Bombay Velvet : Movie Review

What's wrong? I mean what is wrong with us - the audience. On one hand we cry out for 'lack of original' cinema. One one hand we shout about typical masala movies ruling the crores clubs. And here, on the other hand, moving ahead of all formulas, sticking to the script, Kashyap dedicates his everything to a movie so rich and fulfilling cinematic experience - we all thrash it out. Like its a sub-standard C grade movie ! Well, I am writing this not because I suddenly got symphathetic to one of my favorite director. Nor I am a bhakt or #inAnuragWeTrust guy. Nah. I don't even like a much acclaimed film from his stable - Udaan. But I am writing this because there is this trend on the rise - trend to start thrashing a movie, say killing a movie from Thursday night itself. To show-off how brilliantly we can influence things thru social media. How my handle / my blog / my reviews matter so much that I can even make Anurag Kashyap to type an FB update about moving on. Hah...

The movie, is surely a treat for me. For someone who love the city of dreams, it must be. Thankfully, I had read Mumbai Fables, a really well researched history of the city by Gyan Prakash. And it shows in the movie that every minute detail of the growing city is being taken care of. Even the very first minute has the Air India hording 'Nariman had a point... and we are at it'! You know what lies ahead. A riveting tale with absolutely sharp twists. Sprinkled with jazzy sexiness. The suave treatment shines throughout. The period setting is just too perfect that not a single thing skips away. Be it the Art Deco buildings or furniture, be it the warring tabloids, be it the mill chimneys or the 'secondary' headlines right below the major one. Everything is taken care of and it shows. The result - you are never bored throughout its (long) running time.

Music. Ah. The music. I never found the album much interesting, or say I had not given it many listens. But here, right from the beginning it gets you. From the opening shot to the end, Amit's score never leaves you. Be it the background score or the opulent jazzy tracks, with all those glamour and shine all around, it made me go Whaa! at places. There is a full song dedicated to Nanavati case, the most famous at that time ! Must mention here, Anushka's acts. She seems so natural as if she is really singing those song. Her 'Dhadaam dhadaam' being absolutely amazing, I would give all the awards to her just for those expressions.

Talking about performances, Ranbir ! How charming and raw goes hand in hand with his portryal of Balraj ! Earlier I had many doubts about him being in a role of tapori/fighter. But here he is totally convincing and plays his part so well, it seems he is perfect for the role for which he was third choice ! I can't believe there are people saying RK's performance is even bad than Besharam ! Ouch. Playing the Godfather of Balraaj, Karan Johar is surprisingly good. Even he couldn't have imagined himself. Jokingly not just people but even I told everyone how he is a bad choice as a villain (because, you know !) But Kashyap knows this and with his own control, the controlled moves and camera work, Khambhata makes a menacing villain. And Anushka, ah, she looks ravishing and the expressions makes each song perfect. Be it first song of Rosie's career - Fiffy or the one when she is star - Naak pe gussa or the situational - Sylvia !

Bombay Velvet is indeed a fine piece of cinema which has less indulgence (if you expect that from AK movie) and more dedication. But you have to have idea whats going on here. What went in making the seven islands into one-the densest city in the world. Bombay Velvet is that story. Story of Bombay !

Arjun : Without a doubt - Book Review

Not another book on Mahabharata. I thought, when I saw the summary of this book. And yet, I was tempted to read it because, it was on Mahabharata. Mythology, as always, lures me to read it. And there, I clicked the button for BlogAdda's book giveaway. Thanks again for choosing me to do something I love. Reading and reviewing.

Though I was sceptical because the subject has already been dwelled up in the past, by various mediums. In the book forms, or the alternate versions of the epic written on point of view of Arjun. A few months back I started reading Anuja Chandramouli's version, which I left midway for unknown reasons. But still, I have a feeling that this is the character - who is not given justice, respect and fame he deserves. Arjun - despite of being the central hero, gets washed off in contemporary versions of the epic whenever it is told again and again. With that in mind, I started reading Arjun : Without a doubt by Dr Shinde Sweety.

At first, what catches the attention while reading this version is the writing style. Here, it is not told from a witness' point of view. Neither it is told as a version of historical tale. But here, it is like a biography. Full of monologues and telling things as they happen, in front of their eyes and around. Making this quite an interesting to read from the very first pages. Though I got confused (and was, till the second half) between the two characters. As the story unfolds with two protagonists telling their story. Arjun and his lady love Draupadi. It was tough to differentiate immediately identify which character is telling his/her tale. Thankfully, I came across a review that described the chapters starting with *** are as told by Draupadi. Phew, things were easy then.

And the fact is - this different styled telling of the tale is the most intersting facet of this book. And then, the author's selection of the events. Which events to be emphasized and which ones to be toned down to mere lines, because such events are so popular that needs not be retold. Even, some events that are originated despite of the fact they are just myths. Like the one popular myth we have been hearing. Kunti did not know what Arjun brought to the hut, and told to share Draupadi among all five brothers. While the actual tale, is totally opposite. How could she order in such a way despite that fact she already knew it was not mere thing? Another major event, yet again involving Draupadi. The famous 'cheer haran' in the court of Hastinapur. The version Sweety tells us, seems more believable then the one which we are hearing since childhood. Here, the author shows the power of woman. Who can transform to Goddess Kali when she is assaulted and insulted. Not a silent delicate and helpless one, but a fierce warrior who can finish up the things at the same moment.

Choice of characters is the clever thing here. I could not get enough of whenever Draupadi and Arjun get confronted. We get to peep into their life. How it would have been for a couple bound by rules and exiles. Despite the fact Arjun won her hand and being the only one who hopelessly loved her - he can't even meet her alone till the eighth year since their marriage.  And during those eight years how his exile forms his life like none other.

By the time the book reaches its last quarter, you are bowled by awesomeness how the war is described. And even the aftermaths and lives of the survivors. Moreover, the bonus 20 pages of analysis by Sweety, that talks about all the ifs and buts and myths and connections. The summary is just as good as the whole journey the book takes.

Overall, this makes a worthy read for those who love this epic. For its central characters of Arjun and Draupadi and for the tales that are not told every now and then.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Ramayana The Game Of Life : Shattered Dreams - Book Review

Why 14 years? Not 10, not 15, but why specific figure of 14 years of exile Rama has to go for? Have you ever thought about it? Here, you will have the answer. Moreover, the questions that are almost unanswered, like how the city of Ayodhya reflected the parting of their beloved Rama? Was Kaikeyi really an evil queen from the start? Why Manthra played the role of a traitor? All this and more, I found in this second installment of Game Of Life series written by Shubha Vilas. Shattered Dreams - the second part of the Ramayana series tells the story starting from the announcement of coronation to the initial days of the 14 year old exile in the forest.
Taking help of Valmiki Ramayan and the other versions of this great epic, Shubha  takes you to that era when most virtuous King once ruled the world. The King, Rama. It is indeed an interesting take on Ramayana to make it accessible to younger generation with occasionally sprinkled wisdom in the footnotes. Even in review of the first book I had noted this. That not just some interesting trivia, but words of wise men are there making your reading more immersive.
Rarely I have read any editions of Ramayana that goes so much into details about the other characters as well, other than Rama and Sita. Here, they have a less exposure compared to other character. Even the later one, Sita, has hardly any notable sequence. On the other hand, here we have detailing about each small person who played key roles at various stages. Be it the evil hunchbacked Manthra, or the ever beautiful queen Kaikeyi. Even the charioteer Sumantra is given so detailed attention, the presence of them hardly go unnoticed.
One beautiful aspect of the writing of the book is how the author has used the expletives. Be it describing inimitable beauty of Rama, or the occasional glances of Rama and Sita. Or the description of beautiful creations of nature. The rivers and the forests. Everything is depicted so beautifully that it comes alive in front of us. Leave only the goody goody things. But the remorse of the brothers, grief of the parents and moans of the citizens of Ayodhya - on losing their beloved sun prince Rama, does let you go with the flow. Only to make you wonder how great a man must be to have such an inimitable image in people's hearts. Another thing I loved about how the characters of Lakshmana and Bharata are developed. Both, bound by their unwritten duty to elder brother. Both taking vows just because their brother is facing hardships.
And not just Rama, but the opening chapters also takes you on the journey to the past. The past when the Ikshvaku dynasty had a King named Nemi, who later on named Dashratha. How a person got transformed from Dasagriva to Ravana. How Ravana got encounter with the god of death - Yama himself. A collage of absolutely interesting backstories gets you hooked. And despite the fact the stories we already know, there is always something new to know about.
So isn't there anything that I disliked? Well, there is. But a personal choice of course. That at places the learnings go in much detailed mode. At places it hinders flow of the story. But still gives out very important lessons. Be it the Mission tests, the virtues, the anarthas, true communication and more. Words that makes you go think, ponder about the things around.
And that's what a book should do, right? Shattered Dreams does exactly that. And full marks to the author Shubha Vilas for taking the age old epic to this new level. Thank you for bringing those stories alive again which were there somewhere in granny's love, in age old books in our cupboards, in Amar Chitra Katha books.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The Aryavarta Chronicles - Kurukshetra : Book Review

These are the stories one can never get tired of. Each of us have grown up listening, watching and reading stories of Mahabharata. The past, often glorius, often bloody. The politics, rooted in each individual. Virtues and bravado. Mahabharata has it all. No matter how many times its retold, it doesn't lose its charm. Here, Krishna Udaysankar comes with her own version of the epic. Third book in The Aryavarta Chronicles series - Kurukshetra tells the tale that starts on the brink of the greatest war ever fought. On the red soil of battlefields of Kurukshetra, who and what led the forces to victory, who played invisible role in making Aryavarta a dream come true.

Actually, this is my first in the trilogy. Earlier I had seen and thought of reading first two books in this series. But somehow couldn't get my hands on untill this one offered by Blogadda. (Add to this, I never mind reading a series of books, starting backwards. Even LOTR was the book, which I read final episode first, then the other two ;)). Despite the fact I was reading last chapter in the tale, It didn't feel like one. Though it took some pages to get accustomed to the writer's style. Because, she doesn't spoon feed the facts and makes you want to think the scenario from the other angles as well.

Kurukshetra - starts off with those meetings in the background. The happenings around the states of Hastina and Matsya. How the war is being set up with role of Govinda in it. Gathering forces and supoort from other states which initially were supportive to Hastina and Syoddhan. But how Govinda rolls his dice and gets them in Dharma's stride. Interesting politics and alliances happens. While on the other hands, we get to see how lives of unsung heroes like Shikandin, Dhrustadhymn, Hidimbya and the second generation of many kings comes into light.

Writing style of Krishna is interesting. She doesn't reveal the ongoings in traditional way. But with less dialogues, more emphasis on the strategic actions. For a first timer like me, it took really a good time to get familiar with it. The complexity is notable and it actually gets you abosorbed in it. Interestingly, the story emphasize on portraying all the 'magic' and 'miracle' with background of science. So there, you do have reason behind the famous eclipse, reason behind the magical 'astras'. Even, Shikhandin here, is not a character with feminine qualities. Instead, he is a great warrior infusing great strength among the soldiers. Even biggest names like Dron and Syoddhan takes him very seriously. Another character, Abhimanyu, gets a deserving spotlight here. From his role to pre-war strategic alliance, to his role as a lover. The writer innovatively tells the tale which we don't hear much in any other version. Even, we get to see Ashwattama in action like anyone else. Being a complex character, he gets humble attention in the story. Most of the part is dedicated to 18 days long battle (obviously) and the writer paints the red picture perfectly with her words.  Things go really interesting towards the climax and ends fabulously.

Though I won't say its an absolutely perfect rendition I have ever read. Sometimes the detailed paragraphs and monologues make it difficult to cop up with. Also, the name changes here - Duryodhan, Karna, Yudhistir, Arjun, Krishna - all are here with their other names. Agree there must be a back story / reason for this in past books. But somehow we are accustomed to read only those names, and that confuses in opening parts.

Those minor complaints apart, Kurukshetra does live up the tagline it bears - The epic as it was never told before. Highly recommended to everyone, for the style, for the angle the epic is projected here.


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The Mahabharata Quest - The Alexander Secret : Book Review

Too many co-incidents happening. First when I started reading a lot about mythology, I came across Devdutt's Shikhandi. Then Blogadda came up with 7 Secrets of Goddess. That one, had a chapter about Gods from various parts of the world. Majorly, Greek one. That made me curious to dig more into the subject. And just when I started doing that, Blogadda came up with this (although fiction) one, The Mahabharata Quest : The Alexander Secret. Written by Christopher C Doyle, this thriller is based on the events ranging from 334 BC to present day. Interestingly weaving in the secret of Mahabharata into Greek legends of Zeus and Alexander. I immediately jumped in for this book. (As till now, reading a hefty amount of myths made me want to escape to fiction once again).

And Doyle didn't disappoint me as I expected it to be an engaging affair. After a mysterious prologue, the story starts with an excavation site at Greece. Continuing the team from previous adventure, Vijay, Radha, Alice, Colin and Imran gets tangled in yet another secret. A secret they couldn't think can be connected in this way. A secret that has twists and revelations. (Though I have the previous book lying on my shelf, I don't think reading this book directly will harm. Nothing connected between the two except some sentences referencing to previous book).

The research of Doyle shows at many parts of the book. Despite of being a fiction, it holds a lot of authentic and honest amount of writing that makes you awestruck. The route of Alexander during his march towards Indus, the ongoings in Greek politics and even the detailed description of viruses, bacterias, organisms and even DNA and RNA. So authentic it is and not written just for the sake of it. Though the fact is, the medical description made me lose the attention, distracting from the flow of the story, of course it was needed to be there.

As mythological-fiction is becoming one of my favorite genre by the time, this one is definitely has that intriguing plot. Making you think what lies ahead for the team. For reserved Vijay, for courageous Radha and supportive Alice and Colin. Making you curious about how the riddles get solved one by one. The writing style of Doyle is compelling. It holds your attention most of the time without deviating to silly details, dialogues or monologues. And again, I would like to mention, the research and timing how each chapter from past is placed. Right incident at right time. No 'flashback' kinda chapter for events of past, and not even overdone now-and-then pieces of past. Just perfect balance. And by the time you reach towards climax, you yourself get into search mode. I actually started Google-ing things which one of the character did in the story. The unusual backdrop for the climax adds more effectiveness.

All in all, this is a really commendable effort by author Christopher C Doyle. The Mahabharata Quest needs to be read for the stunning amount of research went into it. Smooth connecting links between Greek and Indian myths. And the thrills ! Go for it.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

PK : Music Review

Ajay-Atul's Tharki Chokro is as functional as a Rajasthani track can be. With all the deja vu, it still works well with catchy title loop. While childish Nanga Punga Dost makes an interesting listen with its violins. Lovely short violin tune repeats thru the track making it stuck in head sound. What is more interesting about these two songs is its lyrics. Getting our curiosity higher for the storyline.

Next set of songs are nice change from regular set of singers these days. Shaan's Chaar Kadam with Shreya is that typical-Moitra-Love-ballad-template. And I am not complaining there. Next is Sonu with Shreya. Making a fun duet in Love is a waste of time. Reminding of Pal Pal (Lage Raho...) though. Amitabh Varma's mushy words with a twist makes it more fun. But Sonu's next disappoints. Bhagwan hai kahan re tu is rather an ordinary, strictly situational track. Similarly, PK Dance theme. Lastly Dil Darbadar by Ankit Tiwari - feels totally out of place. No where it contains the theme of rest of the album.

Barring two tracks and despite template-ized sounds, PK works well in the borders of the movie. PK will work more effectively after watching the movie perhaps.

My Picks : Love is a waste of time, Chaar Kadam 

PK Music review, shantanu moitra, ajay, atul, aamir khan, ankit tiwari, rajkumar hirani, alien aamir.