The Dev Anand Story by Dr Govind Sharma

Abhi Naa Jao chodkar, Ke Dil Abhi Bhara Nahi.” – (Hum Dono, 1961) is the apt song for describing the charisma and aura which reflects from Dev Anand. The Dev Anand Story is a recollection of his rise to stardom and the years after. He was a man who lived for the Indian Film industry and gave back immensely through his expertise in this field. Dr. Govind Sharma has written the book after meticulous research and that is evident from the chapters itself.

Dev Anand worked as a regular employee and struggled in Bombay to make a mark for himself. But after his first break, he never looked back. He did not believe in attaching himself to his works and that is why the success or failure of his movies could not deeply bother him.

Interestingly, as society does with all the actors, he too was not spared of comparison- either with other actors of his time or with his own works. After the phenomenal success of Guide; Dev Anand not only became a household name but also set a benchmark for himself in the world of Indian Cinema, that no other actor or his own work could break. As an actor, he has had his fair share of rumors to deal with but has always been successful in keeping them at bay and impressing his audience with his work.

The Dev Anand Story immortalizes the ma himself through the writings of the author. The principles that he followed all his life, are indeed lessons of life for others. His friendship with Guru Dutt can never be forgotten. While they were both starting out, they each made a promise to the other, which they eventually fulfilled. He was also a true lover although destiny had other plans for him. His relationships with his co-stars – contemporaries or younger- had always been a two-way learning process. He was an experimental man and thus each movie made under his home banner- Navketan Films- had a different theme. However, ironically whenever he signed movies outside his banner he portrayed the stereotypical lover-boy.

Until his death at the age of eighty-eight Dev Anand did not rest. He experimented, acted, directed, produced, and suggested changes for scripts. He especially liked to work with new people as it gave him a newer perspective on situations and life. These traits of his personality truly made him an evergreen hero of the Indian Film Industry. His contributions were immense and his death deeply saddened his fans that spanned over at least three generations.

To conclude I would say that The Dev Anand Story is a great resource for researchers, film students, and anyone who would like to delve deeper into the ideologies of the man himself. His philosophies, struggles, personal life, friendships, experiments, trivia’s, rumors, love life, and a lot more are discussed in details. Nevertheless, one drawback of the book would be its editing. A crisper editing and deletion of repeated points would make the book a perfect read.

The Dev Anand Story is available on Flipkart and Amazon.

Disclaimer: I would like to Thank NotionPress for sending over a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu : A Review

Victoria and Abdul sheds light on a forgotten historical Indian figure who rose on his own merits in the Court of the British Queen ; and was wiped out from the blackboard of history; only to be dug out decades later by Shrabani Basu.

The Queen was experiencing the flavours of the East like never before. She was, after all, Empress of India, Kaiser-e-Hind or Mallika -e- Hindustan. . . . . Her passage to India was only just beginning.

This historical novel describes the relationship between the Queen and Abdul Karim, her Indian confidante. Interestingly, the text books have always shown the British invasion in a negative light; while never once trying to discover the Queen’s strange relationship with her Indian servant, who later became her Munshi or teacher- a position of high repute and regard given to any Indian , in the Victorian era.

Victoria and Abdul is a story of friendship, respect, honour, defence, envy, humiliation and suspicion. Every shade of human emotions can be seen in this never-before-heard-of relationship of the Munshi with the Queen and other members of the Queen’s Household. When Abdul Karim, a young man of 23 was sent to England to be the Queen’s attendant, little did anyone know that he was destined to be her closest confidante instead.

The novel’s flow is based on research and facts. Never have I ever seen such beautiful writing emerging out of the re-arrangement and compilation of facts. Throughout the 266 pages, Basu, has made sure to appeal to the human emotions through her words and vivid imagery while portraying a true situation.

It is often said that the mighty and powerful positions are the most lonely ones. Such seems true for the elderly Queen who lost her beloved almost four decades ago and was disturbed by the nuances of her children and extended family. Thus she finds solace in befriending Abdul and consulting him in most matters and decisions. The Queen was also at a loss due to her inability to visit India and thus made Abdul, her doorway to the Orient. Bound by determination she even started learning Hindustaani/ Urdu and completed thirteen journals . she considered Abdul a.k.a. Munshi, almost like her son and her constant persistence gave him important positions in her Court, theatre tableaux, among the elites of the World, land grants in Agra and other prominent positions to his family back home; at times going against the wishes of her Household and family.

Original photographs of the Queen and her Munshi Courtesy: http://bit.ly/2ythV8l

However, a vast proportion of the novel also consists of the conspiracy theories the Queen’s Court and Household plotted against Abdul, so that he can be lowered in the eyes of the Queen.  In fact the whole Munshi business had become stressful and tiring to such an extent that people called it the ‘Munshimania’. Was it racism at play? Was it discrimination? Was it the inferiority complex regarding individual status in the Household via-a-vis the Munshi; that drove the Household to hate and conspire against him? Most members had their own opinion and from their point of view was not wholly incorrect.

What touched me the most was the disgraceful behaviour the Munshi was subjected to, after the Queen’s death and his family after his own demise. The Queens’s Household on orders from Prince Edward raided all the cottages and houses – in the UK and in India- and burnt all forms of correspondence that existed between the Queen and her beloved Munshi. In fact, with time, all evidences of this individual were buried deep and the man himself who strode among royalty lay in a five feet grave in an isolated and forgotten graveyard since the 1909- his popularity lost in the gravels of time only to be uncovered by Shrabani Basu years later.

A fact that struck me the most , was that the narration was majorly from the point of view of the Queen and her household. Compared to it, the Munshi’s own thoughts did not find a prominent space in the narration. But again, since the novel is based on facts a benefit of doubt can be given to the author for focusing on a point of view based on research and evidences. Though it seems very clear from the journal entries by the  Munshi regarding his relationship towards the Queen, but a little more opinion on the Household and his relations with the other Indian servants , through his eyes would have been great.

Nevertheless, I would recommend all to read this beautiful novel to discover a lost Indian pride and live  this wonderful relationship between the Queen and Abdul through its pages.

Victoria and Abdul : The Movie

Photo Courtesy: flickeringmyth.com

Today, Victoria and Abdul has been adopted into a major motion picture starring Judie Dench and Ali Fazal in the lead roles and directed by Stephen Frears. It was released on the 15th of September, 2017. Personally, the movie was good but it failed to establish the essence of the relationship between Victoria and Abdul. Due to time constraints, only incidents of the book could be adapted ; but that lead to an epidermal establishment of the relationship. The seriousness of the storyline was beautifully laced with comic situations providing the audience the much-needed respite. Both Dench and Fazal delivered remarkable performances. Though I do not rate movies but I would like to give Victoria and Abdul a 6.5-7/10 and would recommend you to watch it.

Image Courtesy: Google

*Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of Victoria and Abdul from BloomsburyIndia in exchange of an honest review.

The Colours of Passion by Sourabh Mukherjee

Sourabh Mukherjee, in his book, The Colours of Passion has sported quite a unputdownable read with numerous plots and sub-plots taking you on a roller coaster ride. A high-profile rape and murder in Kolkata turns the eye-balls of the who’s who of the elite society to the headlines and also under suspicion. The City’s young and rich entrepreneur, Manav Chauhan, gets married to the diva of the film industry, Hiya Sen; and within days of this much awaited marriage Hiya is brutally raped and murdered. The question is WHY and WHO?

It is a known fact that the more famous one becomes, the more enemies one builds. But it is also difficult to gauge the intentions of the closest friends, who leave no stones unturned to hide in their snake skins and fake genuine concerns. An important and inevitable aspect of the celebrities is the deep and dark secrets which are often masked by evergreen smiles and hidden from the lime lights.

ACP Agni Mitra, known for his accurate abilities to deduce conclusions in high-profile cases, has been assigned to investigate the murder. A chain of events following Hiya’s murder and a string of suspects make him travel through slums and shanties to the posh city malls, talking and interrogating a long list of suspects, each of whom had a genuine reason and motive to remove Hiya out-of-the-way. Agni Mitra sure does stands out as the super cop of the novel. His eagle eyes pay great attention to details as minute as mannerisms and behavioural changes. His stern, to-the-point demeanour helps him solve his cases through intellectual deduction based on acquired evidences.

Mukherjee weaves in some very relatable characters into the novel. An actress engulfed by the horrors of her losing fame and age, an entrepreneur coming from a conservative family that relies on human bonding for expansion of business, a cop tormented by memories of his own horrors, a struggling alcoholic model trying to rise up the ladder of fame- each of these characters and their personalities are well perceived and described in the novel. It is interesting to see how the varying personalities meet and react to each other in the heated situation.

The Colours of Passion makes one realise that beyond the blinding flash lights, deafening fan screams and a façade of enthusiasm and smiles; every soul is lonely and fights an internal turmoil every day to find solace away from the demons of fame. Celebrities often work for days without breaks and try to run away from the crowd to find their ‘me-time’. It also makes us wonder if immense stardom makes the celebrities take on more burden on themselves than they can actually cope up with. This burden of expectations fills up their hearts and swells up their eyes – often resulting into drastic actions taken by them. The question that arises in this context is ‘How much is too much? ‘ .

Last but not the least; I would commend the author for drawing the attention of the readers to a very serious social issue. It is an issue which is  prevalent in contemporary times. Unfortunately, no matter how liberal we proclaim the world to be; at some point the mind-set is still that of an overtly conservative individual. Such restricted liberalism often chokes certain individuals who are seen as ‘unconventional’ in the society. But then my question is, what is conventional and who decides it?

If you like this review, then do let me know in the comments below or give a shout out on Twitter and Instagram .

*Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of the book by @Writersmelon in exchange of an honest review.

Blowfish by Siddharth Tripathi

Blowfish in the literal meaning of the term has two connotations -one from the technological field and the other from the Animalia kingdom. It is a symmetric key block cipher designed in 1993. It is used to provide a good encryption rate in software’s by keeping in mind various parameters involved. Similarly, the protagonist Mukund in Siddharth Tripathi’s Blowfish is a complex encryption of various parameters. Some parameters are in his hands while others are hopelessly out of his control. A re-arrangement of these factors would have pushed him towards attaining a peaceful and enlightened life; but his life is far from being so. Blowfish also refers to a fish, commonly eaten as an exotic delicacy in Japan. A blowfish usually bloats itself by inhaling excess air or gulping down excess water, when it feels threatened. Mukund can be visualised as a blowfish but instead of bloating himself as a defence mechanism his adventures tend to bloat his problems as an offence mechanism to the people surrounding him.

Tripathi’s characters are very relatable in contemporary society. Mukund , though a calm and composed fellow finds himself in the middle of not-s0-calm-and-composed situations ever so often. Having come from a broken family his relationship is strained vis-à-vis his father. He takes a courageous decision in order to pursue his dream of making a mark in the world. Chaddha, Mukund’s flatmate, is an overtly happy-go-lucky guy. One cannot expect a moment’s peace with him being around. He is an erratic decision maker, moody; and suffers from a strange condition of being desperate-to-fall-in-love-with –women-with-big-boobs. Mukund’s friend Sampu whose wife is expecting is an undecided, unprepared yet helpfully loyal fellow who is stuck in between his wife’s mood swings during pregnancy and his friends turmoil filled adventurous lives.

Blowfish also has a parallel track of BumBum, the trusted house help of Mukund and Chaddha. He falls in love with a married woman whose husband had deserted her. This love-struck, honest, caring and liberal lovebirds finds himself in various unwanted situations for he had dared to love beyond the set societal norms. Suman , a bright girl working in Hong Kong is equally confused with the way her life is proceeding and in the heat of the moment comes back to her parents in Gurgaon. She befriends Mukund and they become ‘good friends’. Harpal, the society secretary where Mukund and Chaddha reside, is in a constant tug of war with the boys. However, it is only after realising the layers of sadness underneath the stern-faced man, that one can decipher his actions and justify them.

Certain relevant themes have been brought out by Tripathi through the book. Today, the life of a corporate employee has become very programmed. It seems that they have a set time –table without any respite from their daily chores. In fact, it can often be visualized as a claustrophobic environment from where employees like Mukund are dying to break free and invest their time in something new. An underlying theme which recurs quite a few times, but its repercussions are prominently felt many times in the novel is that of desertion during old age. Harpal the secretary of Mukund’s society behaves rather rashly with him because he sees in him a reflection of his only son who had settled in another country and hardly ever had time for his father. Mukund’s narration of his strained relationship with his father worries Harpal and he decides to teach the young lad a lesson. In fact, today with most of the youth moving out of their hometown, their old parents are actually leading a secluded and lonely life all by themselves.

Thus Tripathi’s contemporary storytelling methods used in Blowfish is definitely a treat to read. Especially with his witty and comical use of the language which almost makes the reader visualise the scenes in front of them. The best part of the novel is that the characters are very relatable and so are their decisions, well maybe Chaddha can be unpredictable sometimes, but that is the essence of his character!

The book would be soon available at your nearest bookstores or can be purchased online through Bloomsbury. Happy Reading!

 

Can a Girl and a Boy Be Just Friends?

Can a Girl and a Boy Be Just Friends? By Sumrit Shahi is set in a modern background highlighting the truths and troubles existing in the life of two best friends, who are from the opposite sex. It is said that destiny is the biggest teacher in one’s life. That is probably why Tanie and Aaryan met in a foreign land , exchanged their stories and found out about the valuable bond that they had each scraped out of their lives not so long ago.

Aaryan, the casual flirt falls in love with a girl during a MUN. What follows is a hilarious and not-so-hilarious ‘ walk to remember’ in trying to woo the lady of his life. But somewhere down the line, this virtual and one-sided relationship takes a toll on the bond he shared with his best friend, Boza. Tanie, on the other hand shares everything with his best friend, Sumer. They lived next door, knew each other’s friends, covered up each other’s faults and lived a happy life until Tanie had to choose between the love for her boyfriend Rehan and her loyalty and friendship for Sumer.

Can a Girl and a Boy Be Just Friends is very relevantly titled. It is a general misconception that girls and boys cannot be ‘only’ friends. It is taken for granted that they share special bonds. However, the society does not understand the beauty of a bond created by friendship between a girl and boy. Remember Rahul and Anjali from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? Was that not a bond of purity, friendship, companionship and most importantly trust? Keeping the Cannot-Be-Just-Friends attitude in mind, society often mistakes infatuation as love. In fact, in most cases, the best friends are unaware of this deep, pious bond between them which actually qualifies as love as opposed to the general predicament of love being the jaw dropping mesmerising beauty and handsomeness in front. This is often due to their opinions being shaped by the society around them.

Sumrit Shahi has picked up two different stories from the lives of teenagers and presented it to the youth. Girls and boys today find themselves tangled between the webs of insecurities that they face vis a vis their best friends and their girlfriends or boyfriends. Every individual reacts differently to these situations. But often it is found that friendship is the most compromised relationship of the two. Although, in reality it is the most beautiful, secure, independent and lively relationship. There is no holding back, no careful selection of words being spoken, fights end up just as fast as they had erupted and above all both sides of the coin are utmost comfortable with each other to make this friendship last- things which are often not found in a relationship termed as love.

Sumrit has written the book in a very informal way which often reflects as if the protagonists are conversing with the reader. This makes the reader feel almost like a silent character in the book. It was a great read and is definitely one of those books which can be read on a lazy day or a rainy relaxing day sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee. However, a crisper editing would have done wonders to the book. What I liked best was that Shahi, brilliantly makes an open ended conclusion for the readers to make their own decisions about the fact that Can a Girl and a Boy Be Just Friends?

This book is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal. You can also read my Goodreads review on this book.

Cover Image Courtesy: Google Images

Disclaimer: I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

5 Reasons to Read The Serpent’s Revenge

The Last time I ventured to  the Starmarks in Quest Mall, I came across The Serpent’s Revenge by Sudha Murthy. I have recently started reading her books, and am in awe of her writing . Thus, this was a book that I had to pick up. It took me only two days to complete it . And Yes! I loved it. I loved it for more than one reason. Hence, here are 5 reasons why I liked the book and I am sure you would too, upon reading it.

  1. Its MAHABHARAT Time! 

If you are a Mahabharata freak like me, then this is the book to add to your collections. with over two dozens of stories, especially curated from the Great Epic, The Serpent’s Revenge brings to you an unseen and hidden version of this tale.

        2. The Tales are short and crisp.

Each story is hardly five pages long. The stories cover a wide range of themes like love, betrayal, sacrifice, courage, gratitude, intelligence and others. Beautifully put down, each story summarizes an important part of the biggest epic of India. Not only do the stories catch your attention , but it also leaves you with a food for thought.

      3. It Deals with the AFTERMATH of the War too. 

For most novels written on the Mahabharata, you do not find references on the aftermath, barring a few. But , The Serpent’s Revenge pays equal attention to both before and after the war. In fact, it is on a closer look at the names of the chapter, that you would find the book named after a chapter which takes place generations after the war.

      4. Beautiful Illustrations to Watch out for. 

No matter how much you say that a book helps in creating an image of the situation in your mind’s eye; a little illustrations can actually do a lot of good. Hence, Murthy’s illustrator Priyankar Gupta takes care of this aspect. Some incredibly detailed illustrations follow every tale in this book. Not only does it depict the situation but also hints on symbolism. At times, the illustration alone tells you about the scene and the tale. Indeed the saying- ‘A Picture is worth a thousand words ‘ is true!

#serpentsrevenge #bookreview #illustrations #blogpost coming up soon.

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      5. Your perfect On-The-Go Book Buddy

Comprising of short stories nestled between a hundred and eighty-two pages, The Serpent’s Revenge has surely been designed for those lazy days when you grab a book and a cup of coffee; or for those long unending journeys where it serves as your best companion.

The Serpent’s Revenge is available in all the leading bookstores near you. It can also be purchased online through Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon. If you have read this book , do let me know if you have liked it and why? If you have not , well then you know where to find it , if you want to read it sometime later on.

 

Amba: The Question of Red – Laksmi Pamuntjak

Amba : The Question of Red written by Laksmi Pamuntjak revolves around the modern-day retelling of the stories of the early Mahabharata. This Indonesian novel set against the backdrop of the political turbulence of the 1960’s explores the love and romance shared between the protagonists. Even though a modern-day retelling, Pamuntjak has tried to keep the story line as realistic and close to the original story line, as possible.

Salwa, who was chosen by Amba’s parents for her as the best suitor depicted an epitome of gentleness, calmness, satisfaction and care; and yet lacked to touch the chords of Amba’s heart. Amba , on the other hand , often considered herself to be lesser than her ever beautiful sisters- Ambika and Ambalika. She often thought to herself that she was not fit for being loved and should follow her parent’s instructions and be the good girl that they wanted her to be. Bhishma, a highly educated doctor who gives up his family inheritance and lavishness to serve the people enters the life of Amba , only to turn it upside down forever.

If you are to draw parallel with the original Mahabharata, then true to his character Salwa plays a restricted part in the story. Amba, whose life’s major intention was revenge is shown as a more toned down woman with the sole aim of finding his lost lover throughout the novel. Bhishma on the other hand resembles his character to quite an extent. Despite being handsome and talented, he was forced to live the life of a celibate almost all his life. Though he did love Amba, he was also destined to not have her forever. It is said that the original Princess Amba had cursed Bhisma that each of the sins that he would commit in his lifetime would turn to sharp arrows that would pierce his body when he would die. It is interesting to note how Bhisma would meet his end in Amba: the Question of Red.

Further, for those of you who are well versed with the Mahabharata would wonder about the existence of Shikhandi/Shikhandini the re-incarnation of Amba as Drupad’s daughter/son ; who was destined to exact revenge from Bhisma. The presence of Shikhandi is a question that arouses curiosity in the minds of the readers till the very last page and I would leave it at that for you to find out.

What is interesting in the novel is the theme of lost love. Every character – Salwa, Amba and Bhisma had loved in their lifetime and lost the person whom they loved dearly. Whether it be a conscious decision to leave a person due to incompatibility ; or a game of fate which makes two lovers separate; the recurring theme of lost love is a highlight in the entire novel. Another interesting theme is in the name of the novel itself- The Question of Red. Red is a symbol of love, danger, fate and happiness. When you progress deep into the novel, you would realise how Red is the colour of Fate- the fate which decided the destiny of two young lovers- Amba and Bhishma.

Amba : The Question of Red is a must read for those who love to read romance or would like to explore another take on this ancient epic; where amidst many other themes love is also a crucial one. Pamuntjak has beautifully sealed the fate of the two lovers across decades in this novel. I would certainly recommend my friends to read it. It is available in all leading bookstores near you or can be purchased through Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal.