Saturday, 28 March 2015

Democrazy

From the book blurb
The mysterious Badi Sarkar wants her son to become the Prime Minister of India. Her reticent son Chhote Sarkar wants to eat ice-cream. Great Leader wants his Orchid party to win the elections. He also wants a wand that works. The horny Baba Neemacharya wants to do the neem-yoga with Girl 45. Impulsive billionaire industrialist Giani Seth wants to beat Chaddha in Candy Crush. Honest Ambika Madam wants to retire in peace. Volatile BB wants to send all corrupt politicians to jail. Babli wants to lose weight.

But what is the PM doing in a cave in the Himalayas?!

Democrazy is a satirical look at the madness and brouhaha in present-day India, where nothing is what it seems to be, power is all-important, and everything people do is to win the race to power.

PS: No politicians were hurt in the writing of this book.


Author
Atulya Mahajan is an Indian author and is the creator of the Indian satire blog amreekandesi.com. Professionally a technologist in an investment bank, Atulya Mahajan went to the US in 2004 to complete his Master's degree. He worked there for five years and then returned to India. He started his blog while studying in the US and used it as a platform to share his experiences of people living in a foreign land. Besides this blog, Mahajan also works with the Crest Edition of The Times of India as a columnist and writes occasional humor.


Characters
The book blurb frees me from the job of describing the characters in the book! All I can say is, that they are close to reality and often reminds us of someone or the other!


What I think
To begin with the name is crazily catchy. When S is replaced by Z, “democracy” becomes “democrazy”, showcasing the craziness around Indian democratic system and politic regime! The title will surely grab any reader’s attention. The sky blue of the book cover subtly refers to India and the interesting cover page adds to the curiosity. Further, the book blurb is concise and at the same time, gives a heads-up on what is inside. The post script – “No politicians were hurt in the writing of this book” – will surely make you laugh and hints on what can be expected!

As promised, the book is a satirical look at Indian democratic/political system. I have to tell you that the book is released at the right time, when the recent political circus is still etched in the memory of millions.

The narrative is simple and gripping. There is not a single dull moment. Each character is well-established and enjoys equal importance. Each chapter begin with tweets and I loved that idea! This makes the book seem more real and relatable.

I should also applaud the author for the creativity that has gone into giving certain names like Buddhiman Buddhiraja aka BB… the news channel in which he works is Bow Wow… The self-proclaimed Godman is Neemacharya and so on!

In short, the book is hopelessly real and makes you uncontrollably laugh. Bravo author, for handling such a controversial yet ever-green topic. Corruption, bribery, political parties and politician who wants their family to take over, sudden boom of news channels, freedom of speech, social networking sites and its impact at an individual and national level is nicely touch based upon. I am also glad that he ventured into a new genre in comparison with his debut book – Amreekandesi - Masters of America!

But...
The plot is predicting and the book’s ending is equally expected. No blame on the author though. The plot is so close to reality that we already know what will happen!


Should you read it?
If you follow politics, yes.
If you don’t follow politics and is restricted to only voting, yes.
If you only make fun of politics, yes.
If you have given up on democracy, yes!


Rating
3.5/5


Thank you
Thanks to the author for directly contacting me and requesting me to review his book. I felt great because I was getting the request from an author who had penned of my favorites – Amreekandesi - Masters of America J

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Rangoli Fiesta


Rangoli is an onlooker’s delight…
But, not so delightful experience for the one who makes it…
The entire process is so time-consuming…
Believe me, you can make as much as 3 similar kolam meanwhile…

First, you have to do the outline…
Then, fill it with colors…
Then, do the outline again so that the lines get the cntrl+B look!

All said, Rangoli remains an onlooker’s delight…
And, a pride of the person who makes it!


PS: I am sorry about the symmetry. It is a little skewed L I am still an Intermediate in pottu/pulli kolam. The challenge lies in placing the dots. The distance between each dot and line must be perfect. Even a single mismatch can make the kolam look funny like mine!

PPS: Because many people asked me what a Kolam is…
Kolam refers to intricate patterns drawn both free handedly and by joining dots. These can be widely seen in the Southern part of India. Women draw this early morning, preferably before Sunrise after cleaning the courtyard. Earlier rice powder was used – it was a means to feed ants and small insects. However, these days, stone powder and even chalk is used. If such powders are used, it is called Pudi Kolam. Sometimes, brick powder will be used as outline on auspicious days, Tuesdays and Fridays. If rice powder is mixed in water and similar patterns are drawn, it is called Maavu/Maa Kolam. In West Bengal, it is called Alpona. In North India, people used rice/stone powders for the outline and fill the patterns with colors. This is called Rangoli.

It is believed that Kolam brings prosperity. It is drawn for almost all the auspicious occasions like marriages and festivals. When someone dies in the household, the family don’t draw any kolam for a year.  
  
Children in small towns learn the art of making kolam at a very young age. In fact, a girl who knows to draw impeccable and intricate kolam is a pride for the entire family and the village she stays. However, owing to modernization, city life and apartment culture, this art is soon dying.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Om

Cast
:
Shivarajkumar
Prema
Director
:
Upendra
Music
:
Hamsalekha
Producer
:
Parvathamma Rajkumar
Release Date
:
May 19, 1995 (Re-released on February 28, 2015)
Length
:
2 Hours and 30 Minutes

My Thoughts
The movie starts with underworld activities and a gruesome murder. And, then there is a lady journalist named Shashi (I specifically say “lady” because the movie was made a good 20 years before, remember?) who makes cover stories on what forced rowdies to become rowdies. As she interviews more and more rowdies, she also hands them over a book penned by her – named “OM”.

And thus begins the movie…

A raunchy rowdy named Satya played by Shivarajkumar forces Madhuri, a beautiful college-going girl played by Prema. We see that Satya is obsessed with Madhuri and acts like a possessed man when he thinks about her. Shashi comes to know that Satya is madly in love with Madhuri. As she enquires more about Satya she comes to know that Satya became rowdy for love! Whether Satya gets Madhuri’s love? Will they get married? Will Satya leave underworld? Or will Madhuri find a way out of Satya, forms the rest of the movie.

The narrative is gripping with several twists. The cinematographer has captured the rawness of the underworld very nicely. The night scenes are well showcased too. The music and background is done by Hamsalekha. “I love you and you must love me” is either sung in cores or the instrumental is played in the background. The superhit “ye dinakara” soulfully sung by Dr. Rajkumar reiterates why he is still celebrated and missed by Kannada film fraternity and lovers. “College Kuamara” song is also nice; I loved its choreography. The dialogs need special mention. They are brilliant!

Prema as Madhuri has a pivotal role. She shares equal share space as the hero. She has acted very well. The various shades in her character has been well-portrayed.

Shivarajkumar as Satya has performed at his best. His transformation and animal-like vindication is amazingly portrayed. His voice modulation, body language and even eyes express.

More than my words, the movie is re-released several times over last twenty years. It has withstood the test of time.

So do not miss it!

Rating
4/5


PS: The movie was first released in 1995 – two decades before! Those were the days of Dhoordharshan and every Thursday, “Ye Dinakara” song will be played. I vividly rememeber Shivarajkumar clad in dhothi, praying. When I saw Om’s posters recently, I felt younger by twenty years. I decided that I have to watch it!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A Healthier Me!




Swapna, you look so think and weak. What happened beti”, Gupta aunty asked me. Her voice conveyed genuine concern and her eyes were focused on me.

Gupta aunty is our neighbor. She has a son and a daughter. Aunty looks at least a decade younger to her real age. I noticed that she looked healthier and was gleaming. I have always admired her charm and her food! As a child, I always used to run to aunty’s house for her unique snacks. Her passion for food was a major reason behind my interest in cooking.

My studies had kept me away from home for over half a year. I was back home for my semester leave. And, the first comment I received from everyone was that I have become thinner.

“No aunty, the food is terrible in our hostel. I hate it. Due to restrictions, we can’t go out often either. Tell me how long can I survive with Maggie and bread?” I told her.

Arey beti, this is the same story everywhere. Remember that this is only a beginning. After studies, you may have to go out for work and who knows, you may have to travel across the globe also. If you wither so early, how will you stay healthy and face life?” asked aunty as a matter of fact.

“Aunty, everyone has only this to say. Do you think I am not worried? After all, it is my health right? I feel tired and sleepy all the time. Do you know that? I am unable to concentrate for long hours and even my hair has started falling due to lack of nutrition”, I complained like a pre-nursery child.

She smiled to me and tenderly ran her hands across my short hair. I had cut it so short recently that it barely touches my shoulders. Earlier, I had waist-length hair which I used to cherish.

Chalo, I have a solution!” she smiled widely and took me inside her kitchen.

Ye le, Kelloggs cornflakes. Take this for breakfast every day. You will soon become our old bubbles”, she said and patted on my shoulders.

“Uff aunty, who will eat same corn flakes every day?” I sighed.  It would be more plain and boring than my hostel food, I thought.

Beti, don’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal for anyone. If you start your day with a good breakfast, your entire day will be good”, aunty said.

“Yeah-yeah. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a minister and dinner like a beggar is the old saying”, I reiterated although not sounding very convinced.

Gupta aunty read my mind and handed over a spiral-bound book. I flipped through them and found interesting recipes made from the cornflakes. They looked yum and knowing Gupta aunty’s culinary skills, I didn’t have a doubt about it.

Presenting to you my favorite ones from the book!






PS: This post is written as a part of Kelloggindia. For more recipes visit here

100 Days of Love

Cast
:
Dulquer Salmaan, Nithya Menen, Sekhar Menon,
Praveena, Vineeth
Rahul Madhav and Aju Varghese
Director
:
Jenuse Mohamed
Music
:
Songs: Govind Menon
Background Score: Bijibal
Producer
:
K. V. Vijayakumar
Release Date
:
March 20, 2015
Length
:
2 Hour and 35 Minutes

My Thoughts
The movie begins with Balan K Nair aka BKN (Dulquer Salmaan) narrating his 100 days of love. The story takes place in Bengaluru and revolves around BKN’s friends, family, profession and life in general.

The narrative hits you like a gush of fresh air carrying mesmerizing fragrance. Simple yet relatable dialogs makes this movie an interesting watch; less boring. Cinematographer has cast magic with his camera. Bangalore looks so serene and verdant – a pleasing sight to all the Bangaloreans because we are more used to traffic, crowd and squeezed places! The background music is perfect and makes the scenes look more interesting. Songs are not so great. In fact the climax song was misplaced.

Dulquer Salmaan as BKN is at his ease. An aspiring cartoonist who us tagged as loser all his life. He is creative and passionate about what he does. He also strongly believes in himself and struggles to remain original without following the crowd. He calls himself villain and his character is devoid of heroism, thereby making him look so like you and me.

Nithya Menen as Sheela looks fresh and charming. She comes across as a ptractical girl who knows exactly what she wants in life. I loved the way she speaks Malayalam in the film – not so fluently and not so clearly – the way Malayalis born and brought up outside Kerala would!

Vineeth and Praveena as Nithya’s parants are progressive and let their daughter take decisions affecting her life. They are accommodating and understanding. They have had a love marriage and takes all the possible efforts to keep that romance and love intact.

Sekhar Menon as Umar is a show stealer. His mannerisms, dialog delivery and comic timing is impeccable. He is so natural and real! His transformation towards the end re-emphasizes the need to grow up and take up responsibilities that life throws. The friendship between him and Dulquer is well-developed and established.

Aju Varghese as Romach Ramakrishnan a nerd who believes that he make anything possible. I swear that we all would have come across a character like this in our school/college who feels self-important! And, Rahul Madhav as an arrogant and egoistic young achiever has done a good job.

To summarize, the movie is not only about love between a man and woman. It is also about relationships. It speaks about the need to have friends, understanding family and loving people around us. There are very few characters in the film. But, each one stays in our mind and contributes to the newness.

In short, 100 Days of Love is a cutie-sweetie love story that asks the current generation to throw away the fears and insecurities related to love and commitment. It asks to follow the heart and believe in the magic of love – a feeling that can change one’s life!

Rating
3.5/5


Monday, 23 March 2015

NH 10

Cast
:
Anushka Sharma and Neil Bhoopalam
Director
:
Navdeep Singh
Music
:
Anirban Chakraborty, Sanjeev-Darshan, Ayush Shrestha, Savera Mehta, Samira Koppikar
Producer
:
Phantom Films and Clean Slate Films
Release Date
:
March 13, 2015
Length
:
1 hour & 55 minutes

My Thoughts
The movie begins on a romantic note – a couple driving for a friend’s party. Anushka and Neil as Meera and Arjun respectively look fresh and refreshing. Meera is a smoker and Arjun likes parties. Soon, they decide to go for a road trip to celebrate Meera’s birthday. What happens on that fateful trip forms the rest of the story.

The danger of a single woman on road in the middle of the night, honor killing and the way in which villagers take it seriously, the helplessness/support of police officers in this subject, male ego and gender bias is wonderfully handled.

The big difference between the urban India mindset and rural one is brilliantly disaplayed. Meera and Arjun have had an inter-caste marriage which is not considered as a big deal. But, a young couple is killed for the same. When a village girl seeks Meera’s help, she walks away. But, another villager helps Meera although they foresee a bigger risk.

The basis of this movie is male ego. Arjun’s ego is hurt when hit by the honor killers slap him. He behaves irrationally and fail to listen to Meera’s words or calm down. The terror begins then. The movie gives its message straight on your face – It is fine to stand up and fight against crime and injustice, But, you should also think if you are equipped enough to fight. Sometimes, bloody fights requires more than courage!

The narrative is gripping. Background music blends with the scenes and silence is maintained when needed. Cinematographer has presented the night shots as naturally as possible. Neil Bhoopalam has done a very decent work. He looks like Varun Dhawan!

Needless to say, the show stealer is Anushka. Her professional demeanor to chilled one and then cold showcases her acting skills. In climax, she shines.

Sometimes, there is nothing much that can be done. Sometimes, the wrong thing would be the only right thing to do.

Throughout the movie, my heart was racing and I was sweating profusely. When the “Le Chal Mujhe” song was played in the background, I wished someone take me somewhere and let me escape the movie. A big family setting next to me never came back post interval. But, I continued to watch – anticipating and praying… When it ended, I felt as stoic as Meera.

In short, the movie is a self-inflicted torture it is. But, worth it!
After all, truth is always bitter!

Rating
4/5


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mirror

Me and myself
Imitating me; my actions
Reflecting my thoughts. Fears.
Requesting to look confident and bold.
Outsmarting my real self.
Re-emphasizing the need to wear a mask!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Perfect Kolam

This is not by me or my ammaji…
But, by famous Kolam duo in my village.
They are famous for their perfection.
This Kolam vouches that J


PS: Because many people asked me what a Kolam is…
Kolam refers to intricate patterns drawn both free handedly and by joining dots. These can be widely seen in the Southern part of India. Women draw this early morning, preferably before Sunrise after cleaning the courtyard. Earlier rice powder was used – it was a means to feed ants and small insects. However, these days, stone powder and even chalk is used. If such powders are used, it is called Pudi Kolam. Sometimes, brick powder will be used as outline on auspicious days, Tuesdays and Fridays. If rice powder is mixed in water and similar patterns are drawn, it is called Maavu/Maa Kolam. In West Bengal, it is called Alpona. In North India, people used rice/stone powders for the outline and fill the patterns with colors. This is called Rangoli.

It is believed that Kolam brings prosperity. It is drawn for almost all the auspicious occasions like marriages and festivals. When someone dies in the household, the family don’t draw any kolam for a year.  

Children in small towns learn the art of making kolam at a very young age. In fact, a girl who knows to draw impeccable and intricate kolam is a pride for the entire family and the village she stays. However, owing to modernization, city life and apartment culture, this art is soon dying.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Guilt or Gratitude?!

https://rochellewisofffields.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/rachel-bjerke.jpg


N
andhu walked holding her hands. Hrishitha was smiling outwardly; but her heart was racing.

Last one year had been eventful. Her new boss, Venkat – slightly younger to her, tall and athletic; a contrast to Nadhu who was nine years older, bald and potbellied. Luncheons followed, dinners and parties happened, love bloomed and finally, lust overtook until pregnancy got confirmed. Hrishitha was terrified.

“Hrish, I will father your baby”, Nandhu suddenly declared. Hrishitha was taken aback. How did he know that she was pregnant? How did he know he is not the father?

“I always knew that you were having affair with your boss. I didn’t stop you because I can never give you what he gave. And I still love you”, he said.

Tears rolled down her cheeks – of guilt or gratitude, she didn’t know.

PS: Thanks Rochelle for the image prompt :)

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Uff Ye Emotions 1


Book blurb as per Goodreads
“Uff Ye Emotions”
Perhaps, emotions are the most beautiful things in the world which cannot be seen or even touched. Interestingly, they can only be felt with the heart. Love is the purest and primary among them with it’s various shades. We all have our own definitions of this magical word, but, it’s beyond explanation. It is always around us. The very existence of this beautiful universe is founded on love only.

Love has been the most talked about subject since ages and has always come to us through stories and became a part of us. Almost each of us has experienced the magic of this emotion in one form or other in our lives.

“Uff Ye Emotions” is trying to recapture the magic of love through 12 beautiful award winning stories which were selected after a nation-wide contest..

Stories in this anthology are soaked with intense emotions: Adoration, affection, love, friendship, fondness, attraction, caring, compassion, sentimentality, desire, lust, passion, longing, infatuation, envy, jealousy etc. which truly complete our lives. Love stories from diverse age groups, from different corners of the country and containing different shades of love.

Selected and edited by Vinit K. Bansal, this anthology will certainly enthrall readers and will make them feel the tenderness of this magical thing, called love.


Author
Vinit K. Bansal is the author of “I am Heartless… A Real Confession” ,a novel ,which has been continuously ruling the bestsellers charts since the last one year and has been acclaimed as one of the most touching love stories of recent time. He is fond of reading, writing and composing stories since childhood. He earned his Master’s degree from Kurukshetra University and was bestowed awards both at college and university level. He continues to nurture his dream of writing till today and has succeeded in giving shape to his thoughts in this book. As a voracious reader and an avid writer, his vision extends to the realm of social service too. At present, he is working with the State Bank of India in Delhi and loves to pen down his thoughts whenever he finds time.

You can get in touch with him at: author.vinitbansal@gmail.com or follow him at www.facebook.com/vini14jan and twitter : www.twitter.com/vini14jan


What I think
The title is super-catchy. The cover page is more attractive and will surely draw the attention of potential reader.

I came to know about this book more than a year before and it has been lying unread for almost a year now. However, I decided to read it and I was glued to it. All the writers are bloggers and their stories were selected through a contest. Incidentally, the theme is love and each story is different from one another yet connected with the common theme. I observed that most of the stories is closely linked to trains. Was that a part of the initial theme, I wonder!

The book is a compilation of eleven short stories. It begins with the editor’s story – Love @ Platform. The highlight of the book is that different aspects of love is dealt in each of these stories. When one talks about first love, one about heartbreak, matured love, obsessive love and so on.

The story that touched my heart is “Happily Ever After” by Sanhita Baruah. It is so real to ignore. It breaks all the clichés and takes a path less travelled by writers – Ye the path that is generally taken by life. The love, heartbreak and the decision to move on is brilliant and will be etched in reader’s heart.

Another story that is worth mentioning is “Love Undefined” by Pankaj Mittal & Rachna Sethi. This will move a stone heart also and will make the reader crave for such selfless love.

I am not going to talk about each and every story here. I want you to feel the emotions yourself. All I can say is that this book has some simple yet brilliant concepts which will leave a mark in you.


Should you read it?
It is nice time pass. Will not bore you.
So, why not read it?


Rating
3.5/5


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Fag After Food

A fellow was grabbing some grub
Near a neatly trimmed shrub
The food was nutritious
It also tasted delicious
Then, he had a smoke; threw away the stub

Monday, 16 March 2015

It's the Same!

S
olitude is blissful when it is consciously chosen. It becomes a way of life and brings happiness. The joy of getting lost in thoughts… observing nature and people around us… watching the birds fly… dogs yawn… leaf’s dance to the tune of breeze… river tirelessly running to merge with the grand ocean… giggles of teenage girls and style of teenage boys.. Innocent smile of babies and cute smile of old ones and so on becomes admirable. It makes us feel good and life looks perfect in spite of the imperfections.

However, when loneliness is forced into us, it becomes torturous. Life would look like a vicious cycle of wakeup-eat-work-eat-sleep! We feel bored and monotony starts to affect us like a slow poison. Everything around us looks irritating. We begin to complain about everything – the rain, sunshine, nights, crowds, silence and so one.

As I look back, I can doubtlessly say that I have experienced both – solitude and loneliness. I have enjoyed being with myself and also hated it. I have yearned for a company and at the same time, celebrated the moments shared with myself.

But, like many others, I also didn’t realize what was happening. I was happy with myself – proud rather. New job, handsome salary, city life and what not! Life looked perfect. I packed my bags with excitement and hopped into the train day dreaming. I was excited about meeting new people, making new friends, exploring new places, and most importantly, live independently.

The first few months offered everything that I had ever dreamt of. Shopping till my legs gave up… walking till hunger strikes… exploring till there is no unknown corner in the city and celebrating life as if there is no tomorrow. I was happy and my happiness made my parents happy. Friends thought I have changed and I thought they have changed.

But only until the honeymoon period got over. They say that good things don’t last long. And I say so is happiness, needs and satisfaction! What makes us happy today may not make us happy tomorrow. Needs differ from time to time and satisfaction is highly subjective.

What looked like solitude became loneliness and I started feeling tired of my life. Imperfections looked magnified and happiness seemed to have ran away. I felt like giving up everything and hide.

I shared these thoughts with my parents. They told me that all I need is break.

So I took a few day’s leave. I came back home. Stayed with my parents. Spent time in my study. I skimmed through old journals, wore old clothes, ate food cooked by mother and went for evening stroll with father.

My friends were excited that I have come back home after a long time. They threw a surprise party for me and played my favorite songs. We gossiped, updated our lives and giggled like school girls. We had fun!

As my vacation ended, I packed my bags back to work. But I wasn’t feeling aloof anymore. I realized that everything remains the same. Insecurity, monotony and loneliness ran away through the backdoor as I stepped out of my home for second innings!


PS: This is written as part of Together (We are together in this journey)