My review of the book – When She Smiled by Ritoban Chakraborti
Before I start my review, let me
put the last things first for a change. Ritoban Chakraborti, making his first
foray into the field of literature, has really given an absolutely fresh and
honest view with his debut novel.

The story revolves around a
teenager grown and brought up in the extremely picturesque and poetic town of
Shimla. The scenic beauty of the locale where the story is spun adds more
melodramatic value to this teenage love story.
I would be too judgmental in
calling it a love story since it describes the turbulent mind of a 15 year
adolescent who falls in love, his first crush and learns and realizes it the
real hard way, the mystery about the girls of his age, their aspirations and
their thinking.
While narrating the various
confused state of mind, the protagonist in the story goes through, it makes us
as the reader relate to the situation of all the troubles that one faces in his
life and how in such situations, what one expects is just a few gestures of
love from someone he really adores, admires and loves. It makes us feel that
such gestures, though may be built on false promises and aspirations, but can
really change the way we start looking at things and make us come out of those
troubles for the moment.
As the story takes a turn from
adulation to heartbreak, it again brings us to the same cross roads and forces
us to think that whatever these small gestures of love had made can so easily
be undone and change us in our thinking. However, whether it is the gesture of
love or a rejection resulting in heartbreak, the author has sublimely
highlighted the fact that it does provide us a different perspective of looking
at things, at the world and at us ourselves as a person in introspection.
As I read through the book, I can
relate this story to all the young boys and girls during their teenage school
and college days who surely would have fallen in love, whether reciprocated
love, or calf low or one sided infatuation and crush. This story quite candidly
explains how a sincere and honest young boy falls for the smile and guile of a
new girl in class and how he ends up realizing that his world is actually much
beyond the smile of the girl which he assumes to be his world. The story honestly
makes me fall in love with the character of Roy, feel for his aspirations and
turbulence and at the end desire that he really was worth much more than he
The character of Roy very easily
mingles within the minds of the readers as we all during our teenage days were
weighed down by the pressure of performance by our parents, to just concentrate
on our studies with the assumption that it will only make us something worthy.
A little word of caution though
in my review that I would surely like to add is that since I could narrate the
entire story as seen from the angle and eyes of the main protagonist, Roy, it
somehow left me high and dry to really know what was going through the minds of
the charming little Akansha. There had been occasions when I had pitied her,
and there had been occasions where I had hated her. However, I felt that I
should have known her side of the story before being that judgmental about what
she did and how she behaved with Roy.
The added twist to the story by
knocking of the ever caring Ashima, the elder sister to Roy, I felt was an
unwanted element to this otherwise smooth sailing narrative. As a reader, I
felt that this particular incident was a bit unwarranted as it did not achieve
the result of changing anything to the mindset and nature of Roy, which perhaps
was the intention of the author, while adding this tragedy.
Though the story travels quite
smoothly and is a good read for people who would like to have a causal read.
The usual twists and turns, including, jumping from one narrative to a totally
contradictory and different one in between split in chapters, is certainly
wanting in this lucid presentation. Such twists and turns are what keeps the
reader engaged and I felt that this novel lost out on that count.
I compliment the author for
keeping a smooth flow of the events in an even pace throughout the story though
perhaps he somehow tried to slightly hurry up things in the last three chapters
which I felt was like shifting gears in the middle of a smooth ride. However,
the joyful ending perhaps makes up for this flaw.

All in all, I would give this book a rating of
3.5 : 5, a good, honest and sincere attempt by a first time author.

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My Review of the Book – “Ramayana – The Game of Life – Shattered Dreams – Book-2” by Shubha Vilas
an avid writer on religion and rituals, more as a critic than as a supporter, I
was a bit skeptic when I was offered to review this particular book. The
skepticism was borne not out of my short of confidence in my reading virtues
but from the fact that how would I, more of a rationalist thinker, would relate
to a book on mythology.
as I started reading it, my apprehensions were laid to rest, because I found
the author narrating lucidly the life history of a part of one of the biggest
mythological stories ever written and also linking it quite easily relating to
the problems and predicaments that we so commonly face in our daily life.
being with, to give a brief synopsis of what to expect from this book, I need
to say that this book, Shattered Dreams is the sequel to the national
bestseller, Rise of the Sun Prince, which is an innovative writing experience
by Shubha Vilas in his adventure of trying to present the new spiritual and
motivational series Ramayana – The Game of Life.
I have not read the first book in this series, from the first page itself, as a
reader, I could very easily relate that it takes up from where the first book
ended with the narration of the twelve joyful years of the wedded life of Rama
and Sita in Ayodhya. I felt that the narrative has been quite sublime to get the
reader involved in the story without leaving a void to be required to think of
what must have happened in the prequel.
In this
book, Shubha Vilas attempts to narrate the volatile drama of the reasoning and
the logic as well as the circumstances behind Rama’s exile to the forest for 14
years. The author also tries to bring out the wavering thoughts in the minds of
Rama and his younger brother while preparing for the exile which makes the
reader understand the complexities of human relationship in a very subtle and
simple manner.
the author has not dared to deviate from the original epic, being Valimiki’s
“Ramayana” as the guiding force and light and the inspiration behind his
narration, it gives the reader an aura of mythological contentment and glee of
being able to imagine the religious gods that they adore and adulate while at
the same time understand the complex nature of the reasoning and logic behind
every action, which may seem to us at first attempt to be absolutely wrong and
Vilas has been very successful in quoting and in trying to entwine in between
the poetic verses from the Ramcharitmanasas too, without being too
philosophical in his narration. The poetic narrations and their explanations
provided by the author aptly strikes a chord in the reader’s mind as to how
much relevance this ancient epic holds in our modern life.
author, being a motivational speaker himself, by profession, seems to have
mastered the art of preaching through his words, how to handle the various
vices that we come across life, like temptation and also how to stand steadfast
in case of any major reversals in life. The actions of Bharata and the persona
of Rama and Lakshmana as narrated herein are leading examples of the above. It
also attempts to show us by way of narration of Sita’s courage, how easily and
comfortably we should be willing to adopt and explore beyond our known
boundaries, the well defined comforts of life that we become so used to.
anti-heroes have also been given apt coverage whether it is the painful
explanation of the internal turmoil of Dasaratha or the vengeful actions of
Kaikeyi or even while getting the readers into the minds of Ravana.
All in
all, after reading this book, I felt that the author has done an extensive and
epic research of the subject and has augured well to present to the readers the
basic reasoning and explanations for the actions and inactions of each and
every character in the story.

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How Andre won and lost his beloved
Andre had never been the
glamorous of the lot during his college days but had always had the penchant of
being found attractive to the womenfolk. The women in the class were attracted
to Andre not because of his looks or his flamboyancy but because of his ability
to be able to be for them, with them, whenever they needed him.

It was natural that when Andre
started getting pulled towards Sonia, a year junior to him college, his other
friends of the opposite sex would start feeling jealous. But Andre saw
something in Sonia which he could never forget. He saw in Sonia, the ability to
understand him, to walk along with him in his path and everything that he would
have dreamed in a life partner.
Setting aside a few ruffled
feathers, it was not a surprise to many in the college when Andre proposed and Sonia
readily accepted. But being mediocre to the core, Andre and Sonia both went
ahead with their commitments only through the blessings of their parents and
well wishers.
Very soon, time flew as it would
and Sonia settled into the household bearing a quarter dozen of angels and Andre
settled into his work. Being a dutiful father and a loving husband that Andre
was, he made sure that his beloved and his princesses never were left wanting
for anything. Necessities and demands kept increasing and in the bargain, Andre
lost track of the loving hand he had promised to keep over Sonia’s shoulders in
his quest to see that Sonia would get whatever she dreamed of.
Instances became numerous when Andre
would come home tired from work feeling really happy that he achieved something
to earn another good night for Sonia and his kids, but in the bargain oblivious
to the fact that what Sonia desired was that he be with her during her time of
As Sonia went into seclusion,
never assuming for a while that it was the same Andre who had promised her the
life of bliss till eternity, without realizing that it was for this life that Andre
has been working hard, the isolation of Sonia kept on increasing, which Andre
never noticed in his pursuit of his definition of happiness for his beloved.
This phase of Sonia’s life was
however noticed by Pete, a recent acquaintance, who used to frequent their
home. It was not very long before Sonia realized that she found in Pete the
perfect shoulder to cry on, someone who would be with her when she needed;
someone who Sonia felt understood her needs and interests. Slowly and steadily
as Sonia started getting attracted to Pete, who found in her a perfect ally to
pursue his Casanova ways of life, Andre, who had been her life partner, and who
stood by her through thick and thin started drifting away from her life.

Pete was street smart enough to
pick up Sonia’s hobbies and interests and encash it to her satisfaction and
happiness and Sonia in the bargain totally fell for it. She started believing
that if at all there was anyone in the world, who understood her needs, it was Pete.
Very soon, Andre realized it and
as he started trying to woo Sonia back to him and his angels, it was perhaps
too late. The bonding and the web that Pete had created in the minds of Sonia
had grown so deep that she couldn’t pull herself out of it by her own conscience.

Andre was left lamenting on his
fate. The flamboyancy had faded away, the confidence waded away and the smile had died away. In the midst of the sadness that always filled Andre’s
eyes, one could see a tint of happiness that in this bargain, he had his
angels, his daughters, with him, and the glitter of hope that one day Sonia
would realize, and he would win back his beloved whom he has lost.

To be continued…….

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