Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Reading the introduction that Rajeev Nanda (the author) gives to his new book ‘Conversations’, one would get the feeling that it is going to be a highly complicated philosophical rant, especially because he pays tribute to the likes of Ayan Rand, Aristotle, Victor, etc. Although it is not heavy on your brain, ‘Conversations’ does turn out to be a preachy collage of various controversies that the bourgeois faces in this generation.

Primarily ‘Conversations’ is a collection of poems and novellas of the author, each varied in plot, yet linked by the idea to invoke rationalism & individualism within oneself. This it does by plunging deeper into the inner self questioning some of the conventional & controversial things that the Indian community today faces in its personal life: be it in motherland or abroad and tries to answer some of them while predominantly succeeds in making the reader think in a different perspective. But the problem starts when the reader feels a déjà vu, in these sermons. Adding to that, the style of writing which though isn’t complex to be fair, is quite bland and uninspiring.

In most of the novellas that features in this book, the story or rather the concept is commendable, yet, the approach to convey that lacks the extra punch that would push the reader to turn to the next page. If not for the job to review this book, I wouldn’t have cared to finish this book, which neither brings a smile to my face nor captivates my imagination and by that my brain. Agreed there were instances where the novellas did ooze of great ideas, but it never got backed by the requisite skills to prune it in an appealing manner. As a result, all the concepts and ideas are served to us stark naked. Were it been a book on theories and case studies on those theories, this blunt approach could have work, but for a medium which requires huge amount of freshness and novelty the book craves for want of creativity in expressing those noble ideas.

Disappointments apart, the book boosts of some wonderful poems. Though the poem lacks in the same department as did the novellas, the inherent advantage of a poem to be serene without divulging much, augers well here. On the contrary, Rajeev forgets to employ the same art in the novellas. For example, in the short story – ‘Intersection’ a highly character driven novella, the contrasting characters instead of conveying their contrast through events, resort to verbal descriptions. As a result the pain that the lead characters endure doesn’t reach the readers; in short the emotional connect that is needed for such philosophical tales is missing. I wonder if Rajeev had Paulo Coelho as his inspiration this could have avoided, for both take simple events and try to weave a philosophical tale out of it. The problem can also be due to the fact that each story has simplistic endings – far away from reality that doesn’t justify the complex scenario that was built up in the story earlier – example – soldier.

To sum up, ‘Conversations’ is recommended for readers who are novices to philosophical books.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Curt & conceited - bloggers of the day

There is a fierce battle raging within the internet community off late: a battle for prestige. Prestige here doesn’t mean standing up for a cause or for what one believes in. Prestige here is being the first person to blog on a trending topic – essentially to capitalize on the first player advantage; to have an opinion on every other topic and thrusting it on others; to flaunt the pompous façade of their false intellectuality; to growl about the perils of triviality and snarl at people who don’t deem them important; to boost ones narcissism by participating in a frivolous event for the sole purpose of drawing attention to self by blogging about it.

As a blogger I do like to get million comments and gazillion hits for the blog I publish, but not for a blog on sleeplessness or for publishing b-grade puppy novellas that make Durjoy Datta or for that matter Sumrit Shahi’s works classic. But having come to terms with the adage that – ‘it is what that one does, that defines him’, am at wits end in not able to think beyond ‘stupidity’ to classify them, what with only their lackluster work available as yardstick.

In a world where pace defines the adeptness of a person, my qualms will only fall on deaf ears, while these conceited people keep on begging/seducing their social circle to elevate them to prophetic status by devaluing their minds.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Revolution 2020

Chetan Bhagat, the superstar of Indian ‘time-pass book’ writing, has always been severely accused for the lack of concern for the language he employs in his book. It is not the language alone; for a long time he has been criticized for stripping the art out of the writing and marketing the content with sex and toilet jokes. Yet, like any superstar, how much ever critics trash him, he sells!

The only possible question that ensues is – ‘how?’ 
Does it really matter – ‘how’? It may matter for people who have tried to emulate him: some successful, some not. But why should we bother about the intricate details of his success story? Yet we do – don’t we? In a society damned by inequalities, if one were to analyze the type of readers/ audience for any art-form here, it would come to the purview that there are two kinds of people out there: one who is enthralled by what is being said – the fresher & other by how it has been said – that’s us. That is why we bother about the intricate details of his success story – with all his clichés how did he click?

To answer that, Chetan depends on the familiarity of the tale – the very tale that had been pushed down the drain as cliché – to spread his opinions/views. One might call him the local author who decrypts the foreign authors for the bereaved bourgeois who never bothered about the basics. But he doesn’t preach philosophy either. Instead, he successfully entwines some common sense and a bit of philosophy/psychology to the readers through his characters that start out as losers.

However, for someone who wants to bring about a revolution within his target audience & India on the whole through the likes of Raghav’s pink coloured newspaper, his forte still lies in romance. The way he chiseled the character of Gopal – who comes off as someone who could write a book on how a girl would react, yet clueless as to how to convince them – is a touch of a master. There are glitches towards the end, as the book unfolds itself to melodrama by the drama king Gopal; not to forget the narcissism that is increasingly eminent in Chetan’s book, with every important character treating him as God and he in return teaching them Gita like Krishna. Yet, for portraying a romance that transcends the boundary of faith & infidelity, it really is a revolution for the target audience.

A part of this article appeared in THE HINDU - NXG

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rocking Star: A R Rahman

For someone who is known to break all clichés, an A R Rahman album interminably confronts three stages of clichés.

It all starts with the first reaction – ‘I don’t like these songs – they are bland – Rahman sir has lost the Midas touch – I wish Rahman sir gets back to his roots – blah blah blah’, while ‘true’ fans with a pinch of narcissistic euphemism says ‘Rahman sir’s music are like slow poison – they grow on you – wait for it’. But, once the initial euphoria is spent, comes remarks like – ‘I like 3/6 songs – am starting to like some of the songs – one particular interlude is awesome’. Inevitably, the final phase is filled with joyous remarks like – ‘the songs are out of the world – best album of the year – Rahman is God – Rahman has pushed the barriers once again’.
While this being the case of frenzied listeners, the cautious ‘critics’ crack their brains to decrypt the songs for us to understand them. But, eventually they too end up being redundant in saying ‘the use of XYZ raga in this manner is noteworthy – the improvisation of PQRS thaalam is brilliance at the best – the fusion of western and Carnatic music is honey to ears – the subtle variation in the notes & the pleasant staccato that convolute it are the highlight of the song’. Ultimately everyone ends up using superlative terms to describe what they undergo as they listen to an A R Rahman album (including yours truly). Though this showcases the lack of creativity that people have to express their views, taking their side, I feel when you are in a trance it is highly difficult to express that state through words, as rightfully said in the lines – ‘joh bhi mein kehna chahun, barbhad karein alfaz mere’.

Yet, skeptics disagree and add that it is possible to quantify those pure emotions rather than be mesmerized dumbfound. But, when a song like ‘hawa hawa’ sweeps you of your feet with its ever varying note, it is ineluctable to fly in the musical air. Besides, it isn’t really a shame to lose oneself to music of someone who can make the best of tunes, better; like how ‘seheir mein’ beautifully rendered by Karthick, gets even better under the crooning of Mohit Chauhan. Because, what we experience is something akin to going back to school as a clean slate, yet with all those fresh thoughts waiting to burst out, like the mood of ‘phir se ud chala’. Yes, there is bound to be a struggling phase in naming those thoughts which were then creeping on the back of the mind, now taking center stage making us think – ‘iss lamhe ka kya kar jahun?’ But it doesn’t leave us in limbo; it asks us to question what we know, question what we want to know, to make us understand us/our desires better and to keep them with us, what is rightfully us (sadda haq – aithe raq).

In this defining journey that one undergoes all night spinning to the tune of music & thoughts within, the euphoria that fills the heart on attaining the profound state & this saturated being can only shell out superlative words.
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