Book review: A Broken Man

Book: A Broken Man

Author: Akash Verma

Publication: Srishti Publishers

A broken manPolitics and caste-ism are two issues where I usually go mute. One because I do not understand or rather try not to understand the way political parties function by throwing muck at each other, pulling each other down and causing furore over progressive ideas instead of uniting and making the nation a real gem in the world. And two because I am uncomfortable about the caste system still prevailing in the country.

On reading the blurb of this book sent by Writers Melon, I had a fair idea of how the story will shape up.

Set against a backdrop of caste differences, caste reservation policies and agitations, student politics and elections, A Broken Man is essentially a love story between Chhavi, a Brahmin girl and Krishna, a Dalit boy. Brought up in extreme poverty and discrimination by the upper castes in remote village of Bihar, the inner angst against his condition and towards the Brahmin community is fanned by the local student leaders. Provoked Krishna stands against Chhavi, a member of the student association which raises the issues of inconsistency in facilities for students. In a conspiracy, the student political group stages an accident to appear as an attempt of self-immolation by her. Krishna, being the eye-witness of the crime is shaken by the ugly face of the political group of students and saves Chhavi endangering his own life.

The heroic act of Krishna makes Chhavi fall for her savior. The foes turned friends become lovers soon after. The familial pressure however, forces their separation.

But love triumphs finally and the estranged lovers come together years later having fulfilled their family duties and promise to each other.

Though the story of a rich girl falling in love with a poor boy is an over-used formula which has been used exhaustively beyond its life in films and novels yet the angle of an upper caste girl getting involved with a lower caste  boy in Indian society seems like a new idea because in Hindi cinema the story usually steers clear of any mention of caste.

Cleverly, this story also does not ruffle any feathers by not painting either of the communities in too bad light and simply dwells on the love of two human beings who have been separated by circumstances. In an easy narrative the story glides smoothly from present into a flashback of college politics, family differences, separation, success story and back to present.

There isn’t any awkward gap or slackening of the pace in the narrative.

Having seen enough inter-caste marriages in my family, I am however not convinced of  a small issue….but that may be because I am being too practical or too critical of the story. For any person brought up in as much comforts as Chhavi has been portrayed, it is difficult to envision a life in as much poverty as Krishna has been brought up in, irrespective of any caste. But Chhavvi is unaffected….may be its is wishful thinking of author.

Overall a good and easy read….

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Book Review: Rakshasa

Book: Raakshas

Publisher: Westland Books

Author: Piyush Jha

Genre: Crime Thriller

RaakshasMore often, it’s the crime thrillers, war-espionage-spy stories, detectives and mysteries that lure me to a book store. The affair with mystery stories and thrillers started in school with Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and shifted to Robert Ludlum with Bourne series. Later Dan Brown became much favourite.

There have been stories by Indian authors who have tried to shape their books in Dan Brown style with Indian mythology woven in the story but for me, by end of the book those stories lost their grip.

With the delivery of ‘Raakshas’ at my door step I was expecting something similar with a promising great start and later tapering off and story getting diluted.

I delayed reading the novel by a day and decided to take it as my travelling companion for a three-day trip to Kolkata. Though the ‘soon to be a major motion picture‘ tagline on the cover did not make me rush into reading but once I began reading I was happy to find that it captured my attention. Soon I was so engrossed that I almost missed the boarding announcement for flight to Kolkata.

The story is about ‘Raakshas‘, a man so named by his own grandmother for being the cause of death of his mother during childbirth. The boy grows in a love deprived atmosphere often subjected to inhuman behaviour by his own father. A child engulfed by adverse circumstances he is shaped into a heartless, dispassionate and ruthless cold-blooded killer. He meets his nemesis in Maithili Prasad, the Additional Commissioner of Police who hunts him down and puts an end to the terror he unleashed.

That the childhood traumas and upbringing may play a great role in psychology and perceptions of a person is the underlying idea behind the story. The author has brought attention towards the various other reasons that have been researched in other countries, in the making of a serial killer.

After a long time, I have come across a good attention holding story but I am not sure whether it will make into a good movie. One, because in the movies churned out by the Bollywood even a criminal breaks into a song and dance sequence and two, he is shown to have some weird quirks like insane laughing or idiotic conversation during climax which for me spoil it. Also sometimes movies do not do justice to the book. I liked the book ‘Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown but did not like the movie.

This is one good story, tight in its composition. I liked it and stopped reading it only after the last page late at night. This story will keep its readers engaged.

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Book Review: You Are The Best Wife

You Are The Best Wife

Author: Ajay K Pandey

Publishers: Srishti Publishers

You Are The Best WifeOne look at the title of the book and a little jealous wife in me wanted to read what this was about…. I mean who really tells his wife that “You Are The Best Wife”?

When WritersMelon sent the book for review, curiosity got the better of me and I finished this 240 page book just in a day.

A tragic true love story, it is a narration straight from heart by Ajay Pandey. As the story gradually advanced page after page, I was taken back to memories of my days at college, the hostel life, helping friends in playing out their love stories, the days of ragging. And having grown up in various town and cities of Uttar Pradesh I could identify the language and tone of the story and could almost imagine the young couple stealing meetings at shops, coaching classes, riding different vehicles to prevent nosey neighbours from opining…. I can understand the caste and community differences that are much prevalent in small towns of Uttar Pradesh, the inhibitions of parents and their emotional preconditions for inter-caste marriages.

The story seems simple about girl meets boy in small town, their struggle of love and acceptance of their relationship by each set of parents but then the story throws a twist where instead of an end that is happily ever after, is the life threatening medical emergency. The struggle of meeting the expenses, unconditional support by friends, the bonding and reliability of family members, the desperation of a husband, his fight to stay calm are easily pictured through the narrative.

I liked the optimistic and positive attitude of the girl, Bhavana, who believes in cherishing and enjoying smallest of event and day-to-day life to the fullest.

“There are two kinds of personalities. There are those who have everything and still complain as if they have nothing. And there are those who lose everything and act like life has given them everything…..”

The desperate husband’s plea to his dying wife “Fight for me Bhavna. Fight for your husband” brought a little tear in my eyes. Every wife would love to hear her husband say that she was the best wife and author gave that happiness to his wife in her last moments.

The story of “You Are The Best Wife” was indeed heart touching but the writing style was quite ordinary. It was more like a person recounting the tragedy to a relative or friend.

I mostly prefer reading romance and tragedy novels by Danielle Steele, Erich Segal and Richard Bach and hence I can only empathize with the author and understand the huge loss he suffered, though I wasn’t much impressed by the quality of story-telling.

The book is okay for a quick read.

The best thing I liked about this personal essay was that the author and his family have created the Charitable Trust where the proceeds from the book will be donated for people in need. A very noble and selfless gesture indeed…


Bhima: The Man in Shadows by Vikas Singh

Book: Bhima

Author: Vikas Singh

Publisher: Westland Limited

BhimaI have grown up listening to the tales of Mahabharata, read Amar Chitra Katha books on various characters of Mahabharat and have even seen the mega serial on the same, directed and produced by BR Chopra with the faces of actors still etched in mind.

When WritersMelon sent me the book for review I was eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Having read the Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Sawant, Jaya by Devdutta Patnaik and Ajay, The roll of Dice by Anand Neelkanthan, I was expecting this story in similar vein with great characterisation and detailed narration of various events.

The Epic story of Mahabharata has a plethora of characters, each with a story of its own. Each character of the story is capable of telling and retelling the story from his or her own perspective.

Author Vikas Singh chooses to be the voice of Bhima, one of the Pandavas. In this short volume, Bhima is the solo narrator who voices his view in a sort of monologue. Vikas has wanted to portray Bhima’s feelings for Draupadi. The story weaves Bhima’s passion towards his shared wife into all events since the day of swayamvara till the great war and final journey towards heaven.

I liked the way author has attempted to impart some life lessons with the help of events like Bhima’s meeting with Hanuman, . When Bhima meets his half-brother Hanuman, he is taught the importance of humility…

There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is good, arrogance can prove fatal.

When Arjun returns with new wife Subhadra, Bhima consoles and advises Draupadi…

“We can’t  force someone else to feel particular way about us… You can choose to be resentful…Or be grateful that the person is a part of your life”

However, the story nowhere highlights Bhima’s virtues properly. From the beginning of the story it looks as Bhima has broken into a tirade against all people around him. He laments how his mother was always biased towards his younger brother, how his teacher was always partial to Arjuna, how his wife who is also the wife of all brothers pines only for Arjun and even in the most passionate moments imagines she is with his younger sibling, how Devas keep on beckoning Arjun, how women are almost always attracted to Arjuna, how he never gets credit for the wars he has fought and so on..

Vikas Singh has made Bhima look like one who keeps harping about all his exploits at various situations himself and is always jealous. If he was aiming to bring out his virtues, I haven’t been convinced. Instead I feel Bhima is resentful, jealous and always complaining… a sign of an under-confident person.

I found the passionate episodes in the story very undesirable. The brothers are shown discussing their personal post-marriage first-night experiences which is very racy and like the juvenile jokes.

Bhima was never in shadows….he was considered the most powerful….most of his exploits and adventures are known to many. He was not under-confident even or else he would have succumbed to his own flaws.

The fact that there is so much information about the various events is proof itself that Bhima was never in shadows. I feel the great warrior has been wronged in this story. I am hugely disappointed with the book.

The story is good for readers who are interested in reading a juicy racy story without much details of history and mythology.

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