Agniputr - When Agni First Spoke : Book Review

So, when I first heard about this book, I thought it to be from my favorite genre : Mytho-thriller. But no, it wasn't. Then, I read the summary, oh, a contemporary thriller, no, it wasn't. I started reading it, I thought its a horror one. No, it wasn't. Surprise surprice, it is about the least favorite subject of mine. Science! That too, quantum science. And finally, while putting down the book as I finished it, Oh my gosh ! I can't believe physics can be so interesting ! 

Vadhan's Agniputr (Son of Fire) is the book I am talking about. Its a story about an unknown force and how it has got so much power, enough to destroy whole world, or enough to create altogether a new world ! Leading the story are Sheila the 'sci-fi' scientist and Surya the 'hifi' lawyer. Indeed, the pair is amusing and entertaining while they are together. The writer keeps the mood pretty light while they are in the scene. Similarly, when there is a mention of the power, the 'Sutram', the feeling of spook, the uncomfortable feeling of being scared in dark even at night, comes naturally. That indeed, is sign of perfecting the words. Full marks to the writer for that. 

The plot starts in 1940s but soon comes back to present. Writing style is fluid, which won't let you go check your phone notifications. Surprisingly, while the story progresses, the characters starts giving you dose of lightweight humor. A welcome relief indeed in otherwise 'getting tense' mood. I won't reveal any more characters or the storyline further. But will say, this is worth reading if you love thrillers and even paranormal things, it will be added bonus. Oh, and as the title already has given it - waiting for the sequel. 

4/5 from me ! 

Oh, and here's the trailer of the book. You can buy it from here .

Kaafiron Ki Namaaz : Movie Review

Three years back, when I heard the soundtrack of this film, I didn't know that actually watching this film, would be such an experience ! It certainly is not an easy film to watch. It jolts you from inside, it makes you think, ponder over many issues which are (and will be) a part of any society, any country, despite the fact however advanced and 'civilized' it becomes. Where feeble issues and brittle slogans and jingoism has place while the pandemonium behind their back, hits deaf ears.

Set in Kashmir, the first 10 minutes takes you on a whirlwind of expressions and happenings. This is not your usual 'beautiful valley' Kashmir. Neither it is 'just another terrorism wala movie' Kashmir. The haunting shots of empty streets and a stunning and equally depressing aerial shot of the lake will still not make you ready for whats coming next. Further most of the film is set in just one room [and a bathroom] this is something most unique I have ever seen. A court martialed army man, his friend and a musician- a tea vendor and a writer. The three confessing their most personal secrets on a rainy Christmas eve that leads to those shocking revelations and layers of lives and lies we all are living in.

While the trailer was launched, it got me intrigued how, how a movie can be shot in just one place. With just a few characters. Of course there are a few movies with such setup. But still, it is not an easy job to make people glued at screens with such limitations. Here, DOP A.Vasanth does wonders with his games with light and shadow, aided by Jyoti Sankar Bhattacharya's art direction. This brainchild of Ram Ramesh Sharma, writer and director, gets perfect team for this dark tale. Perfection is in casting as well where (Late) Chandrahas Tiwari, Alok Chaturvedi and Megh Varn Pant, soaked in their characters, strip themselves on screen by opening pages and pages of their own book of dark secrets. In the end you get to experience something never before on screen. Despite of such perfection on all fronts, Music of Advait Nemlekar leaves its own impression on you. While Sawaalon Ki God Mein starts off the film on a curious note, Jhalkiyaan shakes you by the time it reaches on its climax (uniquely done, again, with animation) and mysterious Yeh Raat Monalisa adds yet another layer of darkness.

Its really unfortunate that our censor board still haven't grown up, or say has gone back to bygone era, that such movies are proposed to be shredded in order to get public release. May be, because it shows us the mirror, we are scared to see how ugly we look to ourselves. Thank you and Kudos to Producer Bhargav Saikia, for taking this revolutionary step to release this film, that already has seen many festivals worldwide, for everyone. Way to go ! Here's to more such awesomeness, called Cinema.
My rating : 4 / 5.
Here is the link to watch the film : Youtube.
P.S. Bold language used, and some sensitive arguments. If you are easily offended, you are warned. 

Ramayana : The Game of Life Book 3 - Stolen Hope | Book Review

After reading first two books in the series, I was eagerly waiting for next part in this series. Written by Shubha Vilas, The Game Of Life series is a something that made me want to read whole series together. Depsite of the fact that I have, we have read numerous versions of the epic-Ramayana. As the reviews of last two books states, this too has its own strength in terms of wisdom put in footnotes. Making it different, than just being just a 'tale'.

Stolen Hope starts and ends in the exile period of Rama. How things take turns when they face demons never seen before. How they meet sages waiting for just a glance of their beloved Rama. How the delicate princes and queen Sita spend their lives in simplest manner.

Some reviews point out to excessive use of adjectives. But I see it as a valuable addition. As our original texts of ancient times, are full of such phrases. Comparing a simple thing with beautiful words. Translating them and putting them in this modern version, is commendable effort by the author. We can only imagine the vast vocabulary of our ancestors.

Combining various versions of Ramayana, we get to know some really interesting tales hidden in the large canvas of stories. Example - the story, how and why 'Sitaphal' arrived on earth and why it is in-edible for monkeys. Was 'Lakshman-rekha' really there to protect Sita or was it just another addition over the time? Why Ravana restricted himself and didn't impose Sita to be his wife? And an interesting twist why and how Sati became Sita and the twist ended up as a painful end.

Though there are glitches this time in the book in terms of mistakes so common that could have been avoided with proper proof reading. Like use of 'his' in place of 'he' and so on. Hope this would be corrected in next edition. The cover too, is underwhelming. Out of three books till now, the second book had best cover design.

In the present times, when every other author is turning to mythological tales and twisting it as their own will, The Game of Life series, is a welcome change in this scenario. A series we should preserve as a keepsake so that the original story don't get lost in many imaginative versions. Thank you Shubha Vilas for this effort.

Favorite soundtracks of 2015

So, turns out 2015 is another year I've refrained from writing down my thoughts on the music. But, somehow I feel this year has been a dud in terms of fresh sounds and great soundtracks. Or maybe I'm turning old !

That aside, here are five of my most favorite soundtracks from this year. Albums are selected the way they grew on me. The way, they translated and complemented the happenings on the screen. The way director has used it and it fueled the film. And, in no particular order.....

Bajirao Mastani:
The Obvious, the mandatory and obligatory choice. Only a few directors left today, who understands the value of music. How music is the integral part of our movies. Bhansali is one. There are reviews saying 'he finally has got his tune right with this album', that I disagree with. He always had it; be it the sound seashore of Goa or the soul of Gujarat. The Indian-ness, excessively rich in everything that is used - Bajirao Mastani is nothing short of a perfect album. Well, there is a glitch here too. Malhari - sounds totally out of the place, both in the movie and the album. But that is forgiven when you have soul stirring Aayat, Ibadat, Albela and stunning Jane na doongi.

Piku :
The sitar - that refuse to leave your head even after you finish watching the film. This is Bollywood's first encounter with Anupam Roy, and is definitely promising. The uplifting Journey song makes me want to make a playlist of journey songs, every time I hear it; Roy's voice has that charming quality that makes you love his croon. Apart from that, there is bright, alive title track; soulful Lamhe and Bezubaan and lovely Teri Meri Baatein. A perfect little album, just like the movie.

Bombay Velvet :
I passed it off as 'overdone-indulgent' work of Amit Trivedi. But the view got changed drastically after watching the film. After watching Rosie crooning 'Malaal mein......' on screen. And after watching those bullets flying from the Tommy gun. Yes, I am in the minority of those who loved the film and even re-watched it. Jazzy and sexy, and weirdly addictive. Disappointing that they haven't included the Geeta Dutt number featured in the film, the album is a perfect in all aspects.

Masaan :
One would outcast me if I say I did not follow Indian Ocean when they were at their peak. But that's the truth. I never followed them seriously without any reason. But here, you can not imagine anyone else doing the score for this wonderful film. The picturesque ghats looked more beautiful with frames sprinkled with Bhor. Or the poetry, that sounded endearing with flamboyant voice of Kirkire. This 3 song soundtrack is most complete even with its short playtime.

Tamasha :
Rahman. Alright? Well, not this time. Again, an underwhelming feeling when I first listened to it as we are getting this from the pair that gave Highway and Rockstar. But as always, Rahman's magic worked like slow poison. Add to this, the finesse of Imtiaz Ali, that shone on screen. Chali Kahani literally started the story as it should and Tum Saath ho moved to tears as it should. We danced off at Matargashti and even the odd sounding Wat Wat Wat got editing so good it now feels inseparable from the story.And, ah, what I can demand for, when a song has Rahman and Lucky Ali in background, while having Ranbir on screen?!!

Would like to mention other albums as well that were, well, decent. Tanu Weds Manu Returns, did have heavy burden of expectations, felt a bit short on them, for me. Dil Dhadkane Do was again, nice, but cliched SEL one. Humari Adhuri Kahani, ABCD2, Shamitabh and Detective Byomkesh Bakshyy were good. And Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo and Dum Laga Ke Haisha : 1-2 song each. Irony is - the later one, has one of the best song of the year.

Tags: Best of 2015, best songs, soundtracks, music, music list 2015.

Book Review : Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna

Such a breezy and fun entertainer this book is. Unlike Twinkle's movies, of-course. ;) A fun idea it is to peep into her semi-fictional world. Because, well, if you love Bollywood - you would surely be interested in 'an ex-star married to a superstar's life!?

Have read only a few of Tina's columns, most of which are about current affairs. This book, is pretty different from those and thankfully, written in a very light manner. Making you go LOL at almost every page. Even there were some lines so hilarious, I really had to try hiding my laugh thinking what my co-traveler (in bus) would think.

Read it, because it won't harm your much time. And yes, God Blues You.

Highway : Thoughts overflow

Tu Kuja was haunting my mind since two days. Couldn't get over it unless hearing it on headphones. With all those electronic 'noise' thrown in. Yes, the reason why I love the track so much is because of that electronic treatment ARR has given to it. And for which, people often criticized it. But for me, the sound creates more mysterious atmosphere. More 'black' 'dark' and 'unknown' element it adds. There are two ways to enjoy this track - close your eyes trying to get away from everything. Or open your eyes, while traveling, sitting at window and look at visuals passing thru it.

The exact way to enjoy whole soundtrack of Highway, is like that. I just did it for umpteenth time. And that's why I am penning this down, without any purpose. Just as my mind felt about the songs, getting immersed yet again in this journey of sound. Highway.

Who knows, if Tu Kuja, initially, wouldn't have designed like this? Can anyone confirm, if it was actually made a qawwali as we heard on radio in the movie. May be, that sounded out of place to the director for the situation he wanted this song to be played to. So enter the mysterious version, for a scene where Veera is running away from reality, towards unknown.

That one track, isn't alone inspired by the visuals. Almost all of them, tells the same tale. Moving on to next, the one which got least accolades, for having more 'pop' sound.  Maahi Ve is another one, which takes you on a journey. Passing trees, one by one, as the 'clap' sound goes in the song. Another song, almost bordering on structure of Phir se udd chala. With no fixed lines to repeat. (agree, its not, but). It ends very unusually. But by that time, you already have lump in your throat, by the lyrics and the violins in the last para.

Sooha saha, again, an emotional journey. Scenes in the movie, are put in flickering motion. Coming and going in seconds, from the past of Mahabir. By the time song reaches its climax, and Veera starts singing - Toota Tara sa... for the broken Mahabir. You can't help, and tears well up in your eyes. Visuals of Veera consoling Mahabir come up in front of eyes, when Mahabir totally breaks down, right before the climax. And Veera consoles him like a mother would. Aching pain the scene had, that reflects in a song, that comes way earlier in the movie.

The the playlist moved to ARR's version of Patakha Guddi, which unlike the 'happy' sound of the former version, has its soul more inclined towards devotion. Devotion, towards the one you love. From the silent scattered continued beats, it goes to the height, of belonging-ness, in terms of music - with hard rock portion, gradually coming down. With faint sounds of a dafli. And near conclusion, offering one's self completely to the 'Saaiya'. You hear more faint sounds, almost silent, of 'manjeera', repeating at certain intervals. A symbol of devotion-literally.

And after all this ride into unknown, emotional, physical, devotional peak, and back on soil. Implosive Silence cools down everything. But not for so long. The longing sound remains inside. Like heart beats. Increasing gradually. And then, bass increases, but not outwards. Inwards it takes you. Just like the name of the track. Implosion - of thoughts, of things squeezing you inside. Without shouting outside, without letting anyone else hear you. The one, that makes more devastating effect than an explosion.