Posts Tagged 'Review'

Book Review: Democrazy

Democrazy is a satirical spoof of political environment of media – it caricaturises several key figures of media, politics and business (religious or non-religious). In truth, that pretty much sums up the book review. 😉

Characters in the book

democrazyPolitics is led by Badi sarkar and her inept and puerile son chote sarkar – a clear reference to bosses of a yesteryear (feels good to say so :P) political party. Chote sarkar is mentored by Mohammed Panja whose rival is a politician from Orchid party with a naughty name Girpade. There is BB, Buddhiman Buddhiraja, no less, who has a nightly show called ‘B for Budhhi’ on a channel called, wait for it, Bow Wow. He quite closely resembles an Arnab clone. There is Giani Seth, the richest man in the country, who disburses cheques of ten crores to beggars, hires people to defeat his rival Chaddha on candy crush and makes accident caused by his kid goes away. Sounds familiar, the last part? Oh yeah! Then comes another businessman, err, religious leader, er no, neem expert, Baba Neemacharya, who is close to Badi sarkar. Between Giani and Baba Neemacharya, they hire Miss Indias to be their personal secretary or hospitality girls. Again, any of these characters could be clone of any number people from same brethren (politics/media/business) that we have heard of. Needless to say, all these characters work hard to take the country to dogs. In this nasty mix, throw in an honest school Principal Ambika and her Twitter activist son Adarsh and we have our victims.

Thing about this satire was it was very close to reality. I laughed at the hyperbole and dark humor for 100 pages and later I quietened. I wish the writer, Atulya Mahajan better known as Amreekandesi, had put a Coen-esque disclaimer in the beginning of the book: This is based on a true story. I am pretty sure I can prove that just as well as Coen brothers can for Fargo.

The book has an end befitting for Priyadarshan movies, where all characters come together in a chaos. I won’t write how it ends but chances are you already know since you have witnessed it many times in real world and fiction.

I think I must applaud Atulya for his courage to write about it and mock these caricatures of our society. However, none of it was new to me; I could always tell what was about to come. The satire in the book was something reminiscent of what Twitter humorists (including Atulya himself) have already acquainted us with.

I loved the tweets in the beginning of each lesson; I thought that they captured the ‘Twitter essence’ of each character very well. A shout out to book cover designers, I loved it. The funny quotes in thought bubbles and the illustration are both a credit to the book.

This is Atulya’s second book with a subject different than his first one; his first book was a coming-of-age story. I will wait for Atulya to write a third book about, well, something new again. 🙂

 (I received a review copy courtesy the author and his publisher.)

Book Review: A Mirrored Life

The Mirrored Life reminds me of traditions of Kathasaritsagar, the story within story or of Scheherazade of the Arabian nights. It is story about life of Rumi recounted through the fictional journey of Ibn Battuta, the 14th century Moorish traveler. Ibn Battuta traveller on his way to China from Tangier makes a fictional stop in Anatolia. There he receives a secret manuscript from a calligrapher Yakut al-Mustasimi. Not only does Yakut play Scheherazade, which left me wanting for more, his manuscript also describes most famous friendship in the Sufi history – friendship between Rumi and dervish Shams of Tabriz.mirr_life

Rumi is an eternal subject for generations of the readers: it evokes powerful emotions of love and friendship. Personally I don’t much enjoy English translations of Rumi’s poems, but an Urdu translation of his verses never fails to move me. It is Rumi’s friendship with Shams, his pain at parting with his beloved that has to led to the writing of such marvelous verses in history.

Rumi, better known as Maulan Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, is a revered preacher in Konya which is modern day Turkey. However, his life takes a complete turn when he meets Shams and he is engrossed in Sufi traditions. There is lot of prescience and faith in this extraordinary friendship between Rumi and Shams. Rumi entered a period of Chillah with Shams, alienating not only his disciples and students but also a few important people in Rumi’s life: his wife Kira, his son Sultan, his trusted disciple Hussam and Shaikh Bahauddin, who shows him the way in the beginning.

Continue reading ‘Book Review: A Mirrored Life’

Movie Review: pk

Pk has distinct Rajkumar Hirani signature – use of sweet satire. It is an art he excels in as evidenced by all his movies such as Munnabhai and 3 idiots. His characters always have unfortunately funny names (Remember Phunsukh Wangdu or Circuit). Now, we have Pk and Jaggu (Anushka) – you’ll need to watch the movie to find out her real name tho. And these characters are most loving iconoclasts you’ll ever come across.Pk poster

The movie is about an alien, Pk, who literally arrives naked on mother earth on his spaceship. However, the remote of his spaceship is promptly stolen by being of earth and hereby he is left stranded on this planet (gola, as he calls it) without a way to return home. Thus, begins his exploration of seemingly weird customs of earth to get back his remote. He learns to steal clothes and money from a ‘dancing car’ (you’ll have to find that out for yourself :giggles:) , check-in Dilli thanas for shelter and then he hears that all answer to his problems lie with someone called Bhagwan  – only one who could help him. So starts his quest for God. He is baffled by customs of different religions and sure enough is soundly thrashed by all of them. Eventually, he realises, there are many Gods, and each has established a ‘company’ of its own. They are all managed by different managers who have created conflicting, confusing rules.

Enter, Anushka err Jaggu whose superstitious family devoutly prostrates before a rich, Hindu guru, Tapasvi, played by roly-poly Saurabh Shukla. Between Jaggu, Pk and Tapasvi, when they meet, it is only your guess what capers will take place.

Hirani has once again questioned social norms, this time religion and also how we value Gandhi. (I love that scene.) Atheists are complaining that why was he not brave enough to question the existence of God, but I think he was questioning only religion and not the existence of God. His mettle lies in being able to mock all religions with love. 🙂

Continue reading ‘Movie Review: pk’

Book Review: Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince

Mahabharata is a fascinating, mammoth work of fiction with millions of sub-plots. Personally I have found Mahabharata much more intriguing than Ramayana. The sheer amount of conflicts, latent themes and contradictions engage your mind in constant debate. (The only other book that has turned over my mind such is perhaps Wuthering Heights.) No wonder dozens of variants and narratives for the same story exist. Not only variants, the whole saga has been written from perspective of so many characters such as Draupadi (The Palace of Illusions), Duryodhana (Mahabharta ki ek saanjh), Karna (Karna ki atamkatha), Bhima (Randamoozham) and so on. Arjun is a similar attempt with the third Pandava prince, Arjuna in focus (notice I do not say Arjuna’s perspective). This means, story of five brothers will be told closely as well. Even with five different personalities, the five brothers presented a single entity as Pandavas. Panchali only solidified that unit.

The language of the book is simple and does not draw away from the story, and often it feels as if this book is a collection of parables. I treated this book as a refresher of all the stories I have read before in Mahabharata. Also, book doesn’t always attempt to present the events in chronology, however, the way it was presented, I assumed that it was expected that readers are familiar with Mahabharata. This, though I gather may have been intentional on author’s part, was a mild irritant to me. In terms of narrating history and choices of sub-plots with Arjuna as focus, the book has been successful. However, did it provide occasions to pause and debate or throw a light on a philosophical perspective, or bring out innermost conflicts of Arjuna (other than those well-known at battlefield)? In that, book is wanting. Other than few notions of Arjuna – his arrogance that humanizes him, his mild indignation at what he thinks is Bhima’s naivety, and lastly, his belated realisation of everlasting love for Draupadi – Arjuna remains same character that we knew him from our earlier reads. Book doesn’t conjure anything new in in our minds. For example, Mahabharat ki ek saanjh is compelling in presenting an argument from Duryodhan’s perspective. But then, as I clarified, it is not really a perspective book. It is a re-telling,Image where Arjuna lies at the crux of it. It is fast read and worth a trip down the memory lane of your favorite epic.

P.S: 1. I noted a disconcerting gender usage. When Arjuna hits Duryodhan in his nails in the battle, he ‘cries like a girl’. Oh, no.

2. It was a relief to once again read a mythology book where the characters did not say, ‘hell, yeah’. Touche! 😉 Also, unlike last few review copies I read, the editing was decent and I didn’t not find any of those punctuation issues that are eye sores when reading a book.

Book Review: The Secret of the Nagas

‘The Secret of the Nagas‘, the second book  in Shiva Trilogy by Amish T takes off exactly where ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ the first book of  ends – Sati-Shiva in engaged in a battle with mysterious Naga. It starts with action and ends with a surprise (that you begin to hope for while you are half-way through this book.)

Shiva trilogy traces the story from 1900 BC, when Shiva migrates from Mount Kailash in Tibet to Suryavanshi land called Meluha. Advent of Shiva unites talented, rule-bound Suryavanshis are united with their arch-rivals – the free-willed, unorganised Chandravanshis since they both believe in the legend of Neelkanth as saviour. (Amish interestingly puts it as masculine vs. feminine behaviour contrast on Pages 49-52.) Even though a legend of Neelkanth exists, Shiva is not a God – rather a wise man, struggling with his own demons, learning to play the role of ‘Mahadev’. Mahadev, to be noted, is a designation, not a reincarnation of a God. In this role, he is aided by Vasudev pundits at various temples, who can ‘radio transmit’ their thoughts and have conversations with him via radio waves (ooh!).  😉

In The Secret of the Nagas, Shiva realises that Nagas – the deformed creatures believed to be evil – have more role to play than it meets the eye. With the help from both Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis, Shiva is hot on the pursuit of a Naga who he believes has killed his friend Brahaspati – and everywhere he looks, he finds a new trail or connection to secretive Nagas.

Meanwhile, Shiva who had fallen in love and married Sati, daughter of extremely friendly Meluhan king Daksha, in the first book also becomes a father. The story about his first son and his turbulent relationship with his parents is the most poignant part of this book.

This books as its previous one is a page turner – the plot is smooth and all the loose ends connect to a complete pattern. Story as before is fast-paced, you are eager to know what comes next. I had my theories about the book, I am glad to confess that this book was not predictable as I had thought it to be. This I consider as an achievement of the book. Unlike first book, Shiva and his immediate family (his wife and sons) are the primary characters of this book. There are several revelations – the boundaries between good and evil seem to blur. Ganesha, the first son, is my favorite character in this book.

Other old characters such as Nandi, Veerbhadra and Drapaku have smaller roles, instead a Chandravanshi prince Bhagirath is the new character that has his own intriguing sub-plot.  General Parvateshwar, Shiva’s trusted Suryavanshi aide from previous book, a vowed celibate has fallen in love (oops, a spoiler – but now you need to find out who).

The language of the book remains a constant irritant as it was in the last book as well. Several conversations (even those of Sati-Shiva) come across as corny. Language, in a desperate attempt to be contemporary is uninspiring and a turn-off at times. There are editing errors like one on Page 50 (first sentence) – an incorrect usage of ‘it’s’. Amish as before tries to include war strategies. (I clearly remember an indignant reader of the first book who complained that war stratagem was taken off the movie Gladiator!) But, it is the elaborate description of temple layouts and structures in the book that I find incredibly boring.

However, despite its superficial style of writing, the semi-historic retelling of story in the way it weaves mythology still makes the book worth a read.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Also Read: A Book Club Meeting in Pune that had Amish as Chief Guest

Post the Tossed Salad Book Club Meeting (another record of the same book club meet)

A Dabangg Review

Everyone has had their Dabangg say; now is my turn. For those of you still clueless about what Dabangg means, here’s the meaning – ‘one who cannot be suppressed’.

The dubangg man, Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) who loves to call himself Robin Hood, is an incorrigibly corrupt police officer in a place called Lalganj in UP. This ‘Robin Hood’ is always warring with a local small-time goon politician over territory and money. Mostly money.

So, he and his team of all moustachioed policemen chase the goons for their own means. Typically, as is the case in the movies aimed at UP-Bihar masses (or for that matter, movies of South), rest all policemen are sidekicks and it is the one-man-army-hero Salman who bashes them all.

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Jhing Chik Jhing: Movie Review

Disclaimer: As always, it is sort of review. ;)

Jhing Chik Jhing is such a tongue-twister name for a movie that Best Friend had quipped, naam to thik se bol le. [At least pronounce the name right.]

Then after a moment, popped the question, what is this movie about? I knew only two things: One, Jhing Chik Jhing (JCJ) is a Marathi movie, which has bagged 7 state awards. Second, it is set in backdrop of farmer suicides – a subject very close to my heart. [I had long back watched Summer 2007, a damning and harsh movie on the subject starring Ashutosh Rana, Gul Panag and Sikander Kher. The only grouse I had with the movie, as I remember now, was: an ape-looking Sikander Kher, but the movie itself was an eye-opener.

I wondered what did JCJ have that I hadn’t seen in Summer 2007.  No, Summer 2007 is no ideal benchmark for a movie, I was simply pondering what new could be said on the subject. Turns out, JCJ is a whole new take on the subject and it is a very positive movie.]

Continue reading ‘Jhing Chik Jhing: Movie Review’


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