Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shivangi Ramsay speaks- On ‘Passionate Love’, marooned islands and more

Image source: Google

Shivangi Ramsay, with a shock-inducing cover pic and a verbose style of writing, seems to be our new go-to author. Her debut novel ‘Passionate Love’ is brutally real, unrestrainedly bold and boundlessly arresting. I caught up with her to extort a few ‘extra’ words where she talks on her passion, on her love, and on her ‘Passionate Love’.

Q1) Hi Shivangi. Congratulations for the debut novel. It’s a dream of a lot of young people these days to have a book of their own sitting on their desk. So, how does it feel now that your dream has come true? Has it sunk in yet?
Ans: Truth be told, the feeling is yet to sink in. It was a long-cherished dream to see my name in print.

Q2) The cover of ‘Passionate Love’ has…umm… no subtleties. A very ‘true to the title’ cover I would say. Fiery, bold and no-holds-barred! Was there any conscious effort on your part to go with such a bold cover?
Ans: No, it wasn’t deliberate in anyway. But truth be told, somewhere in my subconscious mind I had always envisioned a red-hot cover for my book. I am truly grateful to Sunill Kaushik for executing it in such a masterly manner.

Q3) All of us want to become a writer. There is a certain Elizabethan charm to calling yourself a writer, isn’t it! But tell us about the pitfalls of being a writer.
Ans: Being analyzed by hawk-eyed critics is the biggest pitfall of all. But if the criticism is constructive, it helps you grow as a writer. So no complaints.  We should always be open to productive feedback.

Q4) Coming back to your book, what inspired you to pen a story about a journalist and a computer engineer? Was it a random call or did you base your characters on real people?
Ans: My debut novel was supposed to be a contemporary romance between a sassy young lady pilot and her 30 year old boss. It took me more than a week to write the first chapter as I had begun living vicariously through my characters. The reason is plain and simple, I wanted to be a commercial pilot ever since my infancy. Sadly, I was denied admission in flight school because of my short-sightedness. Till date, I haven’t been able to bury my dream of flying high. Sorry for going off the hook. To cut a long story short, when I realized that I was getting dangerously addicted to the characters in my story, I changed the plot.

Q5) Now that the writing bug has bitten you and you have got a taste of what it feels to be a published author, what’s the next dish you plan to serve us? I’m sure you must be itching to cook up another novel, or maybe something is already in the burner?
Ans: What an uncanny coincidence! I finished the synopsis of my second book just last night. It is a historical romance set against the backdrop of the Indian Independence Movement. It is the love story of a revolutionary’s daughter, and the Viceroy’s nephew.

Q6)And what does Shivangi Ramsay do when she is not writing?
Ans: I am dining out in my favourite restaurant.

Q7) Pardon me this cheesy question but I’m incorrigible in that way! If you were marooned on an island with one author of your choice, whom would you pick (it can be any author alive or dead)?
Ans: Nicholas Sparks. He is smoldering hot.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Lowland Review: A tapestry of human relationships

Image source: Google

Book: The Lowland
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Publisher: Random House India
Genre: Drama
Rating: 4.5 on 5

Review: Jhumpa Lahiri continues to amaze. 'The Lowland' is far better than I had expected it to be, better than perhaps anything one can expect of anybody. A heavy volume of 350-odd pages, it brings back memories of classic novels which were chaste in language and sublime in their emotional upheaval.

Far from the political potboiler I had thought this book to be (my notion primarily based on the Naxalite-centred cover pic and the story blurb), 'The Lowland' is actually about human relationships strewn across the passage of time. It is about the blithe cheerfulness of two young boys Subhash and Udayan and how they grow up inseparably but to two men of completely contrasting views. It is about a brief but beautiful liaison between Udayan and Gauri, the woman whose liberal thoughts matched his revolutionary views. It is about Subhash and Gauri, the two most dissimilar people chained together by an unanticipated twist of fate. It is about Subhash and his foster-daughter Bela who grows up under the protective guardianship of her uncle, thinking him to be her father. It is about Gauri, the mother who abandons her daughter only to return later, and about Bela, the daughter who learns early in life not to need her mother anymore. The whole book is a poignant tapestry of human relationships, each sketched out in realistic details and each leaving an imprint on the heart.

The masterly way in which Lahiri shuffles between places and people without letting the reader avert his attention is remarkable. This is one of those books which apart from proving to be an unforgettable read also prove to be an invaluable study material for young aspiring writers like me.

[The review over, now let me string together a few dil-se words for These days, I get approached by a lot of newbie authors who send me a copy of their books for reviewing it. On most occasions, these books turn out to be disappointing and I have to really push myself to finish them off. With MySmartPrice, I can request my kind of book and exactly the book that I wish to read- it can be anything from an Agatha Christie classic to a Chetan Bhagat college romance to a critically acclaimed ‘Unaccustomed Earth’, another Jhumpa Lahiri work which I had reviewed a few months back for this portal. So when I voiced my yearning to read (and own) this Booker Prize nominee and a really expensive book at that, MySmartPrice was only too willing to courier it to me, provided I write an honest review. Without mincing words, I do admit that this portal has been a brilliant discovery for me.]

-Ritesh Agarwal

Twitter: RitzyChoclate

 PS- My meeting with Jhumpa Lahiri earlier this year has now gained a lot more personal significance for me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

100 words: An unexpected visitor

Her rosy cheeks and straw-colored hairs were precisely as I had visualized them, yet I was appalled at the similarity.

“Who are you,” I spoke in a shaky voice. Her eyes were no longer the vulnerable pair of black balls I had envisaged earlier. They appeared demoniac and held me in a gaze so venomous that I shuddered.

She burst into a gurgle of devilish laughter. “You weren’t expecting me, were you? But I have come back from the dead.”

I was half-conscious of the fact that it was just a dream, but before I could recollect my thoughts, the knife was through my heart.

Her vengeance complete, she dissipated into the thin air.

I paid the price for having killed Samaira in my bestseller.

Twitter: RitzyChoclate

[This story has been written for Write Tribe’s ‘100words on Saturday’]

Friday, April 4, 2014

What are the Harry Potter stars up to?

Image source: Google

The bad news is that you have already read all the seven Harry Potter books and there’s little possibility of that unborn 8th. Of course, Harry Potter is the kind of book one can re-read tirelessly but that’s not entirely the same, although it does come pretty close to being the same.

The good news peeps is that there are 3 more films to look forward to. In what could be called a money-spinning super-strategy, the filmmakers and JK Rowling have dived into a new deal where the fans shall be ambushed by a trilogy based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

While this three-film deal will definitely keep the author and the directors working their broom off, let’s find out what our fav screen stars are up to.

Daniel Radcliffe, despite all the fame and love which came his way with the Potter franchise, had to gulp the bitter pills of criticism for being a mediocre talent. While critics were still aiming their darts at the poor young boy, our hero sprung to the stage and showed his talent (and err….much more) the harder way through live performances in Equus. A horror film and a couple of Broadways later, the boy-wizard seems to be making those same critics eat out of his hand. Clearly, he’s the Boy Who Lived

His partner-in-crime (and in everything else) Ron Weasley aka Rupert Grint has rather been maintaining a low profile. Though the British actor has appeared in a string of movies, none of them have made a stellar mark on the global circuit. But we know well that Ron is the kind of guy who always comes up with his heroics only when the chips are all down. So, when he does vroom into your nearest theatre some day, you dare not make him say, Huh, Always the tone of surprise  ;)

Of the trio, it is Emma Watson (alias Hermione Granger) who is sunning in limelight. While her post-Potter flicks The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Noah have been getting A-list releases, the now-turned-glam girl has also nailed her presence in male hearts (her nip slip video has made her a global wallflower, tee hee).

Ginny Weasley’s Bonnie Wright seems to have submerged herself entirely in Indie projects (she has been dabbling in production line) which may well be a good thing for her but isn’t helping her PR ratings. But a lot of guys, including me, find the long-legged red-lipped damsel lethally pretty and that’s reason enough to keep her on our Google priority list   ;)

Tom Felton (who essayed Draco Malfoy) seems to have lost a bit of his girlie fans and a lot of his golden manes. Tidbit roles in films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes have kept him in the news but we expect better for him in the future. Also, the Apple of our eye has a passion (and talent) for music and has been toying with a career in music for some time, though success still eludes him. We say, Accio Apple, oops…. Accio Success         :D

-Ritesh Agarwal
Twitter: RitzyChoclate

Monday, March 31, 2014

2 states by Chetan Bhagat – A review by blogger Sarah Malik

Cover pic of '2 States'

After regretting the money spent on Chetan Bhagat’s ‘3 mistakes of my life’, I had no plans of torturing myself with his newly published 'story of my marriage'. However when a friend got her copy to college, I couldn't resist the urge to flip a few pages in one of the intolerably somnambulic lectures.

But 25 pages past and I found myself totally gripped to this tale of Ananya Swaminathan, a Tamil Brahmin and Krish Malhotra, a Punjabi studying and making love in one of the most prestigious institutes of India – the IIM.

I won't go into the details of how the story progresses for it is nothing more than a usual bollywood flick where the lead characters are jeopardized and try to work out their way to bridge barriers between their respective families and community narrated in Chetan Bhagat’s style.

The protagonists too are crafted in a similar fashion as in other books of his. The girl, inspite of being a Tamil Brahmin is bold and outspoken. She doesn't mind sharing the hostel room with her boy friend or hugging him in front of her conservative dad.

The guy is forever confused and at times annoying. Narrated from the guy's perspective, best part of the book is the quirky humour which sets it apart from all other Bhagat books. I literally had a hearty laugh at so many instances.

My favourite character was Ananya's conservative dad and the way he warns Krish to stay away from his daughter. Krish’s mother is hilariously portrayed too and would remind you of neighbourhood Punjabi aunties.

To sum it up two states is a light but engrossing and moreover entertaining read and is a literary equivalent to any one of the usual bollywood movies.

For all those looking for a nail biting climax or an absorbing literary work, you have a wrong book in your hand. Keep it back and solemnly resolve never to pick up a Chetan Bhagat again!

My rating: 2.5 + 0.5 (for the witty style of narration) = 3/5

[The review has been done on special request by Sarah Malik, one of the more notable bloggers of India. To read more from her, kindly check out her blog ‘Embodying Emotions’ at ]


How many stars?