This book review is being written through me at the evil behest of a rogue Martian.
Otherwise Martians be good people, they be. You may understand that these words have been censored out by him, these too and these too……. Focus, you earthling!
Warning : This whole review is a spoiler. Go buy the book and read it first to get the head or tail of this review written by this very incapable earthling. Regards, Martians.
Why I read the book
One fateful day, when I was doubling over in pain due to a kidney stone….I noticed Sorabh Pant’s tweet about Westland Books bestsellers. The agony on my face made way for worry as I realised that the Mayan Apocalypse may not be a rumour afterall; since @hankypanty had tweeted without a tinge of humour, sarcasm or pun! I had realised that it might be a PR kinda thing, ‘cos people do so when they write a book. Had he written a book too? *Lord save us!* I asked him about it, as I saw Martians landing….and in turn, managed the feat of getting
@amisht, @ashwinsanghi and him form a very adorable mutual admiration society. I love that kinda thing! *sniff* Little did I know that I was the target of this sharp marketing strategy devised by the Martians who are outsourced by Ms. Recliws, who has ghost written(no pun intended) The Wednesday Soul. They tactfully bombarded me with pictures and media bits about the book and at a sleepy moment, under the influence of a 400mg Spasmoproxyvon, took over my brain too and made me sign-up at Blogadda for the copy. *I was wearing normal zero glasses then, should’ve worn sunglasses to escape* Over the days, they made me read the book, not once but twice (once with Wren and Martin’s souls) ; bribing and coercing me at times.
* here’s the real reason *
Most of the books I am picking up these days are when I am skeptical about their overnight success or the way the author might have handled the plot. I have been following Sorabh’s tweets for quite some time. He can be very witty at times and sometimes, I do not like his tweets at all. I found myself shaking my head all through the description of the book and thought, it seems whacky,…..but still it might have a Comedy Circus kinda humour maybe. I can’t stand sick jokes in the show. I have high regard for stand-up comedy, but I like them when they are not nasty in an insulting way, each line has an underlying wit to it and most importantly, it is not cheap. This book, written by a stand-up artist, seemed to have some elements which made me skeptical about the praise it was garnering; but at the same time it was not cheap. I could say that without reading by seeing it’s price tag – Rs.250!
Why you should read the book
Okay it’s not cheap. So you can drop that reason. It doesn’t have an emotional touch. The prerequisites are an IQ above 130 and to keep the logical side of that genius brain (yes, I have one of that kind too :P) aside to appreciate the beauty of the writing. So, don’t buy the book. *tap on the head by Martian wielding an electric taser* Err….you should buy the book for it’s humour quotient. You’ll find yourself sucked into the world created by Ms. Recliws…err…Sorabh and not find it out of the blue at all! You’ll fall in love with the lunacy out-folding itself right from the author’s intro, preface to the last page! If you like Govinda movies and Steve Martin movies alike, this one is for you! You’ll meet lotsa celebrities from the geek world, your college idols (Pythagoras, Gauss…. Che Guevara), Attila the Hun(who tries to pass off as Hagar the horrible but fails when he tries to joke using hun err… pun). I read it for Guru Dutt, yes I was one of the disappointed Guru Dutt fans when… *tap on the head again… “No spoilers, earthling”. “Alright, I got a little carried away. Keep the taser away please, I have a review to write”*
Recliws wanted it to be a philosophical title, but Sorabh titled it The Wednesday Soul, to cash in on the hit A Wednesday and the Chicken Soup series which always ends in soul. The cover has been designed by a secret symbologist, so that it has Greek letters hiding in the font of the title. It gives it a Dan Brownish feel. The word Sunglasses is written in different colors to combine sun and glasses which play a major role in the story. There is liberal use of Feng Shui eye symbols to keep it from the evil eyes of self proclaimed critics and book reviewers, but they don’t work on me 😛 I even got this through the Martian standing on my head!
There’s not much of a story…… *looks around with frightened eyes trying to spot any approaching antennae with tasers* The story is a classic romance panning not across years, eras but incarnations after incarnations – the standard Bollywood masala. Nyra dies in a freak accident to discover that there is a world of the dead, where they term us the real ghosts! When she dies, she is denied the right of living happily ever after with the love of her life – the burly hero of the story, who is a classic mysterious lead. What angers her more is that she was a victim of an evil conspiracy by the classic Bollywood villain (who I guess had possessed Ajit, Pran and Prem Chopra during their shoots that led to many masterpieces in the Hindi Cinema). Now this villain, who goes by the name of Kutsa is actually…. *”Alright! Keep that away. Sigh….”*
Anyway, the story is awesome. It has references to history, politics, science, astronomy, and what not! You will read every chapter with delight at finding new laws of the world of death. Two stories run parallel, the live world and the dead world. Some characters move effortlessly from one to another and lead to an awesome finish of the murder mystery. *Keep it consistent Earthling, you said it’s a comedy, then changed to romance and now to murder mystery? Ms. Recliws said it’s about finding your innerself and that Coelho soul searching stuff….I haven’t dared read the book you know…..after seeing your state….*
Nyra, is a no-nonsense urbane vigilante, who roams around like a Ninja avenging the gory crimes against women. She has her flaws too. Like she drinks, and goes out on Delhi roads….alone! She thinks from the heart. She is spunky and does not even heed Gods when it comes to following her instincts. She is err…how shall I put it delicately, a little on the wrong side of normal weight(read fat), but totally in love with herself………that is what I liked.
The hero of the story, Chitr, has a mythological parallel and is very cute as the amnesiac Head of some important department in the world of dead. He is just perfect, if he just didn’t have that paunch. He really needs to lose some weight. Hence, he is a perfect match for Nyra. See the deep thinking?
Kutsa – Now this name really got to me you know! He is a very nasty villain inspiring awe from even the people he tortures. He is the epitome of vileness. One good thing came off it. I was haunted by the name, thinking I had heard it somewhere and then realised that it is very similar to my gotra…..maybe the rishi influenced the ideology of my ancestors and read a lot about my descent and Kutsa rishi, to realise with relief that this is just a work of fiction by the author. He was not like that at all! And I got to know much about my origins too 🙂 Win win 😀
There are so many supporting characters like I said. You’ll recognise some of them instantly from your textbooks, iPod lists, fiction books and if you know some Nobel Prize Winners. I haven’t mentioned any from the parallel story but they are totally ROFL material. A hyper Northeast Indian doctor and a Delhi cop with no sense of grammar or tense priding himself on speaking chaste English, make the parallel leads.
Being a stand-up artist, Sorabh writes like one. Witty, ladden with puns and contextual jokes. I read along swiftly till the first 2-3 chapters appreciating the quirky style, but was immediately held up by typos which keep appearing to the eye which is gifted with spotting “typo- score” like the “eye-score” mentioned in the book. Westland should really have had better editors and diligent proof reading before giving the book to print. This I say because the book is surely on its way to the bestseller list. Urban India has an appetite for books which tickle their grey cells and I give full credit to Sorabh for respecting his readers’ intelligence to digest such a whacky story! All this in a debut novel – which is not his forte – considering he is temporarily retired from scripting TV shows (psst…not getting any writing work or so the grapevine says…. *the Martian was on a tea-break 😉 *)
me likey……..me dislikey 🙂
Thumbs up for the innovative plot, flow of writing and respect for readers. I really felt the editing was lax….I think a book published by Westland should have been a little carefully proofread.
In a nutshell!!!!!!!!!!
Picking this one up is compulsory! Not to flaunt your IQ score, but to enjoy a thought provoking journey to the Universe of the Dead and Alive. You’ll surely come out wiser and happier from it. Also I can use some peers to discuss the amazing conspiracy theories discovered and allusion spotting done by me. In order to convince you that this is not sarcasm and I really liked the book, I give it a rating of 3/5. 🙂
Go read it and come back to the review 🙂 You’ll like it all the more.
Disclaimer : Typos in this post, if any, are purely unintentional. I haven’t got my payment from the Martians yet 😥 Please feel free to point them out, though I won’t correct them….it takes me eons to write a post and will take another era to correct them. Just wear your sunglasses, the typos disappear then 😉
I have missed some days, will cover them up as I find time. Till then, this one is an archive from my collection. This was a spontaneous response to Md Muddassir Shah’s picture of a blooming seedling on a busy road. The seedling had sprouted at such a place, where it could be easily trampled by a pedestrian or a passing vehicle. It conveyed a sense of defiance, a zest for life and a certain spunkiness to me. Hence, the below lines which say, that this is my land too! My ancestors lived here, co-existed with you and now you have usurped my land! A hint of Sadda Haq, a try at an eco-friendly poem…….
suni thi kahaniyaan
kabhi mere ajbao ajdaad baste the yaha….
kabhi ye sadak thi ek nikharta gulisataan….
apni taraqqi ke nashe me khoye e insaan
ye zameen meri bhi hai sun le aaj ye elaan!
Glossary – ajbao ajdaad – ancestors, nikharta gulistaan – blooming garden, elaan – proclamation.
A Republic Day Special this –
Wo kehte hain mera watan,
ab nahi raha Iqbal ka chaman,
mere zehen me jhank ke dekho zara,
aaj bhi hai wo jazba, wo nazaara,
jab har dil me ek hi baat hoti thi,
mohabbat sirf ek tarah ki hoti thi,
jasbat wahi naye andaaz me jhalakte hain,
jab kadam Dhvajvandan ki or badhte hain.
kehta hai Tiranga dekhkar apni azaad avaam,
bas jung-e-azaadi me nahi the muhib-e-watan,
uss anjaan shaheed ki ilamat hai har wo insaan,
asar-o-rasokh na kare jisko apna rutba-e-hum-watan,
mahej insaan se salook kare jaise insaan………..
zinda hain, kuch galiyon me aise chand bashinde,
jo lautayenge is gulistaan ko uske nayaab parindey,
aur wo kehte hain mera watan,
ab nahi raha Iqbal ka chaman!
zehen – conscious, jazba- emotion, jung-e-azaadi – freedom struggle, muhib-e-watan – patriots, mahej – only, bashinde – inhabitants (here – citizens), gulistaan – garden, parindey – birds (here, the peace pigeons signifying good citizens), nayaab – rare, asar-o-rasokh – influence
The general idea of the poem is –
Some claim that India is no longer the land the great poet Iqbal described as Saare Jahaan Se Achha. I would urge them to look inside my conscious and they will see the same inspired emotion reflecting in my thoughts, which was in the minds of people fighting for India’s struggle; as I walk towards the flag hoisting ground. The emotion is love, there was only one kind of love which existed then and it was for their country. The Tricolour looks proudly at the assembled Avaam, it’s free citizens and addresses them saying,”It is not only in the freedom struggle that patriotism manifested itself. They were not the only patriots, the people who laid down their lives in the freedom struggle. The season of patriotism is not over. Each one of my citizens, who treats his fellow citizens with equality – without being influenced by his status, symbolizes the unknown freedom fighters of that era.” There are exist (even though few) citizens like this, who live in the bylanes of this country. They have vowed to bring back the rare species of such patriots. And they still say, my country is not Iqbal’s Hindustan anymore?!
This post started from a discussion with my cute junior Apeksha . She had written a sher and wanted revising. It is a beautiful thought where the girl tells her beloved that her heart is a mirror which shows his reflection in her eyes. She urges him to keep it safe as the fragments will end up hurting him only in return.
My junior expressed it beautifully in a sweet and crisp way –
Ye mera dil nahi aina hai aapka
Har nazar,apna hi aks dekhoge
Iske tutne pe khud hi ko toh bikhra paaoge.
I messed up her composition in the following two ways!
dil-e-nacheez nahi ye aaina hai,
har deedar-e-nigah aapko –
dikhlata aks aapka hai,
jara nazakat se rakhiyega,
baat adna hai fir bhi gaur farmaiyega –
toot jaana iska aapki shaksiyat ka ishtial hoga,
tab bhi magar zarre zarre me aapka mazhar hoga!
dil-e-nacheez – this insignificant person’s heart
deedar-e-nigah – trying to look into my eyes – i guess 😛
aks – reflection
adna – small/trivial
shakshiyat – personality – here the person you are when you are with me
ishtial – combustion – hyperbole yes yes 😛
zarra – particle
mazhar – a miniature avatar, incarnation of what is left of you.
and (on request for a 4 line version)
dil hai mera aapka aaina,
aks aapke base inn naina,
toot na jaaye sambhal ke sajna,
bikhroge aap hi jeevan ke angna.
cheesy eh? 🙂 Nevertheless, this marks the beginning of Project 365.
Been a great year. It was a pleasant surprise to see WordPress sum up the 2011 blogging year for me in such a sweet way. If I were a child, I’d certainly start liking statistics after having a look at this report 🙂
Thank you WordPress and my dear dear blog readers for such an awesome year!!!!!
A very happy and rocking 2012 to you!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
The female of the species is deadlier than the male.
Not dark, a bit gritty and evoking interest without getting judgmental……….. Mafia Queens is a book that strikes a perfect balance between fiction and non-fiction in the art of storytelling.
Why I read the book
This is quite a story. One fine day in 2002, I stumbled on a promo of Black Friday featuring Kay Kay Menon in the Indian Ocean song ‘Bandeh’. Two of my most favorite artists brought together by an eccentric film-maker Anurag Kashyap. I faintly remember trying to get all the information about the movie which was quite a task as Internet was not the phenomenon it is now. I got to know that it is based on the novel Black Friday by a veteran crime journalist S.Hussain Zaidi. Days went by and the movie never came. My dreams of seeing the Kay Kay movie seemed blurred but then out of the blue I got to see it in my engineering days when a heavily edited version was allowed to release. On seeing it, I realized the caution behind allowing its release.
The movie set the ground for my curiosity in the field of using crime reporting as a base for a novel. I wondered how Mr. Zaidi could go story hunting and then name dropping so fearlessly. And then in June this year, one of my reader friends went on raving about the book Mafia Queens. I decided to give reading it a shot although I was pretty skeptical about the treatment of the subject from the title. Just as the title Black Friday made a strong statement condemning the happening and labelling the fateful day as a ‘Black’ page in history, Mafia Queens was a title which seemed to unnecessarily glorify and romanticize the crimes and its femme fatale perpetrators.
When I feel that I disagree with something, I go deep into the matter and then form a definite opinion if any. When Blogadda put up the book for review, I did not miss the chance and signed up immediately.
Why you should read the book
There are many big names associated with the book. It boasts of an elegant following with the prologue written by Vishal Bharadwaj & Vikram Chandra being associated with the discovery phase and the actual drafting of the book. Mr.Zaidi weaves his stories with the utmost sincerity, dropping the names of the who’s who of the Mumbai underworld wherever necessary. The sources are very authentic with some stories like Sapna Didi’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth.
But this is not the reason why you should pick up the book. The above points are just an icing on the cake. If robbed of its starry accolades and relevance to the sensational details pertaining to the Mumbai underworld, it still makes an intriguing read for the audience panning not only India but the world at large. Jane Borges is a surprise package personifying the spunky and young reporter circle in the present day Indian media. I am secretly jealous of her getting to experience and write a work of such calibre at such a young age. The combination of Mr.Zaidi’s experience and Jane’s fresh approach makes Mafia Queen a delightful read.
The book is a collection of short stories from the era when the Mumbai underworld was at the peak of its ill-famed glory. It starts with a reference to Haji Mastan, the oldest recognized Don by the media, film-makers and people alike & ends at the present day gangsters who are a very subdued version of the ganglords who once ruled the crime scene of Mumbai. The interesting part is, they are all side characters to the actual stories which center on their female counterparts. There are 13 stories featuring each of the ‘Queens’ some from different time frames, some overlapping each other’s tenure but showing a common streak of each wanting to be a survivor. They do not want to play the victims of fate even though pushed into taking resource to criminal activities. They all show a common zeal to live life to the fullest, I could almost see a spark in their eyes as I read through the amazingly balanced accounts.
Like I said, the characters though have a common underworld background, show a remarkable variety when it comes to cunning, wit, modus operandi and appearance. Suprisingly characters like Monica Bedi, Tarannum, had no direct connection to actual crimes.The best narrated stories are that of Jenabai(gangster turned freedom fighter), Gangubai(the matriarch of Kamathipura), Sapna Didi(a hapless victim transformed into a femme fatale) and Monica Bedi(a naive girl caught into criminal quagmire by her own foolishness).
Most of the stories draw their plot from facts published in the media and insider info from relatives, informers etc. Most of the readers must have come across them in front page & page 3 news. I liked Jenabai’s cunning and philanthropic traits. I did not find her turning to bootlegging justified at all. Whereas I found Gangubai’s decision of staying back at Kamathipura totally justified. As they say, somebody has to get their hands dirty in order to clean the backyard. She saw to it that the women from Kamathipura are not exploited or maligned by the so called guardians of morality in the society. I found her outspokenness very spunky be it the conversation with Karim Lala or when she asked Jawaharlal Nehru to marry her. Monica Bedi’s story is worthy of a cinematic adaptation.
*Okay spoilers over 🙂 *
One can easily identify the reporter base to the author as each story is narrated with perfect precision and literary aloofness. He has managed to keep his thoughts from mingling in the story, at the same time; evoking a sense of mystical feel to the otherwise drab media articles which state only facts. True stories are very difficult to document as they involve a lot of big names and connections who do not wish to be named. The authors have managed to do so and in turn maintained the credibility of each story. This is by far the best true story accounts I have read after Alive.
me likey……..me dislikey 🙂
I liked both the authors’ courage in sticking to the facts. I liked the way they have shown restraint from sensationalization and exercised due discretion in giving the accounts which concern the personal life of the characters. They could have resorted to ruthless romanticization of the stories in order to catch reader attention by creating controversy. According to me, the book could have been wrapped up with fewer accounts as the stories after Monica Bedi’s seem hurried up and without details.
In a nutshell!!!!!!!!!!
Overall verdict, this book is for film-makers, writers who wish to depict true accounts pertaining to news that have rocked the media for a very long time. The avid reader would like to check out this latest offering from Mr.Zaidi and Jane to enjoy an interesting tour of the dark underbelly of Mumbai.
Imaan Police Chowki, Ravanpur is celebrating World Heart Day today on the insistence of Commissioner Sahab. Inspector Bajrang Pandey wants to sieze this opportunity to impress the inscrutable Miss Chautala. Hence, he has roses delivered at her desk.
Chandramukhi Chautala(spotting the roses) : “Ye sab kya ho riya hai yaha?”
Gulgule : “Madam wo aaj World Heart Day hain na, to Sir ne aapke liye ye rose bhijwayen hain. Mujhe to lagta hai madam, ki Sir aap pe lattu……..*thadak* ……mera matlab hai Sir aapko like karte hain”
Chandramukhi has a faint smile on her face. Gopi who was reading the paper intently till now, looks up and realizes that Chandramukhi had asked a question some time back. He considers it his duty to explain what he doesn’t know Gulgule said earlier.
Gopi : Why is the flowers is the? Today is the Heart Day is the!
Gopi : *heek* ya……..this one!
Gulgule : Madam tel nahi khayenge to kaise chalega – madam aap bhi na ek number ki……….
Chandramukhi : *thadak* ryapte hain na – *gesturing in her trademarkstyle* ‘diet food’ ……ye kha. na kya keh riya tha beta tu?
Gulgule : *rubbing his cheek*……..bholi hain *thadak*
This scene has characters from the cast of FIR which airs on SAB. Special thanks to my friend Devika who initiated the conversation on Facebook Gopi style in reply to which I wrote this. And a humble request from a big fan to FIR producers – please bring back Shiv Pandit! Nobody can play Hanuman Prasaad like him!Wishing all of you a very Happy World Heart Day! Take care of your heart, it is not only yours! 😉
Got a message from Deepika, my school friend of many years, staying in the city, saying “Mil jaye uljhanon se fursat to zara sochna, kya sirf fursaton me yaad karne tak ka rishta hai hum se?! ”
It so happens that we do think of our friends during the day, talk about them with different friends but somehow, the quintessential calling/messaging thing doesn’t happen for a few days on end. This one’s for all my friends who have this ‘gila’ with me 🙂
Uljhein hon rozmarra ke fizul kaamon mein,
ya fursat mein sapno ke gul khilaney mein,
dost tum hameshaa zehen mein rehtein ho,
hum aajkal hain mushroof tum kehtein ho…..
A ji hum paigam parindo ko de dete hain –
subaha jo mehfil tumhare aangan mein ye sajaate hai,
tumhari yaad mein likhi hamari ghazal hi to sunaate hain,
tumhari yaad mein likhi hamari…….ghazal hi to sunaate hain!
This is a Facebook discussion post I wrote for Preeti Shenoy’s ‘Life is what you make it’. The topic was ‘Can you shape your destiny?’ which garnered a lot of interesting replies. Something in the topic appealed me to be serious while writing it and I could not help sounding like the various self-help books there. 😛 Hence I include this statutory warning……………..
Caution : Bhari bharkam post ahead – stop right here if you are in a light funny mood 🙂 This can wait for a contemplative day. 😀
Can you shape your destiny?
Can you shape your destiny? For that one has to define Destiny first. Destiny is the turn of events that your life takes over the years – either as you expected it to be or differently.
Man in general likes to pursue happiness and in trying to find this happiness, he tries to conquer destiny (the turn of events one’s life takes).
Now some people believe that destiny is pre-defined, everything that happens, is ‘scripted’ mystically since one is born. Essentially, destiny is always referred to in the future or the past tense -like- ‘If it is in my destiny, I’ll get it’ or ‘I wasn’t destined to get that’. But if we look at it deeply, it is our reaction to the situations in the present that is actually ‘shaping'(or has shaped) the turn of events(and in essence- our destiny).
The keyword here, is ‘reaction‘. Reaction is – the choices/decisions we make when we are in the position to call the shots during a situation and the acceptance/denial of the favourable/unfavourable circumstances respectively when others or nature is calling the shots.
In the first case, we have an advantage of being able to make a choice. That choice when made with careful contemplation, clear conscience and courage to face the consequences – either good or bad – gives us a satisfaction of having given our best. That satisfaction leads to what? The state of being happy! So now that a person is happy, doesn’t it imply that he has shaped his destiny in the process of being happy?
The second case, is a little difficult. When you are not in control, when others hold the key to certain situations – say when a joint decision is needed for the sale of a property you co-own – you can try to influence the decision in your favour by your persuading skills, but you cannot make the decision. But that decision surely impacts the turn of events in your life. In such times, if it is in your favour, you are happy. If not, accept the reality. Once you accept it, think if anything can be done. If yes, do every possible thing. If you cannot, think of better opportunities that you have. In doing so, you are saving yourself from further misery and paving the path to be happy – and in turn – shaping your destiny.
So yes, destiny can be shaped in both cases! 🙂
God I sound preachy 😛 😛 I should classify this as a rant. Pliss to excuse…….acute shortage of posts made this post 😛
Image courtesy : Google search -> The Power of Positive Thinking – Realise your true destiny in life No I have not read it yet 😛 😛
The inspiration for today’s nazm came in the most surprising way. I had not written anything for the day and suddenly came across the younger sibling’s facebook update. Okay – he just shouted from across the hall as I am writing, that it is a tweet from @veer_ki_kalam , even I follow him…hehe wonder it didn’t strike me.Yeah…so I just expanded his 2 lines into this post (also on the YS’s wall much to his chagrin) and gave a title 😛 Without much ado(jo ho hi gaya hai) – I present to you – Wajood 😀
mukhtalif nahin hain mujhse kirdaar meri zindigi ke,
ye main hi hoon apne kai raaston mein bhatka hua….
ghilaaf ki tabdeeli par bhi rooh to kayam hai,
na pehchhano mujhe shakl-o-surat se yaaro,
mera wajood meri soch hai…..
Roughly translates to,
I am no different than the characters I play in my life,
This is me lost in the many roads of my way,
The case will change its form, but the soul will remain,
Do not know me by my appearance,
My existence lies in my thoughts……….
mukhtalif = different,
ghilaaf = case,
tabdeeli = change,
rooh = soul,
wojood = existence
Credits – Veerendra Shivhare – for the first two lines and younger sibling for posting them 🙂
Corrections are heartily welcome, I am still learning this format. 😀