The Hunt For Kohinoor : Book Review

To be frank, have never been a fan of thrillers in backdrop of political boundaries. Have always ignored such plots. But, now I think the view is getting changed after reading this brilliantly paced thriller by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. Her latest - The Hunt For Kohinoor, is such superb amalgamation of a political plot and history lessons, aided with thrilling 96 hours journey of the female protagonist - Mehrunisa.

Being the second book in 'Mehrunisa Trilogy', I was quite apprehensive on reading the second part without reading the first one. But thankfully, there aren't any continuing storyline that can make you clueless. The only connecting dots between the two parts are its characters. Rock solid spies - Harry, RP and Raghav. And the art lover and restorer - Mehrunisa who can switfly turn her side as a spy and still continue to connect the present world with a Renaissance mural or even a Mughal painting. And still, she is a woman, and know her boundaries and has her own fears and limits. Very well written the character is. As she is not out and out a daredevil which would lead one to start believing it as a 'fiction'. And the spy team - RP, Raghav and the 'Snow leopard'. Each one gets a perfect caricature by the writer's pen. That you can imagine the exact person what writer had in her mind.

Extreme detailing doesn't end with the characters alone. The backdrop of Afghanistan, FATA, POK, Pakistan and places around - are given in so much details that it leaves you stunned. Add to that, the political history, the games that USA, Russia and Pakistan played on playground of Afghanistan. How and who got the benefits of those. And how India is thrown in the picture with what connection. Everything looks so well researched and that makes the journey more authentic. You feel transported to those sandy deserts of Afghanistan, those killer peaks of Hindu Kush and even those dark, cruel caves.

The pace - is essence of the tale. It is not easy to hold reader's attention in a book, especially. And when you promise a tale that is going to last only 96 hours, that too in first few pages. You have to bind the reader to the ongoings. And this tough part is done with sharp finesse.Though at places, nearing to finale, I felt too much detailing of few new characters, did mar the pace for a while. But that again, after reading further pages, you feel it was the necessary devil. Another complaint is how everything falls conveniently in place while finding the cryptic clues. Or may be, because this is not a 'mystery' but a thriller. May be, its just me.

Unputdownable - the word is used n'times. But this one surely is. Because of its pace. Because how it takes you on a ride that goes from cliffs to caves, barren deserts to chilling peaks, museums to terror camps. Would certainly recommend this.

Don't be surprised it this gets converted into a film. My vote to play Mehrunisa goes to Bipasha (of course, as a 'fit' spy, who else suits?) or Deepika (remember her 'art restorer' role?).

Tags : hunt for kohinoor book review, manreet sodhi, book reviews, kohinoor secret, mehrunisa trilogy, priynka chopra

Valentine's Day Playlist : Pritam Chakraborty

The hit machine - as we know him better. Improvising year after year. Shedding all those blames of plagiarism (which I hardly do care about). Pritam - churns most perfect tunes when it comes to make songs of love. And here, are some of my favorites. In chronological order. Please share yours too in the comments. 


Older playlists here : Vishal Bhardwaj                          Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy


1) Phir le aaya dil - Barfi : The Ghazal'ish track with unimaginable arrangements in background. Add Arijit's voice and Kirkire's words. The song takes your senses in another world. Truly, gem of a song.

2) Tum Se Hi-Jab We Met : This had always been on top whenever I made favorite Pritam songs list. (and then, Barfi came). Shahid-Kareena's chemistry, brilliant picturization and Mohit's voice. The song is just perfect in all senses.

3) Raabta-Agent Vinod : Numerous 'reprise' versions. And still, you won't skip even one. This, minimal track is just so gorgeous - be it the singers (Shreya, Hamsika, Arijit, Joi, Aditi) or the words (Amitabh Bhattacharya), you can't help but fall in love.

4) Tera hone laga hoon-Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani : A shallow movie, and a pop song. Yet, sounds fresh anytime I hear it. (not to mention my love for Atif ;)) Alisha and Atif pefects the duet despite that bit annoying 'angrezi' phrases by Neeraj.

5) O Meri Jaan-Life in a Metro : Not a single track in this album that is not 'awesome'. Tough to choose one from it. But this, again for its words (Sandeep Shrivastava), makes it in this list. And the chords, the way it moves rocks its way to peak. Love, totally. 

6) Tum mile-Tum Mile : Another album where picking up a single mushy track, is crime. The album is all time favorite. (forget the dreadful movie). This one, again with various 'reprise' version, stays in heart. Upbeat version by Neeraj or soulful by Javed or, rock one by Shafaqat, this touches heart.

7) Yeh dooriyaan-Love Aaj Kal : Prelude whistle that gets stuck in your head. And Mohit Chauhan singing for Pritam. Nothing gets better than that. Irshad's words gets best tune that keeps the pain alive, for long.

8) Bin Tere-Woh Lamhe : Underrated song for an underrated film. Have never heard Jawed Ahmed before this (and not after this too). Just love how Sayeed Qadri's poetry gets peak in second stanza 'Tere saath jiye jo pal....'.

9) Jaane kya chahe mann-Pyaar Ke Side Effects : Wonder why there is no other Pritam song in this template. Zubeen was introduced in Hindi by him, but no other song came out after this one. Pritam used Garg's variations at right places, even the concluding piece with sarangi. Longing feel, can't get better than this. Whattay !

10) Tumhi ho bandhu-Cocktail : And nothing gets better than this when we talk about upbeat and peppy yet different. Kavita Seth in different avatar with Neeraj. The track you can't ignore, sure to make even your heart-dance.

And the list doesn't end there. Given record of Pritam, giving hits after hits, many of them the mushy mushy tracks. Here are some more that are not in top ten, but still, my favorites.

SubhanAllah-YJHD
Kya karoon-Barfi
Rabba-Mausam
I love you-Bodyguard
Pee loon-OUATIM
Bheegi Si Bhaagi Si-Raajneeti
Tu hi haqeeqat & Dil Ibadat - Tum Mile
Teri ore-Singh is King
Kahin Na-Kismat Konnection
Zara sa - Jannat
Lamha Lamha-Gangster
Baatein Kuch Anakahee Si, In Dinon-Life in a metro
Aaj Din Chadheya-Love Aaj Kal

Tags : Valentines day songs list, valentine's day songs, love songs, pritam best of pritam, pritam's hit songs list

Highway : Music Review

Patakha Guddi (Female) - the very first release from the album which I fell in love with, instantly. Nooran sisters (Jyoti and Sultana) who rocked in Sound Trippin', gets a fabulous bollywood debut with this song. The odd sounds, of strings, sounds actually good over the time. And the 'clap' like theme that is present throughout the track, marks surprising presence in two other tracks too. Maybe it symbolises the continued journey of characters. What makes you fall in love is the words. Maine to tere utte chhadiyaan doriyaan ! As if she and the almighty has become one, so much that she need not worry of anything coming her way. And the same tune, goes startling makeover and ends the track with fab humming by ARR. Lovely. This is again after Phir se udd chala (almost) where we do not have the first stanza getting repeated.

And the same formula is used in Mahi Ve as well. First lines stay at first only. And doesn't get repeated. Even more (sweet) surprise is how the track ends without the tune with which the track starts. A song, perfect for journeys, objects passing by your window, and soaked in the musical journey. (personally, love to shout-out along with while riding bike) Irshad Kamil's words get perfect voice as ARR sings this wonderfully penned song. (Don't know why ppl finding the tune average!). Ah, and the last stanza where he sounds so different, backed by trademark violins, and brilliant words. Goosebumps - meri khamoshiyon mein hai tu bolta - and first class concluding violins. Sigh.

Kahaan Hoon Main : this, despite being 'heard before' Rahman song, took time to grow on me. Jonita Gandhi's lovely crooning perfectly creates picture of a girl, lost in her thoughts, in a new world. Alongwith lovely background of piano, loved how the song rises from 1: 40. Tunewise it reminds me of Kahin To (JTYJN). Soothing listen this one is. (Wondering if Jonita has sung any other songs or this is the debut?)

Wanna Mash Up : When I first read the title, instantly thought came to mind about mashed-up songs. (blame it on Tseries). Thankfully though, this is totally different than what I expected. 'Shout it out loud' it says. And it is - a track worth it. Dubstep induced rap by Kash, krissy and Suvi, instantly takes you to Endhiran. Even at one place you go and sing 'r u just a robo toy'.. Despite, this one - is so much fun.

Sooha saaha : Lauded as Alia's debut as singer. I was a little apprehensive about this one. Not a fan of her at all (and I know that fact is going to be changed after watching her Ali-powered performance, oh and I won't say a bit about autotune, as I am technically illiterate ;)) Beautiful humming start and minimal arrangement - vintage Rahman ! Zeb excellently put her voice in a continued manner, without a pause. And in second stanza, you realize why ARR chose Alia to sing. Childlike innocence reflects here, which was required by the song. By the time the track reaches its climax, those silent violins makes it altogather a serene experience. (At places it reminded me of Sakhi Piya - Khoya Khoya Chand, same Raga maybe?)

Patakha Guddi (Male version) : Sweet surprise how this one starts. I thought - if the first version is so perfect then how different another version can be? But Rahman proved me wrong.  (Only later I knew that this - is the original version that was planned for the film, and later on he chose Nooran sisters as the story is about a girl !). At first listen, honestly I found his pronounciations really funny, that I even tweet OMG what is this ? But by the time the track progressed - and you know how he adds his variations. His trademark crooning - here 'ali ali' + new stanza in between +  big rocking surprise + how it comes gradually to main tune + the 'Jugni rukh peepal da hoi' stanza (especially how he says 'koi' in Ghar bhi rakh sake na koi), saai re... o mere saaiyaaan, maine to tere tere utte chhadiyaan doriyaan. Gosh, there is so much to love in this track. (That complaint about his pronounciation goes invisible by the time I repeat this every time, finding new layers in just one song). Still, I so wish if Rahman had sung it as a duet, with Sukhi or Kailash or even Javed ! (Interestingly, milliblog posted similar status, with names of Hans Raj Hans and Gurdaas Maan, if happened, this Patakha would have been more awesome) And did i forget to mention interesting use of harmoniums?

Implosive Silence : Silence can be musical. Who else but Sir can make you convinced on that? This one, hummed by Jonita, takes you to a different world. Close your eyes and you are there. Open your eyes and still you are there. Reaching there, while objects passing by (that sound, just like one by one pillars on side of the track, are passing).

Tu Kuja : Another one that did get least attention by me, initially. Thought its typical (even lyrics). But I was wrong. When heard in silent atmosphere, with headphones, the electronic arrangment is killer. Add to that Sunidhi's flawless rendition. Kashmiri folk gets Irshad's touch with some typical words, this takes time to grow. And when it does, it gets stuck in your head. And the humming of Rahman (right before second stanza) haunts you for long. This, is something Sunidhi deserves from ARR. Wish we can hear more from the duo.

Heera : Vintage Rahman. Yet again. This one, is goosebumps galore. Shweta Pandit sings Saint Kabir's verses in such a low key, almost whispering voice. Sounding extremely effective for the theme the song has. And the arrangements - sigh. This is Rahman, we have loved since years. Minimal, piercing, rich and gorgeous. A sound we heard in Zubeidaa (Door kahin..) and Lagaan (Spirit of Lagaan humming). That - divine touch.

Running out of words, but, yes, this is experimental Rahman. But still, he touches all the right chords. Touching corners of your heart.

My Picks : Patakha Guddi, Tu Kuja, Heera, Sooha Saaha, Mahi Ve.

Tags : A R Rahman, Music Reviews, Music review of Highway, Highway music review, Highway songs list, Highway songs, Alia Bhatt debut singer, Zeb Haniya, Tu Kuja meaning, Tu Kuja means, Kashmiri folk, Heera by Saint Kabir, Sant Kabir, Jonita Gandhi songs,

Filmfare Awards 2014 : Winners

Best Production Design : Acropolis Design (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)
Best Sound Design : Bishwadeep Chatterjee and Nihar Ranjan Samar (Madras Cafe)
Best Cinematography : Kamaljit Negi (Madras Cafe)
Best Editing : Aarif Sheikh for D-Day
Best Costume : Dolly Ahluwalia for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Action : Thomas Struthers and Guru Bachchan for D Day
Best VFX : Tata Elxis for Dhoom 3

Best Background Score : Hitesh Sonik for Kai Po Che
Best Choreography : Samir and Arsh Tanna – Lahu muh lag gaya for Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
RD Burman Award : Sidharth Mahadevan
Best Playback Singer Female : Monali Thakur for Sawaar Loon (Lootera)
Best Playback Singer Male : Arijit Singh for Tum Hi Ho (Aashiqui 2)
Best Lyricist : Prasoon Joshi for Zinda - BMB
Best Music : Jeet Ganguly, Mithoon & Ankit Tiwari for Aashiqui 2

Lifetime Achievement Award : Tanuja

Best Actress in a Suporting Role : Supriya Pathak Kapur for Ram-Leela
Best Actor in a Supporting Role : Nawazuddin Siddiqui  for The Lunchbox

Best Screenplay : Chetan Bhagat, Abhishe Kapoor, Supratik Sen and Pubali Chaudhari (Kai Po Che)
Best Story & Best Dialogue: Subhash Kapoor for Jolly LLB

Best Actress (Critics) : Shilpa Shukla for BA Pass
Best Actor (Critics) : Rajkumar Rao for Shahid
Best Movie (Critics) : The Lunchbox

Best Debut (Male) : Dhanush for Raanjhanaa
Best Debut (Female) : Vaani Kapoor for Shuddh Desi Romance
Best Debut Director : Ritesh Batra for The Lunchbox

Best Film : Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Director : Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Actress : Deepika Padukone for Ram-Leela
Best Actor : Farhan Akhtar for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Tags : Filmfare awards 2014 winners, winner list 59th filmfare awards

Sooha Sahaa [Highway] : Meaning, Translation

Well, that is the next track from A R Rahman's Highway soundtrack. Surprise is that - Alia Bhatt sings this lullaby ! Now this - is getting interesting day by day.

I googled a lot to find the meaning of this weird sounding-rhyming words. Took help of theBollywoodFan-as he masters the language. But still, no conclusion on the exact meaning. Lets wait for the full song to be released.

Meanwhile, I zeroed on following meanings -

One -
Sooha - Red
Saaha - Rabbit

Does it make sense? Well, lets see, if its a lullaby - yes it does.

Another one -
Sooha - Overlooked
Sahaa - Endurance

Again, this one makes sense too. Looking at the storyline.

Now over to the Highway team, when they will release the film.

Update : Yes, its red rabbit. Irshad Kamil tweeted it. 

Tags : Sooha Sahaa meaning, translation, sooha means, sahaa means, suha saha meaning, highway translations songs, rahman, irshaad kamil, alia bhatt first song. 

Filmfare Awards Nominations 2014

BEST FILM
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Chennai Express
Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
Raanjhanaa
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

BEST DIRECTOR
Aanand L Rai (Raanjhanaa)
Abhishek Kapoor (Kai Po Che)
Ayan Mukerji (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani)
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)
Rohit Shetty (Chennai Express)
Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela)