Book Review: Boundless by Natasha Malpani Oswal

Initially I was in dilemma whether to pick this up or not. As there are only rare occasions when I read an all out, poetry book. Because it needs your time, your attention and some sincere effort to let it sink in. But, then, I thought, why not now? And I am glad I thought about it. Because this is a decision that proved right. Natasha Malpani Oswal's Boundless, is a collection of poetry that rose from the heart of a woman - with a sense of failures, rebel and self discovery.  

The very first thing that impressed me, without even opening the book, is its beautiful hard cover. Such a beauty to hold it in your hands (I immediately did insta it), it gives a glimpse what must be inside. The beautiful illustration by Benjamin Bauchau is fascinating on black cover, an unusual but beautiful. Similarly the pages, the build is lovely to hold, to look at, the illustrations inside are just apt to the words penned by the author. 

The poems are spread in five categories. Falling, Recovery, Belonging, Escape and Discovery. As the category names suggests, woman's journey is beautifully captured in the words. In 'Homecoming' Natasha beautifully put the sense of independence and breaking the barriers of orthodox mentality. In 'An Education', she aptly puts how the pressure we put on our kids (at school) is unnecessary. And similarly, she tells her (the kid) to break the 'Safety net' and let them fly. Fly, yes, because that's the way we should have been grown up. On our own, falling and reviving ourselves. 

Indeed, a beautiful little book which needs to be revisited often.

You can buy the same from here

Gully Boy

Those twinkle in the eyes, mouth agape - when he is star-struck, found his own call, as he watches MC Sher (a role, made fabulously alive by Siddhant) live on stage; that set of expression alone is enough to describe how 'real' this movie is. How absorbed Ranveer is into the Gully Boy, Murad's skin. I am not a follower of this genre of music, but still, each track, including this, gave me goosebumps of the cinematic excellence that was unfolding in front of my eyes. As it says at one place 'gives sukun to your ears'. 

Am all heart for Zoya, when she is out of her 'rich-porn' zone. Yes, no ZNMD or DDD for me, for she is way better in LBC instead. And her style of unfolding the crucial scenes with minimal background score and right camera angles wins me over yet again in Gully Boy. Just look at the long shot of a car, passing thru the rich alleys of Mumbai, while camera follows two characters sitting in a car, having huge contracts - socioeconomically. The voice over plays - Doori. And in the final line of the poem, a long shot frames both of them. Oooof

If Ranveer is the one who gives all heart to this movie, its Alia who puts jaan into it. For the running time, she makes you forget you are watching this girl, instead you are with Safeena. Her body language alone speaks tons of words, how she is at so comfort when she is settled with Murad. The tremors are felt around her when the relationship gets shaken for a while, and still she wants to show she's all okay, but that-is just a volcano about to erupt. The bus scene is appreciated a lot, but what about the 'call from bathroom' scene? Both, Murad and Safeena know they both are losing it, and the conversation-in the end would collapse both of them, still they continue and then, after sudden end of the call, they realize, something worse has happened. I fear if there wasn't this chemistry, it would have been a totally different movie altogether. 

As I said as a first thought, Gully Boy is really a cinematic treat, to be savored again and again.

Book Review: The Silent Witness by Anuradha

History was never my favorite subject. I never wanted to memorize places, wars, their years and genealogy of the rulers. Until, I finished my studies and the bookworm inside me woke up again and now it has gone totally opposite way. The subject I despised earlier, now has become my favorite. Being in northern part of India, the books, references and even pop culture like movies has nothing else but the history of this part only. Even the current historical fiction too are available for this part only. And that made me wonder, what could be the story/ies of the southern states of India? The states where Zamorin allowed foreigners for the first time. The states which ruled thru their spice trades. So I started searching for such books. And luckily I found this one. The Silent Witness written by Anuradha. Synopsis promised this is going to be something different and indeed, it is something that is not read by me since long time.

The Silent Witness tells the story of Kerala. At the time, when Portuguese ruled it.At the time that even a small state like Kerala of today, was not one state but several kingdoms were interlinked to each other by one force or another. Dutch, Samoothiri, Kochi, Varmas and more. The story revolves around Kerala Verma and his brother. Both also known as Kochunni and Kuttan Thampuran. How conspiracies made them go into disguise, how Kochunni meets Unnimaya-a beautiful girl, how the strength of small states proves futile for statesmen of Portuguese. And how they are forced to move out of God's own country.

The canvas is very wide and looking at the page nos. I knew this is not actually a lengthy one at storytelling despite the fact it covers a vast time period. But still, it keeps you engaged because of the freshness of premises. This is perhaps my first ever read which is set in south India. And that make the reading experience unique. Characters like Kochunni, Kuttan and even Unnimaya are writter in a very simple way, not to exaggerate their bravery or beauty. But a well balanced, true to life, take makes it more worthwhile to read it.

Thought I have never been to Kerala, and this was first time I was reading about the area, it was a bit difficult to connect to certain scenes and rituals and even daily chores-which must be nostalgic to a south Indian reader. But still, it is an enriching and refreshing experience to read such things. Anuradha's pen does not master at the action though, and that's why you get to read war sequences in a lighter, non-descriptive way in which scenes move fast and only basic idea is give. But no, I am not complaining here because everyone has their own style.

The Silent Witness definitely takes you out in an unknown land, despite the fact that it is just a leaf out of the history of our country. History - that is full of such leaves which needs attention. And here Anuradha does just that. I would recommend this to all fiction lovers as well as history lovers. It is surely a worthy read.

The Legends of Bollywood : Book review

Dutt Family. One underrated and understated 'film' family about whom very less is written. Maybe, because only one lineage is famous and other family member got lost somewhere in heaps of flop films. Raaj Grover, who was almost a family member to this household of one of the most graceful couple, Nargis and Sunil Dutt, notes down his chronicles with Dutt Sahab's Ajanta Arts, his memories with Nargis bhabhi and other stars with whom he shared a good chunk of his life.

Title 'The Legends of Bollywood' is aptly put. As it starts with (the one and only) Amitabh Bachchan. Very intersting tale of Bachchan's four days leave from job and what he did with Raaj Grover in the city of dreams - a chapter makes a very good start of the book. Which further goes into lives of Yusuf saab, Dharam ji, Baba, Kapoors and Dutts.

An unusual read this is. Because neither this is from pen of journalist, nor its from mind of a star or an actor. But being a producer, Raaj has this advantage of being impartial, and very natural, so that the reader himself doesn't feel deja vu when reading anecdotes about years in which Indian cinema evolved from b/w to stereophonic sound and cinema-scope.

My favorites are obviously of - Dutt sahab and Nargis's tales. Even Balraj Sahni's chapter makes a really good read. Despite the fact we know many bits and pieces of the incidents described herein, as a bolly-lover, it's always a treat to read, repeat, read, and so on. Just one thing I would complaint here is - it doesn't tell us much about baba's dark period. It felt like Hirani has written more than this-despite of being more attached to tbe family.

That little rant apart, this is surely a book for all bolly-lovers outthere. Because some memories are meant to be lingered on.

Oh yes, and by supporting it and buying it, you will help funding the ever serving Nargis Dutt Foundation. What a generous contribution by the author.

Book Review: Tenth Avatar

So, when I posted my last review, I decided no more indian mythology read for a while now. But then, I saw this book by Kanchan Joshi, Tenth Avatar. And then my thoughts changed. And I picked it up for reading. Leaving Gone Girl incomplete, I finished this one in a few days. And it left me craving for more.

This is a story with two stories running parrellel to each other. On one side we see the Ramayana from Hanuman's eyes and on the other, protagonist is a hotshot scientist, maths lover who goes to Higgs Boson experiment like it's his daily playground:Krish. Now, physics and maths is nightmare stuff for me but the author here, takes us on altogether different approaches that makes it really interesting to go to. Even the Ramayan bit is portrayed with all possible scientific reasoning, so that you have logical circumstances instead of Hanuman flying off the ocean or uprooting the mountain to heal Lakshman. Present day story keeps you interested but for a while it takes on your nerves when it goes too much into details of the science physics and maths and what not. 

However I felt there was no need for such long part of Ramayana which goes on for every alternate chapter. It all is deja vu and makes it a wasted opportunity. (Spoiler alert) This track proves only useful when we are almost reaching the end. 

Overall, this is not the usual retelling remixing of mythology with current day fiction but needs some brain cell churning. If you are ready for that ride, hop on. 

 My rating: 3/5

Review: Stand Strong - Book 4 of Ramayana The Game Of Life

Just when I was wondering why it took so long for the fourth book in the series of Ramayana : The Game Of Life books, good guys at Jaico Books sent in their email, and after a couple of days, here it was. The awaited fourth installment in the series where Ramayana is presented as it is, without any deviation and variation, yet so differently translated that it makes a perfect self-help book you need to your side.  For background of this series, take a look at my posts on previous three books. (1, 2, 3).

First look at the cover and I was surprised. How this fourth book onwards a new design philosophy has been adapted by the publishers. The earlier books were good looking no doubt, but from this one onwards, it improves itself to higher notch. Fabulously minimally designed cover grabs the attention at first look. And now the title emphasizes on the theme of the current volume. Stand Strong. Yes, that's where the story has reached now.

After losing Sita, Ram Lakshan meet Sugriv and Hanuman. How Ram wins back Sugriva's lost empire in return of favor to find Sita. How Sugriva forms troops of millions and trillions monkeys to find her and how the troops keep their morale high despite of continued failures. This storyline, is the crux of the volume and this time it does better the past all books. Yes, this is the most interesting and unputdownable volume of the series. The way writer Shubha Vilas chooses to tell the tale, selected scenes, that unfolds in dramatic way and creating altogather different universe.

Like, going to all length in describing the mammoth troops of monkeys, the exquisite route each troop has taken, amazingly detailed description of the route described by Sugriva. The encounters of them with legends and magical lands. Everything makes me wonder why do we admire Tolkein a lot and ignore such fictional world created by our very own ancestors. That too, mostly oral history that got penned much later.

The key highlight of this series, shines again in this volume. The wisdom on the basis of this timeless tale. Wisdom at almost each page, as a footnote, describes the points flawlessly and effectively. Sample these -
"Excess fear leads to rebellion. Excess indulgence leads to disease. Excess comfort leads to lethargy. Excess power leads to arrogance. Excess of anything, however good it may seem, only tugs one toward the bad."
"Maturity is the peaceful acceptance of reality that gives one the ability to tolerate instead of agitate".

Many more such gems makes this book stand out when we see all the mytho-fictions are popping around us. And that, makes this book a unique effort.

Going back to the roots, is always a pleasant experience. And this book takes you just there. To the land where Rama walked, Hanuman jumped and great battles fought. And for that, you need to Stay Strong, which this book teaches us how.