Friday, May 31, 2013

Mafia Queens of Mumbai by S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges (Book Review)!!!


         
 Recently, Shootout at Wadala released and earned approximately 60 crore+. Everyone felt that the movie had potential except that the acting of John Abraham didn't go well with the role. I had a big problem with the movie because I was expecting it to be just as the novel "Dongri to Dubai" was from which it has been adapted. Over this, in the movie, the main protagonist is Mania Surve instead of Dawood Ibrahim, the protagonist in the book. But while reading Dongri to Dubai, a huge respect for S Hussain Zaidi grew in my heart. And it was an honour to converse with him later on. After that, I picked up his book "Mafia Queens of Mumbai" which also has the tagline "stories of women from the ganglands" this morning. While the DTD covered the male gangsters, this book covers the females. And after finishing this book in a day time, I am so impressed that I am soon going to read Black Friday, his first novel on which Anurag Kashyap also made a movie that got huge critical accolades. :-)

About the Authors:-

S. Hussain Zaidi is a journalist, a veteran crime reporter, and an author.

Other books by Zaidi include Dongri To Dubai: Six Decades of The Mumbai Mafia, and Black Friday: The True Story Of The Bombay Bomb Blasts.
His books are mainly about crime and the Mumbai underworld.

S. Hussain Zaidi has worked in various publications like Indian Express, Mid-Day etc. He is currently the editor of Asian Age, Mumbai.

Jane Borges is a journalist.

She has co-authored Mafia Queens of Mumbai with S. Hussain Zaidi.

Jane Borges studied at the SNDT University and is currently a journalist with Asian Age, Mumbai.

The synopsis of the book says:-

The Mumbai underworld, or the Mumbai Mafia is as much a part of the city as Bollywood is, and as much a stuff of legends. The well known stories from this murky world are all male-centric. Haji Mastan, Dawood Ibrahim, Varadarajan Mudaliar, and Karim Lala, to name a few.

But, there were women who ruled the roost there too, women who remained in the background and pulled the strings, women who acted as mentors and advisers to the famous dons, women who were wives of the dons and then took over when their husbands were killed, women who assumed leadership to try and bring down rival leaders who had harmed their family.

Their stories are varied and just as intriguing, and hitherto untold. But these stories are well known in the ganglands of Mumbai. This book now brings together a set of stories about interesting and powerful female leaders of the Mumbai underworld.

There is the story of Gangubhai, a girl who ran away from a small village and ended up in Mumbai streets and eventually became the powerful matriarch of Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light area.

Ashraf, who learnt of her husband’s underworld connection only after he was killed, transformed herself into the powerful Sapna Didi, to try and take down her husband’s killer.

Mrs. Paul and Rubina Sayyed, associates of Chota Shakeel, Tarannum Khan, a bar dancer who became rich through cricket betting, and more such stories.

But, the most intriguing story is probably about the very powerful Jenabhai, who was closely associated with many underworld dons like Haji Mastan, Varadarajan Mudaliar, Dawood Ibrahim etc, and advised them on various matters and helped in shaping important events in the underworld.

           Coming to the review of the book, S Hussain Zaidi is a great writer for the main reason that even when he writes on the same topic again and again- the crimes and criminals of Mumbai, still he does not bore us. Every time he writes, he gives a fresh touch to the book. He knows how to keep his readers interested in these real tales of Mumbai. While reading him, you will always want to know if his new book is releasing soon or not. :-) You just don't want him to stop releasing books as you don't want to read anything else than the real stories being narrated by him in a style that it seems all fiction and imaginary. Sometimes, I distrust that if the incident is real or fake but there's no question of latter doubt arising as all the incidents are well covered by media. S Hussain Zaidi, I respect you like anything. 

             I was not sure initially if the women gangsters would have done something so incredible that Mr. Zaidi will get a chance to deliver a phenomenal performance through this book but I am amazed to know through this book about how powerful, witty, determinant a lady can be. Jenabhai's story about wit and convincing power is something that every reader will become fan of. The way she handles all the rival gangsters of Mumbai, police force and politicians simultaneously is something that made me believe that a whole book dedicated to her would be less. Gangubai's story tells about how respectful a woman can be even if she heads a brothel and business of prostitution. Her conversation with Nehru made me laugh. :-) Ashraf urf Sapna didi's story tells about the determination a woman has. Her story is the most reflective one. I totally got submerged in it. 

           Laxmibai Papamani's story is quite boring and I just wanted to finish it off soon as it wasn't giving me any reason to jump off my bed like other tales. Monica Bedi's tale in her own voice makes us feel pity for her. The way she gets caught in this trapping life of gangster even when her career just took off makes us ask God as to why did he make her go through hell. But then this is all about being in a wrong place in life because of the wrong and sudden decision that one takes. In the latter part of the book, author, in short, has described about the life of few wives of gangsters who played a prominent part in the gangsters' life. And the last part tells about few ladies who acted charmer in the lives of gangsters. The last part is also totally intriguing. The Acknowledgement in the end itself shows how humble S Hussain Zaidi is. In all, I would say that this book is as good as Dongri to Dubai and I give this one 4.75 stars out of 5. YES!!! Go Get It!!!
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Not About The Bike My Journey Back To Life by Lance Armstrong!!!


   
        When Yuvraj Singh survived from his cancer, recovered and started giving interviews, the one thing that continuously gave him inspiration that we kept hearing was the book "It's Not About the Bike My Journey Back to Life" written by World-champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong himself survived Cancer and went on winning 7 Tour De France which, recently, this year, has been taken away from him because he accepted that he doped during the races. It shocked even Yuvraj Singh who saw him as inspiration throughout his treatment. In one of the interviews, Yuvi said that he started reading the book once before being diagnosed with Cancer and left it at 50th page but read it again after he himself got the disease. Even I left it 5 months ago exactly at the same page but after reading what Yuvi said, I found it better to complete it now than feeling guilty once even I get... Ok leave such negative talks. :-) 

About the author:
The Chairman and Founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer Support and Research, Lance Armstrong is a world-renowned cyclist, seven times consecutive winner of the challenging Tour de France, and the most inspirational success story of a hard battle against cancer.

Other books by Lance Armstrong include Every Second Counts (with Sally Jenkins), Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal, The Lance Armstrong Performance Program: 7 Weeks to the Perfect Ride (with Chris Carmichael and Peter Joffre Nye), and Lance Armstrong: Images of a Champion (with Robin McLaurim Williams and Graham Watson)

Although his writing is brutally straightforward, the sheer honesty of his life’s account and the way he bares it all make his books gripping. The book is rich in medical detail. The account of his comeback, with the gruelling training sessions and arduous hard work, is truly intense and serves as the perfect guide for coaches and trainers. The charm of his writing lies in the sincerity that pours out from every page.

Armstrong retired from cycling at the end of the 2005 Tour de France in the July of 2002, but returned to competitive cycling soon after, finishing third in 2009 Tour de France, and retired from competitive cycling as well in February 2011. He has three daughters with his first wife Kristen Richards. He also has five children with girlfriend Anna Hansen.

The Synopsis of the book says:- 
As the title of the book states, this is not a work chronicling the victories and achievements of an ace biker. Lance Armstrong, a 24-year-old sportsperson, and the ‘Golden Boy’ of cycling was success’ favourite pick when he was titled as the top cyclist in the world, having consecutively won the esteemed Tour de France. However, Armstrong would soon come to realize that life, and not the track, was going to be his real challenge.

In October 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage-3 testicular cancer. The tumour soon spread to his lungs, abdomen, and brain. With only a mere 40 percent chance of survival, it seemed that his good life had come to an end.

It took cancer to change Lance Armstrong completely. The blessings of a good family, supportive friends, and the quiet nobility of a fulfilled life came to mean much more to him and he found himself transforming for the better. After undergoing rigorous sessions of chemotherapy, he underwent surgery. Finally, he decided that he was ready to let his ruptured body and soul heal. Thus began the training session through the mountains of North Carolina, and as his love for the sport came back, he decided to make a comeback.

With the greatest comeback story the world had ever witnessed, criticism and controversy were not far behind. After winning the Tour de France again, he was accused of consuming drugs to enhance his performance.

Inspirational and uplifting, It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back To Life traces the life of Armstrong as a sportsman, patient, father, and transformed man.

Published on May 22, 2000, people all over the world have found tremendous inspiration from this book. Written in simple language that all readers will be able to understand and follow, it is enough to stir one’s life and perspective. This real life tale drives home the point that nothing is impossible and that a strong mind can surely conquer it all.

           Coming to my review, I was expecting a lot from this book but in all, I would say that it's average and nothing as exceptional as I kept hearing about it. Yuvraj's autobiography on his fight against Cancer is written in a better way than what Lance Armstrong has attempted some 10-15 years ago. He has gone into lots of description that killed the interest after a short moment of time. The first 100 pages and the last 100 pages of the book are exceptionally written, mainly because of the reason that it is about his take on how he chose cycling as a career and how he kept stepping ladders step by step and at last, became a World-class cyclist. In the last 100 pages, he tells about his struggle to participate and win Tour De France. Its really hard to imagine him struggling with a chemotherapy-suffered body on a bike to win a race that goes for three week on mountains where the rider has to climb up and down over it. 

           Initially, the way Lance Armstrong has told about his mother's struggle for him shows that every success story has a hard-work hidden behind it. Then the frankness of Armstrong when he speaks about both of his father is also commendable. The way he initialized his cycling journey is descriptively written and its interesting to read. The book only gets boring in the latter half of his Cancer treatment. He starts describing things too much and goes too much in depth and narration. He should have kept them short to keep the interest alive. I felt like quitting the book then but I didn't as I wanted to read how he came back and won the World Championship title. Every time Lance Armstrong talks about his riding experiences, its cool but whenever he starts speaking about his Cancer treatment, the book turns boring. Unfortunately, I have to say this. I can't give the book much more than 3/5. I would recommend Yuvraj Singh's The Test of my Life than Lance Armstrong's It's not about the bike My Journey Back to Life. 
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Survival Guide For Life by Bear Grylls (Book Review)!!!


             
After reading lots of fiction novels, I am done reading a non fiction self-help book "A Survival Guide For Life". Seems to be just another Self-Help book but no, its not. The name of the author will itself make you determinant to read this novel as soon as you can even though the author has scripted more than 11 books. Awesome!!! He is no one other than our very own adventurous role model- the host of Man vs Wild- Bear Grylls.-Bear Grylls' prime-time TV adventure series is one of the most watched shows on the planet, reaching an estimated 1.2 billion viewers in over 200 countries. Bear has authored eleven books and, as a former member of the UK Special Forces, was made an honorary Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy. He continues to lead record-breaking expeditions to the world's extremes, and these missions have raised over £1.5 million for children's charities. Bear recently took over as the youngest ever Chief Scout to the Scouting Association, acting as the figurehead to 28 million Scouts around the globe. He lives with his wife, Shara, and their three sons, Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry, on a Dutch barge in London and on a small remote island off the coast of Wales. After such an introduction, do you feel that I should even review the book. :-)

 The synopsis of the book says:
How to make every day an adventure.

Life in the wild teaches us invaluable lessons. Extreme situations force us to seize opportunities, face up to dangers and rely on our instincts. But living a purpose-driven, impactful life can be an even greater challenge...

In A Survival Guide for Life, Bear Grylls shares the hard-earned lessons he’s learned from some of the harshest environments on earth. How do you keep going when all the odds are stacked against you?

How can you inspire a team to follow you in spite of obvious danger? What are the most important skills to learn if you really want to achieve your maximum potential?

Bear’s instantly inspiring tales from his adventures in all four corners of the globe include his personal life lessons you will never forget. We’re all capable of living life more boldly and of having more fun along the way. Here’s to your own great adventure!

       
   The best part about the book is that it is being written by someone who has been adventurous and hard working himself. We have seen him doing the daredevil acts umpteenth number of times on Man vs Wild ourselves. I have always been fan of Robin Sharma when it comes to self-help books but reading it by Bear Grylls is different because Robin Sharma asks us to follow what he says but Bear tells what he has done himself which made him learn several things. Thus he asks us to follow what he has done and attained success. This is why reading this book was less of a lecture on motivational stuffs but more of an adventurous journey. I loved reading the book and now I am sure that I am going to read his most talked about book- Mud, Sweat and Tears very soon where he tells about how he climbed the Mount Everest by overcoming all the obstacles. 

          The tagline of this book itself says "How to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity and grow in character". And yes, 75 chapters of this book are surely something that can change our approach. Any lazy chap would feel like getting up from bed and doing something that will help him explore himself. It has been a long time since I have read a chapter-based self help book and thus this book seemed more interesting than anything. My interest is again re-generated in such kind of books as I started my reading journey through such novels. The best chapter according to me which really moved me are: 43rd, 48th and 49th. Also the exercising tip given by the author has been fantastic. He says that promise yourself that you will at least do it for 3 minutes. That will at least move you up to start. And once you will do it for 3 minutes, the pleasure that you will find will compel you to continue it for more. :-) 

            I have never seen a full episode of Bear Grylls' Man vs Wild but I only heard it from some of my friends. Also when I visited their house, I used to have a glance or two on the show. I never understood as to why would someone see a show where a man is asking us to learn how to survive in jungles when we are never really going to go to a jungle for weeks. But continuously reading appreciation about him on Twitter made me read this book written by him. I always chose reading before watching TV/movies. :-) Hence, as I am done reading this and turned fan of this guy, I would surely some day see a full episode of Man vs Wild. I give this book 4.5/5. Its amazing. But too costly. 
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!!
 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Vows Remain Unchanged by Amrita Phadnis (Book Review)!!!


         
   I am done reading 159-pages book "My Vows Remain Unchanged". It's written by the debutant authoress- Amrita Phadnis who is twenty five years old, works as a Senior Tax Consultant in Deloitte Tax LLP, Hyderabad.  I am not sure about the book, but if you would ask me to review the authoress, I would give good marks to her beauty, smartness and accent. :-) The book is been published by Power Publishers which is a self publishing firm. Because of this very reason, I have very rarely enjoyed any book by this publisher. Going by the trend, I didn't even find My Vows Remain Unchanged any interesting. It's target audience is the people in the teenage. Someone like me who is 23 years old and read 140 books in last 2 years, this book was nothing but a personal diary of a girl who loved a boy and got heart broken many a times because of being very emotional and weak. 

           The synopsis of the book says:
Rita works as Tax Consultant in Best Tax Practices being from an Human resources background. She loves her professional life but her personal life does not excite her anymore after her first heart break. Running away from love she falls in love with Aryan, a Media consultant residing in Delhi.The story is about how they fall in love, the vows they make, and at the end where it leads. Will they be together forever? Well may be, may be not.

     
    Coming to the author, I would say that it would have been easier for her to write this story because its very simple without much of an unexpected twists and turns. Her writing language is something that we use when we write our personal diary. She has not impressed me much with her first book as there's lots of room for development. I would suggest the author to at least read 50 books by Indian authors before attempting a second book. Because the story that she has written in more than 150 pages is something that seems to be a forcible expansion of a 1000 words short story. She can definitely try her hands in Short story/anthology section but she is yet to discover herself in a full-fledged novel writing.

            As every debut Indian author, even she has scribbled about a love story that has lots of excitement about the love involved. The book starts with a description as how the protagonist is still into the depression of her first break up but still goes out for second love affair as she finds conversing with him attractive. I had lots of problem in reading the Google Chats that's been shown as conversations between both the protagonists. Why would someone spend Rs. 250 on a book just to read Google Chats between two lovers? A better narration could have done wonders to the book. In the same way, writing "Hahaha" in the conversation part isn't a good literature. It should be described separately that the character laughed. Similarly, author herself exclaims "Huh!" at many events. Rather than generating exclamations forcibly upon the reader, the story should have emotions imbibed in itself. 

           In all, I would say someone who has not read more than 5 Indian love stories can go out to read this book and compulsorily, the audience should not be more than 20 years old as this novel is not quite mature for the adult audience. 

 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri (Book Review)!!!

      

   It's the third Srishti Publication's book in the series. :-) This time I am done reading Sid Bahri's debut novel- "The Homing Pigeons" which also has the tagline "Not all love stories are perfect, but then, neither are people". It's 318 pages thick. The book is covered in a very beautiful cover page. The pigeons flying in the sky and the font in which the title of the book is written is in itself so compelling that one would pick up the book. Sid Bahri is a
 hotelier by education, an ex-banker and a senior executive in the outsourcing industry, Sid gave up a plush career in the outsourcing industry to follow his passions. Based out of Ranikhet, he is now a struggling entrepreneur and a happy writer. A self- proclaimed eccentric, he is an avid blogger who loves to read and cook. Cooking stories, however, is his passion. The Homing Pigeons is his debut novel.

             The synopsis of the book says:
In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar. Little does he know that his life will change forever.

When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it.

They say homing pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. The Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

         
  I would say that few authors makes us, Indian light-book readers, stand proudly and tell the foreign book-lovers to try them and see if Indian author are any less than their writers. Sid Bahri is definitely one of such writers. In the first 10 pages itself, he made me love his writing style, narration and the imaginations. I, after completing the book, wants to go and meet him wherever he is and personally thank him for making this 2 days journey so wonderful which has been passed in reading his work. Undoubtedly, he is in my Favorite Authors' list. And I am looking forward to read the sequel of this book as he has already written it. :-)

             The way Sid Bahri has narrated a same plot from the point of views of both the protagonists- Aditya and Radhika builds a great interest of reader in the book. Once you start reading it, it becomes hard to stop even for a 5 minutes breakfast. Only I know how I have stopped myself from continuing it further yesterday evening as I had to watch IPL Final Match. But I waited for today's morning desperately to begin the book again. And now as the book is completed, I am sad. Yes. Because I wanted to read more of this story and from the very same author. The way story of both the protagonists meet at different points is a very creative aspect of this book. I would say the USP. Every time you want a reasoning as to why did this happen and the chapter ends, you find it somewhere in the chapters following this chapter and you understand why author didn't express the whole reason of the specific happening before when it got its first mention in the story. :-)

            The way story begins and Aditya has to turn gigolo is exciting. The way Radhika is being shown as a villain initially and then suddenly you get to know about her past, you start feeling bad about what happened to her in the childhood. The past of Aditya's family too is intensely put. Ok wait, let's stop here. How many such parts of this book am I going to list down here? There's so many of them. :-) This book is the perfect thing in which one can invest all his money that's in the budget of book-buying. And without any second thought, you can gift this book to anyone as its assured that the person is going to thank you immensely for giving them something which teaches so much about life. This book has every thing about life. As stated in its tagline, its not a cheesy love story as we presume it to be as its from an Indian writer. It's about life. It's about how we take decisions and later regret for it and then how life makes us go back to the starting point and repair every thing but this time the person for whom we wanted to change does not want the change. And its about many other perspective about life. You can see how speechless I am while writing this review that I am unable to understand as to which of the 100 good things about this book should I talk in a review that has to be short. :-) Ok let's end this then. 

             I am simply giving this book 4.5 out of 5. YES. RECOMMENDED LIKE ANYTHING. DO INVEST IN THIS BOOK. Your trust in Indian writers will be rebuild. :-) My favorite book of this year till now. And Sid Bahri sir, do release your 2nd book soon. :-)
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stumbled Upon Destiny by Jolsna Rajan (Book Review)!!!



       
    I am done reading another book by Srishti Publication. Some of you might think that I am their official reviewer but I am not. It's a miracle that whenever I pick up a book for a light read, it turns out to be from Srishti Publication. :-) The name of the 177-pages book is "Stumbled Upon Destiny" which also has a tagline "A Star-Crossed Knot" written by a debut authoress, Jolsna Rajan who is from Bangalore and is working as a market Research Analyst in an elearning firm. Beyond her work, her interests include reading, writing short stories, movies and music. 
This is her first attempt in writing a novel. 

           The synopsis of the book says:
Surprisingly the modern day arranged marriage institutions still in vogue. Girls and boys continue to give up their dreams for their parents happiness, yield to their family's demands and end up snuffing all joy out of their lives.

Some of these couples have the luck of the draw and a happy story to tell, finally. Others seek comfort in compromise. Yet others fall apart and eventually go their separate ways. Why do they part ways? Who is to blame?

Vineet Hariharan and Meera Madhav, a couple trapped in a mismatched relationship, have decided to call it quits. The story begins with their relationship coming to an end.

The story in narrated from both Vineets and Meeras perspectives, with some scenes described from the point of view of both.

Stumbled Upon Destiny is about their loveless marriage which gives rise to many issue lack of communication, complacency, unresolved arguments..

     
       Coming to the authoress, I would say that Jolsna Rajan has skills that can be sharpened with more writings and experience. Currently, while reading her first work, I found that she was trying to build the book on an interesting line but it didn't happen at every place. She sometimes touched the perfection while sometimes she lost it by a very less margin while sometimes she went totally off-track. The first half of the book wasn't very captivating but the second half was surely catchy. She could have been little more innovative with the part when she tried to narrate the story from the point of view of both the protagonist. I, personally, feel that after 2 more books by the authoress, we can try putting her under the category of Preeti Shenoy-types but currently, she needs to work little more.

             The topic on which she has written has been the favorite topic of the married authoresses. :-) The interesting part of the story is that it begins from the point where this couple has already filed for the divorce. The husband- Vineet Hariharan starts as a protagonist initially and tells how his life changes after the divorce has been filed. He also tells how he wanted this to work but his ex-wife, Meera Madhav wasn't interested in giving it a try. The problem is that Vineet speaks as a protagonist for only 36 pages. Better than this, authoress should not have created this part at all. Meera's speaking as a protagonist right from the first page would have been better. There's already nothing special in first 36 pages. When Meera's part begins, initially, its too cheesy and suddenly I started feeling that the first 36 pages were fine. 

               But, right from the Page No. 98th to the last page of the book i.e. 177th, book goes to a very superior stage where you find the maturity that the writer has. She just wanted her best to be displayed in the second half of the book. I just wanted to ask author personally during that part as to why didn't she start the book with the same maturity and energy. :-) From 98th page, the story is about what happened post-marriage that lead to the conditions where both of them had to part ways. The incompatibility shown between both the characters makes us think about why is it going wrong between them when both are a good character. I also liked the part when one of the protagonist realizes the mistakes that he/she has kept committing and apologizes on his/her behalf. I also liked the meetings that are being shown of both the characters in pre-climax and before that too in post-divorce scenarios. 

              I liked the Meera's character a lot in the end. And Vineet is equally highlighted. When the book started, I never knew how authoress is going to build the whole story around such plot and where the climax would intersect but it is beautifully done. The parts where the condition of parents of both the protagonist is described is also done sensibly. Meera's mother's conversation with her in the pre-climax is another beautiful piece. In all, the authoress has beautifully displayed the life that both- husband and wife goes through when they take a mutual decision such as of divorce even when they don't have any better specific reason for it except that they are totally different personality. Author has shown how things can be managed even if there are two different personalities getting into a marriage if one learns to accept mistake, apologize and correct it. I would give the 1-97 pages of the book- 1.5/5 and 98-177 pages, 3.75/5. In all, I would say an okay attempt with 3 out of 5 ratings.
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

Complete/Convenient by Ketan Bhagat (Book Review)!!!



 It's almost 2 months since I am writing a book review. A long time. I have finally completed reading Ketan Bhagat's debut novel- Complete/Convenient. I have been one of the promotional partner of this book since it was in its editing stage and after reading this 373-pages book, I am satisfied that I chose a good product to promote/market. :-) As said several times by Ketan Bhagat in his interviews, this book is exclusively about every NRI or everyone living in India and continuously thinking of shifting abroad because of unwanted chaos here. The clarity of thoughts regarding NRI life is what I appreciate the most about the debut author. He does not seems to be confused over the topic that he has selected to write a story about. 


            Ketan Bhagat, on his website, introduces himself as- Professionally, Ketan joined Satyam Computer Services (the company that Mr Ramalinga Raju made both famous and infamous) post his MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute in 2001. After a 1.5 year stint of trying to learn programming and Tamil, destiny finally took mercy on the young, frustrated North Indian and made Satyam show him little bit of the world – 2 years in Malaysia, 9 months in NZ and 4 years in Australia. About 2 years ago, he moved back to India. Currently he works as a regional sales manager at an MNC in Mumbai. Creative at heart, Ketan has done stints in Television (anchor, script writer) and Print (articles in national dailies) during his college days. Few years ago, he helped his brother script a Bollywood movie.

                The synopsis of the book says- 
"Have you ever heard of any NRI who:
Hasnt washed dishes and vacuumed carpets
Hasnt missed any of his friends/ family members wedding in India
Doesnt watch Indian movies, no matter how long he has been outside India
Hasnt been to a striptease
Doesnt indulge in Indian food whenever he visits India on a vacation

Do you know any Indian who:
Hasnt thought of moving out of India for a better, safer life
Isnt fed up of the scams, traffic jams, filth, noise, crowd and crime that are part of everyday life
Isnt tired of attending endless weddings, festivals, birthdays, farewells, parties, lunches and dinners that happen almost every second day in India
Has never envied (secretly or openly) his friend / family member living outside India
Hasnt wondered what makes NRIs return to India

Welcome to the world of Kabir newly married and newly arrived in Sydney, hoping to live the glamorous and sophisticated life he has always dreamt of. After all, a life without frantic competition, traffic jams, queues, dirt, corruption and social obligations (read evils) can be refreshingly convenient. Professional success, new friends, a sincere boss... everything seems to be going just fine. But doesnt this sound too good to be true?"

         
    Coming to the author, I would say that Ketan Bhagat has done a great job in his debut novel. A book that's made up for a light read is written wonderfully with good narration, easy vocabularies, funny one-liners every now and then (it seems as if this part is in his genes :-)), relative scenarios and yet something that is intense and makes us think about our plans and life. When in one interview I read Ketan Bhagat saying that his stories begin where Chetan Bhagat's ends, I didn't take it seriously but now I can say that this book, at some point, seems to be a sequel to "2 States" where a couple is being married after too much involvement of families and then rather than "And they lived happily after", book discusses what exactly happened to their lives. :-) In short, Ketan Bhagat is someone whom you can't ignore. If he is not very good, he is definitely not someone whom you would ignore. 

            Coming to the book, let's talk about good points first. Book starts with a very good set up where this boy working in an Indian MNC suddenly gets an offer to shift Australia. His college-time girlfriend immediately talks to her parents and decides to marry him before he shifts to Australia and forgets her. The initial family drama while the talks of marriage and while marriage is something that made me laugh as much as 2 States did. Later on, the initial settling in Australia is also shown with okay-ish narration. Then the kind of involvement an abroad job demands is also powerfully and aggressively discussed. :-) The problem that a boy is unaware of before marriage is clearly shown when Kabir's tussle with newly-married wife begins. The differences shown between wife and mother can make any unmarried boy like me get scared of marriage. But Ketan Bhagat has done it well by filling the scenarios with funny statements and expressions of Kabir. Some of them are still making me chuckle. :-)

           The second half of the book is better than the first half. Kabir's situation when he comes to know about a mishap that his sister creates in India is where the book attracted me the most. How even after giving his limbs and arms to his job, he does not get his deserved credit is another pity scenario. The way he got distanced from his father made me weep. How even his mother does not invite him for a function makes me feel bad. Later when his sister invites him, made me more emotional. How he starts finding his Indian friends more emotionally connected than any in Australia (after 2 years). How he starts finding India better than Australia in every term warns us, not-yet-NRI team. :-) How he and his wife, Myra understands each other's situation is another wonderful moment in the book (in the pre-climax). These are some of the few incidents that I have put down in the review else there are many which will drive you crazy when you would be reading this tale yourself.

         Coming to the drawback, the major problem that I have with the author is that even when he promoted the book as a tale about a confused NRI residing in Australia and thinking of India as a better option always, the book is less about it and more about the differences between husband and wife after getting into a love marriage. Rest, if the author isn't talking about Kabir, his wife and his mother-in-law, he keeps on talking about Kabir's working culture and scenario. Though author has tried to give enough of Australia and its life but still, it is something that I was expecting more. I wanted to know about how, as soon as Kabir lands up in Australia, he finds difficult to adapt to the new environments and how he also finds every system far better than India. But all I got to read was stories blocked between the four enclosed walls of his rented flat in Australia. Also, the book could have been easily summed up in 250 pages. 

       Well.. but still this book is something that one shouldn't miss. And it is particularly for the people who are NRIs or are thinking to shift abroad for dollars or for systematic life unlike India's. To the first half of the book, I would give 3/5 and second half, 4.25/5. In all, 3.75/5 what I would give to the first attempt of Ketan Bhagat. 
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

'It is a reflection of what every NRI man goes through' ~ Ketan Bhagat

This is copy of an interview published at www.AnupamTimes.com.


While his brother is the unarguably the most popular author of India. He, himself never wanted to be an author. Being an NRI, he underwent some different experience that he never heard of. Is it same as captured by Karan Johar on-screen or has he something different, unique and more to say?  

Ketan Bhagat better known as Chetan Bhagat’s brother has more to share - completely different from his brother’s. While his debut novel Complete/Convenient is about to release on 15th of May 2013. During an interaction with S. Anupam, Ketan avers, “Complete/Convenient is a beautiful mix of my life’s real experiences and my imagination.” Excerpts…

What did inspire you to become an author?

Even though I have been always creative, I never wanted to be a writer. Was too lazy and adventurous to sit alone and type endlessly. I was happy cracking jokes and making humorous presentations amongst friends and office events. In any case I was too busy travelling countrie and collecting memories – bungee jumping, scuba diving, yoga, sky diving, snorkeling, etc. 

Then few years ago, I went through a transformational experience. Something extremely intense and yet surprisingly common to my age group. Yet, I was totally unprepared for it. Had never read, heard or seen about it in books or movies. No one from family had told me about it as well. 

A thorough-bred NRI like me gave up a luxurious comfortable dollar-centric life and came back to India.Why? How? This was a story I wanted to tell. 

Easiest way was to write a novel as 1) it is cheap 2) it is practical (your boss thinks you are doing office work on the laptop) and 3) at least in my case, there was a writer in the family so it wasn’t considered a crazy idea J 

Is Complete/Convenient a fictional work or real story? How much it reflects your life? 

It is Fiction. However, it is based on real-life people and incidents that either happened to me or my friends, colleagues or customers. 

It is a reflection of what every NRI man goes through especially in the first few years of moving to a new country. I can’t think of any NRI who won’t be able to relate to the situations that Kabir, my main protagonist, goes through.

Book Cover


How much time did it take to finish? 

Little over two years. Mainly because I was neither a writer nor a reader. Till two years ago, probably Chetan Bhagat was the only writer I had read. On top of it, I could barely write a proper email. 

So even though the story was clear in my mind, it took a lot of rewrites, reviews and rewrites to get the content, flow, language etc right. 

Being an NRI story, how much would it appeal to the mass Indian readers?
I am not Chetan Bhagat. He is a genius and a master storyteller. I consider my writing style very average and lacking any ‘ooomph’ factor. 

However, I feel this story will appeal to every Indian because of the relevance of its topic. I haven’t met any Indian who has not thought of moving overseas. Yet, there is no realistic story on what actually happens when you settle abroad. It’s certainly not the way Karan Johar shows it in his movies. No one flies business class, zips around in a Ferrari and stays in plus beach facing bungalows. 

Also, I haven’t met any NRI who has forgotten India. Or the family of an NRI who haven’t made their share of sacrifices. Has any story, movie in recent times captured this? Even though there are more than 20 million Indians living out of India. 

Another USP of the book is that it tells the story from a man’s point of view. Most stories are either about women or about men doing only two things: either playing pranks in college or being superheros. Reality is that a lot happens in a man’s life post college and marriage. Men too go through tough times like mother and wife not getting along, office politics, financial crunch etc. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand a young working man’s psyche. 

What’s your marketing strategy for the promotion? Any plan to promote the book at international market… 

Even though marketing is extremely important, my focus has so far being on creating a good product. I have worked extra hard in getting the book reviewed by about 100 random people and analyzing their feedbacks. I have been a salesman for almost a decade and so know that no customer wants to end up with a bad product. 

Now that the product is ready, I will start with promotions which would involve city tours, tying up with book stores and reaching out to as many book readers as possible. Thankfully, some articles have already appeared in newspapers about my book and few television appearances are scheduled, so there is some foundation already laid. 

Even though my initial marketing focus will be on Indian market, NRI’s have already starting showing interest in the book. I have just launched the eBOOK version at Amazon. Plus, I have shipped physical books to Singapore, Australia and USA. 

After Complete/Convenient, which are the current projects you’re working on? 

Nothing at this stage. I do have a story for a second book in my mind. Again something I have personally experienced and seen others experiencing. If Complete/Convenient gets a decent acceptance from readers, I will write my second book. If, for some reason, they reject me as a writer I will humbly ask for forgiveness and do something else. Don’t want to force myself in the market. 

Your favorite books and authors... 

My favorite authors/books are Salman Rushdie’s Midnights Children, Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri to Dubai and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. 

In the end...

Please read Complete/Convenient. While I don’t claim to have any exceptional talents but I have worked extremely hard on the book. I promise it’s very readable. ~ Ketan Bhagat.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Beyond brother’s shadow- KETAN BHAGAT!!!


This  is an extract of an article published in THEHINDU.COM!!!


Ketan Bhagat tells Budhaditya Bhattacharya about his debut novel “Complete/Convenient”, life abroad, and being a celebrity sibling


Being Ketan Bhagat is not easy. As the writer brother of Chetan Bhagat (“India’s and probably the world’s most influential writer”, according to Ketan), he will be looked at with the suspicious eagerness usually reserved for sequels to popular movies – just how good or how much worse is he? With the launch of his debut novel Complete/Convenient imminent, we are about to find out very soon.

The novel follows Kabir, a newly married I.T. professional who is doing quite well at work. It begins with him getting transferred to Sydney and leaving his parents and sister in India. Life in Sydney is all that the couple dreamt it would be. After a few years, however, the protagonist realises that even though life abroad brings about a liberation of spirit, it requires sacrifices that every NRI has to make.

“He realises life in India is complete while life in Australia is convenient. He has to decide which life he wants,” the author says, during a telephone interview. “It’s not black and white, I am not saying Indian life is totally inconvenient and life abroad is totally incomplete. There are costs and benefits to both sides…Today every Indian has the choice of going out of India, and all I am trying to do is give the real picture. The view we have from Karan Johar’s movies is an exaggerated one.”

The transformation

Currently a regional sales manager at an MNC in Mumbai, Ketan has spent seven years outside India. “Every character, every situation is based on some reality that happened either with me or my friends,” he says. “I had been a thorough NRI, and then a transformation happened. And even though I am not a hardcore patriot or deshbhakt I just felt like coming back. I willingly left everything and came back to this city… It became so deep that I had to channel it somewhere.”

Having a writer in the family gave him direction, but Ketan was keen not to imitate Chetan’s style. “The genre is different. Typically, Chetan writes for youth. In his stories the boy will be trying to impress the girl, or struggling to get admission in college or playing pranks with his friends. My story starts with the boy getting married to the girl he wants to and doing very well in his career.”

It’s what happens afterwards that Ketan is interested in — the zone between youth and middle age. The book’s subtitle – there is more to men than bromance – tells us more about this interest. “A man’s life is also affected when he gets married, when he goes to work. What happens when his mother and wife fight, when there’s office politics, when his father is disappointed in him? It’s not bromance but every man goes through this. Yet I have never seen any novel on this,” he says.

Ketan is frank enough to admit that he is not much of a writer. At every stage in the writing process, he would ask acquaintances for feedback. Often, he would find himself sitting in a bookshop or in an aircraft, handing a few pages of his manuscript to a complete stranger. The feedback was useful. Recalling a meeting with the lyricist Jaideep Sahni, he says, “he spent half an hour with me after the flight landed and said ‘Ketan, there is nothing known as writing. There is only rewriting. So rewrite till you feel you have said what you wanted to say’.”

“It’s a debut novel, so there’ll be a lot of mistakes. But I promise everyone that it’s a very sincere attempt,” he says.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ketan Bhagat talks about Complete/Convenient!!!

This is an extract of an interview of Ketan Bhagat by BOLDSKY.COM.

There is a new star on the horizon of Indian literature. Apart from an independent writing style and a good story he also has the 'writer genes' in him. We are talking about Ketan Bhagat who is all set to launch his debut novel 'Complete/Convenient' on the 15th of May 2013. He is the younger brother of famous writer Chetan Bhagat. So along with a lot of publicity and recognition, Ketan Bhagat also has to deal with high hopes from the readers.

 Boldsky caught up with the debutante Ketan Bhagat to have a candid conversation. Take look at what he had to say about his book, his brother and the business of writing.

What is your book 'Complete/Convenient' basically about?
'Complete/Convenient' is actually a book that records the emotional journey of men. Men are usually shown having great time with friends or big business tycoons. I feel that their emotional side is not given enough importance. Men have the same emotional turmoil as women, they too cry and go through dilemmas. That is what I have tried to show in this book.

How do you think that the inner journey of men is different from that of a women?
No, wouldn't say its different. I would rather say its the same but we don't get to read about the inner journey of men very often.

The protagonist of your story 'Kabir' seems very similar to you? Is he your alter ego?
Well, it is a heroic version of men. I have taken creative license to present a fantasied version of me in my book. Kabir is very good looking, has lots of friends and a great job. But other than that, Kabir is from Delhi so am I, he goes to Australia to work and so did I.

When you started writing, it was obvious that you would be compared to your brother Chetan Bhagat. Does that bother you?
No, it doesn't. His brand has rubbed off on me and I got some publicity to start with. But other than that, its been a tough road for me just like any other writer. I have been called the 'Sohail Khan of literature' by some critics but I enjoy such comments in a sporting way.

Would you say that your brother Chetan Bhagat inspired you to write?
 I am not as talented as my brother Chetan and we do not write about same things. His stories are mostly for the youth. But I am writing about a married middle aged man. After staying abroad would you say that NRI life is not as convenient as we think? It is definitely convenient but not complete. That is why the title of my book is 'Complete Or (/) Convenient'.

Do you have another book in the pipeline? What is it about?
 Well, I can only tell you that my next book will be about the relationship between a father and child.

What is your definition of a 'good read'?
It really depends. I love Chetan's books because they are fast and entertaining. But I also like heavy books like Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children'

What is your opinion about contemporary writers?
What inspires me is the fact that Indian fiction is doing so well. The manager of Crossword (a book store) told me that a majority of books on the best seller list these days are by Indian writers. That means that the Indian consumers what to read a good story. It is a very positive change.

A word of advice for new writers..
 You don't need to quit your job to start writing. Our mother didn't stop raising us because she wanted to pursue her passions. So we can also pursue our passion for writing along with our responsibilities. Don't write to earn money or fame; write if you have a good story to tell.

Read more at: http://www.boldsky.com/insync/pulse/2013/ketan-bhagat-talks-about-complete-convenient-033163.html


“Complete/Convenient, story told from a man’s point of view” says Ketan Bhagat!!!


This is an extract of Interview published at UnRestrictedMinds.in.

Ketan Bhagat (younger brother of Chetan Bhagat) is all set to launch his first novel Complete/Convenient in May’ 2013.

UnResrictedMinds.in takes the opportunity to interview Ketan Bhagat.

Tell us something about yourself especially about your school and college life.

I was born and brought up in Delhi. My father was in army and so mostly out of station. My mother was an agricultural scientist and would only be home by five. That gave us brothers plenty of time and opportunities to play pranks, fight, break things, call up friends etc. All this and myself being the youngest in the family meant I was really spoilt and pampered. Even today I smile at memories of Nirulas ice creams, our green ambassador car which gave more jerks than kilometers in its lifetime, my dog, flying kites on terraces, school holidays due to mandal commission, chola bhaturas at mangal bazaar etc. From bullying conductors in redline buses to sneaking out my dad’s maruti 800 after he slept to visit my girlfriend, I have done everything that characterizes Delhi.  

I did schooling from The famous Army Public School. Yes this is the same school that has produced legends like Manisha Koirala and Chetan Bhagat. Yes, this is also the school that has produced another sort of legends like Shiney Ahuja. Time will tell which category I will fall into (laughs).

Except for once in Class X, I rarely managed good grades. I was too bindaas to care about them. My motto was only to have fun.

I couldn’t get into any engineering college after school. I did a 3 year Hotel Management course from Pusa, Delhi. During college, I used to earn pocket money by being a waiter part time. Then somehow became an anchor in Doordarshan. Post college, I worked for an year in Oberoi and since they made us slog, I opted for an easier option – MBA. Afterall, there is nothing like student life. While doing MBA, became a script writer for Music Asia channel. Again, good pocket money and chance to meet tv stars.

Despite two years of bunking classes, playing stock market with my gujju friends and eating vada pavs outside the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies building in Mumbai, God forgave me for not being serious about studies by making Satyam make a job offer. I was reluctant but Chetan recommended and also people said IT was the easiest way to become an NRI. Forget foreign posting, Satyam sent a spoilt Punjabi like me to a city like Chennai. For 1.5 years, the autowallahs there made oodles of money cheating me. Thereafter, I was posted to Malaysia, New Zealand and finally Australia.

When did you start writing? What is the inspiration behind? 

I never planned to become a writer. It is hard, lonely and intelligent work which cannot be outsourced. I was happy doing more entertaining things like scuba diving, skiing, bungee jumping, snorkeling, driving from Sydney to Gold Coast etc.

I was also very happy seeing Chetan as a writer. Seriously, even as his success and fame skyrocketed, my only interest in his writing and life was the number of bollywood actresses he could make me meet whenever I visited India.

However, about 3 years ago, I experienced something very different in my life. Intense, emotional and transformational this was an experience I was totally unprepared for. Surprisingly, friends around me were also going through similar experienced. With time as this wave of emotions (which I call as a ‘Peak’ that every NRI goes through) grew stronger totally enveloping my thinking and personality, I realized this was a phenomenon beyond me. Even after we moved back to India about 2.5 years ago, the aftereffect of this transformational experience kept lingering within me. I realized I needed an outlet. This is how the writer in me was born. Afterall, writing a book is the easiest, most practical and cost effective. Just type, your boss thinks you are working and no one charges you for writing (laughs). That I was Chetan Bhagat’s brother was a further source of inspiration.

Tell us something about your upcoming book “Complete/Convenient”.


Complete/Convenient : : There is More to Men than Bromance
An NRI’s life is not like the one shown in Karan Johar’s Movies. Most Indian’s don’t fly business class, get Ferrari keys the moment they land in airport, do not stay in opulent beach facing resorts and have beautiful semi naked blondes running after them in beaches. Yes, NRI life has beaches, dollars, glamorous things and lots of convenience. But there are sacrifices and constraints too.

Just like life in India is difficult but definitely better for most people than what was shown in Slumdog Millionaire. Yes life here is bumpy, choppy, irritating and jarring. But there is completeness to it.

I feel that no movie or novel in recent times has given a real view of NRI life or Indian life. This despite the fact that every Indian today has a choice to settle outside India and majority of them do consider doing so. This is what I have tried to capture in my book. All characters, incidents and twists are inspired from real life. At the same time, there is no judgment on which life is better or recommended. It just presents two worlds. It’s for the readers to decide which one they prefer individually.

Looking at the trend in India when professionals from varied fields are coming up with debut novels, how do you think “Complete/ Convenient” is more promising?

(laughs) I can’t say that. Readers will decide it. But it is a decent read. I am very sure of that. And frankly I am more concerned about readers liking my novel rather than comparing it with other novels. Each story is different. And one reader can like numerous stories at the same time.

Besides, like I mentioned, this being a very relevant topic for today’s generation I also recommend this book for another reason.

This book is a story told from a man’s point of view. A man not a boy looking for a career, girl or bromance. This is about someone who marries a girl of his choice and is doing well in his career. Nobody writes about the life of men who fall in this category. Just for example, Have you ever read a book that tells you what a man feels when his wife and mother don’t get along? This happens to 90% of men. Just like majority of men are victims of office politics at some point or the other. Trust me, there is a lot that a man has to go through in life. And they are emotional creatures too. Yet, most stories are centered around women.

It is said that new writers face the difficulty of getting a publishing house. How was your experience with publishing house since you had celebrity reference? 

While writing the book I had the same thought that I’ll be treated nicely by the publishing houses. But this didn’t happen. Even my brother’s publisher could have treated me better.

I went to many publishers with manuscript and faced rejections. The struggle was tough. Initially even I thought that people from celebrity families have it easy in life. Trust me, some of them don’t.

Luckily, just before I was about to give up, few publishers showed interest but I couldn’t figure out if they were interested in my story or in my being Chetan’s brother.

Srishti Publishers showed great interest and were excited about Complete/Convenient.

Luckily in India, lot many publishing houses are gradually setting up with interests in budding writers stories.

But yes, I definitely had to struggle for publishers.

Would you like to give any advice to Indian Writers who aren’t published yet?

It is important to know if you want to be a writer or a celebrity. Every actor can’t be Ranbir Kapoor. Similarly every writer cannot be India’s highest selling Author Chetan Bhagat. And trust me even Chetan Bhagat didn’t know he would become that big a phenomenon. He just wrote a story he believed in and rest was incidental.

Today I am releasing this book fully aware of that the expectations are set really high and I will be compared with Chetan. Obviously a lot of criticism and ridicule will come my way. Some has already started coming. But I am happy and enjoying this phase. Why? Because my intention was only to express myself through the writing channel. All this is incidental.

What are your future plans? Do you have any inspiration for your second book as of now?
When I started writing Complete/Convenient I promised myself that I will not write after this book. But writing is addictive. I felt so light after completing the novel.

And right now there is one more story in my mind which is haunting me. I will work on it after some months.

Many Thanks for your valuable time to UnRestrictedMinds.in. Any message for the readers?

Please read Complete/Convenient. I promise you it’s a decent read.


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