Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review: Private India

Book Name: Private India
Author- Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publisher: Arrow Books

Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson’s Mumbai thriller Private India got my senses excited the moment I ripped apart the package enclosing the book and disclosed the cover. With a backdrop of the famous Gateway of India and the all glamorous Taj overlooking the city and Private India screaming out in bold orange, the book proudly claims ‘It’s the season for murder in Mumbai’. But inspite of the promising start, the book felt intensely ‘Bollywood’ and a little too exaggerated at times.

The story begins in the Marine Bay Plaza where a Thai doctor is found murdered in her room with a bright yellow scarf around her neck.  Investigation agency Private India is called in to investigate the matter and therein begins a series of gruesome murders across Mumbai. A serial killer who deems fit to leave behind props as message and a yellow scarf around the neck of his victims, all his targets unsurprisingly women. Is the deranged psychopath a loner who kills only for the thrill or is he an integral part of a bigger scenario that threatens to rip apart Mumbai in its wake?

The book grips your attention as the investigation continues, unveiling mind boggling connections to weave a thriller that explores the troubled minds of both the predator and the prey. On one hand is Santosh Wagh, the chief detective of Private India, who battles his own demons to fight for a cause that threatens his own sanity and on the other, the victims whose double lives hide hideous truths that may have unknowingly endangered their own lives and those of others. The plot goes much beyond the killer to delve into the murky underworld of Mumbai where drug trafficking, bootlegging and prostitution thrive under the powerful Munna and his ally, the spiritual master Nimboo Baba. Santosh's hot protégée Nisha Gandhe, the forensic expert Mubeen, the tech wizard Hari have their own stories to tell along with the troubled cop Rupesh. But what fascinated me most from the very beginning were the strange objects that the murderer left behind with every corpse, carefully arranged to deliver a message that is both intriguing and startling at the same time. The book unquestionably delivers on its promise, keeping you hooked to the pages, but disappoints drastically in the end.

The ending is too dramatic and as I have already mentioned before-‘intensely Bollywood’. It felt like watching those highly exaggerated action sequences of films where the hero single-handedly battles the villain and his numerous goons to emerge victorious against all odds. The writers try to cramp in too much into the plot- murder, corruption, glamour, terrorism, the Mumbai underworld, religion- in short everything that is necessary to make a successful Bollywood flick and that is where the book ends up disappointing the reader. Haven’t we already had enough of those? What we want is a writer to break tradition and portray India (here Mumbai) beyond the image it has so unconsciously harboured for itself over the years. Yes, the murderer shall definitely stay etched on my mind for a while and so will the troubled Santosh Wagh. But Private India as a thriller shall fade from my memory eventually.

With the quality of books thriving in the Indian market, Private India is absolutely a notch over them and do read it for the killer shall keep you immensely entertained. I look forward to reading other books by Patterson and Sanghi for both the writers are skilled story-tellers. But ofcourse, no co-authored works please. The handling of the plot gets eventually messy when writers collaborate on books. The characters of Private India are clichéd, the storyline sloppy but one fine murderer is all it takes to make a book work!

 Verdict- A fascinating killer who keeps your senses hooked? Worth a read right?
Rating: 3/5

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

Monday, 11 August 2014

Book Review: Ramayana (The Game of Life) -Rise of the Sun Prince

Series:Ramayana-The Game Of Life
Book Name: Rise of the Sun Prince
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishers
Price: Rs.250

My interest in mythology was first stirred when one of my teachers enthralled me with mythical tales of Indian deities; he would come to teach me Hindi and entice me with wonderful tales of Lord Ganesha, Lord Rama and legendary sages so powerful that I would listen amazed and surprised. For me, laying my hands on this epic masterpiece Ramayana was the beginning of a journey that I had wished to peruse for a long time. Shubha Vilas retells this Indian epic for the modern audience who but recounts vague and myriad versions of this tale handed down through the generations as tales retold by their great grandparents, grandparents and teachers.

The story begins with the luminous Valimiki muni who seeks to understand the true qualities that make a hero. Can a hero be virtuous and at the same time powerful, grateful, determined, truthful and compassionate? Can he display exemplary conduct and benevolence, wisdom and competence, self satisfaction and courage? Can such a person be radiant in beauty and at the same time free from vices? The book begins with the quest for a hero who is all-perfect and enlightenment dawns as the all-encompassing Lord Rama. So when Lord Brahma manifests himself to entrust Valmiki with the responsibility to render the saga of Lord Rama in verse, the epic Ramayana is born.

What makes the saga truly fascinating is that it traces the lives of all its characters; their vices and penances, their tragedies and salvation. The infamous Ratnakar who finds peace chanting ‘Mara’ and becomes the spiritual master Valmiki (and yet goes on to shape the epic Indian saga Ramayana), the bereft Lava and Kusha who traverse the lands singing praises of their father Rama, the lonely Rama who listens to their ballad unaware that they are his own sons recounting his glory start off the story enchantingly and we are transported to the celebrated days of Dasaratha as Lava and Kusha narrate the Ramayana.

Book One of the six volume Ramayana-The Game of Life draws inspiration from Valmiki Ramayana’s Bala Kanda. So does Bala Kanda trace Rama’s childhood? Is he the central hero of Rise of the Sun Prince? The answer is no. The hero of this book is Vishwamitra, the imperfect sage who fights his inner battles and rises from an angry sage (bala) to a purposeful spiritualist. The imperfect teacher, whilst mentoring Rama and Lakshmana, discovers true devotion under Lord Vishnu incarnate Rama.

Dasaratha fights his own inner demons as father and king while Sita walks a thin line between love and convention as the ever-abiding dutiful wife. The footnotes in the book decode the eternal wisdom of this saga and its thought-provoking directives. The narrative is gripping and I’m unable to find flaws in the story for Ramayana is in our blood and we can read this saga again and again without exhausting the wisdom and resources that are to be gained from this epic.

So what makes Ramayana-The Game of Life so different from other tales retold time and again? For me the difference lies in the insight that the author takes time to reveal through the characters and their deeds in the story. For me the difference lies in visualising Vishwamitra as the hero under the overpowering presence of Lord Rama. And most importantly, the difference to me lies in the perception and knowledge that I have gained from the story. Till yesterday, Ramayana to me was a saga; today, it is a pot brimming with wisdom.

Do take time to read this book for what can be more fascinating than reliving your history? What can be more fascinating than the Ramayana that has enthralled us yet time and again?

Verdict: Do read it! Its worth it..

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

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

The cave smelled of blood and death, whilst her eyes glowed luminous with determination as she craved to bury her claws into his throat the way he had done to their child. Her beautiful child, his son, who had paid with his life so that his father, the King of the Forest, may retain his throne without the terror of succession looming over that old yet glorious mane. She bared her teeth, retribution for all her sons burning all reason away as she slashed her claws through his hide, burying them deep into his heart as he roared with pain, the unexpected assault muddling his senses.

(Image Source: Google)

 She clawed and raged and snarled until all that was left was a hideous corpse as ugly as the father who had killed his sons. She left his body there, until it faded into oblivion, insignificant and trivial against the mighty winds of Nature.

Written as part of the Five Sentence Fiction prompt.
Word Prompt: Luminous

Friday, 1 August 2014

The Monster

(Image Source: Google)

She lay there moaning with pain
A giant, ugly and worn
Whilst the forest danced in silence
And I stood baffled, forlorn

‘O sweet human, help me out
For I’m a great deal in pain
The thorn yet kills my feet
I do not do this to feign’

‘How do I know your intentions?
You may yet slay me alive
A monster, yes, that’s what you are’
My fear now fresh and rife

‘You are lost, O puny human
And I can show you the way
The forest is wild and dangerous
Now come, do as I say’

I trod like a brave warrior
For a bargain has been struck
My faith drives me to remove her thorn
And alas! Then all goes dark

O foolish! Foolish little me!
A prisoner, that’s all I’m now
As she laughs and screams and strikes
To her unholy whims I bow

‘O mistress, haven’t I pleased you enough?
I have washed, cooked and cleaned
Listened to your tales of woe at night
And kept you happy as you deemed’

But a slave has no right to plead
And still further, justify her cause
Freedom can change the weakest of hearts
So I sit and pray and pause

Until one day, she lies sad and gloomy
And lost in gloomier thoughts
And sips the wine to numb the pain
As I fill her wine-brimmed pots

Her snores soon fill the cave
And I rush out crazed and wild
Her map lying secure in my bags
Away from the monstrous child

The dark nights pass me by
As I walk for days, now lost
Her fear but keeps me going
And freedom, and it’s cost

Hungry, worn and ugly
I find at last what I seek
The salvation to my way
The opening in the creek

I jump as magic enfolds me
And light soon blinds my sight
My body is hurled through limitless holes
And I emerge into the bright

I lie in bed baffled, forlorn
My eyes open and wide
The ceiling scorns my dreams
As distant snores mock my plight.

(Image Source: Google)

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