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[Review]~Sethji, by Shobhaa De’…

He was poor. He was a self-made man. He was shrewd and ruthless. He considered himself the modern-day Chanakya. He was Sethji.

She was ‘a woman’. She was married into a political family. She had no choice. Her body was her deadliest weapon. Her name was Amrita.

Shobhaa De, the author of “Sethji” weaves a tale around a political setup. As a reader, you can almost guess who she is pointing/referring at, if you are aware of our biggest reality show called ‘The Indian Politics’.
The author is well aware of the fact that in India (and outside too), Sex and Erotica sells, and she has made sure to add this masala in almost every chapter of the book. 55-56 chapters, so you can imagine how much!!

At some places, the masala seemed so invalid like how Bollywood adds songs in between two serious scenes of a movie. Something like:
Scene1: Heroine’s father/mother is serious and is struggling for life in an ICU.
Dream Song: The heroine is running wildly around the trees, not praying for her father’s/mother’s health but mockingly escaping from being groped by the hero.
Scene2: The hero is on his way to the hospital and meets with an accident as he was busy dreaming the song sequence while driving!

Point is: At some of the places in the plot, the masala write-up just wasn’t needed. Amrita has not just been exploited, but over-expoited, time and again!

The novel as such is a political drama, the storyline of which I will not divulge for the sake of those who would like to read ’Sethji’. All I can say is that, there is – pain, confusion, betrayal, assassination, infidelity, incest and too much of life ka drama.
The book is a good read, if you like – Indian Politics, Metaphorical Characterization (you will keep guessing as to which political/bollywood bigwig the author is talking about, throughout the length & breadth of the book!), the Masala (to an extent, who doesn’t?!) and Shobhaa De’s free flow (straight-talk) writing style.

IMHO – Shobhaa De’s much better & crisp when it comes to her shorter write ups (newspaper columns, blog posts, etc) than in her novels. A little more efforts in editing would have improved the end product (Found a few spelling typos myself!).

Note: If I’ve known Shobhaa De well, by reading her writings till now – I’d definitely NOT believe that the story of this novel to be entirely fictional, as she and Penguin (the publisher) puts it to be. 😉

Rating: 3.5/5

Image courtesy: Penguin Books India.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in books, I~do~such~things, Reviews

 

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[Book-Review]~A Godly Blunder! :)

Ever wondered what happens to the soul, once we depart from this real world? What is the state of the soul that is a tenant in our body, post its lease period that spans our lifetime? No? Well, the author of this book has kind of dwelled over something that none (that I’ve read so far) have tried to deal with.

Parimal Kalikar, an ex-MNC executive in his first book, deals with an unique storyline of an orphaned soul that gets assigned to by none other than the mighty Almighty alias God, with a temporary assignment of dealing with a bug caused by a technical snag in the SMS (Soul Management System) of Swarga.

 Pic Courtesy: Rupa Publications Co.

Oliver, the protagonist of the book titled “A Godly Blunder!”, is a German national who works as a quality control manager in a premium car company in Germany. He happens to die young in an accident and reaches heaven. And then God decides to assign him with a short term trip back to earth until the technical snag in the SMS at Swarga is rectified.
 
This is where it gets out of hand (and hilarious for the reader) for Oliver. The short assignment requires the meat-eater in him to occupy the body of an short & stout Indian middle-class vegeterian man named Siddhesh who is currently in a state of coma at a hospital in the Indian city of Pune, Maharashtra.

“I didn’t think it would be easy to take a bath after I had looked at Sid’s body – and I was right, it was much worse. Looking at someone else’s body, and soaping it, believing it to be yours is disturbing. It is a humiliating experience cleaning someone else’s privates every day.”

To a reader who understands how an Indian society works with an extreme extent of family bonding, emotion, corruption, dishonesty, working-class ethics, thought-processes amidst all others; this would happen to be a hilarious plot. But to someone like Oliver who is so oblivious to the ground reality, it happens to be quite an eye-opener. And to keep an eye on him on his earthly assignment, he’s got two escorts (Chubby & Hippie) who don’t seem to be making things easier for him as he tries to get along and settle down with his new Indian family and their day-to-day happenings.

What happens to Oliver’s soul when dwelling in an Indian body? How different does Siddhesh behave from his usual, with Oliver’s soul driving the show? All this is answered by the hilarious journey of Oliver’s soul that takes a trip from earth to heaven and back! It surely did keep me in splits for most of its 180 odd page contents.

Do pick it up and read if you are bored of the usual love saga by the authors from ‘three-letter-abbreviated’ premier Indian institutes.
In two words, this book is like “tomato ketchup” – for ‘It’s different’! 😉

Rating: 4/5.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in books, Reviews

 

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[Review]~Revolution 2020…

For a man who stood up against Mr. Narayana Murthy’s view of IITs churning out students with diminished intellect, God decided to punish me. I realized my folly when I remembered that Mr. Murthy himself was an ex-IITian. I seemed to have committed a sin and God happens to punish every sinner in his own way – yes, even if he’s an IIT-IIM graduate.

Being experienced and having done it all – churn out stories, argue with random people within the 140 character limit, advise strangers even when they haven’t asked for it, write newspaper columns just cos Ms. De writes it – I was confident about my dealings with God when the right time arrived. After-all, I’m the one and only Chetan Bhagat.

So when God appeared in front of me: 
God: “So I hear from my secretary that you deserve to be punished, for you’ve committed a sin. A silly one, I’d like to point out.”
Me: “Oh lord, I realize that I did a mistake by arguing with someone of the same blood. Pardon me with minimal punishment, if at all. Please take into consideration that I dedicated the entire climax of my second book to your character.”
God: “Hmmm…no negotiations would suffice for I’ve already decided on your punishment. Your punishment is that you’d turn into your own reader for a day and review your upcoming fifth book – Revolution2020 – and give an honest opinion.”
Me: “Oh no! The book is ready for release. If I had known earlier that this would have happened, I would have written it better!”
God: “ROFL…I know that, but this is my way of a practical punishment. By the way, to make you feel a little better, my secretary is a big fan of your books. Silly girl.”

And here is what I submitted to God as a reader’s review of my own book:

As I finished reading the book, I immediately made note of these 3 pointers I learnt from Chetan Bhagat:
1. Everyone has a story to tell if one is ready to listen, be it on a train or inside a hospital room.
2. While narrating a story, description of the plot/place matters – even if the story seems/remains to be the same.
3. Sex sells.

I felt the book has been written with 70mm celluloid dreams in mind (UTV, today bagged the movie rights of the book!!). Gopal, Aarti and Raghav are the three main characters in the storyline while politician Shukla-ji is another typical character.
 
Love, Corruption and Ambition seem to be the trinity that cooks up this book.

Gopal is an IITJEE entrance exam failure who is in love with Aarti, while she loves Raghav, an IITJEE rank holder. Gopal struggles enough to find it hard to secure an IITJEE ranking and gives up hope of graduating ever, owing to family and financial issues. Raghav, on the other hand takes up engineering only to graduate before moving towards his love – journalism.

While Gopal and Raghav deal with their lives, Aarti fills the void in the plot by going out on boat rides with best friend Gopal and movie dates with her now boyfriend Raghav. As Raghav graduates as an engineer, Gopal gets along with politician Shukla-ji to take care of the “Corruption” part of the trinity.      

As the plot builds, Gopal with political backup goes on to become the director of his own Engineering college – GangaTech – while Raghav faces the ups and downs of being a reporter who takes on corrupt politicians in the name of Revolution! Gopal’s ambition is to own several educational institutes while Raghav’s ambition is to bring about a revolution of a clean & corruption free India by the year 2020. In the meanwhile, Aarti is in a very confused ambition-less situation.

How Gopal lures Aarti under his cosy blanket, only to feel sorry for Raghav and how he forces Aarthi towards Raghav forms a major part of the climax.

As I finished the book, I felt pity for Aarti – for she didn’t deserve the way she was treated. Her character was clean and innocent till about 80% of the book only to be ripped apart in the rest of the book, thus justifying my learning #3. Whether the editor forced such an end to her character or whether Chetan himself did that to her, is something I was left pondering about.

The only plus point about Chetan’s books among the IIT-IIM-Banker-Doctor-Graduate authors of India, is that the usage of English is simple and good…unlike the others who leave behind a lot many grammatical errors and typos, much to irritation of the reader.

My rating: 2/5.

Disclaimer: God forwarded this review to me, for he owed me one! I’m in no way responsible for any direct references to any person, dead or alive, gay or straight, male or female or otherwise.No offense was meant, if felt.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in books, Reviews

 

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[Review-in-Brief]~Neon Nagaram! :)

When it’s not easy to lead a normal life, imagine how it would be to do the same if you suffered from a disorder such as OCD. OCD or the Obessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition wherein anxiety takes control over human action. A person diagnosed with an OCD would be under the compulsion of doing tasks repeatedly or have repeated thoughts, feelings or behavior patterns.

“Neon Nagaram” tells us the story of Vinay, the protagonist who suffers from this anxiety disorder and how he succeeds in life in-spite of all the challenges that life presents before him – his lady love Madhu and his career as a sound engineer taking top priority.
The novel which is in Tamil (I cannot read Tamil, so a friend translated the same to me 🙂 ) uniquely captures the ups and downs in the life of Vinay – his childhood, his confusions, his career, his quarter-life crisis – while on the other hand dealing with his survival in the music industry as he fights against plagiarism.

“Neon Nagaram” is not just a novel but its a musical-novel. The book comes along with a DVD of 17 wonderful songs expressing the moods and happenings of Vinay’s life.
Shammeer – the author who is a music composer himself – has done a wonderful job with the book as he shares what seems to be a real life story of a sound engineer. His music band Paadhai which has composed the music for the album has managed to weave the songs pretty well in a very interesting manner around the theme/story that the book encloses.

My rating: Book – 4/5  Music – 4.5/5

You can purchase the book at a discounted price @ Flipkart – HERE

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in books

 

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[Book Review]~Another Chance! :)

Two things to remember: One, I’m not a voracious reader and two; I do not read books by foreign authors. One, as I cannot concentrate too much on a particular thing and two; I tend to forget the character names as I read along.
To tighten these loose nuts, I tend to go in search of books written by Indian writers. I tend to remember the storyline as well as Indian names!

Last weekend I was all alone and bored, so decided to go watch a movie. An evening show at Escape Cinemas in Express Avenue (EA) mall meant I could go a little early and laze around Odyssey, the book store. And that’s exactly what I did, by reaching EA a good two hours in advance. Haunting the section with Indian Writings neatly arranged, I managed to pick “Another Chance” by Ahmed Faiyaz, solely based on reading the gist of what to expect on its back cover.
Now it’s a big risk to pick books based on what you read on their back cover. Most of the time, I’ve been disappointed. It may all look good from behind, but …you know! 😉

Well I started this post thinking of writing a review, but then started ranting what not.
So coming to the book, it felt like I was reading something afresh, something so different from the usual gal meets boy in college story. This one was a much matured, much painful, much realistic, much more. Ruheen Oberoi, the protagonist in the plot is a much sought after lady – cute, lovely, charming, beautiful, sexy, hot, et al – who is admired, stalked, loved, and desired at various stages of her life and sometimes, all at the same time. Having lost her parents at a young age, she’s brought up by her Nana (grandpa) who happens to be her only family. Vishal, Aditya, Rohan, Varun happen to be the men in her life…stalker, lover, husband (separated) and friend respectively. The story shuffles between Shimla, Mumbai and Amsterdam where it mainly revolves around her (live-in) relationship with Aditya, a successful Brand Manager who finds it very difficult to achieve what they call – the work-life balance.
As one reads along, what needs to be seen is: Whether Aditya is successful in balancing out his life leisure along with work pressures? Whether Ruheen has the patience to stick around as Aditya juggles during his balancing-act? Whether Varun ends up being the rebound guy? What happens to Vishal?
And the best of all, where by the grace of hell does the seductress Malika fit in, into this plot?

Ahmed has done a great job in describing places and scenes which helps us imagine the set up as we read on. He’s handled the relationships and the innumerous hardships in a very realistic manner. A good read if you are ready to believe that there could be a possibility of a character, such as Ruheen’s, in the society that we all live in.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in books, Reviews

 

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