Posted in Book review, Opinion, Reviews

Book Review: The Anatomy Of Choice

Inconnu, Deracinate, Seelenverwandte, Werifesteria … Beautiful, unusual words – isn’t it? In Harshali Singh’s The Anatomy of Choice was the first time I encountered these words. And no, they are not passively referenced in paragraphs to amp-up the writing. Rather, they are used to summarize each chapter concisely in one word – a subtle prelude to the reader of what is going to happen in the next few pages.

The second book of the Haveli Series is a beautiful, feel-good story of Bhavya and her quirky family bound by unconditional love.  Have you ever heard yourself saying “Even the walls talk to me!” in the place that you have grown up? The ancient haveli that Bhavya’s family lives in, is a lot like a guardian to its inhabitants, carefully protecting and nurturing them with its aged, experienced walls that have stood the test of time.

Bhavya, a city-dweller and her partner exhibit varying shades of grey when and after they make a last ditch effort to recreate the spark in their relationship. Is Tenzin forcing his choices on Bhavya, holding her love to ransom in a not-so-obvious fashion… or is Bhavya being commitment-phobic? Who holds the reins of this relationship? Is Kabir a better choice for Bhavya, after all? Her beloved Haveli guides Bhavya through Noor and her journal, as she navigates the troubled waters of her life.

If you really enjoy historical romance of the Georgette Heyer variety, don’t hesitate to pick up this beautifully written book by Harshali Singh. Bhavya, and her modern family will leave you feeling wonderful with their quirkiness, love and acceptance of each other.

 

Posted in Book review, Opinion

About my bookshelf ’18

Summing up my favorite reads looked like a good way to end the year. So here are ten books which I enjoyed reading in 2018. Do let me know if any of them feature in your list too?!

Indian Authors

Elixir  Sinjini Sengupta 

Definitely one of the best books I have read this year. If not for Elixir, I do not think I would have been able to comprehend the seriousness and dark alleys that depression can take someone through. And just to think, that a coworker or a friend could actually be undergoing something like this, has permanently changed the way I look at people around me.

Dera Sacha Saudha  Anurag Tripathi

If you saw ‘Wild Wild Country’ on #Netflix with your jaw dropped open, then this book is for you. A great piece of journalistic writing that answered questions like ‘Who is Gurmeet Ram Rahim?’ and ‘What did he do?’. After reading this book, I can’t fathom how and why people got into large-scale vandalism when the godman courted arrest.

The Taliban Cricket Club  Timeri Murari

This one started really slow but ended up being a thrilling and entertaining journey, a lot like a Bollywood entertainer. A full 100 on the feel-good scale!

Poonachi  Perumal Murugan

A dark and honest perspective on how society looks at the female species, as depicted by the life of Poonachi, the goat. Heartbreaking and brilliant.

To hell and back  Anurag Anand

An urban thriller with very realistic characters, tapping on social issues, this one kept me hooked till the very end.

International Authors

Totto Chan : The girl by the window  Tetsuko Kuroyonagi

A true story – this one is a sweet and charming classic that offers a radically different perspective on education. They say a book finds its way to the reader, and I am glad this one did.

Erotic stories for Punjabi Widows  Balli Kaur Jaswal

A very hilarious, absolutely feminist, thought-provoking piece of literature that I enjoyed reading every page of.

All the light we cannot see  Anthony Deorr

I do not remember the last time I read a book and felt heavy with sorrow for weeks. A very poignant, beautifully written story about a blind French girl and a German soldier, set in WW2. There is a stillness around the prose that you get engulfed in. I am floored by the depth of this writing.

Bad blood  John Carreyrou

Another piece of investigative journalism that shook my belief on the sanctity of the start up environment in America. One question though: While Elizabeth Holmes has been taken to task, aren’t Zuckerberg and Elon Musk having a free hand?

Last Girl  Nadia Murad

An unbelievable account of life under the ISIS and a young girl’s persistence and perseverance to escape. It is unimaginable that something like this is actually happening in some part of the world right now. Nadia Murad is a superhero.

 

Posted in Opinion, Reviews

An ode to the sparrow

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
And it took another poet to make me realize what John Keats actually meant.

Of everything I have thought about writing, I never thought I would make an entire post about a single song. And yet, here I am, dumbstruck and dazed by the beauty of #MazhaiKuruvi.

Like all of ARR’s compositions, I found little to admire or enjoy when it hit the ears the first time, but after that, every repeat mode has been a joy ride of discovery.

Should I say ARR has reserved his most romantic numbers for Simbu? Or is it the magical combination of ARR and Vairamuthu?

The poet’s words just flow effortlessly, never losing themselves in meaningless banter, never spilling out egregiously from the path paved by the Mozart’s tunes. And you end up dreamily smiling at the adorable yearning that they describe of the hero, as he pours his heart out. I can’t imagine anyone else in Simbu’s place, looking absolutely stunning in every frame, as he plays the loverboy affectionately addressing  ‘Chittu kuruvi’.

And in the middle of it all, you realize this is what being Mani Ratnam is all about. For when the veteran chef dons his hat, he goes all out to stir your soul and give a treat to the senses. This cute mazhai kuruvi from the bright red sky has delivered an ambrosia of words, music, and happiness, and is guaranteed to send the spirit soaring with its romantic sweetness.

Did I tell you how I involuntarily joined ARR as the notes slowly hit a crescendo at “Oru naal kanavo, Idhu peratra peruravo, Yaar varavo” ? I am going back to doing just that.

 

 

 

Posted in Book review, Opinion

An elixir for all of us

A review of Elixir – A novel by Sinjini Sengupta

Have you also wondered like me what drives someone to suicide? Why is depression spreading at epidemic proportions in the recent times? Why, despite having everything the society sees as success, do people slip into this abysmal pit?

The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain got me thinking a lot about mental health.   Most books dealing with mental illness that I have read so far, had made depression and anxiety a part of a dark, twisted plot and evolve into a crime thriller of sorts. What does depression look like, in reality?

Elixir happens to be my 40th book for this year and I think this is one book that should be read by all of us. It has been on my TBR for quite some time and I happened to pick it up, just at the right moment. Elixir deals with a lot of issues that have become an integral part of urban living, and the writing echoes the sense of hollowness that the protagonist faces, as a result. How does she cope with her situation? Is her family able to see through her condition?  Does someone come to help her? Are her dreams trying to convey something?  

This book by Sinjini Sengupta is a much-needed work for our times. It is rich, not only in terms of the message it is trying to convey but also for the beautiful language used. Read it. Maybe someone around you needs help too?

 

 

 

Posted in Movie review, Opinion

Vivegam Mayhem

I love illogical movies. This exquisite taste of mine gives me an opportunity to choose from a plethora of special movies tailor made for me. And trust me, being made with the noblest of intentions, they never disappoint.

Just so you know, this is one of the most difficult genres to make. It represents the absolute pinnacle of sales and marketing excellence. You have convinced somebody to pay you heaps of money and you con your way into making the artists say it is an opportunity of a lifetime . And you hold on steadily to your loose logic for an entire period of film-making because if you can’t believe you are doing this, then who else will?

A trailer with Ajith can be quite alluring for the gullible audience -which is what led me to tune into Vivegam on that fine May Day morning. And after an entire week, I am still struggling to come to terms with what I have been put through. Three hours, three hundred paradoxes.

First of all, it took a few minutes for my eyes to settle down. The camera had no vivegam whatsoever.  I convinced myself that the whole thing was shot like a Tehelka sting operation. And in the middle of it all, a pepper-haired guy was walking about doing nothing – Like ‘ Enakum idhukum no sambandham’.  When it dawned on me that this guy is Ajith in his most stylish form, Vivek Oberoi came trotting along. Why was the movie named after him? Anyway, he is the first person I have come across all my life who constantly addresses his friend as Nanba. Good morning, Nanba. Very good, Nanba. Congratulations, Nanba. May be the string was appended to every sentence, while programming him. Something like, Artificial intelligence without the intelligence.

When I was still reeling under the Nanbaning. AK’s wife, KA, made an appearance. If not for a missing orange robe, she could have easily passed off as a disciple of a self styled Godman. AK’s wife be so sanskari, she wearing full sleeved blouse and cotton saree in Serbia. And poor Serbian children learning to Sa Pa Sa from her.

Now I heard Akshara Haasan was thoroughly impressed with the script when she signed up for it. Apparently the character had so many layers. Yenna layer? Illa, yenna layer-nu kekarein? Naturals layer-a? Green trends layer-a?  Bike ride with Ajith, Car ride with Ajith, date with hologram and still, layer didn’t understand when someone asked her to sit inside the car. Pottu-nu adi vaangi gone. Also, I want that phone with such a powerful speaker, you can hear baby’s heartbeat from inside mummy’s tummy via ultrasound machine in the midst of a bike chase. iPhone to Iiophone.

Now AK’s resurrection is a thing of legends. He falls from a tree, and is presumed dead. And then he is doing crunches against a tree, and then he is deadlifting with a tree log , and then sumo-squatting with the log and then battle-roping with branches and all of a sudden sitting on a railroad track, ready for war. Mara-ka mudiyaadha performance.

Unable to bear the atrocities of her music class, when KA is finally tied to a chair and contained in a cave,  she forgets her own name. She even goes to the extent of asking Nanba robot for her full name. And when AK comes to meet the nanba guy, KA starts to sing. At this point, every soul in the audience sheds a drop of tear for the Serbian kids who have been subjected to her shruti potti.

But the most pertinent question of it all is the existence of an all Indian anti-terrorist squad in Serbia. And Vivek Oberoi having more security than Kim Jong Un.

But I guess, that is the thing with such movies. I was still reeling under the effect of this masterpiece and then Vishal came along. In no time, he just tied up his future mother-in-law and two of her sisters in gunny bags and effortlessly flung them from ground to first floor to kick off the next riot.