Khel – the writings –Book Review
People around Sanya are dying one by
one making her wonder why she is spared. Will she be able to play the final
Khel or will it be the evil that will end the game?
The story is set around a fictional hill
station near Mumbai, named Brahmdev, and pivoted around an abandoned and
dilapidated Haveli, which is acknowledged by the inhabitants of the town as
haunted and creepy.
Mysterious deaths, and unusual
sightings, paranormal activities all shrouded in suspense and uncertainty are happening
around the derelict building, but everyone prefers to keep quiet and stay away.
A group of young kids decides to
prove that spirits are a science and not superstition and comes to spend a
night at the eerie Haveli but under mysterious circumstances, do not live to
breathe enough and speak about their experience.
An investigative reporter with a
traumatised experience and a broken heart precedent, struggling with
hallucinations, souls and voodoo, Sanya Sharma, depressed to the core, having
lost her husband and her little daughter within a span of six months, has taken
aid to alcohol and her psychiatrist to keep her alive.
Probably, assuming that this would
be her last chance to salvation and help her regain her confidence and get her
back to work, Sanya accepts the option to drive down to the hill station and
investigate the case of the unusual death of a bunch of young kids, though the
records stated that the police had been all over it and haven’t found any foul
play.
With the help of a local police
officer and some feedback from an ageing nun at the Church in the town and
valuable advice from a Tarot reader, Sanya tries to locate the source of the
truth which she realises has turned on her.
What follows is a succession of mysterious
and incomprehensible, scary and uncanny dealings that Sanya has to identify to
save herself and her son  from the wickedness
and malice of the playing cards, which keeps coming back to haunt her, the notifications
on which somehow makes everything come true.
Though several characters move in
and out during the narration of the story, all of them have been well
characterised by the author, with their descriptions and their explanations
narrated, being quite precise and concrete.
The characters that Sanya keeps
meeting surely make the protagonist pass through mental conflicts and twists, but
the author has tried hard to conserve the point that Sanya absorbs all the
narration in her while walking through the plot.
A couple of editing flaws which I
noticed, can’t help but mentioning here.
1.  In page
108-109, Chapter-19, in the narration while watching the videos at the photo
store, Sanya has been erroneously referred to as Sarah.
2.  In page 105,
Chapter-19, the dialogues – “Where did you get these picture, if you don’t mind
me asking?” he looked up at her. “Why?” she questioned – has been inadvertently
repeated again later in Page 106.
3.  In page 106,
Chapter-19, the narration, “I want to enlarge some photos,” Sanya said and
handed the envelope, is out of relevance to the context as this situation had
already been explained in page-48, Chapter-8 in the narration, “Oh, I thought
maybe you could help me print and enlarge a few photos,” she replied sceptically….
These little editing blemishes
apart, the narration is fast paced and never dragging anywhere, the story is a
fresh reading, and reasonably intriguing and the author, Vishal Goswami managing
to keep the reader’s attention captivated in his short novel of just 146 pages.
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Arjun – without a Doubt – My review of the Book
Reading a book on mythology and
reviewing it is always a tricky proposition. Hence, I too was a bit skeptical
in the beginning whether to lay my hands on this or not. However, having
reviewed another mythological story, a couple of months back, honestly did give
me a little courage to pick up this sensitive subject.

Arjun: Without a Doubt tries to
spin the tale of the epic Mahabhrata from the perspective of two of its major
characters, i.e. Arjun and Draupadi. The entire book revolves around these two
main characters though the ‘sutradhar’ Krishna and the mother character of
Kunti has also been brought in subtly in various occasions.
The first and foremost thing that
I would want to comment here and commend the author is the way she has picked
up the first person narration from the point of view of two characters.  The usage of two narrators to a story is
quite a tough task and the author has very well managed to keep pace with both
the characters simultaneously seldom showing any redundancy.  
However, in this context, I would
have rather preferred to have the switch in the narratives by way of change in
chapters. At some stages, I did feel that the narration continues while
shifting the narrator and the reader tends to lose track as to whose point of
view is being presented suddenly.  The
reader may honestly sometimes lose track of the narration due to these abrupt
switch over and may be required to retrace back to understand whose point of
view is now being portrayed.
The character of Arjun has been
delicately described and the image of Arjun as just a great archer and warrior
has been dispelled by the author by portraying him as a normal human being full
of doubts, whether it is while wanting to win her in the Swayamvara or when he
needs to share his prize with his brothers. The story depicts how heartbroken
he feels longing for the company of his wife and every time he is required to
leave her and go. These doubts in the minds of Arjuna have been delicately brought
to surface by the author and have been shown as increasing as the story
progresses.
 
From the subdued feelings in the
mind of Arjuna when he is asked by his mother to share his wife with his
brothers in the beginning of the story to his shockingly rude outburst at his
mother when she mourns Karna’s death towards the end of the story, shows how
much he has changed over the years as the story progresses. From a feeling of
Arjuna, always at doubt throughout the story, his direct dialogue with Kunit at
the end, gives the readers the clear indication and understanding that now
Arjuna is without any doubts.
The entire story of the great
epic to be covered and summed up in close to 280 pages is in itself an epic
task and the author has done well to cover all aspects of the story and retell
the happenings of the Mahabharata in her book with great ease. However in
trying to do so, the story sometimes has become a bit fast paced and the reader
feels neglected in terms of longing to have known more about it. The description
of the Kurukshetra war seems to have been wound up a bit too early leaving the
readers longing for more. But as said earlier, to concise an epic into less
than 300 pages, these little compromises are inevitable.
The strong bond of love has been
very well glorified by the author whether while narrating the friendship and
bonding between Arjuna and Krishna or the strong love between Arjuna and
Draupadi even after the latter’s polygamy.
Surely and certainly this book
manages to change the perception of the readers towards the central characters
of Arjuna, Draupadi and Krishna from the time the story commences till the end
of the war and the author has very intelligently managed to present the
different perceptions to the readers.

The various deep and insightful
quotes and one-liners mentioned in the book really touch to the heart and
brings alive the emotions of the characters. Some of them, which I would
perhaps always remember and quote and would be etched to my mind, would be:
“Heaven is a mirage; all we have
is this life and this earth”
Religion is nothing but a series
of conveniently placed loopholes”
“Goodness is an asset – but if
you allow it to be exploited, it is a liability”
“Truth is a kaleidoscope, it
alters with perspective”

I would sum up by saying that
this book is written in a very simple manner in immaculate language and
contains all forms of emotions, be it humor, anger, tender moments and
absolutely awesome and memorable quotes.

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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
got.
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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