Saturday 30 January 2021
Wednesday 27 January 2021
There are multiple key characters whose lives intertwine with one another at different points in their lives. The build-up of suspense is good, because the flashbacks unpeel the characters and storyline, layer by layer. The characterisation delves into intricacies of film-making and challenges of the actors, especially their mental thought flows.
Spoiler Alert: I found a minor character an interesting case study, because she has no qualms whatsoever, in stealthily reading highly personal love letters of her current acquaintance. More curious is the fact that he doesn’t seem to mind, and then actually ends up with her.
The story brilliantly chalks out the lives of multiple ambitious people whose love-lives entangle with their professional pursuits, leaving behind varied degrees of heartaches, betrayals, recoups, violence and death. It is a study of different facets of human character that try to balance career ambitions with matters of the heart.
The curious part is how most of them end up sleeping with one or the other, in some twist or turn of heart, mind or simply a casual acquaintance. One wonders at this 'filminess' of the film industry, as depicted by the story.
The narrative is interesting because it delves into the minds of all the key characters and gives us a clear perspective of each of them. It is a curious mix of fantastic quotes, as part of the dialogues and also some parts which are a blasé narration of events. Some dialogues are a wee bit too long in a few places, but offer a more detailed insight into the thinking of the characters.
The language is also a mixture of brilliant paragraphs as well as passable lines. Some parts of the story narration include phrases such as ‘ ...she fucked her brains out...’ which make us wonder if better linguistic choices could have been employed, while conceding that this is the perhaps the everyday language of the average English-speaking masses.
Some italicised portions, especially the series of letters are rather long, running into a dozen pages or so, which might be a little hard on the eyes of readers.
Overall, an interesting read. Rating the book 3.8/5.
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Medhavi and Akash are convincing as the warring couple while the characters of their parents seem realistic, like typical Indian parents who support their offspring, while wanting the best for them. They act as perfect elements that take the story forward. The twist in the tale comes in the form of advice from a friend, but I’d not like to offer any spoilers.
The story is gripping, keeping us wondering whether the inevitable entanglements in the marriage are ironed out or not. Medhavi’s thinking seems fair enough, acknowledging and echoing the thoughts of many a working woman. Does the cooking chore in the kitchen change the relationship or not? Read the book to find out.
I’d have liked the story more, had Akash learned to cook in the end, as a life skill and not just a typical Indian gender equation.
Tanvi’s narrative is short, simple and straightforward. The storyline is slick, well-edited and to the point. It is an easy read, even for people who do not read much.
I rate the book 4.2 out of 5. It is a short and convenient read that can be comfortably finished in less than a couple of hours, at most.
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Monday 25 January 2021
Sunday 24 January 2021
Friday 22 January 2021
The characters are multilayered, literally. The protagonist is author Dev Narayan, whose charming personalities come to life, forgive the pun, on the pages. Tej is the almost complete James Bond, except that the suave charm that wins women with nonchalant ease is missing. Tej is the deliciously intriguing, hyper-amazing, surreal action hero, larger than life, but with his own set of foibles. Moozie is a complete charmer amongst the ladies and the other characters complement these main ones. Gomes, the villain is a fabulous spoof of the supposedly menacing antagonists, leaving us in splits at every other turn of the page.
It takes time for us to get used to the idea of characters jumping off the book onto real life, but once we do, there is no looking back. Everything falls into place smoothly, and the way the characters explain away their very existence and situations in the book is convincing.
After all, what is fiction but an extension of real life?
The story is a compelling juxtaposition of action, humour and adventure, with ample doses suspense and thrill rolled into it: a complete all-rounder. Dev the author finds himself face-to- face with his key fictional character, one fine day. The additional thrill occurs when his literary genres mingle to cause a series of complications arising from his own storytelling prowess. Thus, we find sub-plots within the main plots that add a new dimension to the storyline.
Alert readers will lose count of the number of guffaws that would escape them while turning the pages. There are umpteen subtle and not-so-subtle parodies of not just the characters but also the genres, predominantly the Mills and Boon type of romances that used to be the rage (and still continues to be so) amidst a section of readers. The fakeness/silliness of ‘perfect’ characters in countless love stories takes a gentle tap on the wrist throughout his unique style of narration. This is not limited to romances alone, but extends to the run-of-the-mill action dramas where the ominous villain is overly menacing.
Spoiler alert: The parts where Gomes tries to destroy his enemies is comical to the core, although the nature of his attack is extremely serious. Also, the sequences where Dev ‘overpowers’ Ranjan Rowdy despite no prowess or propensity towards violence, is hilarious. The parts where Dev narrates ‘poetry’ and some dialogues with Inspector 'Fataak' will tear readers apart with laughter.
However, the most noticeable aspect of the book is the style of narration. The flawless , top-notch vocabulary may easily be passed off as an Englishman’s work, merely if the Indian names and locales are replaced with those of England. It is rare to find work with zero grammatical errors or typos. The author has pulled off all these with finesse and verve.
The only nitpicking grouse that I can perhaps point out is that some readers looking for an extremely easy-going narrative, or those who are unaccustomed to reading English classics with high-end vocabulary, may find it a wee bit tedious to get through. For serious readers who love good work (especially those such as Wodehouse), this book is sure to be an absolute delight.
Conclusion and Rating
I rate the book a 4.7 out of 5. Plus points are for brilliant vocabulary and flawless editing.
Indranil Mukherjee is an underrated author. While we invariably come across a few errors, even in most top publishers' books (despite the efforts of editing teams), this novel is worth lauding for its rare flawlessly edited narrative. All regular readers know that novels by Indian authors with excellent vocabulary and zero errors are scarce. OTP is definitely a must-read, especially if you enjoy ‘Wodehousian’ genre of literature.
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Tuesday 19 January 2021
Sunday 17 January 2021
Saturday 16 January 2021
Happy New Year, readers!
'Wings of Fire' is my first read of the year 2021.
I had saved this book for the New Year. From what I’d read and heard of it, I wanted to commence the year with the inspiration it offered. And I was inspired, beyond measure.
Many reviews have already been penned about the book and its contents. I choose to focus only on the aspects that I found unique or endearing.
The man and his Gratitude.
One will surely lose count of the number of people Dr Kalam has remembered to thank, mention and acknowledge in his autobiography. It is not confined only to his teachers, but extends to all the important people he interacted with, worked with or was influenced by. We live in a world where most people heap the efforts of others onto their own bandwagon of achievements with easy nonchalance and lack of guilt. And here is a man like Kalam who influenced millions of people across the globe and yet, lists out every key individual he dealt with by name and designation. This is the kind of gratitude that only one in a million may possess.
The man and his Simplicity
When Dr Kalam recounts how his room was the same humble dwelling, albeit in a different location, even after he became the Director at DRDO, one wonders what fabric he was made of. His humble breakfast of idlis, chutney and buttermilk makes one wonder at his lack of desire for the finer things of life. It is beyond inspiring to read the story of a man who began with such humble beginnings in Rameshwaram and went on to scale the greatest heights of scientific technology.
The man and his Genius
Most people claim to be influenced by a host of self-help books that teach people how to become rich, content, famous, happy or enlightened in life. I have never been a fan of such self-professed gurus preaching to the world, about how to live and grow. But reading Dr Kalam’s story teaches us all this and then some.
It is a mark of Dr Kalam's genius that allows the world to read about the functioning of the defence organization – one of the most secretive aspects of the nation – without compromising on any facet of its security. Further, highly complex algorithms of the working of the scientific community, in a completely simplified language that can be assimilated by the common man. Only someone like Dr Kalam could simplify even rocket science to a common reader’s level of comprehension.
Each quote by Dr Kalam is a gem of gold. He touches upon leadership, teamwork, ambition, hard-work, sharing, caring, commitment, responsibility, focus…the list is perpetual, the learning immense.
‘Wings of Fire’ teaches us how ambition can be completely devoid of material greed; how being wealthy has nothing to do with money; how contentment is independent of possessions; how fame is earned through relentless hard work and unselfish motives and how enlightenment is gained through craving for lifelong learning from all sources.
The man and his Pride in India
Few people can instil a sense of patriotism like Dr Kalam does. He shows us that Indians can achieve a lot more than they are ever given credit for. His comments on the brain drain of India is bang-on and hard-hitting. No Indian can help being filled with a sense of pride for the motherland, as her journey of achievement, to becoming a missile-capable nation with Agni and Prithvi unleashes in the pages.
The man and his Resilience
It is heart-rending to read about the failures the teams encountered. But Dr Kalam’s resilience in the face of misfortune, worse the mockery of the media and negative forces within India and across the world is a story of empowerment in adversity.
The man and his Family
It is thrilling to read about how Dr Kalam is distressed to miss his niece’s wedding and ends up on a helicopter flight to catch the train that takes him to the venue. His angst at losing his parents and brother-in-law is palpable.
His complete dedication to his work allows us a semblance of comprehension, as to why he remained a bachelor till the end of his days.
Conclusion and Rating
Dr Kalam acknowledges Arun Tiwari’s role in bringing the book out to readers. The praise is completely justified. Tiwari has undoubtedly put in more than his share of work to compile the life story of the greatest scientists of India and juxtaposed it with the growth of India as a missile superpower.
Worth a complete five-star rating, to say that this book is a must-read is an understatement.
It sure gave wings to my inspiration, and the year has begun on an excellent note for me.
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Happy reading, readers!