Monday, November 29, 2021

Another Time Another Place by Chandni Sengupta (Book Review: 3*/5) !!!


38th Book of 2021


So, I’m enjoying my reading weekends these days as every Saturday I pick up a book and very successfully, I complete it by Sunday evening. The distractions seem to have completely disappeared from my weekends. It’s great as now I am reading last few books of this year and after that, it’s going to be a fresh cycle again consisting of new target and new set of books. This weekend, I wanted to read something short and light hence I picked up Chandni Sengupta’s “Another Time Another Place”. The book is published by Rupa Publications in around 194 pages. It’s a pure love story talking about two characters – Samaira and Mayank. It was very interesting to read about them in the blurb of the book as well as in the initial chapters when their characters are introduced.


It's very serene the way book takes us specifically to one character at a time and tells us the story from their perspective. I got a feel that I am regularly seeing two people in their respective bedrooms reacting to the same situation and responding differently. Also, the way authoress has kept their personalities pole apart yet the way they come close to each other so naturally makes it all sound quite believable. I liked how author has worked on the characterizations as you are able to visualize both in front of you. Even the other characters are used in their limited roles quite well. I liked how they didn’t take much space into the main story. Chandni remains focused towards the characters and their growing relationship between them throughout the story.


Sengupta doesn’t shy away from speaking about the contemporary world and its way of looking at the other gender. Similarly, how sex is no more a taboo is discussed openly which tells how guys end up sleeping with 25 odd girls just for the sake of one-night stands and doesn’t even feel ashamed of discussing it with the new partner they are trying to get indulged with. It makes you little awkward while reading but then, you know, you can’t deny what’s happening around you. I liked how author has carved the character of Samaira, a 32-year-old girl, who has never been in any physical relationship until then. It is very difficult to write about such character in today’s time, but author makes it all sound relatable and realistic.


Author also describes how people are married in wrong relationships and the prominence of divorce taking place around us. It tells us how parental pressure ends up ruining the life of youngsters just for the enthusiasm of getting their children marriage by a certain age limit. There’s a twist in the pre-climax that halts the relationship of Mayank and Samaira which comes as a shock even to us – as readers. The climax is about to give us some news but the way it ends makes you believe that there’s more to this story and this can’t be the end of it. You know somewhere Chandni has already planned a sequel to this story as something remains missing when you end the book and keep it on your heart and think about what should and shouldn’t have happened.


Talking about the drawbacks – As author simultaneously talks about both the characters from their point of view in 3rd voice, sometimes, she just jumbles up between both and the chapters with the characters’ name doesn’t solve any purpose occasionally. Most of the book is about their chatting and conversation on phone which makes it boring after a point of time as you want to read more about how they interact with each other when they are together in person. The climax could have been little more powerful which I believe ends very abruptly. It seems many scenes are written in a hope that this might get adapted into some digital format as it sounds less like a novel and more like a scene of a romantic movie. There are some typos and spelling mistakes. I am clueless how this gets missed these days when there is so much proofing at the publisher’s end. May-be WFH has made some people casual. Haha!


Overall, this is a good book for people below 24 years of age who might feel it as a fantasy world. This is also a fine book for beginners to start their journey of reading with. I give this book an average 3 stars out of 5. I am looking forward to reading more stuffs from Chandni Sengupta.





Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Three Khans: And the Emergence of New India by Kaveree Bamzai (Book Review: 3.25*/5) !!!


37th Book of 2021


Well, just 2 days back, I completed my target of 36 books set for the year 2021. I thought that I won’t be able to move beyond the target due to the psychological slowdown that happens once we achieve a set target. Hence, I picked up a book named “The Three Khans and the emergence of new India” written by Kaveree Bamzai. It’s based upon our favorite three superstars who have ruled Bollywood for almost around 2.5 decades – Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan. For someone like me who is 1989-born, my whole childhood has been about being fan of either one of these three actors as we keep on changing our interests in our growing year. Haha! But particularly, I was a big fan of Salman Khan hence every time I get a chance to read about him or the other two Khans, I just pounce upon it. Hence, I chose this book to go beyond my target.


Before this book, I have read almost a similar book written by Sanjukta Nandy named “KHANTASTIC: The untold story of Bollywood’s trio” which speaks about the lives and careers of the trio Khans. Another book which is completely based on Salman Khan named “Being Salman” written by Jasim Khan is something for which I travelled 4 hours up and down just to get it on time from the hands of the author directly. Hence, while reading this one, I had expectations of reaching the hidden layer of the personalities which has not been discussed yet in magazines, articles, books and other contents accessed by me. This 230-pages book is surely interesting as it keeps your curiosity alive throughout and you wish to know what happens next in the careers of the three Khans.


Author manages to talk about all three of them giving them the same space in the book though there’s little less about Aamir as he’s mostly a private person hence one doesn’t know much about him. Kaveree covers about how they initiated their careers in different ways without knowing each other and gradually, their path intersects and brings all of them on the same track to be competing for all their lives post that. We get to know the kind of struggle they have to go through in terms of their ambitions, roles, personal issues etc. yet their spirit to keep the spark alive within them of performing incessantly. You get to know how deep they used to think even at the start of their career as in one of the instances in the book, both Aamir and Shahrukh accepts that they got successful initially not because they were great actors but just because they were new faces.


Author then gets into the space which made the three personalities vulnerable and disheartened due to events that impacted their career or personal lives such as – the kind of investments SRK made for Ra.One as he had huge hope from the movie and what its debacle did to him in terms of confidence and motivation – Similarly, for Aamir Khan, how his divorce affected him and made him take support of alcohol to keep himself sane – for Salman Khan, as all of us know, his broken relationship with Aishwarya and several other events of his life kept knocking him down which made him take unwanted actions which damaged his reputation like anything. Author also talks about the disagreement and a bit of anger both Salman and Aamir had towards their father for bringing in other ladies in their life apart from their mother. I didn’t know about this part at all.


Along with talking about the Three Khans and their whole filmography until the recent lockdown era, author talks about various other issues that Bollywood has been dealing with – such as the debate on nepotism, Insider vs Outsider, comparison of actors with yesteryears’ legends, Me Too movement, die-hard competition etc. Bamzai keeps on letting us know about what happened with India parallelly in terms of politics and other issues. She also acknowledges few incidents when each of the Three Khans spoke about something that led them towards controversy. But she has also missed many important events such as SRK’s Wankhede ban, Salman’s involvement with Modi etc. Reading about references of Arjun Rampal’s NCB enquiry and Aamir-Kiran’s beautiful relationship in the book, I was just thinking if author could have waited for little longer, she could have covered Aryan Khan’s case as well as Aamir-Kiran divorce too. The book ends with talking about the new era of Bollywood where multiple actors are becoming popular with the different kind of work/art that is getting created and delivered to us. I just loved reading this whole section as it is so contemporary that I could relate with it.


Now talking about the drawbacks about the book- I must say that yes, the book is surely interesting for people who love the three Khans because it just makes you happy to keep reading and knowing about them continuously for hours. But the issue is the kind of hatred that authoress has regularly shown towards Hinduism as religion, Hindus as people and BJP as presently elected government favouring Hindus. She also goes beyond this and tells how people support Hrithik, Akshay, Ajay, Ranbir, Ranveer just because they are Hindus. As far as I know, meeting and discussing about movies and actors with so many people, I have never heard anyone preferring or hating the three Khans for their religion. This is just the garbage filled in the minds of people who think like this – unfortunately, the author here too seems to be from the same section of society.


Even on the last page, there’s a reference of criticism towards the current government. Author has regularly emphasised on this point that since the new government has come into the picture, the dynamics have changed for the Muslims and how it has become difficult for the Three Khans to survive. I don’t know in which parallel universe is this happening. Also, I feel that very important part from the three actors’ life has been excluded conveniently which doesn’t give the right picture on their career statistics as well as personal lives. There are many typos in the book – majorly in the 2nd half of the book – it seems that Kaveree tried to complete it on a deadline which couldn’t allow herself, editors and publisher do a final proofing.


Overall, I believe along with talking about Khans, this book is also trying to brainwash us towards thinking about Bollywood and cinemas from a religious and political perspective which I believe is truly unwanted. If that part could have been excluded, this book could have served better information on the actors and Bollywood but currently, it’s more about propaganda and agenda against the current Government particularly. I give this book 3.25 stars out of 5.






Monday, November 22, 2021

LIGHTS! WEDDING! LUDHIANA! by Jas Kohli (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


36th Book of 2021

There are few authors you always remember because of the unique element they bring on the table. You remember some because they write historical fiction in a completely different way whereas you like another because their mythological fiction makes you go back in time and imagine yourself playing the part of the protagonist. Similarly, one author for me whom I always remember whenever it comes down to humoristic writing is Jas Kohli. Every time he writes a book, he assures that you are actually Laughing Out Loud multiple times while reading his books. Therefore I liked Chetan Bhagat in his initial 3 books because his books carried few instances where he actually made you laugh though the quality has taken a toss now. But Jas Kohli’s books are a complete laugh riot. Specially, the latest one named “Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana!” published by Rupa Publications.


The name of the book is kept in the same format as his previous book which was named “LIGHTS! SCALPEL! ROMANCE!” – it had impressed me so much that I had given it a rating of 4.5 stars and this book is no less. It seems as if author’s comic timing is just improving with every book. Particularly, in LWL, what surprised me is how every sentence, ok well, if I have exaggerated, every paragraph makes you laugh at least for the first 2/3rd part of the book. I was just surprised with the quality of writing, command on the language, imagination of the scenes, format of the story, characterization of every member participant in the story and what not.


Right from the 1st chapter itself when the author describes the family which is moderately dysfunctional, you start getting the smile on your face. I liked how in this chapter and in every other chapter, even if there’s a character discussed only once, the way author describes his/her personality with complete detailing and backdrop sounds so funny and perfect that you just can’t stop yourself from believing them to be the real characters. The chapter “Walk cum Mock” where husbands are talking about their wives’ expenditure is so damn funny that I just couldn’t stop myself from laughing loudly in every other sentence. Also, the way author portrays Reeta’s anxiety whenever it comes to her looks and fashion makes you relate with many female members you know in your life who are equally self-obsessed.


I liked how the story took the turn and dealt with a serious topic in such funny setup in the later part of the book where author very cleverly discusses the challenges of new relationships, adultery, extra-marital affairs, marriage, divorce laws etc. I liked how wittingly this has been executed. Similarly, the environmental issues are laughingly discussed but it speaks of everything that we are facing currently in regards to climate issues.


Talking about the drawbacks – I must say that the laughter quotient gets little less in the last 1/3rd part of the book. Also, the wedding part occurs in this section itself and I had high hope as the scenario could have led author to make us laugh more but unfortunately, author ends up describing different marriage ceremonies more than trying to explore places of laughter in them. This ended up disappointing me a bit in the pre-climax and climax.


Overall, this is a laugh riot and one of the most entertaining and funny books I have ever read. I will rate it similar to author’s previous work i.e., 4.5 stars out of 5. Go and get it. Highly recommended!






Tuesday, November 16, 2021



35th Book of 2021


Reading a self-help book even when the concepts become howsoever repetitive gives you the boost you need in your low phase. Still, I have now started avoiding self-help books because I feel almost all of them try to speak the same things which you have read in your first 10 books itself. There are very few authors who speak of concepts which are yet to be revealed or write a chapter/quote which can impact you in a completely new fashion. But as an avid reader, I can’t end up reading every author’s book to find if there’s something new in it hence, I keep myself away from the genre these days.


I got to know about this book named “Become your best self right now” which is a compilation of a chapter or excerpt taken from popular books written by esteemed authors. So, basically, this book shares with you 31 chapters from 31 different bestselling books written by 31 different popular authors. Can you imagine the capacity and scalability delivered in this book in terms of knowledge? On top of that, the book is not even 200 pages which means you can either read a chapter daily for a month and absorb the concepts completely or you can finish it in just a single sitting itself. I must tell you, the book has so many beautiful sentences that I got busy in just highlighting the transformational quotes throughout my reading journey. Every time, I found a quote, it felt as if it was better than all the previous ones I had marked till now. Such is the level of the content compiled for this book!


The few of many chapters from the books which I really liked reading are mentioned below:

-          The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma

-          The Subtle Art of not giving a Fu*k by Mark Manson

-          The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

-          The Power of your Subsconscious mind by Joseph Murthy

-          7 Mindsets for Success, Happiness and Fulfilment by Swami Mukundananda

-          Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda

-          Om Swami etc.


The book has divided the content in three parts where each of them primarily focuses on Success, Wealth and Life. My personal favourite from which I really learnt a lot are Part 1 and 3. The authors who are speaking on different aspects of Success and how you can achieve it are from the likes of Devdutt Pattanaik, Stephen R Covey, Dale Carnegie, Joseph Murphy etc. Murphy’s book is nicely summarized with two examples which helps you understand the concept aptly. Talking about the Life part, it majorly focuses on spiritual aspect of living where we are regularly told to cherish the moment rather than worrying about past and future. Hence, every excerpt primarily focuses on the same in the initial chapters, but latter chapters are completely diverse; such as the one written by Paramhansa Yogananda. That chapter is written in some different space altogether which will make you read it more than three times to grasp the complete understanding of it. Yet, I am not sure if I have understood the deeper meaning hidden behind it.


Talking about the 2nd part, which is on Money and Wealth, I got quite disappointed as none of the chapters are picked which can tell us about practical ways on focusing upon the wealth factor in our life. Most of them gives us the solution of thinking about getting rich and eventually, with the help of subconscious mind and energies, we will get rich. This is not a great advice to be given for people who need to learn about wealth. This is definitely good for people who are already in the process of investment and multiplication of their earnings and savings but not for people looking for practical tips and suggestions. This section literally frustrated me.


The book, in whole, will definitely teach you on how to focus upon your priorities and happiness rather than others. It has enough motivation to pull you up from the bed and redefine your days, routine and habits. Few chapters will even impose a different way of looking at things within you – the way you never looked at world, people and things before. Now talking about the drawbacks, well, it doesn’t have many. So, the 1st one has already been discussed about the Wealth section. The other one is about skipping some important and effective chapters from the books they have already considered for the compilation and mentioning another substandard chapter from it. Like, Robin Sharma has effectively transformed many lives by making people wake up at 5 AM in the morning whereas the book has picked up a less effective chapter which discusses about living in the moment. There are many such instances which I believe should have been considered to cover as many aspects as possible by compiling diverse topics rather than similar stuffs together.


Overall, this is a good start for you if you have not read any of these popular books to get a crux of how these books speak with the readers and brings the change in us. This will make you pick up at least one book out of 31 mentioned here which will open the reading horizon in your life. I give this one 4.5 stars out of 5. Definitely recommended!






Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Hindu Refugee Camp, Lahore by Sachin Garg (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


34th Book of 2021


Well, today I am talking about the new book written by Sachin Garg named “Hindu Refugee Camp, Lahore” which is garnering great praises by everyone in the reading fraternity. I have known Sachin as an author since a decade and seeing him grow as a love story writer to slightly spiritual stuff and finally to this is quite inspiring and praiseworthy. Even as an individual, I have seen him grow from an author to publisher to stand-up comedian to a man who tries to be funny through his memes on social media yet write a book which is on such a serious topic. This book is themed around the partition of India that happened in 1947 and the after-effects of it which can be felt till today – and choosing such a deep topic in these times when millennials are least interested in going through past stuffs is quite a daring task.


Author has chosen to retell us the story of the real-life characters – Ghulam Ali and Zahira Raza who got separated due to partition and the only mode of their communication was the conventional system of writing letters to each other. I liked how author has also managed to make us understand about the tough times in that era when even letter didn’t get deliver immediately and one had to wait for weeks and months to get the response from the other side whereas few times, it didn’t get deliver at all due to some problem in the route through which the letter travelled to the other region. If you’ll concentrate upon the dates that are mentioned at the start of each letter/chapter in this book, it tells you its own story about patience and conviction of being connected with someone without getting judgmental or loving conditional.


Author had very little information on these real characters hence author has very wittingly and cleverly fictionalized most part of it and tried to be as relevant as possible. Like it happens in the Travel and Lifestyle vlogging in Youtube that a person who is recording himself and sharing the video with his audiences can’t have only himself in his digital communications hence they share their friends in the videos too, author, here, also doesn’t restrict this story to be about the two protagonists only and adds many other characters even in the letter format which I believe is a very smart attempt which keeps the book interesting and engaging.


The story speaks about love, hope, loyalty, pain, loneliness, separation, isolation, violence, depression, tough decisions, patriotism etc. hence as a reader, you will go through various emotions and the moment you’ll think that maybe the ending will give me smile, it does but it makes you cry a little more. I liked how author has tried to communicate with us about the kind of power people have to hold on to one person for so long even when they are unable to meet, hear, see, or connect with the other person whereas these days, we just move on from relationship if the person is unable to attend our calls when we want to talk with them. This book teaches a lot about patience and unconditional love and loving the differences of each other in a positive manner. Also, reading about how a person has been rejected by both the nations makes you just shriek inside thinking about his condition and mental state. How scary it must be for someone who knows that no country is accepting him!


Personally, I also found the depiction of the father-daughter relationship very beautiful. A man who has never seen his daughter is still in love with her. He still feels that his daughter is most beautiful. He wants to live in the worst conditions just for a hope that he wants to meet her someday. He ends up loving her more than the person he fell in love with without even seeing her. It was an emotional ride to read the emotion of a father for his daughter and I just felt every piece of it within me while going through it. Incredible stuff!


Lastly, talking about the drawbacks, I must say that because the book is on a very dark topic, author should have kept it shorter – I believe at least 40-50 pages as it might become boring for some to continue. It really became hard in between to continue reading it in long sitting due to the slowness in the pace of the movement of the stories in the letter format. To be frank, you would want to skip few paragraphs in between which is not a good thing from narration point of view. Other than this, I believe this book is one of the best attempts by Sachin even though I haven’t read all his works. I give this book 4.25*out of 5. I hope to read more distinct topics from him in future.






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