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Showing posts from 2017

Book Review - One Indian Girl

With 'One Indian Girl', CB breaks new ground. He writes in the voice of a woman, he talks about the challenges the Indian society, the Great Indian Family, the workplace keep throwing at modern urban Indian women, and how the protagonist battles against all of this and also, "her own inner voice at times". The last is a very clever and in this context, very successful writing ploy. CB maintains an almost parallel thread where the inner voice of the girl, brought up in a conservative, archaic environment seeped in ridiculous traditions, is often in conflict with the decisions her learned, logical and rational mind takes. In some sections of the book, I see CB taking a VERY mature and evolved tone of writing - in sharp contrast to some of his earlier books. The couple of sequences (one in her US apartment and another in her Hong Kong apartment) where the girl stands for her dignity and her values, even at the prospect of her dreams and her love being shattered, were V…

Book Review - The Fault in Our Stars

'The Fault in Our Stars' is the first John Green book I read. And I am now going to read ALL his books. This book was a revelation. Because, when I picked up the book, I had braced myself for yet another global phenomenon, immensely popular romance now-made-into-a-Hollywood-blockbuster (soon to be re-made in India, I hear), but essentially 'Sympathy Lit' (which I am told is now almost a guaranteed recipe for success in that genre). And I was SO WRONG! Yes, there are diseases, there is misery, there are moments when I choked up, but Green takes this completely irreverent tone,his characters crack genuinely funny jokes about themselves and their physical challenges, and in general, they have fun! More than a love story with, well an inevitable tragic ending, this is a story of hope, and this is about how life should be lived to the fullest. As I read through the funny vivacious escapades of the couple, one with cancer affecting her lungs, and the other having lost a leg…

Kolkata: The anatomy of a city in Agni Mitra thrillers

The first Agni Mitra thriller ‘In the Shadows of Death’ (https://goo.gl/ajgKLn) starts with a portrayal of Park Street on a rainy evening, which goes as below: 

“Those who had run for cover under the shades included men and women who had been working late in the many offices in the neighbourhood, street children who would otherwise flock around foreigners staying in one of the plush hotels in the area, pimps who carried albums loaded with pictures of call-girls and would get in the way of men roaming around alone in Park Street, and hookers who roamed the streets or waited patiently for hours on end in desolate corners of the roads or in the bus stops in their loud make-up and hopeful eyes, waiting to be picked up and driven to cheap hotels around the place. The incongruous mix of people who stood next to each other, skin to skin, in the bus stops or under the ledges of the showrooms of global brands that lined the road, made Agni smile to himself every time he crossed them. That one s…

Chinese food, Romance and a Murder: What’s cooking?

‘The Colours of Passion’ brings to light the fate of a number of our favourite stand-alone restaurants in the face of competition from global restaurant chains.
China Valley, one of the oldest restaurants in South Kolkata, started off back in the seventies and soon became one of the most popular eateries in town. Taking a girl to China Valley for dinner could win her suitor brownie points and give him a head start in the field!
China Valley kept growing through the eighties and nineties, launching new properties and takeaway counters in different parts of Kolkata. In the early years of the millennium, the owners even planned expansion beyond Kolkata.
And then, a few years back, the slump kicked in.
“The city suddenly had several new options. Global chains started making inroads. People started experimenting with different kinds of cuisines. Kolkata became more cosmopolitan, which had an influence on the city’s culinary habits. Shopping malls started flourishing. Dining got linked with a…

Decoding Cat-fights!

‘The Colours of Passion’ (Amazon link: https://goo.gl/cnY38Z) puts the spotlight on two leading ladies of Tollywood, their careers presently at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Hiya Sen lost her parents in a train accident when she was seven and was brought up by an uncle who worked in the local post office in a small town in Burdwan. When she was in the third year of her Arts course in college, she filled out the application form for a beauty pageant in Kolkata, much against the wishes of her uncle. She gave up her studies and headed for Kolkata. She won the crown. Modelling assignments, photoshoots for popular magazines, roles in television serials and then movies—everything happened in quick succession and Hiya never looked back. Opportunities kept knocking on her door, and her talent propelled her to dizzying heights of fame in an incredibly short time. She went on to marry Manav Chauhan, the scion of the Chauhan family, who carved out a distinct identity for himself as one of th…

'The Colours of Passion' - The motivation behind my second novel

I have often asked myself this question.
Was it a desire to step out of the ‘shadows’ into a vibrant, ‘colourful’ milieu? To break free from the despondency of ‘death’ and savour the frenzy of ‘passion’? Maybe. Or, maybe not.
Because, when you are hurtling down the murky path of crime, it probably does not matter whether it is broad daylight or there are shadows looming large. It is the greed, the insecurity, and the hurt of a tormented soul that is at the root of all evils since time immemorial. That does not change even as stories change.
I, of course, wanted to talk about ‘passion’. In my story, I talk about our passion for our work, our craft. I talk about the almost oppressive desire to excel in what we do, which keeps us awake through nights. And how that passion often makes us blind to our sense of propriety. And then, there is the passion one feels for another human being. It can have a variety of shades – some we are ‘comfortable’ with, some which do not conform to societal def…

Book Review - Museum of Memories: A soulful journey of many lives, through many eras and across many worlds

Amrita Mukherjee’s book ‘Museum of Memories’ (http://www.amazon.in/dp/9385854194/) is a collection of 13 short stories which, as the blurb suggests, are tales inspired by reality.
Reading through the stories, you find yourself looking into a kaleidoscope of emotions and Amrita, with her lucid language and superior storytelling skills, draws you into a world inhabited by characters you have grown up with, characters you run into everyday, and the person you look at every time you stand in front of the mirror.
In terms of structure, these are short stories that speak volumes and mostly end unpredictably. One can breeze through the book from cover to cover. However, they leave you with images, questions and thoughts to reflect upon long after the last page has been turned.
How do we embrace those close to us before they turn into memories? How does a woman who sells her womb for a price then grapple not just with the empty womb but an empty heart? What does destiny have in store for a sex…

Book Review - Onaatah of the earth by Paulami Duttagupta

Early on in the narrative, Paulami Duttagupta has to say this about Onaatah, the feisty protagonist of her novel ‘Onaatah of the earth’ (http://www.amazon.in/Onaatah-Earth-Adapted-National-winning/dp/9385854224):
‘ She looked rotten. Her face looked battered. But she didn’t want anybody to see her tears.’
This line pretty much sums up the courage and the grit of the (s)hero of Paulami’s story.
Based on the eponymous Khasi language film that won a National Award in 2016, Paulami’s novel is about a young girl who is subjected to brutal sexual violation after being abducted in a car by a gang of men that ironically includes one of her classmates from college, and who then fights back against archaic patriarchy, against the radical changes in attitude of those she had held close to her heart, and most importantly, against her own inner demons that her traumatic experience had unleashed.
In the early sections of her story, Paulami brilliantly depicts not just the physical sufferings but the em…

Book Review - Breach by Amrita Chowdhury

In my day job, I see my clients, mostly global pharmaceutical majors, call out data security as one of the key drivers for their enterprise information management programs. The topic is more relevant now than ever with clinical trials being conducted across the globe, with varying degrees of data security controls. Trials need to be fast in the face of competition, and blockbuster drugs are short-lived in the face of challenges posed by generics. 

The premise of Breach is something I could instantly relate to. And then what I loved about the book was the way Chowdhury weaves a brilliantly executed conspiracy around what could have easily degenerated into a dry discourse on cyber crime and pharmaceutical procedures. The narrative is fast paced, the language lucid, the characters human.

In the garb of a cyber thriller, Breach is also an emotional story. I lived those few days with the protagonist of the story as he battled the crisis at work with his relationships bearing the brunt. Chowd…

Book Review - Ajaya: Roll of the Dice by Anand Neelakantan

Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelakantan published by Platinum Press (Leadstart Publishing) brings a unique perspective to the story of Mahabharata. In his introductory note, Neelakantan sets the premise of his work and is compellingly convincing in his characterization of Suyodhana, more (in)famously referred to as Duryodhana in popular lore, when he draws the reader’s attention to his unwavering determination to fight for his belief, his bravery and his strong personality. Neelakantan calls out incidents such as Suyodhana’s willingness to challenge the prevailing caste system by making Karna the king of Anga; his feelings for Ekalavya; his gallantry in taking on the Pandavas. At the same time, Neelakantan depicts him as a fallible human being, in sharp contrast with his cousins.

Neelakantan’s storytelling is lucid and he creates powerful imagery. Right from the ‘visually rich’ and dramatic entry of Bhishma into the palace of Gandhara to walk away with the princess Gandhar…

Book Review - Thwarted Escape by Lopamudra Banerjee

Finished reading Lopa Banerjee 's book Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant's Wayward Journey (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thwarted-Escape-Immigra…/…/9352074254) I have to say this was an unparalleled reading experience. And I say this not just because Lopa has the enviable skill of being able to weave images with impeccably chosen words, or, because her writing has the magical prowess of pulling one out of familiar surroundings and transporting one to her world that demands to be explored and cherished - but because, she is an extremely courageous author. As they say, the best way to know an author is to read her / his work. But what I usually get to see are veiled characterizations and tangential references, that feed off an author's personal experiences. What we get to see in Lopa's book, however, is a stark, no-holds-barred depiction of her journey - speckled with moments of ecstasy, of despair, of shame, of anger. This is the gripping story of a journey. The journey …

Book Review - Temple of Illusions by Tilottama Pal

Temple of Illusions by Tilottama Pal (http://www.amazon.in/Temple-Illusions-Collecti…/…/1482873133) Tilottama pens 53 poems on Love - the myriad forms of it, the myriad emotions one associates with it. With her compelling and refreshingly unique style, Tilottama weaves a tapestry of images that linger in our minds long after the last page of the book has been turned. The book is bound to take you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, bringing back memories of days gone by and opening up wounds you thought had healed, the very next moment enticing you with promises of a future adorned by dreams and desires you never knew existed, buried somewhere deep inside, holding a mirror to your present all the while. Sample this - while the book opens with poems like 'Waves' and 'Destination' that tug at your heart-strings with visuals of separation, the very next poem is about gay, unbridled abandon! 'For Me', 'Eyes', 'Tramstop', 'Apparition', …

Book Review - The Sinister Silence by Moitrayee Bhaduri

I finished reading Moitrayee Bhaduri's 'The Sinister Silence' (http://www.amazon.in/Sinister-Silence-Moitrayee/…/9382665552) last night. Sharing your thoughts about a thriller is always difficult as you run the risk of giving away too much. So I will be economical and cautious with my words. Moitrayee, firstly, I love the story you tell in this book. Every time I read a thriller, I look for the story at the core when the obvious elements of tension, suspense and adrenaline rush have been stripped off. And this book scores big time there. There are intriguing subplots that kept me guessing all through. Moitrayee brilliantly portrays the complexity of relationships, the politics and the vested interests we all encounter at work and at home everyday. Moitrayee has an eye for details and while there are a number of characters in this intriguing play, she develops them through their actions and dialogues and sometimes sketches their character graphs with crisp backstories. I als…