from the author, this book is a 4 on 5 for me. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Let me go by Shriram Iyer: a review

There are certain books which as a reader, entices you enough to pick them up. Especially when they come from one of your favourite and close to the heart publisher, you surely do pick them up. Let me go by Shriram Iyer is one such book and truth be told, I have been delaying reading this book for reasons unknown for quite some time. Finally when I actually sat with this book, I finished it in one go. What makes the book all so special? Its tagline: To friendship… With love. Here's what the back cover says for you to understand more about the book.

According to the back cover: When Anshuman Kale first meets Indira Kelkar, all it takes to bring them close is a lost school bag, a missed school bus leading to a walk back home, and a few cutlets to beat the after school hunger. As the now best friends grow up together, there is nothing that can come between their friendship. Or so they think! At the climax of their teenage years, as Indira falls in love with a guy five years older, she finds herself caught between friendship and love- neither of which she can let go. But as their lives begin to take a turn- for good, for bad, and for the worse- Anshuman is forced to rethink one of the things he had considered a given: 'he and Indira would be best of friends forever.’ Now estranged for years, Anshuman is looking forward to marrying the love of his life, while Indira is waiting to hear back on her euthanasia appeal. What could have gone so wrong that she wants to end her life? As their lives intersect once again, how far will Anshuman go for Indira?

While typing out the blurb for you guys, trust me when I say that I have goosebumps. The whole story came back to me and I am trying 100% to control my tears or my smiles right now. And why not? Friendship is one of the most sacred of relationships that one can be in their lives and there are very few people who have the same best friend from their life to their deathbed. While certain friendships are hard to understand and interpret by the common man who are everyday around you, those feelings are only yours to keep.

Anshuman and Indira: best friends since school (or rather from the time Anshuman’s family came over to Indira’s house to stay as a tenant) have been inseparable. The fact that they lived in the same house and went to the same class, same school and ended up having the same friends made them even more closer. Through the years of their togetherness and how they grew up, they shared everything and by everything I mean EVERYTHING. From Indira’s mountaineering habit to Anshuman's new ride. And then Indira meets Kapil. Rest, as they say, is history.

In a perfect situation like this, it is very natural for things to go haywire. As they usually do in our real life. The story flow and what goes on in the story is so similar to real life that at times you might think that you would surely know a Anshuman or a Indira in your lives. Kudos to the author for making it possible. The writing style of the author is beautiful and so is the representation of the characters.

Talking about the characters: how I hated Indira and loved Anshuman. I cannot even explain. Alisha and Kapil were the two other characters for whom I had a mixed bag of feelings and I'll sure the author wanted that to be this way. Incorporating the title of the book in such a way was a beautiful exception in the book which I really liked. The ending… the ending is tear and smile invoking and I can guarantee that this book is here to stay. The story remains with you long after you're done reading the book.

Now the cons of the book. To begin with, I didn't much like the cover of the book and felt that something more could be done. In the market when there's so many other books and this book being such a wonderful storyline, the cover might make this book unnoticed by the many who would've loved it if noticed. Next, I felt that the character of Alisha was not too well formed. Understanding the fact that it is essentially Anshuman and Indira, Kapil was a much more well made character than Alisha. Also, Indira’s euthanasia appeal didn't have that much impact. All in all, this book was a 4.5 out of 5 for me and I'm so looking forward to so many more books from the author. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Vengeance of Indra by Shatrujeet Nath: a review

Being an ardent reader of Shatrujeet Nath’s books by now since the time I started reading him way back in 2016, I can safely say that any book by the author (and especially if it is the Vikramaditya Veergatha series) you would easily get transported to another world. By this another world, I mean a world of history and mythology blended together with fiction that can help you relate to the characters you've learnt all this while and yes! Oh yes it's been wonderful. The third book, The Vengeance of Indra doesn't disappoint.

According to the blurb- 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 unity and strength, 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, signalling 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?

Phew! Yes. That's exactly the reaction one has after reading this hell of an adventurous book. There are a few things that are common in all the books of the Vikramaditya Veergatha series.

  • You can read the book from any part of the series and not worry about being unknown to the characters. The author provides enough data for everyone to understand what has happened. The books also hold a map of the whole place for better understanding. (Of course, reading the books in a series can never be compared)
  • Okay! The characters. I'm again not going to comment on any character because, I really need to reach the end of the series to comment on them. For now, I am being so neutral. You can root for one character whereas hate another character with utmost vengeance. Oh yes, as the author says, “Vengeance is a cage, forgiveness is freedom”
  • The covers. God the covers. It is so good to feel and the touch of the book makes you feel like you're one with the book from the time you hold it.
  • Adrenaline. You cannot get enough of the book and the wait for the next in the series kills you. And I know, you'll surely be left broken after you realize that the series has ended. The threshold at which the author leaves the book makes you feel for it even more.

Now that all is said and done, I can speak about the rest. The story flow is beautiful but at places I feel it is a bit dragged. Once you get used to the characters and their behavior, the whole idea of the book sinks in and it helps you sail through the book. Without a proper knowledge of the characters, you wouldn't know what you're reading.

Through book 1, 2 and finally 3; the author's growth as a writer is very visible and as a reader and admirer of his work: I couldn't be happier. Only if the book wasn't so long (which at times might tend to get tiring too), this book series would've been perfect for me. But wait! Another book is soon to come. A 4.5 out of 5 for me, I'll be looking forward to the many more books from the author.