Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#BookReview : Head and Tales : Aandhi and Hu Tu Tu (English) 1st Edition by Translated by Meghna Gulzar

On the jacket:


Two beautiful tales told twice. 
Rediscovering Aandhi and hu tu tu.  

Aandhichronicles the lives of Aarti and JK who part ways a few years after their marriage, still in love but divided on principles. JK, the dreamy poet, is a complete contrast to the fiery, ambitious Aarti who goes on to become an influential political leader. They meet years later in a chance encounter full of poignant regret.  In hu tu tu, Panna Barve, the daughter of Malti Barve-a power-hungry politician-and Aditya Patel, the son of a rich businessman, grow up seeing their parents forge ahead fulfilling their ambitions, ruthlessly squashing everything that comes in the way of their success. Unable to come to terms with the single-minded cruelty of their parents, the young couple is forced to take the ultimate step.  Heads and tales - Aandhi and hu tu tu brings together, in an engaging narrative form, two of Gulzars best-known films. Brilliantly translated by filmmaker Meghna Gulzar, this volume will appeal to the fans of these classic movies, as well as to all lovers of strong, well-told stories.  Interesting facts Adapted screenplays of two iconic films. Translated by the acclaimed filmmaker, Meghna Gulzar. Must-have for every film buff.

Review:

I really don't know what to write here, how to review this book. How does one review a Gulzar book? How does one review stories which have already been hits? And how does one review a translation by someone who is a student of the man himself?

Well, you don't. I am sure not many will be reading this review, 'coz seriously, you just go and buy a Gulzar book. The stories don't need me to talk about them. The summary is self-explanatory for the uninitiated. What I would like to talk about is how reading the stories felt like. Usually, I prefer reading the book before I watch it's movie. Here, the opposite happened with Andhi. I have not watched Hu Tu Tu, but plan to now. So, I got both the flavours - reading the story and matching it to the movie, and reading a fresh story. 

What I particularly liked was how Gulzar's poetry has been written in English and in it's Hindi translation (which we have read and recited, often). The way the dialogues are written, the story is told - this book is a live teaching class for anyone who wants to take up writing fiction. 

This is a collector's book - the collector could be a reader, a poet, or just a  book hoarder. But this book has it's place reserved right in the front of any book shelf.

Rating: *****/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: Korma, Kheer & Kismet by Pamela Timms

On the jacket:


Pamela Timms finds her inspiration when the disorderly, not-so-grand and yet honest gullies of the old city, Delhi, offer her a sweet escape into the world of aroma and vibrant flavours. Numerous explorations change her perceptions about cooking and food forever, and she embarks on a journey to explore the stories and the undisclosed ingredients of the much-loved street food of Old Delhi. She discloses the anonymities surrounding several recipes. This journey takes Pamela straight to the heart of the city, where she is not only opened up to new ways of cooking and creating brilliant taste, but is also welcomed into the lives of people who are in this noble business. She rejoices festivals with them, gets acquainted with their families, finds recipes for some of the best Khorma, Kheer and beyond, and makes treasured friends, soon to gather that Old Delhi has become no less than a home.

Review:

I cannot review this book, unless I talk about it's cover. Since the day the book came home, I would pick it up everyday, and just gaze at the cover. For someone who deals with words, I rarely agree that a picture speaks a thousand words. Except that this one really does. The cover mesmerised me, I must confess.

Moving on to the book, as the book suggests, this is Timms journal of discovering food in the streets and flavours of old Delhi, while she stayed in India. In all of twelve chapters, the book gives us not only the author's recount of staying in Delhi and finding out the dishes (and their recipes) but also gives us twelve authentic recipes which otherwise we would have had to give an arm and a leg for. 

Now, before I forget, let me warn you. While this is not a recipe book per se, the recipes in here will make your tummy churn and tongue salivate. So, eat before you read this book. Trust me on this. I was left wanting and dreaming of Shokky's Mutton Korma.

The anecdotes mentioned and Timms' the style of writing, both are so engaging that as a reader, you will be transported to a few years ago, about when Timms is talking. You will find yourself scouring the streets of Old Delhi with her, such is the way the book has been written. And more brilliantly, it exudes the earthy feel of old Delhi. A brilliant book, to say the least.

Rating: *****/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#BookReview : Resonance by Ajay Pandey


On the jacket:

Siddharth Rana, the Joint Director of the IB, is at his wits end attempting to unravel that mystery. Working with the blindest of clues, Siddharth has to race against time to prevent terrorists from achieving their horrific goal-an India laid low by a catastrophe of biblical proportions. This is a story that leaps across continents, gets to the heart of convoluted terrorist plots and attacks and amazes you with its exposition of high-tech gadgetry and science. It is equally a story of breathtaking bravery, recounted at a mind-blowing pace. At its core, it is also a story about the beauty of relationships. Relationships that are beyond national boundaries and historic enmities.

Review:

A book by someone who has served in the Intelligence Bureau and is an Indian Revenue Service Officer has to be entertaining. With this thought, I picked up Resonance by Ajay Pandey and I must confess, I was right!

Set broadly on the Indo-Pak conflict, this story is a nail-biting page turner. Very detailed yet, to the point, the author has managed to do a fine job in keeping the reader glued to the topic. As it is, the topic is very close to every Indian's heart. To top it, the best part of this story is that the author has kept it as a conflict between countries and not generalised religions. Indians are Indians, despite the religion they chose to follow. ISI and RAW at war with each other, who wouldn't want to read such a thriller?

There is also a love angle, very Aman Ki Asha style, between Ayan and Juhi, who study together in the US. The thriller bits are lavishly peppered with high end gadgets which give the story a very hollywood-ish feel. Fine writing, with extensive research as the story indicated, Resonance made for a very interesting weekend read.

Rating: ****/5

[This is a PR request review. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#BookReview : Scandalous Housewives: Mumbai by Madhuri Banerjee

On the jacket:


Meet women from Sapphire Towers, a residential high-rise Mumbai where life is lost to a clockwork routine. Although everything appears calm on the outside, there are those housewives who yearn for change and joys in their mundane life. One gets into a forbidden relationship following an irresistible lust, another gets addicted to kinky sex and ends up in misery, yet another woman falls in love with a young man, a friend of her own son and one more lady is holding within a secret that could probably put an end to her marriage. One ominous day, an anonymous email comes in to the inboxes of all Sapphire Towers residents and leads to unimaginable consequences! Discover what happens to the dilemmas of these women in this unputdownable novel.

Review:

A few months ago I had read Madhuri Banerjee's Advantage Love and quite liked it. When Scandalous Housewives came by mail, along with half a dozen other books, I picked this one up first. Now, reading through this book, I had two very strong emotions. Till about page 100, I was a bit bored because no scandal was happening and the story read straight out of the pages of Indian tele soaps. But from around page 125, things picked up and how! The climax, and the anti-climax, both were unexpected and the story ends with a bang. And once I'd finished reading the book, it made sense why the first hundred odd pages seemed so slow.

Four friends - Gita, a housewife whose husband and inlaws dislike her because she bore two girls; Sarita, whose inlaws are misers and she believes her teenaged kids need all the freedom they desire; Natasha, an ex-model whose husband is a wife beater and daughter, a spoilt brat; and Aarti, a working mother who bears the guilt of the secret she is keeping from her family. So technically, they are not all housewives. The are the best of friends and while they share a whatsapp group where they chat up as and when needed, they also meet for a couple of hours, every evening. They are each other's source of entertainment, power, strength and gossip.

Yet, they are all keeping some secrets about themselves from each other. While one's child was fathered not by her husband but by her ex, another is having an affair with a boy much younger in age. While the third has kinky sex with her husband, which the entire family seems to be aware of, the fourth is in a forbidden relationship with her brother-in-law.

But one day, it all comes out in the open. Somebody is out to bring their secrets out in the open and that will be the real test to friendships to test. Will the women survive this storm? Or will they and their friendships succumb? I had started reading thinking this would be something like a Jackie Collins novel, racy and scandalising but then, for a story to be set in middle class India, this is about the most scandalising a plot can get. I finished reading the book in 2-3 hours, yes, it's a page turner no doubt. I did have mixed feelings during the reading, but once done, I would recommend it, if you are looking for a quick read.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

On the jacket: 'I find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writin...