Sunday 26 October 2014

Movie Review – Pyaasa

Date of Release – February 19, 1957
Genre – Drama, Romance
Director – Guru Dutt
Duration – 146 minutes
Cast – Guru Dutt, Mala Sinha, Waheeda Rehman, Johnny Walker, Rehman
Music – S.D. Burman
Written By – Abrar Alvi
Lyrics – Sahir Ludhianvi

My View
To mention the word “review” for a movie like “Pyaasa” would not be giving due respect to this masterpiece. Considered one of the greatest movies of Indian cinema, Pyaasa combines love, pain, deceit and the double standards of society with a perfection that hardly any movie has done. It is said that Guru Dutt was a director ahead of his times. And when you watch this movie, you marvel at the thought process of this genius back then in 1957!

The movie, considered by many to be based on real life story of the famous lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi revolves around a young man Vijay (Guru Dutt) who is gifted with the art of poetry. However, in the world of opportunism and malice, his honesty has hardly any takers. So, his talent goes unnoticed and everyone, including his real brothers discard him as a penniless loser. Vijay’s principles and self respect however, are unfazed by hunger and rejection. Harbouring the dream of being published someday, he comes in contact with Mr. Ghosh (Rehman), the owner of a large publishing house.  He is unaware that Rehman is only a selfish man who obliged him to know the secret of his past.

As if rebuke and rejection was not enough for Vijay, destiny plays another cruel game with Vijay. His college sweetheart Meena (Mala Sinha) who had left him to enjoy marital bliss with a well settled Mr. Ghosh comes face to face with him. With old love coming knocking on the door, things get even more complicated with Mr. Ghosh discovering their secret and Vijay losing his job.

When the world uses Vijay for their vested interests, leaving him with pain in return, it is only a prostitute  Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman) who stands by him through thick and thin. Smitten by his poetry and gentleman attitude, Gulabo proves her true love by sacrificing her entire money to fulfil his dream of being published.  Vijay’s poetry does eventually make him a favourite with poetry lovers however, just like the distance between the cup and the lip, Vijay too is unable to get his due credit, thanks to the not so good gestures by Mr. Ghosh, his brothers and some selfish friends. While the publisher makes a killing with Vijay’s poems in print, the real hero is parked away in a mental asylum.

Whether Vijay is able to get his due and whether he finally gets peace in the world of fake promises and double standards is for you to see.

The film has power packed performances by Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Rehman and Johny Walker.  Guru Dutt, the king of tragedy and romance conveys such intense emotions effortlessly that you simply relish each and every scene. Waheeda Rehman portrays the transition beautifully from a charming prostitute to the woman seeking true love and respect. Notice both sides in these songs.

Mala Sinha aptly essays the role of a weak and helpless lover who is stuck between the concern for her love and the bindings of the society. Rehman, well known for his negative roles during those times, does full justice to the role of a mean and cunning man who masks his malicious intensions under layers of sophistication.

While I had always thought Johny Walker’s role in the movie was just about the song, Sar Jo Tera Chakraye, I figured that he is used as an SOS vehicle in the story when al the odds are against Vijay. Besides adding the humour quotient, he is credited with bringing an important twist to the story.

While I have heard the songs many a times since I was a kid, I fell in love all over again with them when I saw the movie. The songs are brimming with emotions and I wish we had lyricists and composers like we had back then.

The post would be incomplete without a mention of the lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi. Though there are no words to describe the beauty with which he has penned down the songs, it is best recommended to listen and reflect upon the message he is trying to give in each song.

Overall, Pyaasa needs no endorsement to prove itself. For those of you who look at old Indian cinema with tinted glasses, such masterpieces are just not to be missed!

Did you know the role essayed by Guru Dutt was originally offered to Dilip Kumar, but he declined. Also, Nargis Dutt and Madhubala were offered the roles played by Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman respectively. The movie became a major commercial hit.

My Rating


Friday 24 October 2014

Book Review – God Is A Gamer

Author – Ravi Subramanian
Publisher – Penguin Books
Genre – Thriller/Fiction
Pages – 310
Price – Rs.299

There were multiple reasons why I had been excited and eager to review this book. First - after dishing out hits like If God was a Banker, The Bankster, Bankerupt, the next serving from Ravi had to be special, especially after I read it took him one year and a lot of research to write this one; secondly, having heard a lot about bitcoins recently, the first ever bitcoin thriller is a must read. Did you know Ravi even bought some bitcoins as part of his research for the book?; Thirdly, being from banking myself, I get drawn to Ravi’s stories weaved around some or the other aspect of banking. So, no sooner than I confirmed the review, the book arrived with a smile!

The Cover
Title in Gold, with a hint at bitcoins, a man facing the grand white house and you gradually notice the words, “is revenge a crime?” and your mind instantly begins permutations and combinations of what the story to be told.

My View
After writing his way up to being India’s one of the most talked about thriller writers, Ravi Subramanian has maintained his winning streak with “God is a Gamer!” The story takes a while to build up and one has to be patient and focussed to understand the too many characters. However, few pages later, the story really picks up fast and you just cannot avoid not flipping over to the next page. The death of a senator who heads committee on alternate currencies creates waves all across intelligence units. Wikileaks emerges out of nowhere with eyebrow raising information. Somewhere in Goa, hormones and drugs bring Tanya and Varun in what seems like a well planned coincidence. Somewhere in Mumbai, software geeks are working hard on the next big online game. The internal heat inside Indian operations of New York International Bank is building up fast. Favours done and integrity compromised, and the underlying motives are too elephantine to anticipate. While credit card service providers block payments to Wikileaks, the world sees a new form of payment – bitcoins, a virtual currency that guarantees complete anonymity and freedom, except for the fact that the end use of the funds is towards all the things crippling law and order. Then one day, the biggest phishing scam emerges in the history of Indian banking. What is lost are not just millions of rupees, but the event is a curtain raiser to the movie ahead – credit card frauds, money laundering, lobbying, drugs, hacking, murders – and playing a major role, bitcoins. Barring the first few chapters, the book is worded well enough to hook the readers till the last page.  While I don’t believe in giving spoilers, let me tell you that after so long have I enjoyed reading a thriller so much. I usually read during my free time, but this one made me stay awake till late night, for I didn’t want to hit the sack without knowing the climax. A must read and highly recommended.

What I loved about the book
I often get to review books where authors fill pages describing surroundings, faces and what not, boring readers. But Ravi surely knows the art of brevity. The language is crisp and to my delight, I experienced NO drags!

Just when you think you know it all after reading the climax, Ravi surprises you with an anti climax that leaves you spell bound!

What could have been better
Too many characters are introduced in the beginning, so one has to stay focussed. However, later one realizes that even if some of these irrelevant characters would not have existed, the story would have remained equally interesting.

The portrayal of the credit card and the phishing scam was a bit hard to chew, as also a money laundering incident which was shown like a one man show in the bank. But anything is possible with fiction and as also in our movies, not all you see is true or practical.

My rating

About the Author

Ravi Subramanian has spent two decades in the world of global banks in India. His stories, like If God was a Banker, The Bankster, Bankerupt etc. are set against the backdrop of the financial services industry. Having won several accolades for his books, he continues to delight his readers with his thrillers. You can know more about him at

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Thursday 23 October 2014

The new face of Diwali!

Diwali – the festival of lights! A festival that is celebrated best on the funda “The more, the merrier”. So we love to have more of everything – more gifts, more crackers, more lights, more flowers, and most importantly, more love and wishes of our loved ones. For those who live away from home, there are few more of the mores – more struggle to book those leaves in office before anybody else grabs the offer, playing that fastest fingers first game on travel portals to book tickets, bearing with mammoth crowd at roads, buses and railway stations. All this just reinforces the fact that Diwali is best celebrated at home.

Having relocated to a new city recently, I feel like a bird in the sky. Sky is the limit to where the flight of destiny takes me and perhaps I should say, the world is now my home. Yet, on the festival of lights, when everyone around are looking festive and making merry, I am sitting in my balcony, venting my heart out on my laptop. While non-technically, this is my first Diwali away from home, technically, I have felt the same few years ago when I celebrated the first Diwali after marriage, away from my parents.

Diwali is the king of all festivals. I have fond memories of Diwali celebrations. Each Diwali, I used to be at my crankiest best, for the teachers used to select the girls with tall hair to play Ram, lakshman and Sita, and poor me with boy cut hair would be left out. With envy, I would look at them wearing mythological costumes and floral jewellery and wonder, all this because they have long hair! Once back home, I would announce to mom that enough was enough, and by next year, I would grow long hair and be the Sita at school function. Of course, it never happened as the Dilli ki garmi forced my parents to get my hair chopped.

Things finally got pleasant when I became part of the school choir, for diwali or no diwali, every function gave me a chance to croon on the stage, to my heart’s delight.

No matter how much I lecture about “say no to crackers”, throughout my school life, fire crackers were the best aspect of Diwali. A month before Diwali, I would hand over my list to mom, who would then take pains to go to Sadar Bazaar ( a wholesale market in Delhi) and get my stock full. I still remember, once as a 3 year old, I was handed over a burning fuljhari by my brother. I liked the sparkles so much that I decided to hold the fuljhari by the bright side. The rest, you can imagine, was an evening of hand dipped in ice water for me and lot of scolding for my brother!

As I grew up, Diwali brought out the creative best in me. We were taught to make Rangoli by our housekeeping teacher in college, and every since, Rangoli making is a tradition I follow every year. Each year, when my parents would go out to distribute sweets, brother and I would, like an express machine, decorate the house with flowers, make Rangoli and mom would always be surprised at our once in a year display of housekeeping skills.
A rangoli I made

While for the world, Diwali is a time to go out and celebrate, it creates havoc for our canine companions. Cotton buds, special room and what not – so much of effort went in each year to ensure my pet didn’t get into the panic mode by the sound of crackers.
Over the years, while the noise levels have increased, something that I see inversely proportional to it is the joy of sharing. Diwali during my parents time meant a mandatory visit to all the relatives to exchange sweets and pleasantries. But nowadays, our social sphere is going for a shrink. Is the inflation to be blamed? Well, sharing of sweets was just a bahaana…

In that respect, I appreciate the Mumbaikars living in Cooperative Housing Societies and chawls. Their houses might not boast of big balconies or private gardens, but they surely know best the joy of sharing. From kids to adults, I see them decorating every inch of my society like it is their own big home. The kids are preparing Rangolis all along the corridors and staircases.

Talking of sharing, let me share one thing that was shared to the utter discomfort of the those who share proximity. This morning, as I was lost in my dreams, the sudden sound of fire crackers at 6, woke me with a start. Was there an explosion in my dreams? I wondered. But I was awake and out of my dreams, and the noise was increasing every moment. As a surprised me, went to my balcony to check out the issue, I saw the colony kids, up and dressed up, burning crackers, at 6 in the morning! Apparently, there is some tradition among Maharashtrians to wake up early morning on Diwali, perform Puja and burn crackers before the rest of the world wakes up.

The world, truly is becoming my home!

Wishing a very happy Diwali to all my readers!

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Life of a working woman is like that of a juggler. One has to balance various aspects together and at the same time ensure that the show is perfect! It doesn’t get over there. With each stage of life, new items keep on adding to the jugglery, making the balance more difficult.

In the tug of war between home, office, kitchen and time for loved ones, skin regime often takes a backseat for us women. Every morning, as I get ready for work in front of the mirror, the face sings a song…

Mirror mirror on the wall,
My skin needs a wake up call!

And then Shhhh goes the whistle of the pressure cooker, and the jugglery for the day overshadows my skin’s cribbing session. After all, when you have assignments to complete, who has the time for elaborate beauty regimes?

They say a friend in need is a friend indeed. So, two very dear friends of mine Indiblogger and Garnier decided to take things in their own stride. I returned home one day to find a beautiful gift waiting for me…

The pack read Miracle Skin Perfector!
“Wow! “ I smiled with a tinkle of hope in my eyes. But I was not looking for a fairness cream. All I wanted was something that was a one stop solution to giving my skin a smooth, glow and provide the necessary moisture.

Again, the pack read, “Save time, in one application brighten, smoothen and moisturize your skin!”

The BB cream promises instant perfect skin, which is –
·         Fairer
·         Glowing
·         Smooth
·         Even Toned
·         Moisturized

But I still had my doubts. There are no free lunches in the world…what if there were some strong ingredients in the cream that would affect my skin in the long run? The pack erased my doubts and said, “Dermatologically tested. This high performance skin care contains Vitamin C derivatives known to have antioxidant properties. Enriched with almond extract and mineral pigments.”

Being a believer of “try and test”, I tested the cream next morning. With hardly few minutes in front of the mirror in the morning mad rush, I opened the packet. Light and non greasy, the cream easily blended into my skin, giving it an instant firm look and glow. Like they say in the corporate world, it gave final touch to the presentation. What’s more, the look was consistent till the evening despite a hectic day at work and no time for touch up.

I came home, and my smiling face said to the mirror,

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
I got the perfect skin care after all!

This post has been written for Garnier BB Cream contest byGarnier and Indiblogger. BB cream is an all in one cream. It combines multiple beauty routine steps in one. Hence, save time – in just one application brighten, smoothen and moisturize your skin.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Book Review – Fraudster

Author – RV Raman
Publisher – Hachette India
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 288
Price – Rs.250

The recent stories about banking frauds in the tabloids intrigued my interest in this book. So when I was offered the review, it made for an instant affirmative. In order to swell their asset size, few people have compromised on the credit quality. However, short term gains on the foundation of poor long term decisions don’t make for a strong edifice. The book is a brilliant effort to showcase the turn of events when a banking fraud turns ugly…how one fraud can affect the lives of many others.

The Cover
A lone person watching the Mumbai night sky raises several questions…could he be the fraudster enjoying the taste of his ugly success? Or, the scapegoat who suffers the aftermath of the event? In any case, the cover does entice the reader to go for the flipping.

My View
A banking fraud involving major discrepancy of collateral value is unearthed. The accused, Shruti, a junior employee of the bank has to pay a heavy price for the corrupt syndicate. First they take away her job, and then her life. While it could pass on as one of the many unexplained killings that happen in the maximum city, one person refuses to accept the prima facie – Mr. Visht, chairman of the First Line Credit Bank. Mr. Visht, having headed the inquiry commission investigating the fraud smells more than his eyes can see.

However, disappointed at the inability of commissions to catch the real culprits, he decides to associate himself with worthier causes than minting money. ZARA foundation, an NGO that works to protect small landowners against land grabbing seems the perfect choice to him. But, before he can take the first step towards cleansing the system, he too is silenced. 

Thus begins a series of events, mysterious killings, hacking of auditor’s database – the mastermind are willing to go to any length to ensure matters are prevented from spilling out in open. But, despite their efforts, there is Varsha, who’s willing to risk anything to bring justice. She, her friends go on a dangerous path to uncover the syndicate and their ugly game. Whether they unearth the fraud and the mastermind behind the frauds, whether they are finally able to bring punishment to the accused is for you to read and find out. But the book certainly keeps you glued and you almost begin feeling like a part of team Varsha.

What I loved about the book
The language is crisp and I didn’t find much drags
Being related to a specific industry, it’s important for the author to explain the technicalities to the diverse set of readers. And he has done so with finesse, without making it too heavy for the readers.The book delivers what it promises

What could have been better
While reading the book, I felt too much emphasis was given to the hacking story. At some instances, the reader is left looking for some insights on banking frauds than merely elaborating on hacking and murders.

However, this being just the debut, the author shows immense potential to deliver quality corporate thrillers. Looking forward to his next serving!

My rating

About the Author
RV Raman was the head of KPMG’s Consulting Practice and the co-head of their Risk Advisory Services. Over a career spanning three decades and four continents, he has advised several banks, regulators, exchanges and corporate on matters of strategy, operations and risk management. He is based at Chennai and Fraudster is his first corporate thriller.

This review is written for Writers Melon. The views are strictly my own and under no influence.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Scribblers Orchard Part 21

Read the previous part of the story here…

The sound of the evening Azaan woke Cyrus up with a start. His shadow had lengthened. From a small window in the dirty wall, he could see the sun bidding adieu to make way for the moon. Last he remembered listening to the morning chirping of birds as he was blind folded and led somewhere by Ahuja’s men. “How did it get so late so soon?” he wondered. The pain in his head was quick to remind him of how eventful the day had been…how he had tried a futile scuffle with one of his captors, and then something had hit his head making everything blank the next moment…

He had been lying unconscious the entire day. He tried to move his limbs, to amass the damage done, there wasn’t much damage though, yet his body cried of pain inflicted by the blows of his captors. He looked around the room - dirty, barren walls, bits of old broken furniture lying here and there. There was hardly anything to indicate if someone lived here. However, a strong smell of spices intrigued Cyrus. “Perhaps this smell can tell me where I am”, he thought and went near the window.  There was so much to be done, and with him being stuck, nothing could be done.

With his hands tied, all he could manage was a peep. The evening sky was abundant with white pigeons. Houses covered every square inch of land till the horizon. The sound of azaan was coming from left. As his eyes found the source of the sound, a big smile covered his face. To his left, he could see the famous Jama Masjid. “So I am near Jama Masjid, that should make things easier”, a ray of the evening sun fell on his face, and he knew Allah signaled him there was still hope.

“Mr. Prime Minister, we want to know how can someone of that important a position can go underground for spiritual blessings as the whole nation thought you were kidnapped?” A young female reporter looked adamant. Another reporter supported her, “Sir, it’s not just about us, the reputation of our country globally gets affected. The world media has been in frenzy…the PM of India is nowhere to be found. The gossip mills have been at their speculative best, and there are stories ranging from intervention by Al Qaeda to an internal coup. The nation wants to know the truth, sir!”

The creases on the PM’s forehead appeared more defined this time. With a pause, he said, “We are glad the media is so proactive about saving the nation’s image on the global front. However, you must also understand that considering the current circumstances involving our relations with our neighbors, not every action can be left out in the open. We are working for the public and rest assured, the image of our country at the global front is one of our biggest priorities.
At the couch of a luxurious living room in Mumbai, a curious pair of eyes watched all the action on TV. The sips of the Single Malt got more frequent as the PM showed up on the stage and began his speech.

The spotless white shoes stopped their movement as the reporters began the question.
“Aha, let the fun begin”, he said with a sarcastic smile.
Cyrus looked down from the window. The narrow by lanes of the walled city bustled with activity. Lanes were illuminated and loudspeakers jarred out campaigns in fake friendly tones. It was election time in Delhi. The walled city, being a major minority vote bank was always a lucrative deal for the politicians. Cyrus spotted a PCR van. His vocal chords put together all their might to summon the police to come to his rescue. The next moment, he realized the tragic game destiny had played, nobody would ever hear him now. 

Helpless and dejected, he closed his eyes and remembered his father’s face. “Oh dad, give me the strength to fight out this Chakravyuh” he said a silent prayer in his heart. A fighter till the end, his father had taught him never to give up. Cyrus looked around in his room, for any possible tool that could help him. His captors had left him alone, comforted by his inability to call for help. Near the door lay an old couch with something covered by a bedsheet. Curious, Cyrus quickly moved toward it. As he reached the couch, his eyes widened with shock...

Beneath the bedsheet lay a little girl, unconscious…

To read the next part of the story, click here… 

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Book Review – Private India

Author – Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson
Publisher – Arrow Books
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 470
Price – Rs.350

When two heavyweights like Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson join hands, the book lovers can’t wait to savour the delicacy. The icing on the cake was when BlogAdda announced the book up for review. Playing the fastest fingers first on the keyboard, I waited with bated breath to read the book, the Indian chapter of the much talked about Private series. Then ting tong, the door bell rang, and the book was in my hands!

The Cover
The beautiful Gateway of India facing the Taj Mumbai in its grandeur! The lovely Worli Sea Link looks at you, but wait, there is something the cover is talking about, a man running away from something, the killer, or his own fears, well that only the book can tell. Speaking for itself, the cover throws a bait to the readers when it reads “It’s the season for murder in Mumbai”

My View
The Indian arm of the World’s finest investigation agency, Private India has a strange case that nobody seems to crack. The mastermind is on a killing spree, leaving his target with a little garnish on the body to add to confusion. Nobody knows who the next target can be – a doctor from Thailand, a politician from Mumbai, or an upcoming pop singing sensation, the targets are random, or so it seems. The only thing that connects the killings is a bright yellow scarf, a return gift from the killer to the corpse.

While the reputation of Mumbai police and Private India is at stake, Santosh Wagh and his team are assigned this hard nut to be cracked. Even the best of brains are finding it tough to keep pace with the killer, for the moment they join the dots, the killer presents them a new gift, bringing in new confusion.

Just when the team is busy trying to crack the case, one of the team members receives the same yellow scarf in her car. Could she be the next victim? With the finesse and high success rate, the killer swiftly make the next move before anyone can get an idea of the plot simmering in his mind.

Looking at the number of pages, I was a little skeptical whether the book would meet my high expectations from Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson. But true to the words on the back cover, the pages turn themselves! The duo has been successful in holding the readers’ interest as I literally fought my sleepy eyes as I stayed awake till the wee hours of the morning to know who the killer was. Yes it was 400 something page wait, but totally worth it. 

What I loved about the book
  • The pace of the book is real fast and it’s a struggle with sleep to keep down the book when you still want to know details of the killer.
  • The story telling is beautiful, sans any drags.

What could have been better

The book stumbles on grammatical errors every now and then. Coming from such big 
authors, this is the least expected.

My rating – 3.5/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!