Bringing to your notice – get yourself published

Recently, 2 interesting Lit things happened – The first is around someone easing the headache of getting something publish.. and the second is around someone I know getting something published..

1. I came across this forward about – India’s first publish your own book (self-publish) site. They allow you to get your book printed, provide you with a URL where you can sell it, and they will deliver it to the buyers, etc, etc. Read some of the features on the site.

a. Positives – Many!

i. Experimentally, you can publish books.

ii. You can advertise them yourself to your friends, family, orkutters, facebookers, etc. If the book picks up, you set the profitability margin… Or, purely, at the starting point, you can have a zero profit effort. Sell it at cost. Make a name for yourself. Sell the next one at some profit.

iii. Get a book published for that special someone. Etc etc.

iv. The cost of publishing a book is not prohibitive

b. Negatives – every TDH will want to publish a book in his/her name. The site will never build a credibility simply given the amount of junk it would publish. And more often than not, if someone makes it big here, they will be signed up by another publisher in the next pass.

2. An ex-colleague of mine published his book recently. And I guess it does take a lot of effort to do so. So congrats and all the best to him. I reproduce a couple of preliminary reviews and purchase information, etc. below. Please go ahead and encourage a budding author on the block. 3 reasons why you may want to buy the book –

a. Even though it IS written by an IIM-grad (and so the chance of worthless meandering are high), it’s not about B-schools! So, its not the usual rut!

b. It’s a collection of short stories. You don’t need to worry about the unfinished content if you don’t like it half way through.

c. It’s not expensive. If you are surfing the internet and reading this blog, usually, 100 odd bucks for a good read should not be a bad value proposition.

Anyways, just thought I would share these with you… Hopefully, both these ventures will get some of your attention..

Here is a bit more advertising for my friend’s book… (Before you ask the next question – Yes! I already have a copy.. and I will post my thoughts the moment I am done reading it)


Hello readers !

I am sure you all love to read novels/short stoties in leisure. A friend of mine has come up with a collection of short stories written by him called ‘To catch a smile’. You can find reviews here –

and also check its website and his blog

If you like it, you can order a copy from following websites at a price of Rs. 100,

The content I am posting here is from the review links provided above !



The recent book by an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus – “To Catch a smile” is making waves in the literary circles. Vivek is an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and is currently works at KPMG, the international advisory firm

These are not mere stories created for drama and impact. These are experiences narrated with retrospective introspection. These are thoughts which capture the inner turmoil and dilemmas. They make you laugh, make you smile but more importantly, they make you think. Anyone who has lived life can easily relate to them. Because these are not mere set of events, these are people reacting to events with their preconceived notions; these are moments where life comes up triumphantly. These are moments which can define lives for some. These are discreet words spilling some sweet secrets of your life. These are stories which seemed to have been pulled from a chapter of your life.

It seemed at first that the book would be like many a campus novels floating in the market. The trend that was started by Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone and Tushar Raheja’s Anything For You Ma’am has given rise to potential authors who want to translate their campus experiences. I gave a quick look at the author’s profile. A knowing smile floated on my face as I saw the pedigree. IIMA graduate, working for an international consulting firm. Hah, another one cashing the recent wave, I thought. What must he be talking about, I wondered – his days at IIMA? His struggle through the years to get there or what he faced once he was in there trying to give us a cooked up narrative of what will get eyeballs? I would probably have sealed its fate right there but something caught my eye. It was not a novel; it was a short story collection instead. May be I can flip through a couple, I thought.

And I am glad I did. What struck me first was that it was not about IIM, it was about the person behind, which is what a story should be, I believe. As I kept finishing stories, more things occurred to me. After long, here was a collection of stories which was modern in real sense. It did not bank upon common notions about today’s life and how it should be; it actually brought them forth the way you and I would have witnessed. It does not tell me that today we face lot of dilemmas and temptations, that a lot of us lead a confused life where multiple choices are facing us every moment. Each story lives these feelings but it never says them aloud. The tension, the confusion in the stories is very palpable and so are the elements of curiosity and vulnerability. Never once it appears to have been written keeping an audience in mind other than writer himself.

He is very experimental with his style and narration. One moment it is abstract, the next moment it is subtle. If it is philosophical at one time, the next moment it is fun and exudes exuberance. It can be entertaining you with real life portrayal that you can relate to and at the same time it can transport you to a world where you feel engrossed in deep thoughts about life. I hate to use these words but I felt as if I could see writer’s soul in a few of them. I liked what I saw. It had a bit of mine in it.

Roundup…. No Title

Haven’t been blogging for a while, as the seasonal lethargy takes over. I can’t really blame it on anything else. Anyway, just a roundup of things/people/songs of note –

1. Television – I am in love with the 2 singing competitions on telly these days, Zee Saregamapa 2007 Challenge – Sangeet ka Pratham Vishwayud and Amul Star Voice of India. SVOI is going through a dramatic phase with Gajendra Chauhan ( the pioneer of such singing talent hunt shows) getting confused with his self created frankenstein. However, the singers to watch out for are Toshi Sabri (brought back into SVOI by popular demand, after being ejected on the basis of public voting), Harshit (SVOI), Amaanat Ali (SRGMP, an amazing voice from Pakistan) and Raja Hassan(SRGMP). Raja has the rusticness and purity in his voice, Toshi is probably the best trained and a sufi-genre singer. Harshit will make an awesome playback singer while Amanat probably is the most versatile of the lot, and will surely make a great ghazal singer if given a chance. His rendition of “Tujhse Naaraz Nahi Zindagi” yesterday (6th Oct) was plain simple awesome. The idea behind this long para on these people is to remind you guys that for every Dhoni who came out of Jharkhand, there are several who join Tata Steel on a small stipend! Please support, encourage and look out for these raw talents in the years to come. You can see the videos online here – SRGMP, SVOI

2. Music – 1. Main Agar Kahoon (Om Shanti Om) – beautiful romantic song with a very simple melody and another proof of how good Sonu Nigam is. Especially, when it comes to romantic songs, there are few who are as good. His voice has a certain yearning that others don’t
b. Yoon Shabnami from Saawariya  sung by Parthiv Gohil. A lot of you won’t even know who Parthiv Gohil is. Parthiv is the lost find of 1998 Saregama MegaFinal (youtube videos) (the year Sonu was still hosting the show,  Sanjeevani – another finalist, got a few movies as playback singers (such as Kareeb), and there were some truly amazing singers like Mohd. Vakil, Bela, Mukund and Sudeshna). An year or two after 1998 Shreya Ghoshal became the winner of Saregama. Anyway, Paarthiv had a very strong classical learning background and his rendition of songs like Ketak Gulab Juhi, and Dhanyabhaag Seva ka Awsar Paaya back in 1998 were wonderful. So, Bhansali has given Parthiv a break, along with Monty (the music director, who played some part in the background score of Devdas)
c. Songs from Manorama – 6 feet under.  From a collection of 4 songs (excluding remixes and versions), 3 belong to the category of very good to excellent. Woh Bheege Pal, Dhundhla jo sama bandha, Tere Sawalon Ke.. Try them out.

3. Movie – Johnny Gaddar is definitely my pick from bollywood. Bourne Ultimatum would be the hollywood pick. Johnny G is a wonderful movie which takes you back to the 70s thrillers where things just kept happening all through the movie. Director’s tribute to Vijay Anand and James Hadley Chase is visible throughout the movie. The movie could have been shortened by 15 minutes or so. But, but… its a wonderful movie to see on a weekend.

4. Books – Reading “Of Love and Other Demons” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez right now. Seems good so far, while being standard Marquez narration. Will update later.

However, just in case you got a feeling that this is what is keeping me busy.. Naah!  How many of you out there have lived out of a suitcase to get a house renovated. Working your butt off five days a week to reach home on a weekend (travelling usually in the middle of night both ways) to deal with tiles, cement, paints, designs and woodwork! Ugh.. its not easy!

Btw.. quick emotional outburst – Raikonnen has taken the pole. Hamilton has to wait. Vettel seems a driver to keep an eye on. The last couple of races are going to be amazingly interesting! 😀

Theatre Review: Katha Collage – II

I had seen Katha Collage-I a couple of years back in Delhi, and goes without saying that I was mighty impressed with the play (directed by Naseeruddin Shah, and enacted by an ensemble cast of Naseer himself, Jameel Khan, and Naseer’s son, Imaad Shah).

Katha Collage-I was based on a set of three stories (two written by Premchand – Shatranj ke Khiladi and Bade Bhai Saheb, and one written by Kamta Prasad – Sankraman – about peculiarities of a an aging father, and his fetish with switching off lights).

With the same set of great expectations, I went to see Katha Collage-II (at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai), expecting Naseer to weave his directorial magic there as well. This one, was a set of seven relatively smaller stories (adaptation of satirical articles written by Harishankar Parsai, who is known for his wit and humor in Hindi literature), pretty much carried out as one act plays. The star cast was recognizable, appropriate, but not the greatest. [Cast: Rakesh Chaturvedi, Arvind Pandey, Heeba Shah, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Ankur Vikal]

It’s a great play. But not in the same league as KC-I. However, the reason I am writing this post is not really to critique what I saw. I just want all the readers of this blog to definitely definitely watch KC-I as well as KC-II

The first story – Telephone (about the all pervasive telephone) is a disappointment. A little too loud, a little too vague, and the actors a little out of sorts. While the sarcasm is alive, not the impact.

Second – Bechara Bhala Aadmi (Pitiable nice men) is about how people take benefits of simpletons by calling them nice over and over again! This one was good both in terms of performance as well as adaptation. However, the length could be shortened a bit.

As we move towards the intermission, the tempo, the ease and the quality of performance improves, and refreshingly.

Third – (Private College ka Ghoshna Patra) The story around a Private College’s manifesto has some very subtle humor around the quality of education and the ulterior motifs behind the sprouting good-for-nothing private educational institutions. Not that I am against private educational institutions per se, but don’t we have a plethora of them that talk more than they deliver. Gaurav Sabnis became a big name in the blogosphere when he attacked one of them (wink, wink!)

Fourth (last before interval), which was about the whole fuss around taking bath (Snan), is the pick of the lot. The funniest of the plays, it features some of the most funny moments of KC-II, especially the comments about the vitality and energy shown by some people while taking bath in winters being utilized for some higher motives and national benefit!


After the interval, the fifth act is around the insecurities people have about their wives being exposed to other men (Vo Zara Wife Hain Na!). Quite subtle and a good dig on the Indian men, who are always caught in the dilemma of women’s equality and their own insecurity, it’s a nicely done play where the protagonist is a blind man (I could see this highest form of pun getting lost on many– you need to close your eyes to see what the world really is!)

Sixth act – (Samay Pe Milne Wale) around the demerits of being on time is again a timeless piece on the importance many people attach to the timing of their actions.

The finale – Prem Prasang mein Father (the role of a quintessential Indian dad in a love story) is a hilarious take on the double edged sword that impressing your girlfriend’s father can become!


The biggest drawback of the play, as I see it, in the metro circuits is the pure hindi language used (Klisht Hindi Bhasha), which I am sure goes over the head of many, who would like to look and feel intellectual, but have adopted Hin-glish as their mother tongue. That probably explains why “Vagina Monologues” is a bigger better sell-out play than plays like “Katha Collage”, “Jinne Lahore Ni Vekhya”, “Anaamdas Ka Potha”, et al.

The best thing about the play is that its a great writer’s work directed by one of the best in the industry (Naseer’s other works such as Waiting for Godot, The Prophet, Ismat Aapa Ke Naam, etc. are all acclaimed plays). It surely belongs to the “cannot be missed” list of plays!

Movie Review: The Namesake

I saw the movie more than a week back. However, I was thinking of writing the review only after I have read the book as well. As Diamond would have it, the book has taken steam in the last day or so, and the review has been pending a while.

Yenniways, back I am. To talk about Gogol, Goggles, Ashoke, Ashima, America, India, Bengal, and all their Namesakes.

Of all the classical literature I have followed, somehow, I never ended up reading Nikolai Gogol. Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy were as much a Russian repertoire as I could get comfortable with. Anyways, the plan is to read and figure out if I have also come from Gogol’s overcoat.

The movie seems to have impressed a lot of people, but yours truly wasn’t really impressed. And for a change, the biggest disappointment was Tabu, who just doesn’t seem Bengali enough. IrfanKhan is extremely convincing in his accent and demeanor of a Bengali. Kal Penn disappoints (with due respect to his comic timing and my appreciation of his several other movies). Others don’t really have a role.

The Namesake is the story of Gogol Ganguli (or, Nikhil Ganguli) (Kal Penn), the namesake of the great Russian author Nikolai Gogol, with his unique name bestowed upon him by his father Ashoke Ganguli (Irfan) given his love with Russian literature and a past haunted by an accident.

However, rather than getting into the story, which I will definitely get into in my other post on the book review of The Namesake, I will focus on the movie.

The things I did not like about the movie (there are n number of blogs talking about how good the movie is!)

A. Settings

  • Calcutta (then, and now Kolkata) of 1974 hardly seems authentic.
  • Ashoke’s accident occurs in 1974, and he is bed ridden for one year. He goes to the US for 2 years, and that would take us to 1977. Getting married in 1977, and with a son who is nearing 25+ years at the time of going to Maxine’s house in New Hampshire, would take us to something like 2003+. I am surprised that neither Max nor Gogol had a cellphone. Surprisingly, no one in the movie had a cell phone till the time Moushumi flips one open. And even at that point, she is the only one with a cell. Everyone else uses landlines all the time.

B. Performances & Characterizations

  • Tabu’s accent is just not Bengali enough. Her accent reminds me not of a Bengali turned American, but the recent metro English movies like 15 park avenue, etc. where the artists add a musical tinge to their English. “What Rahul! I tell you. These kids no! They are just taking our generation down the drain. You don’t trust me? How mean?”
  • Kal Penn doesn’t look young enough to be a 14 year old (at the time when Ashoke gifts him the book). And he never seems irritated enough! More importantly, the story belongs to him. Somewhere Mira Nair has gone wrong in showcasing the conflict between Nikhil and Gogol.
  • His sister’s character is totally sidelined. With her first half looks, it was a good ploy, but the second half is where she should have had a role to play. However, the book is about Gogol. And Gogol’s sister probably is not important for Gogol’s existence.
  • The events are simplified a bit too much – Gogol’s hatred for his name is long drawn phenomenon where he doesn’t hate the name as much as its strangeness, its un-indianness or something like that. The trauma on his face (for the first 5 minutes after Ashoke tells him about the accident) is lost without any further analysis. And guess what – changing his name from Gogol to Nikhil is the most important thing he has done ever.
  • The divorce between Gogol and Moushumi just happens. Moushumi’s side of the story is never explained. And she does look pretty hot in some of the sequences. So my sympathies are with her. Not with the confused brat Gogol.
  • Breakup with Max! but why? What went wrong? In her own way, she wanted to be a part of the family. What went wrong there? No explanations given!
  • Gogol’s choice of being an architect. Again, too simplistic. What was he doing till the time he saw Taj? There is only one point where he is shown sketching. But what about the career shaping forces known as Indian parents, who want their kids to become doctors/engineers!!
  • I can go on and on and on. But the point remains. Some of the underlying struggle of being a namesake, a fact that haunts Gogol forever, are hardly dealt with.

I feel, as I write this review, and as I walked out of the theatre, that The Namesake is another book turned movie gone average, a fact I would never understand. When a novel is written, the authors usually creates exquisite detail around who a person is, their life, their environment, their dresses, the walls, the colors. Someone converting it into a movie, needs to be honest to the spirit of the book. But they edit and re-edit it. Thinking they are making more logical sense than the original. They underestimate the viewer. Moreover, they make the mistake of assuming that the viewer has read the book.

However, having said all this, let me take some of the harsh words back. I am being overcritical because I had high expectations from the movie. I don’t remember having the feeling of walking out of the movie during those 2 hours. SO, its definitely worth a watch. It’s a decently narrated story in chunks. Its a collage of small snippets that Mira Nair tries to walk us through in her journey of understanding Gogol. Or, maybe, that’s her understanding of Gogol. It’s a reader’s interpretation!

Overall Rating -5-6 out of 10. Bulk of that 6 is Irfan Khan. And the fact that the movie is not a bore!

Book Review: Hindu Reviews King of Ayodhya

Read it here

I am sure the reviewer isnt as mesmerized as I am. But I am equally sure, that the reader missed a lot of finer points about Banker’s narration of Ramayana not just being about the magnanimity of Rama’s character. For that, Ramacharitmanas is good enough!

More importantly, the three more times refers not to Jai-Vijay but the Dashavatar of Vishnu! And the most interesting bit – Dashratha, DashAanan, Dashavatar. Indian mythology can be quite intriguing!

For those who would want to read some more, read the blogs on EpicIndia

Book Review: King of Ayodhya – Ramayana- Not the way WE know it!

Background –

Couple of weeks back, I was seen walking around with “King of Ayodhya – Book 6 of Ramayana Series by Ashok Banker “:. My fetish with the book was so strong that I would keep it at my desk, in the car, near the pillow, to steal those 3-5-10-15 minutes where I would read a few pages from the book. People were wondering – Why? Whats so special? After all , its Ramayana!! A story that we already know inside out. And I used to just smile at them and pass on a very friendly suggestion – If you are not averse to printed words, read the first 50 pages of Prince of Ayodhya – Book 1. We can discuss these questions at that time. One of my colleagues Sulabh tried it and he curses me even today – He had to spend 1800 bucks or so to get all the six books (he could not wait a month for me to give him all the six books for a read)! For the records , Sulabh is my eighth direct marketing success story (all for the same book)!

King of Ayodhya

A story that starts on the shores of lanka, and ends at Ayodhya, KoA is an excellent example of what a magnificent storyteller can do to a story you have already heard so often. What Banker does , incrementally, is to add his imagination, wisdom, and perspective to a story that every Indian lives and breathes! End Result – a book that you can just not put down!

The book is fascinating, the storytelling is spellbinding, and the events – quite unlike my imagination (largely inspired by Ramanand Sagar’s Television Series).

Its about war, war strategies, mind-games, Rama’s mortal life (and not-the demi god life where he smiles at even problems of huge magnitude). The only thing that has always confused me about the book is that after you have completed reading all the six books , you wonder if Hanuman is the GOD in the book, and Rama the mortal. Gods descend to help Mortals (as part of all Heavenly gameplans!) in Indian mythology. And Rama, though a higher mortal with his (seemingly) infallible poise and adherence to Dharma , he needed more than just inspiration from Hanuman to win this battle.

There are several interesting facets about this book-

  • The war is fought at a level which is not heavenly. Not a lot of fancy arrows in multiple colors and doing funny stuff. Vanars do get massacred. They have to retaliate not in anger , but with wisdom to win the battle.
  • Ravan has some strategic gems too, up his sleeve. And some esoteric powers.
  • Kumbhakarna gets killed by Hanuman, and not Rama.
  • Most of the seemingly important stories of Ravana’s warriors (such as Atikaya, Akampana , Kumbh, Nikumbh, Trishala, etc.) which we have heard of in good detail, as they got killed by various Rama warriors and not just Rama/ Lakshmana/ Hanuman, have been discounted to give us a view of what the war being fought at a mental level.
  • Ravana finally kills Supanakha. And more importantly, Supanakha, in many ways, is Ravana’s source of power

Questions that still remained unanswered –

  • Ravana, with all that he achieved in one night before the war started, did not chose to demolish the Vanar Army at one go. Despite the fact that he had the powers to do so!
  • What happened to the Amrit Kalash story and of Ravana being immortal?
  • Hanuman, with all his might, could have changed the course of the war at any given minute? Why did he
  • While Ashok explains why he is not writing Book 7 (Uttar Ramayana), I would still want to read his explanation of Ram banishing Sita.

The more I think about this book, the more questions I will have. But, for the time being, let me tell you guys – READ THIS BOOK. AND THE ENTIRE SERIES. Its not just good storytelling, but a fresh insight into a story that you “think” you know!

Rating – 10 on 10

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