Tuesday, July 12, 2016

SHAKTI and a SINFUL INDULGENCE

'Thank you for a wonderful book' These simple yet seriously sweet words emailed by Prathibha after reading Shakti: The Divine Feminine made me feel so good! Her email has been produced below with her permission.

Shakti, the novel you wrote is power packed! and I loved it to bits. Being a girl who grew up listening to stories of Gods and Goddesses, Shakti gave me a new perscpective.

The friendship between Shakti and Vishnu was heart warming, the love between Shiva and Shakti was so heart wrenching (i have mixed feelings here, as in I have no particular word to say what I feel..the pain, the love is so..)

Indra, one of the Antagonist resonates with us, humans in a way where we deny to see/accept the truth..
Mahisha who eventually felt guilt and accepted his misdeeds but Indra couldn't! And him being revered as Grama devi! It is quite fantastic (but is it true?? :P)

Reading through the book, you mentioned about Chinnamasta! I wish there was much more about it, I was intrigued the first time I came across a photo in a temple here(i was a mere 11 yr girl by then) but after many years with help of google I came to know a little of the Goddess, it is a wonderful representation of life, nourishment and death!

I loved Kali, the freedom, the wilderness and everything about her. in your words, Well Kali is just..Kali :)

Shakti and her forms! talks with Dugra and Kali, envy towards Parvathi. Each one a personification of her. 

And the problems of contemporary world is written well, Manusmriti and its effects, the dominance in the name of protection, auspiciousness and inauspiciousness, rape, power, insecurity everything is handled well.

Thank you for a wonderful book

If that does not make you want to pick up a copy asap I don't know what will!
Now available with a 33% discount on Amazon India. and Flipkart.

Pic courtesy: Bookish Thoughts

Another reader tweeted that her weekend indulgence is a copy of Yama's Lieutenant and strawberry cheesecake ice cream. That has to be the yummiest combo ever! Have you got your copy yet? If not it is available on Amazon India and Flipkart for a 35% discount. 

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The Cradle of Death

Kankana Basu of The New Indian Express had some awesome things about Yama's Lieutenant. Sample this: "Yama’s Lieutenant from the immensely readable writer Anuja Chandramouli, will enthrall readers of every age group. Blending mythology and fantasy with a rich sweep of imagination, Chandramouli creates a terrifying world of demons and necromancers, which chillingly echoes with resonances of contemporary times." Or this, "The author’s writing is crisp and riveting. At no point does she falter in her conviction even as she creates mind-boggling scenarios for her fantasy creatures to inhabit. The multitude of creatures could have been confusing to the uninitiated, but she introduces them with intelligent spacing. A very adult slant is visible in tackling the matter of sex, which among other deviations includes hints of incest, all of which seem slightly out of sync with the fantasy world." And finally, "A vibrant and rambunctious read, Yama’s Lieutenant is as unputdownable as it gets."

You can check out the full review here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beating the Censors with the Moral Yardstick

We Indians have become thin – skinned to an alarming degree and so given to taking offense at the drop of a cuss word that it has become the norm for citizens to go to war on social networking platforms every time somebody cracks a joke or gives compelling evidence to the fact that every one of us is as opinionated and judgemental as everyone else. When comedians embrace controversy with provocative material on the sacred cows of sport and playback singing to ensure that their underwhelming video goes viral and gets the attention it does not deserve, we are flooded by an outpouring of outrage that far more serious issues seldom get.
            Worse, since it has become common for runaway emotions and misguided passion to rule the roost in place of cool logic and common sense, the censors and moral police have taken the upper hand. As a result, decrees have been passed that trample on freedom of speech, artistic expression, and the right to tweet our peevish dissatisfaction while making tasteless jokes. Shockingly, despite the fact that India is a democracy, books are burnt, films are banned and Sunny Leone gets the free publicity she built her career on thanks to incendiary posters and press conferences.
While so much energy is expended on so much triviality, pressing problems persist and plague this proud nation which has still not managed to tackle the problem of providing the basic necessities for a vast majority of its populace. There are so many without food, clothing shelter, education or even a decent loo and yet we are far more preoccupied with nonsense, ours and others both. Surely this is not what our freedom fighters fought and died for?
Perhaps it is time to put an end to the endless chin – wagging, finger pointing and a collective tendency to froth at the mouth every time something mildly provocative starts trending on twitter. In short, unproductive and ultimately self – destructive habits including intolerance and strident censorship need to be put to rest in order to facilitate a conducive climate that fosters development, nation building and better understanding between the diverse factions that make up India. Nobody likes it when big brother gets carried away with his voyeuristic, tyrannical tendencies and starts rapping on knuckles to force political correctness down unwilling throats.

In order to stop dictatorial directives in its tracks, it behoves us to take up the role of moral watchdog and limit it entirely to our own selves. Nobody likes to be told their shit stinks but conversely everybody labours under the delusion that their shit don’t stink. Now more than ever, it is necessary to clean up our own act in order to mature into responsible citizens who can exercise every one of their rights while being sensitive and sensible enough to do so without stomping on toes and encroaching on somebody else’s rights. 
This column was published in The New Indian Express.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

HEADY PRAISE AND A CONTEST!

Its confession time! There are few things in the world I love better than a rave review. It makes me feel all warm and tingly from the top of my head all the way to the soles of my feet. In fact, I cannot get enough of those. Blogger Namrata who has read every one of my books had this to say about YAMA'S LIEUTENANT.
"In the first 4 pages she has nailed your attention in a fashion that you don't want to let anything come in the way of you knowing what happens next. She thrills you, fascinates you, leaves you with mystery and in the end takes you on a high only she can with her words. The characters are so heart warming and close to real life you cannot help but feel their chaos. You are almost chasing the mystery with them to know who is behind it all. She has grabbed the biggest fear of human kind and merged it with myth to derive a perfect serving of a book called Yama's lieutenant which leaves you heady.
A strongly recommended read for people who love reading her works, this one will make you love her more. And people who have never read her, start with this one you will understand why people love her."
Be sure to read the rest of her review here. I particularly liked the bit where she compared me, sorry the book to a sweet called Kalakand which is supposedly a balanced that is nevertheless close to the hearts of those who have sampled it on account of its simple yet divine taste. Awww... I have never tried this sweet, but I just know that I love it!!

In more news, five author - signed copies of Yama's Lieutenant are up for grabs. In order to get your hands on them, please ENTER this contest organized by IndiaBookStore. Goodreads users will be happy to know that there are five more copies of Yama's Lieutenant available in a free giveaway.
For those of you who would like a fantastic read and to help a struggling author make some money please visit Amazon IndiaFlipkart or Kindle. Be sure to post your reviews as well!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Real Meets Surreal

The book opens in a decrepit Railway station in a “City – State” that has seceded from the “Back – County” which we may surmise is somewhere in the Congolese region abounding with mines. Requiem, a no – gooder who clearly has his sticky fingers in every shady dealing of the criminal persuasion to be made in the city – state is there to meet his writer frenemy, Lucien who conversely is so noble and idealistic, it is ridiculous.
The duo frequent Tram – 83 a popular bar that caters to the runaway appetites of all kinds of humanity such as tourists (for profit or non – profit), miners, officials, students, globalizers, hungry hookers, spies, soldiers, gangsters, journalists, poets, petty thieves and killers. Together, the duo are sucked into the seamy underbelly of a chaotic world run by a corrupt warlord where “the mightier crush the mighty, the mighty defecate in the mouths of the weak, the weak sequestrate the weaker, the weaker do each other in and then split for elsewhere.” 

Tram 83 is dominated by wild, jarring rhythms, smooth sounds and pulsing beats that plunge those in for the ride into a bleak and truly terrifying place whose violence afflicted past has paved the way for a dark reality that is riddled with vice gone on a rampage. It is a dog eat dog world where everybody eats dog kebabs. Of course, this can be discomfiting to say the least. There are too many baby – chicks (underage prostitutes) and notorious child soldiers to be comfortably borne and the degree of exploitation doing the rounds is enough to make even those hardened to the foibles of human nature feel queasy.
Conversations are not straightforward and rudely interrupted by the musings of those in the bar who have little patience for conventional niceties, forcing one to keep up using all the senses if need be. Nearly every page is peppered with the sexual innuendo of those who eat by the sweat of their breasts to paraphrase the author, which definitely cannot be repeated in polite company. Regular homilies on the reigning preoccupation with steatopygia are thrust into every other page. Everything seems to be permeated not only with the rank odor of the regulars but the fouler stench of dull cynicism and lost hope. This is not to say the proceedings are fully dark and dreary interspersed as the narrative is with bright bursts of humor.
   At the center of this maelstrom are the former friends. Requiem takes it all in his stride, throwing himself into the demands of living in such inhospitable terrain with savage determination and ill grace. Lucien on the other hand is practically a caricature who clings to his principles for dear life even when faced with the prospect of rotting in a prison cell. Mujila invites readers to closely examine the viewpoints of both men and take sides, inviting the occasional laugh or shocked gasp while keeping alive the curiosity to see which one will triumph over the course of events that clearly indicate that there are likely to be no winners.
Mujila’s debut has been long listed for the Man Booker Prize and is one of those books which have already won in addition to being in the process of winning, a slew of prestigious awards. Whether this translates into a winning read for the average reader depends on his or her openness towards an unconventional style that takes more than a little getting used to. Some of the stylistic devices and conceits on display such as mind – numbing descriptive lists or constant refrains run the gamut from exasperating to engaging. And yet the author has captured the morass of decay redolent of this land and the teeming undercurrent of vibrancy that is the essence of this unnamed place.

Nothing is sacred here and there is mounting evidence that the horrific past will bury the present and obliterate the future. But even so, Tram 83 may just be worth the visit if you are not unwilling to plunge into the depths of hell for a brief glimpse before getting the heck out of there. 

This review originally appeared in The New Indian Express.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Beef with JK Rowling

Book lovers owe JK Rowling a lot. She gave us Harry Potter. For many of us who grew up with the boy who survived, life became more magical for having expanded to include the meticulously detailed world she had created and brought to such glorious life. Thanks to her efforts, millions of readers were birthed throughout the world who would have otherwise spent the developmental phase having their brains turned to bread pudding from overexposure to their Television sets. Instead we all learned to expand our minds and hearts, were taught valuable lessons on the evils of discrimination, intolerance and cruelty to other species in a fun way without ever having to endure being preached at in addition to acquiring a keen appreciation for the Queen’s English. You have to love JK Rowling for this and more.
            In recent times, though I have come to admire Harry Potter’s creator even more, because she doggedly worked on the series and gave us the seven books that were promised without leaving us high and dry like the recalcitrant author of a certain epic fantasy series featuring a delicious plot, violence, nudity and dragons. Having acknowledged her overall awesomeness, let us move on.
 Some of the Potter maniacs (like myself) were less than ecstatic when Rowling sold the movie rights thereby forcing Daniel Radcliffe and the exquisite Emma Watson into our consciousness every time we re – read the books. The casting choice for the latter was particularly galling, since the book clearly describes Hermione Granger as bushy – haired and ‘long – molared’ whereas Emma Watson was the cutie who grew up to be a hottie. And then there was the endless stream of merchandise which was foisted on us by vested commercial interests. How are we supposed to believe in Harry Potter’s innocence and the purity of his soul when he has become a hack coercing us to buy crap we don’t really need? But this was a minor offense compared to what came later.
            When the seventh book came out, Potter fans were delighted that Rowling had seen fit to spare Harry and his two best friends especially after their creator had seemed inclined to go on arbitrary killing sprees which saw her bumping off beloved characters like Dumbledore (I went into hysterics when the great man passed), Sirius Black, Hedwig, Fred, Lupin and Tonks with indecent haste. We bid adieu to the beloved characters who seemed peaceably settled into the humdrum rhythm of a monotonous life. But the author seems to have trouble letting go.
            In the decade since the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, the last book of the series, Rowling has taken to releasing endless titbits of information related to the Potter World in interviews or via social media. Some revelations were momentous like the bombshell which exploded to reveal Dumbledore was gay and or that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together (Gasps!) while others were trifling, for instance, Teddy Lupin is in Hufflepuff. This compulsive need she seems to have to return to the wizarding world for regular nip and tuck procedures with the occasional augmentation, enhancement or implant while not outright grotesque does seem indicative of a process addiction that does not bode well for the writer and reader both.
            Those who devoured her books word for word tend to feel cheated when all these fresh additions are sneaked into a constantly burgeoning database that is destined to remain unwritten and therefore not technically a part of the story proper. Which is why it is annoying to be told that Dumbledore was gay even if it makes sense because it would made even more sense had it been properly woven into the narrative. Harry and Hermione shared a beautiful friendship without a whiff of romantic love or sexual tension which is why it stank when Rowling shot that all to hell. As for the rest of the tweaking, why not give it a rest already?
It is the sort of thing that makes one suspect her intentions and wonder if it is a marketing ploy to keep interest levels high since there has been official confirmation that there is a Harry Potter sequel play and three prequel films in the works all of which will also be released as books. Hopefully Rowling knows better than to damage the world she has so painstakingly created by reducing sweet Harry to a soul – sucking sell out, fouler than a dementor!

The edited version of this column appeared in The New Indian Express.

            

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Drowning in Dumbness

You know that times are bad when headlines are obsessed with the Duchess of Cambridge’s bum. Apparently she had a wardrobe malfunction during her tour of India that may or not have revealed her bare bottom in all its glory and it was all people wished to talk about. Those who could not care less for Princess patootie may have skipped these articles only to be told that Kangana Ranaut and Hrithik Roshan are currently engaged in a mud – slinging match with gobs of the stuff landing on the pope when the odds of a pretty boy landing a date with him was raised. If you were to persist in trying to find something else to read, you may be suckered into a long drawn discussion on the odds of Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma getting back together because the latter has unlocked the secret to preventing dandruff as well as hair fall in addition to losing another two kilos on her derriere.
            Could it be true that deep down at the core, we are all just shallow, superficial twits? Is there no way to help our inner wannabe intellectual who has long been drowning in the dumbness we imbibe on a regular basis? What about the Zen Philosopher seeking enlightenment or the curious scientist who seeks to solve the world’s pressing problems? Needless to say both are doomed to die as well if we keep feeding them pointless information shovelled out by celeb watchers involving boob jobs gone wrong, leaked videos that chronicle a starlet’s sex life or torrid affairs that bit the dust.
Add caption
It is now more important than ever to embrace the inner geek and nerd we are capable of being rather than limit ourselves to being hopelessly enamoured of those who play geeks and nerds with such effusive charm on the Big Bang Theory. After all it is the clever ones among us who figure out ways to solve the problems that plague our planet and invent remarkable gadgets that make our lives so much easier.
Surely we would rather be the genius who figured out a simple, inexpensive, non – violent way to end poverty, racism, illiteracy and disease rather than the vacuous thing who devoted his/her life towards achieving a gym – ripped body that is the envy of pudgy neighbours, bathing in fairness creams so that someone says ‘Wow! You are too fair to be an Indian!’, buffing the body to a fine sheen without gross cellulite or stretchmarks, all so that a prefect Facebook profile pic which comes with a guarantee of 1000 likes might be clicked?

            If yes, it is time to make the effort to become a smart person who knows enough to discuss world politics, science, mathematics, philosophy and current events (excluding the shape of Kate Middleton’s abs post the baby) without aid from a smartphone. To do that it is time to read more sensible shit, eschew buying stuff that promises to get rid of the dusky skin you were born with, try and learn something that will make you a better person and less of a greedy, grasping moron and finally encourage cleverness in yourself as well as in others so that it may grow wings and fly us all away from the morass of stupidity in which we have gone and trapped ourselves.  

An edited version of this piece was carried by The New Indian Express.