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Friday, October 31, 2014

Author Interview : Pratik Kamat, author of 'Svaha : A Battle of Epic Proportions'

Pratik Kamat
A mythological thriller? A fantasy story? I do not know what it is to be called but it has a little bit of history, world affairs, superheroes, gods, monsters along with a little bit of love and a few relationships, thrown in and so… what do you call that? And this author, Pratik Kamat has it all in his book!

An amalgamation is what this book is. So, take up and buy this one : ‘Svaha : A Battle of Epic Proportions’ and give My Review, a definite read…

Could you describe the journey of ‘Svaha : A Battle of Epic Proportions’? How did it begin? What kind of research was put into it?

The journey for Svaha was quite a long one. I wrote the book back in 2012, it was optioned in 2013 and released in late 2014. The idea for a high-octane thriller was swirling in my head for a while and one day I just decided to put pen to paper.

A lot of research was done on a variety of topics that pop up in the book – everything from Indian mythology to hacking. I love learning about new things so I would say with me the research is always an on-going process.

How and why did you choose Slash as your heroine, exactly?

Slash is based on someone I once knew, although the version in the book is an amalgam of all interesting women I’ve met in my life.

Women in Indian movies are used mostly as a well-dressed prop with no real substance to their roles, and I thought a tough-as-nails girl with a mind of her own would be interesting.

How would you relate the lives of Slash, Nadar, Soldier X and Rahul Rao to the lives today? Any similarities?

I think there’s a common thread that binds all these characters, and that is that they are all caught in circumstances beyond their control. I don’t think of any of them as heroes or villains but more like ordinary people stuck in extraordinary situations.

I think being caught in something that is much bigger than you is a situation we can all relate to in our lives.

How do you think your book is different from everyone else’s?

It’s an exciting book to read! I think the pace and the combination of mythological and thriller elements in a contemporary setting is what makes it different.

Also, the lack of too many unnecessary details that often bog down great books is something quite a few people have liked. It is also very cinematic in its feel.

Between your storyline and your characters, which takes precedence?

I love my characters but the story gets the first preference, simply because of the genre it’s in.

A thriller that meanders too much would not be exciting to read.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

Having a full-time job while trying to write is definitely the most challenging part. Most people equate writers as social butterflies who party-hop literary festivals and write in a café.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s a strenuous job with little or no reward for new comers, so yeah, managing work responsibilities with writing as a hobby is tough.

When would your next book be out? Is a second part to this story to be expected?

I don’t know if anyone is waiting for a sequel but yes, there is a sequel underway and it should be done, from my end at least, by next year.

I’m not contracted for a sequel, however. Publishing often takes a really long time so I can’t promise when and if it’ll be out. Story wise the sequel is bigger and far darker than Svaha, so I’m guessing people who read the first part should definitely check it out.   

Why do you think there is a sudden surge in stories based on mythology and fantasy, these days?

Mythology has always been a part of our lives. I guess as Indians get more and more westernised, these tales serve as ties to our glorious past. Also these genres offer a great deal of escapism, and that is something a majority of the middle class cannot get enough of.

Who are your favourite authors and why? / Who is you inspiration?

Dan Brown
Dan Brown is my favourite author, simply because no one can write a thriller like him. I also love Ian Fleming, John Le Carre, Tom Clancy, Salman Rushdie and Sidney Sheldon.

I also have to mention Alan Moore as a tremendous influence on me as a writer. All of his works have inspired me greatly.

Which book are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading 'Inherent Vice' by Thomas Pynchon.

What do you do on a day to day basis, besides writing stories?

I work in advertising, writing and shooting television commercials around the world and make music in my spare time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review : ‘Svaha : A Battle of Epic Proportions' by Pratik Kamat

I thought I would like ‘Svaha : A Battle of Epic Proportions’ when I first heard of it, so my excitement when I received it was palpable. Anyways, I opened the book, with a million thoughts in my head, as is quite obvious when I opened any book. This one said mythology too!

The opening chapter talks of a Somali pirate ship, in search of an ancient weapon. The chapter moves on to a Dravidian cult, a religious person and a powerful high priest.

We are then thrown into the sea, in the form of the wild child, Slash who drives her bike in, thanks to her irresponsible riding and eventually a crash. As she finds herself, being tugged upwards from the water and soon lying beside her bike. She soon discovers that she has been rescued by a superhero, of whom she has to find out more.

So, now we are in for a ride. Bikes, computer codes, ancient weapons, superheroes, gods, monsters and the like. That’s not all, we find ourselves in the middle of a terrorists, border disputes, and the LTTE and the Kargil War to boot. Wait, that’s not all, the story runs into a little romance, some relationships, between father-daughter, a couple of mentor - disciple’s.

I haven’t even started. Basically, as we go along, we discover that it is up to Slash to save the world. This is her destiny, as her father who left her and her mother, all those years ago.

As we survive the whole story plot, we are driven into sub-plots, along the way. I am not going to reveal anything else, because if I haven’t got adrenaline rushing, then I do not how it works. We have a bit of mythology, fantasy, history, military strategies, the good and evil, and a healthy dose of a couple of people, known simply as the Jurors.  I am also guessing that we have more sequels on the way.

Perhaps, the whole thing was little too much of everything, but if it means an advent on an Indian Superhero, then Welcome Pratik Kamat. It’s a chess game, this book. You have to fight to survive, and go through the many loopholes to see the Queen, in the end. 

Author: Pratik Kamat 
Genre: Fiction
Publisher : Westland Books
ISBN : 978-93-83260-50-8
Price : Rs 350/-

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review : ‘God is a Gamer' by Ravi Subramanian

Firstly, I must tell you that I have not read a single Ravi Subramanian book before this. Secondly, I might as well add that I am really wondering what was wrong with me. Thirdly, is revenge a crime?

Considering that 'God is a Gamer' took more than a month to get to my desk, I can say that I was curious enough to get to it and finish it at one go. But, I could not, though nevertheless it is quite the excellent book. A mix of finance, gaming technology, even romance, lust and politics, all together to form the effervescent thriller. 

I must also add that I felt that there was a little too much of everything, and perhaps it could have done with fewer pages.

The story is a go-between New York, Washington, down to India’s Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and even the Andamans. It has characters in almost all these parts, and a web of plots and intrigue is laid out. All the main parts are interconnected and it is actually amazing to read, how and why they are so.

It is called the bitcoin thriller, so an obvious explanation is there. The advent of digital currency and the many places it is used is all explained in detail. Thank you Ravi Subramnian, I do not think I have ever had a better explanation. But, the bitcoins are not what build the story, but the elements, which help it go further.

Let’s get back to the story. The story begins with the bitcoin meet between two
bankers and a US Senator. It moves on to India and its involvement in the entire process, and then to the gaming industry and its various elements. It also has the story’s bit of love, lust and friendship.

Seemingly, unrelated events that bring about the end in this thriller. How the whole thing unravels and how it builds towards the end form the rest of the story. The short chapters make for the excitement and hurry in which, I read the story. A few places, where I found errors was not very expected due to the standard of the book.

I would say that it is a definite must read, though one must form one’s own conclusions. I, for one liked the book, but did not love it.

Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0-143-42139-9
Price: Rs 299/-

Friday, October 24, 2014

Authors @ IIMs?

Okay, I have noticed quite a few students from IIMs turn to writing, since Chetan Bhagat. So, what should I think of these writers? This would only be my thought process at work so, shall we begin? Oh, I might miss a lot of people too, but this one only has authors, I have read. 

Let me begin with Chetan Bhagat. I do not like any of his books, besides the
Chetan Bhagat
first one, ‘Five Point Someone’. I could go on about spellings and grammatical errors, but thankfully his writing is pretty free of those. It just came out at a good time, because I had just finished college and I was looking for a book to read. I liked the book as it was simple and funny in parts. It had its darker shades as well, but everyone wants that. (Actually, liked its movie version, ‘3 Idiots’ a lot more)

I did not like any of his writing after that. So then, I read three books of his, ‘One Night @ The Call Centre’, ‘The 3 Mistakes of My Life’ but I was sorely disappointed. But the movie, ‘Kai Po Che!’ was a good one. ‘2 States : The Story of My Marriage’ was alright, but the movie was better. I have given up after that one. I have a problem with the way his stories flow, actually I do not think they flow at all. So, well. 

Amish Tripathi started off with ‘The Immortals of Meluha’, which I thought was excellent. It managed to capture and keep my head on mythology. It managed to twist the story, and ran at an excellent pace. I cannot say the same about his next two, ‘The Secret of the Nagas’ and ‘The Oath of the
Amish Tripathi's 'The Immortals of Meluha'
’. I was a little disappointed with both, as they managed to, for lack of a better word, bore me. But, still there is always hope and so, I am looking forward to his next one. Hopefully, it will have the same twists and pace as his first book.

Karan Bajaj wrote ‘Keep off the Grass’, which I thought was alright. I really do not have an opinion of this book. Then came, Sidin Vadukut and his book, ‘The Incredible Adventures of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese'. I do not have anything to say about this, except that it made me feel like I wasted money.

I am sure there are a lot of authors from IIM, nowadays, but I don’t think I have read all of them. But fortunately or unfortunately, I had some good books and some bad books. So, basically I can say this, Chetan Bhagat’s stories twisted by screenwriters make for a good movie. I also heard that
Karan Johar
Amish Tripathi’s book would be made into a movie by Karan Johar. I hear Hollywood producers also have the rights too. I think somebody has movie rights to Karan Bajaj’s book too.

I have a feeling that this is going to end pretty badly for me. It is not every day, that one can criticise so many beings of excellent academic calibre. But, I can always hope that there are IIM authors, whom I have not read, who are good. And also, that some of the authors I have mentioned will churn out better books.