If you have read any of my reviews on Bangla books, you might be aware that Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay is one of my favourite authors. My admiration and awe for his writing cannot be described by just ‘favourite’. The author’s USP is his characterisation – you’d be amazed to get into their psyche peeling off layers from apparently mundane characters. They are people around us, but each with a different story to convey through their eyes or words. Have you ever read an entire novel on dialogues, without a single paragraph of narration? I’ve been learning not only the nuances of fine writing, but more about life in general from this octogenarian author’s works. There’s rarely been a story where he has failed to impress me as a reader.
Jao Pakhi (Fly away, Birdie) is one of the more tender stories with lesser shock value from its characters. It’s the story of a young man named Somen. He’s a rookie just out of college with his dreams still shaping up. His father, a man ruled by his ideals, lives in a village building his own hut and growing his own crops. His mother, however, didn’t leave the city as she raised her two sons and a daughter, married them off and still lives with her family. She wants Somen to begin working and establishing himself in the world like his elder brother Ranen. She wants their father to hand them his money from a policy that is going to mature soon.
It’s not everyday that I sit down to write about a Bangla book. There are a few that not only tug a few strings at the heart, but pull them hard enough to inflict pain. Kachher Manush (The Close One) by Suchitra Bhattacharya is an epic work in contemporary Bangla Literature. SB was an immensely popular writer over decades until she passed away untimely last year. Her stories have always been as close to our middle class reality as they could. She wrote almost solely about the average Bengali family, one you’d spot around you daily with all its problems, undercurrents of tension and occasional bursts of joy. Kachher Manush was written in the eighties, quite early in SB’s career and yet it portrays the mastery that she had in her craft. The writing waned later though, stories became repetitive, plots became a little mundane, but she produced occasional masterpieces like Kancher Dewal, Neel Ghurni, Dahan and Parobash. Among the good, bad and ugly ones, Kachher Manush is the one I love the most.
The opening pages are laced with hope and anticipation. Titir, a teenager in full bloom in the eighties Calcutta has just appeared for her Secondary examinations in school. She awaits her alcoholic father Aditya’s homecoming from a hospital. SB does a wonderful, rather wistful job in narrating the ambience around Titir as she waits for her mother Indrani to fetch Aditya home. She lives in a huge house, in a ‘joint family’ that we were so familiar to in the previous century. Titir’s family comprises of little islands, bound loosely together by her ailing grandfather. Her paternal uncle Sudip and his wife Runa have aptly named their son Atom, probably in apprehension that they would live as a nuclear family sometime in future. Aditya’s youngest brother Kandarpa is a wannabe actor who lives in horns of dilemma, tethering between right and wrong. SB describes these islands through the eyes of Titir’s elder brother Bappa, who admits being the smallest isthmus, waiting to sever his ties with the dysfunctional family soon by applying for a sailor’s job.
In a nation where most women are taught to be submissive at every stage in life, Maya stands out. In a society that finds fault in women for heinous crimes like rape, Maya stands up. Maya and Rajat fall in love while they study at IIT Kanpur, their daughter Sejal only makes the bond stronger even after years of marriage. Life is almost perfect when two petty criminals decide to make her fairy tale life a tale of horror and fear with their intention of molesting her. Will she be able to fight her fate while Rajat is away and save herself and her five-year-old? Will she be able to undo all stereotypes and face the male-dominated society after that fateful night? Will Rajat stand up with her as she decides to battle her fears and take the culprits to their just punishment? Its Never Too Late is a story of every woman who decides to fight her fears and even destiny of every human who chooses the right over the easy of every wife who shoulders all responsibilities of the house and of every mother who is unwavering in her resolve to ensure that her daughter grows up in a safer world.
Rape. Molestation. Sexual Abuse. Attack. These are the words each woman in India dreads today. Increasing cases every day, rather every hour, creep into our TV channels and newspapers. Every woman is livid each time they go out on the streets. But danger doesn’t lurk only on the streets, it can inch it’s way inside your house too. That’s what happens with Maya, the protagonist of It’s Never Too Late.
In this post-Romance-genre era of Indian Literature, we have a book that touches the most relevant issue in India these days. What does a woman do when she’s alone and attacked inside her own house? How does she protect herself and her daughter? How does she overcome her fear? In the book, Maya has a loving husband Rajat and a pretty little daughter Sejal. She’s a happy woman, bound within the wings of her wonderful family. Snippets from her life are framed into scenes and described to the readers – from her student self at IIT to the wife and mother that she becomes later.
“When Aryan Roy stepped into college life to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a successful engineer, little did he know that he was in for a journey of a lifetime, Anushka and Kaira turn his sojourn into a memorable one – in both good and not-so-good senses.”
The Storm in my Mind… is a collective narrative of events, habits, stereotypes and idiosyncrasies revolving around the contemporary society of Kolkata. It is a story of love as much as it is of hatred, passion, friendship, trust, misunderstandings, nostalgia and love for his city. It is the story of Aryan, his Kolkata and his mellowing heart that makes confessions of the times he has seen.
The cover. Oh, yes. It instills nostalgia into misty-eyed Calcuttans. I had, like a seasoned Bengali reader, expected helluva book from a fellow Calcuttan (or Kolkatan as they call themselves these days). But, I’m royally disappointed yet again.
Ayaan Basu had promised in the book promotions that it is going to be a great one involving the city. The first doubt which crept into me was the volume of the book. It appeared quite lean to be classified into an engaging read. But who knows, the times they-are-a-changin’ and it could well have been interesting. I braced myself up for a journey with Aryan Roy, the protagonist, through a phase in his life. It became stressful after a few pages as the writing is quite incoherent. The sweet bonding between consecutive sentences and paragraphs is missing. It seems as if Aryan was captivated and asked to blurt out few details about his high school and college days.
One bizarre vacation marked a turning point in the lives of four teenage friends. It dawned upon them that corruption and malpractices had become rampant and deeply ingrained in our culture. They felt anguished and shocked at the shameful state of affairs. They pledged to redeem and change the destiny of the country. They had only two weeks of vacation left to take some big initiatives. The pressure on them was immense. Status quo or failure was not an option for them. Read the inspirational story of a unique movement masterminded by youngsters through innovative ideas and creative thinking. Not a single family could escape from its unrelenting onslaught. It was a rewarding outcome for their persistence and hard work, as they nostalgically recall in 2030.
A fiction on social reforms, that’s what the blurb suggested. It is a genre not much to my liking, but I read it with a free mind devoid of any bias. Since books on social reforms tend to be tedious and preachy, they need to maintain a racy plot and interesting story line throughout. This one lacked it, and yet its only the plot which scores.
The first few pages give the reader an inkling of what’s in store – yet another book with pedestrian English and complete Hindi sentences. The form is quite inferior than the content. There is a story, albeit loosely bound with a lot of loopholes, but the writing is below par.
Resonance – We often use the term, “frequency matching” in our daily life to define compatibility. Our frequency does not match, we do not get along? We are not in sync? We are not on the same page etc? When people of similar frequencies (wavelengths or within the same range) come together – output is not a simple sum of individual work, but exponential. In science we term this phenomenon as resonance. Output at this stage is beyond any logical limit. Three young kids, with different family backgrounds and outlook meet during their graduation days at IIT-Bombay campus and become close friends. Although, individually they are in sync, but the same is not true for their interaction with the world. How will their relation withstand the conflict of family and society pressure? How do their character shape out, as they traverse from an educational environment through the corporate world to the realm of the social-political world? Inspired by the real events across the globe from the last decade, Ravindra Shukla brings you the characters based story – struggle and triumphs of a young generation and their relevance in the current socio-eco-political era.
Both the cover and blurb of the book seemed quite uninteresting at the first glimpse. I wish the publishers had paid a little more attention in composing the blurb, as it plays a very important role in attracting readers. The book is targeted towards young readers, mostly in or aiming to be in IITs or similar institutes. I consider it as a poor blend of ‘Rang De Basanti‘ and ‘Five Point Someone.’ The book is themed on a set of moralities and messages to the young. However, it is another editorial disaster.
This book is about three main protagonists – Rahul, Neerav and Richita who are entwined by fate. They are burdened with issues pertaining to their families, careers, values and other norms. The first half is laden with various incidents of college life overdone with sermons on a plethora of topics. The dialogues are way too many, curt, dry and interlaced with complete sentences in Hindi. The book is printed with double spacing between the lines to increase in volume, a whopping and boring 383 pages. The climax is drab and predictable.