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Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review : 'Rise of Kali : Duryodhana's Mahabharata' by Anand Neelakantan

‘Rise of Kali : Duryodhana’s Mahabharata’ is definitely a class act. Anand Neelakantan has outdone himself in this book. Not only is his research meticulous, but his understanding of the original book is clear and empathetic. 

Okay, now for the review. The cast of characters is well laid out, and also an explanation, as to why exactly the 'defeated' were chosen to lead the book. 

He even offers a prelude to the book. It is an excellent idea, as it gives us an idea into where exactly we are in ‘Ajaya’. I usually do not see authors offering similar preludes, but this time, it felt kind of right.

Basically, this story runs into ‘Shame’, which Draupadi had to face during the run of the story. Draupadi was summoned, after the defeat of the Pandavas, in the game of dice. We are introduced to the entire Kauarva outlook in the entire scene. Of course, there can be no justification for how the Kauravas and Karna dealt with Draupadi, and am glad to read, that the author does not offer to help the Kauravas and therefore does not offer any explanation for the atrocities, thus committed.

Moving on, we find the Pandavas in the forest, and the Kauravas taking over the administration of Hastinapura. The story ‘Mahabharata’, through the painting of the Pandavas in a good light and the Kauravas in a negative shade, and Krishna in the exalted light had done its bit, but ‘Ajaya : Rise of the Kaurava Clan’ comes in at exactly the right time.

Because of offering to put up the Kauravas, in probably a much better light, including the one about Suyodhana’s temple and Karna’s righteousness, this book definitely fills the gap, which helps make Mahabharata complete.

Due to its offerings of instances such as Krishna’s treatment of his son, Ekalavya’s treatment of Suryodhana’s daughter, the encounter between Kunti and Karna and the ‘help’ it receives from Krishna. We also cannot miss Suyodhana’s understanding of the caste rules and his wish to offer, much more to the downtrodden, the conversations between Suyodhana and Bhishma and later between Karna and Bhishma, all offered to us in a believable and fascinating light.

Anand Neelakantan

While it is not for me to judge the correctness of the facts, I can only say that this book has definitely opened my eyes, all over again. To think that the other side also has a tale, and seeing the duty and conscience of everyone else, and also the honour and shame they went through, with the intermingling of the caste and dharma rules, offering the book a much needed analytical perspective. 

Also, loved the perspective of the entire need of the war, according to Krishna and the conversation, it evokes between him and Balarama and also one of 'Gita', as a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.

‘Rise of Kali’ is not meant to be put down, without giving the whole thing a good read and the whole situation, which the Kauravas had to go through a proper and much needed understanding. According to me, this book deserves an A + and much more…

Author : Anand Neelakantan
Imprint : Leadstart Publishing
ISBN : 978-93-81576-04-5
Price : Rs 399/-

Friday, August 28, 2015

Big Bookshelves, Little Confusion and More…

Bookshelves… What do yours look like? Where do they stand? How are the books arranged? How is it set up? Is it DIY job or did you try the stores? Honestly, I would not know. And a zillion problems to go with all the books and the dust. Books and problems, I never thought I would have to think of that!

So, firstly, the whole question is where would I have it? And would one bookshelf be enough? My book shelves are my dream land, and though I have four today, I have to say that they are not cool enough, and actually not enough either. So, I will always have a dream bookshelf or maybe a dream book room in my head, and that is something that keeps on changing. 
A few ideas, which I have… One could be according to the author, or perhapsalphabetically. But then, what will we do about books, which have funny sizes and shapes? And then what about the hard bounds? Or some could be according to their subjects too. Novels, children’s books, non-fiction or maybe even the encyclopaedias!! The list never ends…

A few decent ideas, according to how I might arrange them:

Alphabetically, Colours, Covers,  Potpourri of books, Sizes, Shapes, Subjects, or something decorative in the bookshelf among the books, just to see it through, Vertical or horizontal, Kids to Adults, Comics to the more serious stuff…

Ideas, I wish I had:

Stair bookshelves or Hanging bookshelves or better yet Secret Door Bookshelf...

Okay, great ideas if I say so myself… at least one of them would become a reality soon… or maybe I will get a big fat book of bookshelves with ideas? 

What do you think? What say, Folks…

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Author Interview : Mohan Prasad, author of ‘Legacy' (Part 1)

Mohan Prasad

Read up, Interview with Mohan Prasad. This was an absolute pleasure. I noticed that he writes his answers, as if he were writing a book, and I really enjoyed that bit.  Because, he does not find an end to whatever he may be answering. And even that is an experience, indeed. 

In this part of his Interview, he describes his journey of writing the book, which character he feels most close to, what he thought was the most challenging part of the book and how India's socio-political background influenced his writing, Folks...

How did ‘Legacy’ happen? Could you describe the journey? 

My grandfather was a freedom fighter. From him, I used to hear stories that increased my curiosity with regard to our freedom fight as well, as our History. There were a lot of things that we did not know about our own country and was never taught, as well in History classes. 

Moreover, I always had a love for stories. This was due to my grandfather and my mother, both good storytellers. I used to write short stories as a hobby, but when I graduated to writing a novel, History kept haunting me. That’s why; I took a break from my career and got into research. 

I am writing historical fiction (Legacy, as well as, my forthcoming books) to present the story of India to a curious and energetic new generation with a fresh perspective, in an engaging manner. Most of us don’t go through History books properly because they become quite boring at times. 
Moreover, text books at times try to follow the political agenda and often play safe. They don’t touch on controversial topics or events, and even if they do, they just graze over.

How did the main characters, Darshan and Anita come about? How much of you, was in there?

When Satya Sai Baba died, I had just returned to Gurgaon from my village. I
Anuradha Ghandy
had never considered him, a divine personality but mostly, more of a fraud. He has done some good for the society, but with our money itself. Even his predictions, regarding his own death were wrong. Even in my Literature class at IIT Delhi, our professor had once discussed how God-men and women who start believing in themselves, as miracle makers.

So I decided to write a book on a Godman and why he became so and what all, he thinks. Anita is inspired a bit from Anuradha Ghandy, a female Naxal, originally from Mumbai. The idea of combining these two characters in one book came to me, while I was in the sea, going to Gangasagar. It suddenly struck me that both could be lovers who see life in their own ways and act accordingly.

What according to you is different about your book?

Legacy’ touches recent history of India, which probably no fictional work has described in detail. There are books, which move around Emergency, or ones focussed on Naxalism. But there probably isn’t any book, which covers in detail the major historical events after the war with Pakistan and China till the beginning of the 21st century, when India could be seen as a rising World Power.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

I feel close to Darshan, in some ways and Anita, in some ways. I liked Anita’s no-nonsense and action oriented approach, however not her violence.

While I can associate with Darshan’s practical approach and search for a meaning in life, his con acts as a Godman are not palatable for me.

What was the most challenging part about writing ‘Legacy’?

The most challenging was to keep the narrative in control. There were a lot of times that I wanted to inform readers of the Historical events, as well as small nuggets, which however kept the narration from running smooth.

Having a balance, between the two was difficult. Also, at times the characters seem to go out of control. It seemed as if they had a life of their own and I could not dictate what they did, but I just saw and described it.

How did the socio-political background of India affect your writing?

It has got everything to do with my writing. We often forget history and its lessons. Anna Andolan made me look into the JP movement and research it thoroughly.

Subhash Chandra Bose
The rise of Naxalism is a product of our caste and class system. The rise of Godmen and Godwomen in India is an everyday story of our society and has been for centuries.

Bhagwanji baba, who is rumoured to be Subhash Chandra Bose was brought into the book to remind ourselves of the Independence struggle, its directions, real heroes and their vision of India.

Could you tell the readers about your experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?

Most of the stories of Darshan and Anita, while growing up are based on experiences I and my friends from my school hostels went through.

The culture of Bihar and Jharkhand that I have described are mostly based on experiences that I had or my relatives had or people in our region have gone through. Mishri’s story is really inspired by one of our ancestors, while some stories of Shankar are also inspired by one of my uncle’s life.

And hold on for the second part of this Interview, too.

You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, here as well.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review? : ‘Netagiri' by Cyrus Broacha

I have been kicking myself for not having read Cyrus Broacha’s books. So, after ages, I finally opened his latest book, (apparently, he is already an established author) ‘Netagiri’. 

Alas, the joke was on me because, I wish I had not spent such a long time regretting not having read the previous books. I really do not have the guts to ask for them, anymore.

I have read a lot of books and some of them, quite nonsensical, but I thought this one took the cake. Because here was a book, a nonsensical book of nuisance.  I was expecting a satirical story, but it was unfortunately so bad, that I can only say that perhaps I am not the one to be doing this kind of a review. Beyond the fact, that there are no mistakes in the English, its best ends there.
So, all I can do is wish all the luck to Gyaandostaan and its citizens, and really pray that Cyrus stick to television shows (As they seem to be making him some money, at least).

I will not bother to write the review, as there really isn’t any point now, is there? Sorry, Cyrus I did enjoy watching ‘Bakra’, as you do make good fools of people and I’m afraid, that you did make one of me too. :(