August 16, 2017


Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK is a slap in the face of Bollywood’s na├»ve film-making. There is no doubt that practically everyone looks forward to Nolan movies as they evoke intense emotions and beat one’s brains out. You cannot classify these movies as Chinese Arithmetic because they have a logic behind the sequence of events. His movies are mostly about time- how time works in dreams, in space, and in memories. And yet again Christopher Nolan strikes the right chord by presenting Dunkirk as a race against time.

Dunkirk captures three different timelines and three different perspectives: a week at The Mole, a day in The Sea (the English Channel) and an hour in The Air. The story revolves around the 4 Lakh soldiers stranded on the coast of Dunkirk, staring at the English Channel, waiting to be rescued. On September 01, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, prompting England and France to declare a war on the former two days later. Annexing of Poland involved tanks, warships, warplanes, and bombs. This marked the beginning of the World War II. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded France, Luxemburg, Belgium, and Netherlands, gradually conquering Sedan, Netherlands and Luxemburg. On May 21, 1940, Mr. Winston Churchill waved the green flag for Operation Dynamo that was to rescue the soldiers stranded on the coast of Dunkirk. With the Germans surrounding them from the East, West and the South, the soldiers only had the Northern coast of Dunkirk for themselves. The Royal Air Force (RAF) sent Spitfires to combat the attacks by the German Luftwaffe and this dogfight continued for days. It was only with the participation of the civilians that more than 3 lakh soldiers were safely rescued.

Nolan’s prowess lies in the keen observation of the emotions and the sentiments of the petrified soldiers. Scriptwriter and the director of Dunkirk, he not only offers exemplary cinematography but also offers nerve wrecking scenes.

Here are six possible reasons why Bollywood movies are no match for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk:

1)      Movie Runtime
Unlike most Bollywood movies that offer the redundant concept of love and hatred just like the old wine in a new bottle, Dunkirk has something new to offer. It describes the struggle, the fear, the desperation and the intention. 
The movie runs for 1 hour 47 minutes and is an overwhelming experience that will make the viewers cling to their seats. Where most Bollywood movies have a cliched plot, the exposition being the two protagonists who are strangers, and the resolution being that the protagonists falling in love, Dunkirk’s plot cannot be easily broken down into the several stages. The story refrains from exposing the viewers to any past event and runs only in the present moment.

2)      Preciseness of the Script
The script of Dunkirk is said to be only 76 pages long, which is very unlikely for a movie that aims to portray the intense emotions and the struggle for survival. 
How beautifully the movie portrays the desperation and the impulsive nature of the soldiers when a few of them decide to swim to the other end. Where on one hand, Bollywood has lengthy scripts and stretched run-time, Dunkirk leaves no stone unturned to serve as a complete package.  The perfect length of the script helps in avoiding exhaustion from strain and suspense.

3)      Background Score
Apparently, Bollywood believes in including 6-7 songs in a movie so that the viewers can appreciate the exquisite gowns and the rugged look of the actress and the actor, respectively. But doesn’t that song act as a speed breaker? 
Take Airlift for an instance; the movie could have been made better but the addition of ‘Love angle’ and the picturization of dramatic songs deterred the viewers from connecting emotionally with the plot. Dunkirk, on the other hand, has a continuous background score that makes the tension palpable. It proves that only a clever soundtrack is all that is needed to make the emotions more pronounced.

If one would have noticed, Christopher Nolan uses ‘Ticking clock’ as a sequence for every movie, be it Inception or Interstellar or Dunkirk, reminding us every now and then that we all are in a race against time. The overwhelming Orchestra seems to ascend with every passing second but in reality, it doesn’t. It is an effect of auditory Illusion caused by the ‘Shephard Tone’. Nolan uses this technique to his advantage to bring out the tension in the movie.

 4)      Lack of Dramatic Scenes
Dunkirk lacks drama and dialogues. Having barely any dialogues, Dunkirk not only depends on the acting skills of the actors but also the portrayal of immense trauma and intimidation. The movie has numerous solitary confrontations (when the English soldier is bombarded with metal bullets in the beginning, when the first Spitfire crashes into the water, when the German Luftwaffe showers bombs on the Mole) and ghastly encounters (when the troop of 12 soldiers wait in the grounded ship for the high tide and are greeted with bullets, when the torpedo capsizes the ship and the evacuants are left to drown or rather get burnt). The melodramatic content is missing from the movie and that is what differentiates it from the Bollywood films.

5)      Bollywood’s obsession with Love
Love is an intangible emotion and Bollywood’s obsession with this emotion seems evident in all the movies. Recently, Jagga Jasoos was released and it proved to be an offbeat film. The story was strong, the concept was new but then came the part when the hero falls in love with the heroine and lo and behold, the unpredictability of the story was lost in the woods! A similar mishap in the movie- Airlift- proves that introducing the love angle is not always a good idea, for it acts as the sudden jerk in the stretched string, making it vibrate, leading diversion of attention.

6)      Less use of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery)
Films like Bahubali and Krrish, where the main focus is on throwing half the props in the air depend mainly on the CGI. In one of the interviews, Nolan claimed that he refrained from using the CGI as it would have hampered the originality of the movie. Instead, he went to the extremes to employ the use of cardboard cut outs for soldiers. He also put an effort to arrange for the aircraft and the ships that were originally used in the war. And the outcome can be seen in the movie; it gives one a realistic experience and causes goosebumps.

Nolan beautifully brings out the essential paradox in the movie by exposing the viewers to both sides of the coin. The movie’s theme is the mettle of the soldiers who are faced with life-changing decisions, decisions that can either be correct or can prove fatal (the decision of hiding in the grounded boat and waiting for the high tide to be afloat). The fear that haunts the soldiers becomes evident as and when they take a call and act responsibly and thoughtfully. Brilliantly compiled together, neither of the three narratives describes or talk about the character of the soldiers outside the battlefield. And this helps the audience to form an unbiased opinion.

All said and done, Dunkirk can be classified as the master movie of all war movies because it depicts the real mental state of the ones who fight for us and give up their lives. There is honour, fear, apprehension, desperation and an instinct of survival in every soldier - all together in that one moment of war - that is what we all need to realize before passing our judgments.

August 08, 2017

Book Review: Behold, I Shine by Freny Manecksha

Behold, I Shine
Author: Freny Manecksha
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 4/5

Appearances are mostly deceptive and Kashmir is not an exception. The Green Valley of dreams, that was once as peaceful as sleep, is now a hub of violence and deaths. Amidst political altercations and physical rampage, the lives of the Kashmiri women have been affected badly. There are so many cases of violence, sexual harassment, and rapes against the daughters of Eve. The number of half-widows has risen in recent times. Amidst all this, the forgotten struggles of these women never come into the light.  

Read more here

August 05, 2017

Book Review: From Ruskin Bond's Treasure Trove...

The Wise Parrot & The Elephant and the Cassowary
Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Rupa Publishers

Writing is all about imagination and not merely about words. How beautifully one crafts the characters in a story and how intelligently the characters are assigned roles, determines the level of impact the story will leave on the readers. ‘Ruskin Bond’ is a famous name; the children love his stories. In fact adults too, like reading what he writes, for they can always find a chance to learn something new.

‘The Wise Parrot’ and ‘The Elephant and the Cassowary’ are the new releases by Rupa that retell the folklore in an attempt to recreate the magic. Who doesn’t love the tales from the past? And thus, the books don’t fail to leave an indelible impact on the readers.

The Wise Parrot: This book is a collection of 20 short stories that all of us would have heard at bedtime from our parents or grandparents. The most famous of them all is ‘The Wise Parrot’ in which a parrot brings the gift of immortality to the king but suffers at his hands. Some of the other famous stories include The Crane and the Crab, Sindbad the Sailor, Blue Beard, The Clicking Toad and Seven Brides for Seven Princes.

All the stories have the same characters and the plotline. Ruskin Bond’s narratives make them more appealing and it will give immense pleasure to the readers to read from the treasure trove and relive their childhood.

The Elephant and the Cassowary: This story book explores all about the animals in the wild as well as at home. It offers an amalgamation of ideas and the result is an interesting plot. The main story revolves around two animals that are mismatched and their journey of getting the better of one another. Some of the other stories include: The Pale One, Hunting with a Camera, The Eye of the Eagle and Toomai of the Elephants.

The book has been compiled and edited by Ruskin Bond is a good read. The language is simple to understand and the narration does not become monotonous at any point in time. The books are worth your time if getting lost in the world of animals and taking out time from your busy schedule to relive the childhood is your cup of tea.

Buy these books from:
Amazon (The Wise Parrot)
Amazon (The Elephant and the Cassowary)

August 04, 2017

In Conversation with Kaushal Suvarna...

With the success of his second poetry collection, Kaushal has set a benchmark for all the budding poets. 'Siamese Compassion' strikes the right chord in the right place through the spunky and sharp-tongued verses. Kaushal not only contrasts both sides of the coin but also expresses his emotions through simple yet profound words. His ideas and strong opinions can be easily understood and the satire in the free verses act as a cherry on the cake.

Here is a sneak-peak of the conversation I had with him…

Tell us a little about yourself, perhaps something not many people know.
Well, I'm quite introverted, so most people know hardly anything at all about me. But here's a little secret, I'm quite stoic in my demeanor, so most people assume I'm really calm or a jerk, but of course life's more complicated than that.

I don't really subscribe to a personality; it's like what J Krishnamurti said: "We are fragmented human beings".
Or perhaps I'm just a budding schizophrenic!

Music or silence: what do you prefer and why?
I like music, but don't have to listen to it every breathing moment, as it is with some. I'll take silence most days, as it is there's quite less of it.

But there's silence internally as well, which most people seek, and one can achieve despite the daily clamor. I think silence, like music, like any other thing, is a tool and don't really hanker after either or anything else, for that matter.

Have you written any other book (s) that have not been published?
Siamese Compassion is my second book of poems, after A Trans-Arabian Handshake.

There's another book of poems I plan next year, it's halfway there, n mostly will be called Crowd-funded Poetry. It will see me return to two of my old favorites, love and lyric poetry - Siamese Compassion, though very close to me, is mostly free verse which I don't enjoy as much.

Then there's a novel/episodic short story book I really want to write, tentatively named Survival Strategies, and its first act is done.
But I will only publish it when I feel I have a sizeable audience that's ready to listen to it. Earlier books are just primers leading up to this.

What do you think about eBook revolution?
It's a good idea that needs to catch up more. It's very difficult for some readers to get over the feeling of having a "real book" in their hand. Then there's the pros n cons of environmental issues and the investment in an e-reader that people need to be convinced about.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I really haven't written those kinds of stories to comment, but drawing an analogy with poems, yes more often than not you don't know what you are going to write about.

Even when you start out with a basic idea of what a particular poem or book needs to be about, as e.g. with Siamese Compassion I knew what message I had to send out, but each individual poem, as a character by itself, and even within the poem each idea and image seems to have a life of its own and can lead you, writer, as well as reader, to places you never imagined or dared to go.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
As I mostly keep to myself I don't generally get pulled into pranks, but there are some really funny incidents I was witness to; here's one.

I was practicing with my college Chess team when an ex-student, who was then number one in the Bombay Chess circuit, dropped by and started playing with our 2nd Board. In the presence of greatness, I was trying not to gush and, in between stealing glances of his game, to concentrate on my own match.

And then this bloke offers a piece sacrifice to my teammate and goes "le lo bhai chivdaa le lo" in a typical Gujju tone.
LOL, I've never heard that song since or before; I laughed till my belly hurt.

What is your favourite part of the book?
Some people will like the second section, The Pledge because it's very raw and I've "said it as we see it". Some will like The Turn because it really makes you introspect. My deepest ruminations can be found in the aptly named last section, The Prestige.

But the book is one whole and should be understood as such; so, my favourite part was to arrange the book in these sections, with the cheekily named prologue, The Playbill, serving as a portent of things to come :)

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do?
I've been working in IT for over a decade. Prior to that, I worked as a Maths Course Designer for a major MBA coaching institute. And prior to that, I'd been teaching Maths and English to school, and later college, students, believe it or not, since I was in 8th grade, which is also when I started poetry.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
People often criticize my writing for being too intellectual or having difficult words, but I think that's more self-criticism than on me, isn't it?

But the one good, and at that time tough for me to understand, a piece of advice I got was to choose from according to content. I often wrote in the abcb rhyme and only then began to explore other rhyme, stanza, and rhythm patterns.

Which Publisher would you recommend to the new authors?
Honestly not an expert here as I'm still trying to find one myself.

But for starters, of course, CreateSpace/Amazon will not just get you out there but also globally. Of course, you will still need to do all the hard work of promoting yourself and the paperback prices are on the higher side, but you can rest easy that your friends will find your book, wherever they be on the world map.

Book Review: Fragrance of Rose by Chitrajit Paul

The Fragrance of Rose
Author: Chitrajit Paul
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Rating: 3/5

“Some people aren’t loyal to you…they are loyal to their need of you. Once their needs change, so does their loyalty.”

Love is a mysterious emotion as it is ever evolving. But lust is transient. The thin line that distinguishes love from lust is indiscernible. ‘The Fragrance of Rose’ is about the turbulence faced by the protagonist in deciding between love, lust, and career. The plot of the story begins with the yearning to do better in life and later transforms into a war to salvage dignity.

Read more here

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July 21, 2017

Book Review: The Inimitable Chaos of Life by Maliny Mohan

The Inimitable Chaos of Life

Author: Maliny Mohan
Publisher: Storymirror
Rating: 3/5

‘We live in a rainbow of chaos.’
~Paul Cezanne

Life is chaotic and it takes a lot of courage and patience to face the storms standing tall and conquer the odds. This book presents the uncovered realities of life on the platter before the readers. Through several short stories, the authoress tries to throw light on the various minute details of life and how people deal with it.

The overall concept of the book is nice but a mundane or rather plain cover fails to appeal. StoryMirror is a great platform for the budding authors to showcase their work and through this book, they have proved that quality is what they believe in (in terms of content). The font (size and style) is not according to the standard norm and lacks neatness. The content has such exemplary vocabulary that the readers might develop that urge to turn the pages and read what is written. The stories have an amalgamation of personal experience and didactic purpose. The attempt is to capitalize on the same idea and try to make readers understand the complexities of life.

Overall, the concept of the book is appreciable but the font size acts as a negative factor.

Overall, good effort by the authoress!
Best Wishes!

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Book Review: Demons in My Mind by Aashish Gupta

Demons in My Mind

Author: Aashish Gupta
Publisher: Notion Press
Rating: 3.5/5

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
~Khalil Gibran

‘Demons in My Mind’ is a poignant tale of Dakshesh and his painful illness. The purpose of the story is not to entertain but to question the cult. There are numerous questions that are still unanswered: why is the world not a better place to live in? Should our mind be blamed for the sins we commit? Does repentance yield inner peace?

Starting with the cover, it is abstract and catchy. The title serves the purpose and matches the storyline. The blurb could have been better. No doubt the vocabulary is very good, yet the language might be a problem here. The type setting, font (size, style) and the overall layout are perfect.

Coming to the plot: The story is strong. The build-up of characters in a perfect chronological order is commendable. The character sketch is very balanced and they have been portrayed really well.

Dakshesh’s journey during the last few days of his life has been portrayed nicely. His quest to find solace in the teachings of the three monks is contrasted with the life stories of the three monks- the stories about how their life took a turn and transformed them from sinners to monks. That is something to look out for.

It is not necessary that every story ends on a happy note because every story does not originate in cloud cuckoo land! ‘Demons in My Mind’ is a different type of story that can make you jump out of your skin. The plot is gripping and the lucid narration acts like a cherry on the cake.

Overall, this is a strong, emotional and intelligent piece of fiction which will definitely touch your heart.

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July 16, 2017

Book Review: Parrot under the Pine Tree by Surendra Pratap Singh

Parrot Under the Pine Tree

Author: Surendra Pratap Singh
Publisher: Invincible Publishers
Rating: 3/5

“Having your heart broken is the easy part; knowing when to move on is the challenge.”

‘Parrot Under the Pine Tree’ is a subtle love tale that is relatable and sweet. The story revolves around Vedanta and Saranga, who come in contact by chance and are struck hard by Cupid’s arrow. But destiny is probably not in Vedanta’s favor, for the sudden turn of events sets the alarm bells ringing.

Parrot Under the Pine Tree’ is a love tale, which revolves around the two main characters- Vedanta and Saranga. The title of the book is ambiguous and the faded shade of the cover doesn’t help either. The font is fine and the language is lucid and understandable. I would like to compliment the author’s ability to present this piece of fiction in a language that can be understood by everyone.

The plot is gripping but the major drawback lies in the redundancy of the plot. The story lacks twists and turns and that is another potential reason to not classify the book as a must read. Barring some grammatical errors here and there, the book might be liked by the romantic fiction readers.

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July 12, 2017

Book Review: Siamese Compassion by Kaushal Suvarna

Siamese Compassion
Author: Kaushal Suvarna
Publisher: -

Poetry is an art that reeks of emotions and the one who can play with words and can express his thoughts is said to have lived life rightfully.

We all would have come across books titled as ‘Siamese Poems’ or ‘Siamese cats’ or ‘Ode to a Siamese cat’. For starters, Siamese is a term derived from the word ‘Siam’ which was used formerly as a name for Thailand. However, this book’s title is not a piece of cake to decipher. 

Read the complete review here

July 10, 2017

Book Review: The Moon in the Sun by Sanjay Kumar Singh

The Moon in the Sun: A Novel in Poetry of Love, Life, Soul & Wildlife
Author: Sanjay Kumar Singh
Publishers: Notion Press
Rating: 3/5

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
~Albert Einstein

Nature is said to be the best healer. When the curve of life changes because of the crests and troughs, it is always wise to succumb in the lap of nature and get peace of mind. ‘The Moon in the Sun’ is a poetry collection that is very different from the likes. It has a story weaved through the delicate beads (words) and offers the readers a delightful read.

‘The Moon in the Sun’ is the story of Narayan- the first part of the book deals with his past and the second part narrates his life after 50 years. His attachment with nature and the surroundings is what shapes his life. The emotional connect and the intricate feelings have been portrayed by the author very well. The characterization is fine. Barring a few grammatical errors, the plot is praiseworthy.

However, I feel that the cover design could have been made more intense. Why read this book? Because it will touch your soul and change your perception. This is a new form of poetry for most of the readers and giving it a shot will be worthwhile.

Best Wishes to the author!

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Book Review: Karma by Kevin Missal


Author: Kevin Missal
Publisher: Kalamos Literary Services LLP
Rating: 2/5

Targeting the social evils like inter-caste marriages and questioning the judicial system, ‘Karma’ turns out to be a quick short read. The story begins in the flash back when a woman is raped and killed and the murderers escape, leaving the body hidden. 8 years later, Urvi, the protagonist’s wife makes her appearance felt. The only unfortunate part is that she is no longer a human.

Crafted very precisely, this book will not take much of your time as it is not only fast paced but also comes with lucid narration. Since the main focus was only on the storyline, the character sketch did not come out beautifully.  The cover of the book is catchy and resembles more to a horror genre.

The major drawback is the poor editing and proofreading. I had read the author’s previous work and it comes as a disappointment that yet again, the author has ignored the importance of good language. Use of words like ‘babe’ spoilt the horror for me.

The book could have been better.

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July 03, 2017

Book Review: Window Seat by Yashluv Virvani

Window Seat

Author: Yashluv Virwani
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Rating: 3.5/5

“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you.”
~Rasheed Ogunlaru

Life is unpredictable, yet it is possible to connect the threads together and form an opinion. ‘Window Seat’ is an anthology of short stories that are inspired from our day to day lives. It is the minute things that matter the most and if we focus on them instead of making a mountain of a molehill, we can understand life better. With an apt title, ‘Window Seat’ is a book that touches your heart. I cannot refrain from praising the title; it is so relatable. A window seat is the first choice of many as people see life pass by in different forms. The entire concept of watching and penning down the various stories belonging to random people is commendable.

The author has done a fabulous job of narrating stories and keeping them different from each other. None of the stories are related. But still, a common thought that hovered in my mind was the exemplary skills of observation and narration.

The real pleasure lies in reading each story that is not only fast-paced but also gripping. The cover is pleasant, the blurb is apt and the content is perfect for a light mood. With fitted use of twists and turns in the tales, the book has the potential to leave an indelible impact on your mind. Though philosophical, yet the life lessons are worth giving a shot.

Barring few grammatical and punctuation errors, the book is a delightful read.

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