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Book Review : Live from London

Category: General Fiction

Publisher: Rupa & Co.

Pages: 204

Price: 195

With new talent shows popping up like mushrooms on different TV channels and thousands of contestants waiting patiently in lines that extend upto several kilometres, we all know that today’s youth is deeply fascinated by the thought of making a career in one of the performing arts. In her debut novel Live From London Parinda Joshi introduces us to one such character, Nishi Gupta, who is an aspiring singer and is struggling to make it big in the music industry.

Nishi Gupta, a 21 years old girl who lives in London and has big dreams of becoming a singing sensation suddenly finds herself on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent where she messes up her performance and receives harsh reactions from the judges. After the fiasco a devastated Nishi, who is unable to cope with the humiliation she had to face on TV, is determined to leave her mark in the music industry and starts interning at Hues, a record label company. She hopes that her new job would help her build contacts in the music world which would foster her dreams of becoming a rockstar. At Hues she happens to me meet Nick Navjot Chapman, a half Indian, half Canadian singer who oozes charm and is totally irresistible. Soon Nishi and Nick become an “item” and Nishi gets the break she had always wanted, a chance to sing in Nick’s debut album. At this point Nishi is confident that she is all set to become the next big thing in Britain’s music industry. However, fate has something else lined up for her and all of a sudden Nishi lands up in India, trying to get accustomed to a life which is entirely different from the one which she had in London. With this sudden turn of events Nishi finds herself struggling to keep her dream alive.

The book is set against the backdrop of the  British music industry and is neatly divided into two parts, the former dealing with Nishi’s life in London and the latter, her struggle in India although second part is limited  to the last fifty pages of the book. The choice of the words is simple and the sentence construction is lucid and easy to follow.

The novel is targeted at the urban youth, especially girls in their late teens and early twenties who are obsessed with rock-bands, pop stars, metrosexual hunks and a glamorous lifestyle.

To her credit the author has built upon the character of Nishi Gupta really well. Being in my early twenties I could easily relate to it. Nishi is smart, sassy, confident and defiant. She lives with her parents in London and craves for independence and privacy just like most 21 years old girls do. Her dream to make it big in the performing arts is also understandable.

I looked like any other young woman in college in London with heavily layered razor cut, dyed with three different colours- copper auburn and a hint of blonde. It was the kind of funky look everyone was sporting and I was no different.

We also get to meet Nishi’s friends Sarah, Riya, Zac and Arjun each of whom is stylish and delightfully quirky. Nishi’s parents are the stereotypical Indian parents- nagging and overprotective.

Another aspect of the book which impressed me was the author’s attempt to give us an insight into the British Music Industry which forms an integral part of the book.

The UK music scene is quite different from the US. The Pink Floyds and the Deep Purples had once taken the country by storm with ever increasingly progressive elements like obtuse lyrics. Then came Punk rock with their loud and rebellious lyrics which spawned Goth, alternative rock and many more sub genres.

The individual situations, on the other hand, were not well elaborated. At various places in the book I felt that paragraphs lacked completeness. The transition from one scene to another seemed a bit abrupt.

The ease with which Nishi grabs an internship at a record label company is incredible given the fact that she is a newbie and has no prior experience. Her relationship with Nick is also a little rushed. Detailed description of events could have rectified these minor flaws.

I personally feel that the book has a good storyline. Had the author not wrapped up the novel in a hurry and paid more attention to details the book would have been quite gripping.

Nevertheless, the book is enjoyable and makes for a light and pleasant one time read. If you are apprehensive about getting bored on your next train journey you might consider taking this book along with you.

To know more about the author log on to www.parindajoshi.com

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at  BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Book Review : Dream’s Sake

“What keeps your hopes intact?”, you ask. “Dreams” comes the answer. “You should always have one!”, we hear them say, “you should keep your dreams alive. “ And that’s what most of us do. We cling on to our dreams and never let go. They keeps us going, recharging our worn-out systems whenever the stark realities of the big, bad world begin to make their presence felt. But where does one draw the line? To what extent should one go to make one’s dream come true? What if one’s dreams clash with those of others? Come and witness a battle of dreams in Jyoti Arora’s debut novel, Dream’s Sake.

Dream’s Sake unfolds the story of four friends, Aashi, Abhi, Priyam and Sid each of whom steps into the adult life with a baggage from the past. Aashi, who has just moved into a humble locality in Delhi with her widowed mother, has still not recovered from the shock of her father’s sudden death.  However, the memories of the past are not potent enough to deter her  from building castles in the air. She thrives upon the hope that her dreams will one day metamorphose into a shimmering reality, one which will free her from the tyrannical barbs of her middle class life.  Her neighbours, Priyam and Abhi on the other hand have made their peace with their lowly existence. Orphaned in their teenage years this brother sister duo has succumbed to vagaries of life. Sid has grown up to believe that it was his father’s unfaithfulness and negligence that compelled his mother to end her life. He shuns his father’s wealth and finds solace in Abhi and Priyam’s companionship. Romance starts brewing in this little group of their’s which results in happiness for some and broken hearts for the others. In the end a few dreams are realized, a few are shattered and trampled upon leading to disastrous consequences.

This novel had a decent storyline. However, I’ll have to admit that it failed to “wow” me. The story lacks freshness and towards the end of the book I could vividly picturise scenes from a melodramatic Bollywood movie of the nineties being projected on a theatre screen. The story has its fair shares of twists and turns but it tends to become quite predictable in certain places. The characters are anything but eccentric and I could easily relate to them. The book has been written in simple English although I came across several sentences which were unnecessarily cramped with “fancy words”. Simpler words could have easily done the trick and perhaps even conveyed the author’s thoughts a lot more effectively. The aforementioned points notwithstanding the author should be lauded for churning out a reasonably good piece of fiction in her very first try.

In all I would say that this books makes for a light, quick and romantic read.

An extract from the book:

He can be as good as he wants to be and I’ll be as bad as I need to be! We’ll see where it all ends up,” says Aashi.

To know more about the author log onto www.jyotiarora.com

Rating: 2.5/5

Category: General Fiction.

Publisher: V&S Publishers

Pages: 266

Price: 195

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Thank you, Jyoti for sending me an autographed copy of the book. All the best for your future endeavours.

Mumbai and Terror Attacks…

Three serial blasts have rocked Mumbai yet again forcing its inhabitants to relive the trauma which they have experienced on multiple occasions in the past.

Centuries ago, when the Portuguese had set their foot on the land of Bombay, they had called it a ilha da boa vida which translates to “the island of good life” *. They did not have the slightest idea that the very same island, which had attracted travelers from far and wide in search of a better life, would one day be trampled over by a depraved and irreparable race that would resort to any action, no matter how inhumane, to prove their might and superiority. Bombay has always been hailed for its cosmopolitanism. As hard as it might be to believe there was a time when Hindu-Muslim camaraderie was an integral part of the city’s social fabric. Now, this fabric has been torn beyond repair and all that remains are its frayed and pointed ends that prick the city time and again.

Yesterday evening as I was sitting in my living-room watching “Breaking News: Mumbai Hit By Three Bomb Blasts” being flashed on various news channels only three words escaped my mouth- “God! Not again”. Panic-stricken, I made numerous phone calls to my friends and relatives and when the news, that all of them were hale and hearty, poured in I became my usual self.

This morning I had a discussion with colleagues about the current state of affairs in our country and all of us unanimously agreed that it was indeed miserable. Each time such an incident occurs our leaders display a remarkable alacrity to“condemn” or “strongly condemn” these actions. However when it comes to strengthening our intelligence and security system they conveniently take a back seat. But who can blame them? After all, filling up one’s coffer with the nation’s hard-earned money and lodging it safely in tax havens is several orders of magnitude more important than the national security. And anyway,” security” is a term applicable to VIPs only. The hoi polloi can walk around with daggers and swords dangling above their heads. No one really cares. The frequency with which these explosion have occurred over the past few years makes me wonder if a time will come when they’ll become just commonplace events that happen once in a while. The very thought of it makes my soul shiver.

The macabre images of the dead and injured evoke nationwide pathos. Whenever I see  the picture of a one-legged man covered with blood crying in pain I feel I can empathise with him. I feel that I can understand his pain and suffering. But honestly, I know I can’t. For me and all the other people sitting safely in their homes the entire scene can be changed in one second. Whenever the picture gets too gruesome we can easily switch over to the entertainment channel or flip over to page 3 and read about the latest escapades of a Bollywood actress. But for those unlucky souls, who witnessed the incident first hand, their entire life takes a U-turn. Their physical injuries might heal in due course of time but indelible scars are left in their minds.  For those who lose their near and dear ones, no amount of monetary compensation can fill up the newly created void.

The only good that comes out of these incidents is that the faith of the masses in their strength and resilience is reaffirmed. In the past whenever Mumbai has witnessed the face of terror it has not taken more than a day to snap out of fear. The rising sun on the next day fills the people with fresh vigour and vitality which encourages them to move ahead undeterred. The local trains have the usual hustle bustle. No Mumbaikar is ever unnerved by such incidents. Perhaps that’s the reason why Mumbai is still called the city of dreams. A terrorist attack can just stop a handful of Mumbaikars from breathing. But it can never stop them from dreaming .

*  Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash

Can Delhi Belly Give You an Upset Stomach?

I saw an old couple standing near the door with their fingers entwined. Both of them, with their snow-white hair and wrinkled skin, were very charming in an unpretentious way. Under normal circumstances I would have definitely said “Awww, cho chweet” or ” Look, they are so cute” but the words that escaped my mouth were “Oh F**k, what on earth are they doing over here?” And before some of you decide to banish me from the blogosphere or make plans to burn a digital image of mine on the internet let me tell you that the circumstances were not that normal. The place where I saw them was a multiplex and the movie that they were planning to watch was Delhi Belly. I sincerely hope that the children and grandchildren of that couple had given them a prep talk or at least warned them before hand otherwise those good old folks were in for some serious cultural shock.

Now, that I have watched this movie and joined the elite group of, what shall I say, “progressive and futuristic movie goers”  😉 😉  (or ” perverted and shameless movie goers” as some of you might call it 🙂 ), I would like to share with you a thing or two about this film.

So, what is Delhi Belly?

It is, without the shadow of a doubt, the most crass, outspoken and bold “partly Hindi partly English” movie which I have seen in my entire life. It has reconfirmed my belief that Hindi cinema is gradually steering towards the unclean shores that had been neglected by the film makers so far. The actors have punctuated their dialogues with every Hindi expletive that can be found in the urban lexicon and if this movie were ever to be aired on national TV, the number of “beeps” in each sentence will most likely out number all the remaining words. This movie comes as a shock to most of the viewers. There are scenes that will make your eyes blink or may be even pop out because what happens on the screen is extremely obscene and vulgar. The shamelessness and vulgarity notwithstanding, the movie has its humourous moments that will surely make you laugh.

…and the story?

Well, there is nothing great about the story. Any script writer would probably churn out this story within minutes. Imran Khan’s friend wrongly delivers a box containing stool samples instead of the one containing smuggled diamonds to the gangsters. In the process of solving the whole diamond conundrum, the gangsters reach Imran Khan’s house and it is then that the three guys find themselves in deep trouble.

The movie does have songs, right? 

Oh yeah! Absolutely. However there is not time allotted to the actors and actresses to display their dancing skills on the screen. Most of the songs are played as background tracks. “Bhaag Bhaag D.K.  Bose”   has become a nationwide rage. I won’t be surprised if a few Bengali Babus named D.K. Bose opt for rechristening because from now onward D.K. Bose will probably become a well known euphemism for you know what. Gone are the days when the heartbroken lover used to sing sad, emotional songs in the memory of his lady love. The twenty first century dude prefers “Ja chudail Ja”. And of course there is “Switty” , the hot and happening babe, whose “pyaar” is wanted by one and all. And if these songs are not good enough for you, Amir Khan, the hirsute hunk, places a cherry on the cake at the end of the movie when he dances to the beats of “I hate you” and recreates the magic Mithun Chakraborty used to create in his heydays.

In a nutshell…

… you get to see a generation of men and women, or should I say, guys and gals who have absolutely no qualms about telling the world that they take pride in being a brazen lot.

Is the movie unnecessarily hyped?

I can’t answer that question for you. Go and watch the movie to find out what the hullabaloo is all about.  😉 😀

A word of caution…

This is not a “first date” movie. This is definitely not a movie one can watch with one’s parents.

And, coming back to the question stated in the title of this post –

“Can Delhi Belly give you an upset stomach?”

The answer is yes- if you go inside expecting seven courses of delicate French food because the chef de cuisine of this restaurant has spicy, juicy and succulent tandoori chicken and mutton biryani lined up for you.  😉

The Graveyard of Dreams…

I was born in a shack near a mosquito-infested canal. The first friends I made were mosquitoes. They are my bosom buddies and at a very young age I learnt how to spend my nights in their company. Their incessant drone sounds like music. It is the only form of music to which I have access.

There is plenty of water around me. Unlike the other water deprived slums, there is no dearth of it in my place. However it not the elixir of life. It was the very agent that poses a threat to my life. It is the breeding ground of different colourful insects, insects that gradually make their way into my intestines and make it their permanent abode. Needless to say, I am a very warm-hearted person. My doors are open to both man and insects alike.

The first lesson that life taught me was not to harbour any dreams. None. Never. It is easier. Less painful. One does not have to bear the agony of watching dreams being shred into little pieces which is later fed to the overlords of the world to satisfy their insatiable greed. Even if I commit the blunder of visualizing a better future, the anguish of those around prompts me to kill my dreams before it is too late; before they ripenen and become sweet enough to covet. Mine is an area where people defecate and urinate their dreams and it is the stench of these decaying dreams that fills up the entire atmosphere.

I still live here with my bosom buddies, surrounded by filth and squalor. I still breathe the air that carries with it the stink of murdered dreams. However, somewhere in my heart there is a tiny light that makes me hope that one day these dreams will be resurrected.

Keep it Real Baby…

A couple of  months back a TV channel announced the beginning of yet another Swayamvar season and I was reminded of those good old days when Rahul was struggling to find the perfect bride for himself on the show “Rahul Dulhaniyaa Le Jaaega”. While many regarded it as yet another cheap reality show I’ll have to admit that I liked it. And why shouldn’t I? What was there not to like? There was Rahul Mahajan, the ever so charming doolha with a receding hairline. There were pretty young women, all claiming to be hopelessly in love with Rahul. And, there was the entire television fraternity which seemed to have endorsed this marriage. The show was senseless, no doubt about that. However it was packed with all the mirch and masala that one could ask for and I watched it religiously, everyday. I watched as the girls danced, sang and cooked their way to Rahul’s heart who was obviously not capable of doing anything else except giving out an obnoxious laugh which felt like molten iron flowing down my auditory canal. In spite of that, I sat in front of the television at eight sharp with a plate of rasam chawal, devouring not only the food but also each and every moment of the show. Now, that the marriage is over and Rahul has found the ‘perfect’ dulhaniya for himself, I would like to present the whole concept of reality shows in an entirely new light.

Our nation’s critics have been so busy typecasting all reality shows as meaningless TV programmes, I am afraid they might have overlooked the wonders that they can do for our lives.

Big Boss- a reality show that recently invited the wrath of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.  This show aids in stress release by eliminating the need to apply one’s brain. Forget about attending Yoga classes or meditation sessions. Who needs to spend time and money on them when a bunch of not-so-famous personalities are there to take care of you for free?  Believe me, they leave no stones unturned to make you forget all your worries. So, watch out for the next season of Big Boss.

Axe Your Ex– this show, my friends, is an absolute ripper. I envy those minds that came up with the idea of mutilating a person’s image, chopping it up into tiny pieces and serving it on a sizzling hot platter on television. How often do you find a group of people who guide you through the entire process of “axing your ex” ?  This show provides a platform to all the heart broken gals and guys who are itching to take revenge from their ex-lovers.  If you fall in this category of people, this show is a must watch for you. Not only does it entertain you, but it also relaxes your mind because you don’t have to apply it at all. Moreover as you watch someone’s image being shred to pieces on national television your urge to bitch about your friends and colleagues is also satisfied.

Dare to Date- A show that has redefined the concept of blind dating. Contestants walk into this show in the hope of meeting an interesting someone only to find out that person is too interesting for them to date. What you get to see is a perfect mismatch- a petite Pune girl dating a Haryana da gabru jawaan. Everything that goes on between them on television forces you to appreciate your own spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend even more.

Roadies– what can I say about this one. Raghu and Rajeev, popularly known as the terror twins, with their no nonsense attitude and willingness to churn out one gaali after the other keep the viewers glued to their television screens. Gone are the days when individuals were appreciated for their grace and poise. Now, it’s cool to be rude and outspoken. As far as the participants are concerned, they are self proclaimed dudes and dudettes. Their conversations are nothing more than cacophonous vibrations in which they “beep” away to glory. After spending an entire day in office, exchanging polite words with your boss and colleagues, watching a group of people hurl verbal assaults at each other is always more than welcome.

Shaadi Teen Crore Ki- A reminder to all the orthodox Indians that a wedding is no longer one’s private affair in which close relatives and friends are involved.  A modern day wedding is an event in which the TV anchor plays a much more important role than your chahca and chachi. Television channels are benevolent enough to give you 3 crore to spend on your wedding, arrange fancy fashion designers to stitch your wedding dress and call Bollywood choreographers to teach you how to dance in the Ladies Sangeet.  Event managers have stepped into the shoes of your relatives; they take all the decisions for the wedding starting from the flower decoration to the number of tears the bride is supposed to shed at her bidaai.  You can definitely get some good ideas for your wedding by watching this show. And of course you will be well equipped to write a book titled “101 Ways to Drill a Hole in Your Parents’ Pockets” by the time this serial gets over.

So, have fun watching these shows and don’t forget to keep it real, baby !!!

Happy Women’s Day…

Happy Women’s Day to all of you!!! It’s a day dedicated to womankind, a day to remember that every woman is special, a day to salute her for her caring nature and never-ending resilience. Indeed its a day to celebrate, a day when every women pampers herself. Today, women have overcome many barriers and carved a niche for themselves in every sphere of live. Right from journalism, politics, literature to nanotechnology and rocket science, women are now excelling in each and every field.

On this day we must not forget to pay tribute to all those numerous men and women who have fought for women rights, people who have made life so much easier for a 21st century woman. We are free. We are liberated. We have the backing of the law of the land. There are so many organizations and NGOs to fight for our rights. All the doors are open for us. Therefore it is imperative that we harness our potential to the fullest and grab each and every opportunity that comes our way.

Atrocities on women have not stopped. We still hear of cases wherein women are beaten up by their husbands, burnt for dowry and not allowed to attend school. However, instead of blaming others for not helping us it is us who should to be blamed. The onus is on us to raise our voices against the injustice done to women. If we chose to stay quiet our misery is never going to come to an end.

On this Women’s Day let us pledge that we will not be silent spectators anymore. We will fight for our rights and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that each and every woman is treated dignity. We have come a long way but there is still a lot that needs to be done.

Let us become the wind of change and touch every life one around us, spread warmth in every heart, plant a smile on every face.

Let us touch every woman, the embodiment of courage, strength, wisdom and grace.