September 28, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Ineligibile Bachelors' by Ruchita Misra

Some weeks back I posted a comment on the fanpage of the book after reading a sample chapter that the author sent me. In the comment, I proclaimed that Kasturi Shukla, the protagonist of Ruchita Misra's 'The Ineligible Bachelors' is the desi Bridgette Jones and I could not wait to read the book. So I received this book some four days back and immediately took it in my hand, discarding other small things like work and taking a bath. The book as people believe is not about arranged marriages though the plot revolves around that. The story is about love, friendship, hurt, betrayal and yes, marriage too. The cover of the book, once you have read the story, starts making so much sense and I applaud the designer for the creative insight.

Written in the form of a diary in the first person, the book talks about Kasturi Shukla, a 24 year old pretty middle-class girl from one of India's finest B-schools. Happy-go-lucky Kasturi has some really grave problems of her own, the topmost of which include her mother, who is hellbent upon marrying her off as soon as possible. And she wouldn't take a NO from Kasturi on that matter. Kasturi's doctor father has no say in the matter and chooses to remain outside doing field trips than watch mother-daughter fighting it out at home. So after every emotional drama with the sad tunes playing only in Kasturi's head, her mother puts a matrimonial ad in the paper and fxes up appointments for her daughter not only with the beautician but also with some very able candidates. These candidates come from various backgrounds but all have onething in common, they are filthy rich and well-educated and mostly stupid. She soon gets a job offer in Delhi where she is made to work on powerpoint presentations on a daily basis. Poor Kasturi keeps landing herself at arranged dates and keeps getting horrified after seeing the guys that turn up.

 Life seems to settle down a bit once Kasturi shifts to Delhi for work. There she meets new friends, Ananya, a sworn tom-boy who would soon swoon to Pitaji (the first guy Kasturi's mother short-listed for her) and Varun, a guy with a soft-heart and one who loves office gossip. And of course, then in walks Rajeev Malhotra (couldn't help picturing Saif Ali Khan from RHTDM here!) as her boss and Kasturi becomes a puppet to his charms. He could just say 'Kasturi, disappear!' and Kasturi would gladly wipe away herself from the face of the planet. Soon they are a couple and Kasturi can't believe her luck that her handsome boss actually chose her! In the middle of all this, Kasturi has to keep meeting guys that her mother keeps short-listing for fear of emotional blackmail that her mother often resorts to and this mostly results in hilarious outcomes that keep the reader rolling in the seat. And during one such arranged meet, she meets Dr. Purva, a shy and simple guy who is very different from the guys she has met so far. Hiding his emotions behind a hazy past, Dr. Purva emerges to be that caring friend who always ends up making life easier for Kasturi whenever she is in need. And towards the end that is a little predictable, Kasturi finds herself in an unexpected mess and she should make a decision that could define her life.

Imagine a photographer asking you to give 'the look' for photographing you while your mother is standing there, dreaming about sending that photograph to several prospective grooms. Imagine your mother continuously harping on what she has done for you and why you should obey her. Imagine ending up at a date where all that the guy is doing is staring at your zit covered face. The book is covered with relatable situations like this and makes an interesting walk-through. The book is breezy and by that I mean literally, it blows in your face and does everything that a good book should. It makes you laugh with genuine humour with its wonderfully crafted situations and one-liners. It makes you a little angry on parents, though obsessive and doting, who consider girls to be a burden once they are done with their education and emotionally blackmail them with what all they have done for them, so they should marry the guy of their choice. Bullshit! It makes you cry due to the hurt and heart-break. It makes you smile with real-life relationships that define true friendship and love and makes you feel content on having savoured the flavours of life. Somewhere it can also work as a dating guide for guys who are clueless on impressing girls. The characters are true to life and introduced well enough without saying too much or too little. 

The book, though I am tempted to call it chic-lit because it fits the exact definition of that genre, is something much more and should be read by everyone who has experienced life in the way I just explained. And it should be especially read by mothers of single daughters who cannot dream of anything else in life except for getting their daughter married to the first decent guy they can lay their hands on. I just hope this book teaches mothers a thing or two about their children's expectations from life. The book is a one-sit read and does not bore the reader at all. Misra emerges to be a very hands-on, witty and creative writer and this book makes for a perfect debut. No wonder Bollywood is already lapping it up. Just makes me wonder what an interesting film this would make. A must-read for this season!

Get it from StackurRack or Uread.


P.S.: Couldn't help posting this hilarious article from Ruchita Misra on spotting (in)eligible bachelors.

September 25, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Along the Way' by TGC Prasad

TGC Prasad's Along the Way is a roller-coaster ride of an ordinary engineer's life, written in a humorous manner, almost making it seem like the author is speaking to the reader rather than making him swallow aimless words. 

Venkata Subramaniam Adisankara Tanikaburla aka VSAT is your typical neighbourhood guy with some sweet imperfections. He is friends with Raj and Adi since their engineering college (NIT Calicut) days where they have struggled and survived together in the bottom pile. Raj Malhotra is a rich Punjabi lad with a fascination for some seriously good female assets and Aditya, who like VSAT is from Andhra . VSAT's boring life changes when he meets Anjali, daughter of a Colonel from Coorg, in his college and manages to impress her. Finally the two fall in love with an uncertain future keeping in mind the cultural differences and the hot-headed colonel.

An eventually all of them graduate and get placed in the same software company, TCS which is supposed to look after them and care for them and offer them 'life-long employment' as per VSAT's traditional father. It is here that the author really spins the tale by taking us into the lives of software engineers, their little joys, the work pressure, their expectations and dreams in an uncertain world. The jargon sometimes is heavy in some chapters but then one can't talk of engineers without the technical details. The tiff with the HR department and their bosses is interesting and it is good to see the mess they put themselves in after naming their boss, Mani as Hitler and rechristening their HR head, Amit as Pappu on his face. Their boss of course is of the 'boss is always right' types and does not go easy on them in the beginning. VSAT's US-obsessed parents finally get to see their son's development when he is sent to the US on a work-visa, and that chapter actually shows how software companies start changing their behaviour towards employees overtime, not wanting to lose them to competition.

Many incidents are quite hilarious, especially when Raj ends up calling 911 while meaning to call his home when they are in America for work. And somewhere around that the cultural clash between the east and the west also is portrayed in a witty manner by the author. VSAT's journey of impressing his trivia loving father-in-law by buttering him with wine bottles and trivia sessions even when he has no love for trivia, and winning over his mother-in-law by making Shah Rukh Khan wish him on her birthday, is surely interesting. Yeah, SRK too makes a telephonic appearance in this book. So do many little things in life that we experience and makes me hold true to my word, that the story has something for everyone. Towards the end the book catches pace and shows that the characters are not a part of the rat race but they are willing to prove themselves as capable as any IITian or any other performer in the organisation and in life. The writing is crisp and smooth and laced with adequate humour. 

The book is laced with quotes from Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather' and VSAT recollects them whenever he happens to find himself in a similar situation. The trivia questions that keep flowing out of the blue sometimes can be a turn-off for some. Apart from that, the book is wonderfully written and can be a ready-made script for Bollywood. Laced with wit and humour, the story will definitely find many takers. This book is one of the better releases this year and is sure to be taken notice of by the literary crowd. I will again repeat that it has something in it for everyone- the complete family entertainer kinds!

Get it from StackurRack or Infibeam

Note: TGC Prasad is the author of the best-selling motivational management book titled 'Unusual People do things differently.'


September 24, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Death Collector' by Justin Richards

 "Four days after his own funeral, Albert Wilkes came home for tea." 
Thus begins Justin Richards young adult sci-fi/ fantasy novel of a hidden, almost fantasy-like world in London. The beginning of the novel surely had me hooked. One of the best opening lines I have come across for sure and trust me, I'm not talking even about a couple of thousand but more, much more. But did the book continue to keep me hooked? Read on to know.
 The story has a Frankenstein flavour to it. The title alludes to the antagonist of the tale, Mr. Lorrimore, an insane rich industrialist and his morbid fascination for unique things that could make him rule the world. He even has a pet dino, kind of a T-rex, made of bone and steel, that is, half dino and half machine. He is behind a set of diaries that hold the clue to his ambition and in a futile attempt to get them from the museum, his goons end up burning the diaries and only a few survive with a small bit of parchment form the last diary, supposedly the most important. The parchment is kept by a museum employee, George Archer as he sees his friend being murdered by the goons. 

All of that is fine until, Lorrimore applies the concept to dead humans so that he might have some extra dimwits, who are ten times more powerful than normal humans, to help in his factories. Graves are dug and a corpse is found with human bones replaced by dinosaur bones. To investigate this, the senior most person of the department of unidentified artifacts, Sir William Prothroe of the British museum is called in. And he is not alone, along with him are three youngsters, George Archer; who works in the clockwork department of the museum. Elizabeth Oldfield; an aspiring theatrical actress and the daughter of a pastor and Eddie Hopkins; a teenage thief who has stolen from both.

 The novel as I said, starts on an amazingly high note with a recently dead man, Albert Wilkes (plays an important role in the novel as he was the holder of the diaries that contain the route to rule the world) walking inside his home and shocking his widow. It surely had me hooked but soon, the story started to falter and fall in places. I don't blame the author's structuring for it but the story did not have much in itself to keep me engrossed all the way. The author does not waste time describing things and in that way, the story is pacy enough. The characters are nothing to be proud of but I liked the way the author displays the brewing romance between George and Elizabeth, ever so slightly that you wonder what it was supposed to mean. Lorrimore as a villain does not create an impact at all, though the automation technique he employs in his half-alive machines surely manages to catch your fancy. And mostly the suspense can be foretold but I believe that is fine as it is an upper-elementary young adult novel. Read this if you are missing Doctor Who or want to relive Frankenstein in parts and pieces. I would go with a 3/5 for this one. I got this at a bargain sale recently, so I'm not complaining about value for money but...

Get it from Infibeam.


September 18, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Of Dreams' by Aditi Talwar Sodhi

'Of dreams' is a story about three college friends; Amrita, Aarti and Payal. And that itself is a welcome change from the kind of stories that deal with three guys and a love affair gone wrong. The three girls have lost something in life and yet dare to dream big. This book tries to be realistic and aspirational at the same time and in a rare achievement, succeeds in doing so. Books like these are not fiction but the truth about life, dealing with things that happen everyday around us, that can happen to people we know and people like you and me.

So we have Amrita who is the rich girl falling for Suresh, the poor guy but they can't end up together as Amrita's Punjabi parents are against their relationship. So Amrita gets married into a rich Punjabi household and dreams of a future for her two daughters. But what future do they hold when she finally gives birth to a son, the heir of their family? Amrita realises that human nature is undependable, howsoever sure we might be of ourselves.

Then there is the ambitious Payal, who too has a huge crush on Suresh from college but as life moves on and she steps into the corporate world, she realises there are easy ways to climb the ladder and accelerate your growth. But she does not know that this growth would come at an expense that would shred her name and turn her into an overnight scandalous object. It is a journey for readers to discover Payal changing and learning to love, trust and live once again.

Aarti, their friend from college always was a simple girl facing the challenges of life augmented by her poverty. She learns to sacrifice for everyone around her, from family to her love. And it is this sacrifice that makes this character so endearing. Her entrepreneurial skills and hardwork don't go waste in the long run and it is a seriously happy moment to see her growth.

In the words of the author, "Amrita repeatedly allows herself to be manipulated but consequentially becomes the biggest manipulator, Aarti keeps looking back when she should ideally be forging ahead and Payal tries desperately to erase her past but her future seems to be fading faster." The surprise factor however comes from a character named Shaheen who brings these friends together after almost two decades and there in lies the crux of the story. Aditi Talwar cleverly joins all the threads together towards the end, doing something pleasingly unexpected.

The book portrays the struggle and hardships of life from different points of view. Success never comes easy to those who dare to dream big. The characters are simple and well-sketched and I liked the flow of the story. The book tells us that many times life deals us cards that we never expected to play with. All in all a quick read that deals with a novel subject!

Get it from StackurRack or Infibeam.


September 6, 2011

Invitation to the NCR launch of Truly Madly Deeply

 Dear friends,

                           Join us for the NCR launch of my novel 'Truly Madly Deeply' at Reliance Timeout, Ambience Mall in Gurgaon from 6:30 PM onwards. 

The panel comprising of director Anwar Jamal, Bollywood actor Anuj Sawney and the queen of Indian chic-lit, Anuja Chauhan will be in discussion with ME on love, writing, marketing and all that in between. A Q&A session with the audience will be held following the discussion.

And that's not all ten lucky participants get a chance to win copies of the novel in an interactive contest to be held during the event. No, it's not over yet. Snacks and refreshments will be served to the audience. So go ahead, invite your Delhi friends and join us for the launch and also stand a chance to win free copies of the book. So be there. Don't miss it!

You can RSVP on Facebook or don't bother, just walk in ;)