November 30, 2016

Book Review: Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar by Kochery Shibu

Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar


Author: Kochery C. Shibu
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Rating: 3.5/5


'Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar’ is a debut novella penned down by Kochery Shibu. It elicits the author’s experience at a Hydroelectricity project in a subtle way. The story is complicated, yet different from what is generally offered on the reading platter these days. Dreams and aspirations are what this story speaks about and the author has done a commendable job in bringing out the essence of the title of the book.

Nanda, Khusru, and Rekha- the three protagonists get a chance to come together and work in the Dhauladhar on a dam construction site. They involve themselves in a project that was sure to require blood, sweat, and tears. The plot portrays some uncanny relationships- the best example would be that of Nanda and the snow-capped mountains. Most of the chapters end with a parting note that depicts a morose conversation between Nanda and the peaks- failing to give any clear cut idea about it.

With a somber and apt cover, ‘Men and Dreams’ successfully captures the vital elements of the plot. The plot might seem a bit twisted in the beginning, for the author probably got carried away a little and focused more on the introductions of the characters and not on the action in the story, but the story comes well in the later half. The initial few chapters describe the lives of some characters and how they are the potential candidates to be a part of the Dam project. Due to lack of narrative here, I found it very difficult to keep my eyes glued and read on. Also, there were too many characters to spoil the broth. Had more information about Khusru, Nanda, Rafiq been given, it would have been better.

No doubt, the plot is interesting. Till date, I have not come across any novella with such insightful intricacies and proper pre-planning. The blurb deserves a special mention because that is what intrigued me to get hold of this book because otherwise I do not get attracted to this genre easily. Coming to the drawbacks, the main thing that I would like to mention is the excessive use of Hindi. I agree that it was the demand of the plot. But there is always an alternate way. Barring some minor editing mistakes, the book has no specific proof-reading glitches.

Talking about the plot, it is challenging. The story highlights the psychological concepts of moral blameworthiness and moral ignorance. There are several characters in the story that come from a humble and normal background. The fact that they are ignorant of what harm they intend to cause is just not palatable. Can they be blameless on account of their ignorance? The author has painted the character of all the characters with broad strokes. It will take a deeper understanding and empathy to relate with all of them and determine the suitability of their actions.

Another point I would like to stress on is the use of Native language as the titles of the chapter. Is the author trying to blind us with science? It was equivalent to Chinese Arithmetic for me and with the translation not given for reference; I found it really difficult to understand.

Overall, this is a marvelous literary feat with a blend of different cultures and different people too. The narrative offers plentiful insights into different shades of human existence and the bond shared with nature. I would not say that this was a light read for me; it piqued my interest and offered something different.

Best wishes to the author!


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November 23, 2016

Book Review: Turning Back Time by Shravya Gunipudi


Turning Back Time

Author: Shravya Gunipudi
Publisher: Gargi Publications
Rating: 4/5

‘Turning Back Time’ is an enthralling amalgamation of four tales into one.  The beauty of this book lies in the fact that it is not a regular rom-com, but has a different genre altogether. I found it difficult to classify the book under fiction category as the story (rather stories) seemed so much real.

For a debut novella, this is a marvelous literary feat! The author has not left any stone unturned in presenting something fresh on the platter. The story revolves around Alia, who works in an old age home. Burdened with the everyday work, she takes pleasure in lending an ear to the stories of the old people. The story is about the retrospective feeling that Alia has in the end that helps her mould the life in a different, yet positive way.

The striking feature of the plot is the way in which the author has addressed some of the most prevalent social issues like domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and marrying children forcibly. But wait, that is not all. Unlike the other contemporary novellas where the author uses one common storyline to project all the problems, ‘Turning back time’ has four different perspectives. The narration by Raman, Hema, Girish and Sita leaves a lasting impact on the minds of the readers.

‘Turning Back Time’ evokes the rational thinking in the reader and forces the reader to think out of the box and analyze the real reason behind a lot many things. The cover of the book is fine; I liked the clock graphic on the first page more. The blurb is catchy. The language is lucid and the dialogs are expressive. The title is apt and well suited because all the side actors have a reminiscence bump and they regret the decisions taken in the past.  But wouldn’t life become a bed of roses if we are given control of the wheel of time?

The author has done a commendable job in sketching the characters. Overall, this is a great book that has to be read at least once. It calls for patience and wit to understand and ponder on each and every emotion that has been portrayed, for it can impart a learning for life.


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November 17, 2016

MOCKTALE: Ae Dil hai Mushkil- a Rip off!

MOCKTALE: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil- a rip off!

After having watched movies like Rockstar, Tamasha and Wake up Sid, one thing is clear that Ranbir’s prowess to select roles is cut above everything. But the release of the latest flick- Ae dil hai mushkil, has made me skeptical about the same. What was Ranbir thinking when he gave a big nod for playing Ayan’s role?

KJo, as he likes to be called, made a dog’s breakfast out of the lackluster storyline. The movie was released with the hope that the big star cast will swirl their magic wand and make it a blockbuster. Even though the business was good, the story failed to touch the heart or leave a lasting impact. With exemplary acting skills displayed by the leads, the entertainment quotient was bound to be high. But alas! The weak narrative spoiled it all. The desperate attempt to showcase the desperate desire to get love is mundane. KJo could have done a better job by not portraying Ranbir as a cry baby and not allowing too many cooks to spoil the broth.

But this is not all, for there are more reasons contributing to the rotten tomatoes. The love that KJo has for SRK, Alia and KJo (Kajol in this case) is reflected quite clearly. The roles played by Shahrukh and Alia are not even remotely related to the plot of the movie. Their inclusion in the star cast seems futile; KJo overshot the mark here. But probably the belief of getting a hit by introducing SRK in the picture, was too firm.

The direction is fairly done but the writing department made the Himalayan blunders. The story starts at a comfortable pace and the sweet moments between Anushka and Ranbir are definitely enjoyable. Lo and behold, enters Lisa Haydon as Ranbir’s girlfriend. No sooner does Ranbir meet Anushka, the clich├ęd break-up with Lisa Haydon happens and what comes next, is totally predictable. Ranbir (Ayan) spends quality time with Anushka (Alizeh) and falls head over heels in love with her. But does she reciprocate the feeling? Obviously, no! Don’t you all remember this movie is all about one-sided love? She friend-zones him.

But our boy is stubborn at heart. He does not give up; he continues to pursue his love interest. And yet again Alizeh friend-zones him. Blah…blah…blah…the story moves further and enter the very hot and smoldering Fawad Khan (Ali) and the audience starts having high hopes once again. But he stays on screen only for a total of 10 minutes (inclusive of all his scenes in the movie). I wonder why there was a ban on ADHM! Alizeh reunites with the long lost lover Ali and there comes the interval.

For a person who has failed in love, that too after being friend-zoned by his love, it seems impractical to strive yet again, and win the love back again. The level of melodrama in the movie is so high that it can make you lose your brains. And the worst part is that all the drama is done by Ranbir. ADHM is a movie in which women get nasty and men behave like cry babies. This is definitely a revolutionary move, isn’t it?

As if this was not enough, the entry of Aishwarya further adds to the tension. With seductive moves, ever-so-pouted lips and same expression throughout the film, she fails to strike the right chord with Ranbir. Their romance seems a total washout.

Another flaw in the story is the narcissistic behavior of the characters; all of them are so self obsessed that they only care about their own interests. The best example of this is when Ranbir imposes his love on Anushka and when Aishwarya rejects Ranbir because she doesn’t want to walk the same path of heart-break. How can we expect such characters to pull off a love story successfully? It seems that Johar wanted to portray solitude but instead what was there before the audience was the boredom that the characters faced. Meeting up with new partners was their way of escaping boredom but they all were probably so used to it that they landed back in square one.

I failed to understand why the characters in this movie were often shown drunk. It is not palatable to me that they made their important life choices when their state of mind was not right. The background scores of Kal ho na ho and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai further added to the clich├ęd storyline. The story did not seem original at all. Probably KJo was clueless as to how to end the movie and that is the reason the ‘Cancer concept’ was added in the movie. Even that part failed to evoke any emotional feelings.

All said and done, ADHM was a blend of Jab We Met, Two States and Kal Ho Na Ho. A complete rip off is what I would call it- waste of money.


WORDS




Easy like the wind
Dry as we may be;
Piercing the bubble of hypocrisy
We rule the world.

They say 'think before you speak'
And also classify us as weak;
But are the actions that strong
To send us back to square one?

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Book Review: We Will Meet Again by Tarang Sinha

Book We Will Meet Again
Author: Tarang Sinha
Publisher: Gargi Publishers
Rating: 3/5

Love is an uncanny emotion as it is ever evolving. Falling in its trap is something one can’t control, but once under its grip, the hold on the circumstances definitely changes. ‘We Will Meet Again’ might give an impression of a happily-ever-after, but that is not all! The story is gripping, well-crafted and fabulously organized. Tarang Sinha has done justice with his debut in the world of Literature.

Read more here.


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November 13, 2016

Book Review: City Times & Other Poems by Vihang A. Naik


Author: Vihang A. Naik
Genre: Poetry collection
Publishers: Authorhouse UK

Vihang Naik’s “City Times & Other Poems” is a collection of several poems that have been penned down in a skillful manner. The best part of this poetry book is that the poems are not restricted to one particular topic. The poet has depicted his ability to think out of the box. The poet has presented various ideas under different sections like Mirrored man, love songs of a journeyman, self-portrait, city times, etc., and the effort of keeping the interest of readers intact, cannot be ignored.

The cover of the book is something different; however, it failed to appeal as I was expecting something abstract. Since I received an ebook, I cannot comment on the print quality. There are no prominent editing mistakes.

The verses or stanzas are easy to understand and have been framed beautifully. The poems have an exclusive depth and reach out for a wider horizon. The poet has been successful in putting forward his perspective. Perhaps the poet has gone over all the topics with a fine-tooth comb and eventually has gotten down to a fine art.

Some of the poems really touched my heart; reading between the lines, I was able to relate and comprehend. ‘City times’ is not only about positivity but also describes our deepest fears and other pessimistic elements like the dawn of darkness on the human soul and change in humanity. Change is good, but definitely not this one. Exposing the dark side of human nature and simultaneously talking about the sweetest pleasures of life, the poet has done a commendable job is striking a perfect balance.

Most of the poems do not follow any particular rhyme scheme. The free verse doesn’t fail to impress. I wished, however, that the book’s title was more interesting. Even omitting ‘Other Poems’ could have been better.

Overall, a good read with an enjoyable collection of poems!

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November 06, 2016

Book Review: The Indian American Dream by Pranay Sahu

The American Indian Dream
Author: Pranay Sahu
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Rating: 3/5

“The negative side of the American Dream comes when people pursue success at any cost, which in turn destroys the vision and the dream.”
~ Azar Nafisi

Einstein said- If your head tells you one thing and your head tells you another before you do anything, decide whether you have a better head or a better heart. ‘An American Indian Dream’ is a novel that takes you through a dilemma of dreaming and then making them come true. Be it America or India, both have their own positives and negatives, but how does one feel when the pressure of staying in one’s own country forces one to bear the brunt of not getting the chance of living the dream? This is a compelling read, for it highlights the emotional turmoil that Roshan goes through. It is a story about his consistent struggle; it elucidates a struggle that becomes ball and chain. The continuous process of chop and change shatters him, breaks him down, but it also lifts him up and gives him hope.

But life isn’t that easy, is it? Stuck with the complexities of love, answerable to a Guru who is an abbreviated piece of nothing and fighting the internal demons who constantly trouble him, Roshan stands out in his role and the author does justice to this character.

 ‘An American Indian Dream’ is a narrative or rather a monologue. We have a protagonist, Roshan, who takes charge to help turn the wheels of the story forward. This is a story about his life; a life which forced him to choose between going to America and staying in India. But was this that easy? No.

The graphical cover of the book is catchy and fits best with the plot. The title is apt and gives a clear cut idea of what the book has in store for you. The font (style and size) is fine. Typesetting and organization of text have been taken care of.
Coming to the plot, I felt there was inclusion of unnecessary details every now and then. The narration is lucid and language is simple. It can be understood by not-so-avid readers too. But the lengthy monologues can be a turn off for some. The plot lacked the interest quotient; I kept on losing interest midway but the deadline somehow forced me to complete the book.

There are some grammatical errors, specifically- missing commas and incorrect vocabulary. Secondly, in the last few pages, the flaw in the editing and proofreading is evident. Incorrect tenses serve as hurdles in the reading process.

The author has been successful to a large extent in preparing a savoring potpourri. With storing opinions and portraying each and every minute detail so finely, the emotional setting of the story is enthralling.

Overall, a good attempt by the author!


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