Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Book Review - When She Smiled

Title: When She smiled
Author: Ritoban Chakrabarti
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Language : English
Price: Rs. 215
Pages: 212

Mritunjay Roy who has come back to his school in Shimla after spending 2 years in Sainik School falls head over heels for this exceptionally pretty girl, Akanksha. He befriends her and spends as much time with her as possible in school and tuition. Roy is completely smitten by her and Akanksha also seems to like Roy’s company. He writes poetry for her, buys her whatever is possible with his meager pocketmoney and grabs every opportunity to spend time with her. Everything seems to be going fine when Akanksha starts behaving weird and ignores Roy. All of Roy’s efforts go in vain as she doesn’t even seem to notice his presence. Raj, Roy’s loyal companion, puts some sense into him and brings him back from state of desolation and desperation.  Heartbroken Roy is shattered initially but takes control and leads himself to a better and rewarding life away from Akanksha.

“When She Smiled” is a simple story of teenage infatuation and heartaches. It reminds you of all the Bollywood movies with the same mushy story line. Even the title and the cover page hinted towards a sappy romantic tale. Most of the story is pretty predictable as almost every one of us has either gone through this phase or has witnessed our friends go through it. All the characters of Roy’s school seem like they were picked from our school. Anybody past that age will sit back and smile upon the phase where small issues meant life and death. Author’s description of Roy’s father as a strict disciplinarian is very apt for Dads of that era when cars, mobile phones and restaurants were considered luxury and Rs 50 for a School Picnic was considered more than enough. Sid is the coolest big brother anybody could wish for and Ashima, Roy’s elder sister, sounds like fun to be with. Ashima’s death in a bus accident at the end of the story, however, was a blow and the only unpredictable twist in the plot.

Written in a simple language with a generous dose of “freaking” and “Ram’s sakes”, the book can appeal to the younger lot of Mills & Boon reading club. It is the author’s maiden attempt at book writing and the scope of improvement is huge. However, if there is something that scores brilliantly in the plot, it is author’s splendid description of Shimla and Shivalik Hills. The reader is almost transported to the picturesque locations of the snow laden hills. Another positive about the story line is die hard optimism of Mritunjay Roy who faces all failures and personal losses and emerges strong out of all situations. I also liked the ending where “when she smiled” finally makes sense and shows him direction.

Though this book would not find a place on my list of great writings, it certainly qualifies as a light laid back read which could be finished in two sittings. And 1.5 out of 5 stars is what “when she smiled” gets from me.

My Rating:

About the Author: Ritoban is an entrepreneur, author, internet marketer, and bathroom singer. He ran an internet marketing company for five years, before trying his hand at writing. His first novel, “When She Smiled “, a coming-of-age fiction released in 2014. He is a freedom fanatic and an avid traveler, and believes in a life without boundaries.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Laughter of a Murderer- Revisited

A couple of years back there was a “ laughter of a murderer” (Read  that echoed in my ears. It was very upsetting. The burst of debates, arguments, opinions (some of which were outright blasphemous) that followed also echoed on the TV channels for a long time after 16 December 2012. Some were important as they dared to say which was unsaid till now. Some were unwanted. And some were just there to justify the TRPs. But thank God(?) for the short-lived memory that we have….it was all soon forgotten amidst new crimes, new hate stories, new stock of regressive remarks made my our politicians that crawled the newspaper pages and TV channels.

And all of a sudden…we have Mukesh Singh being interviewed. Mukesh Singh? Who? Aah…yes. He is one of the six men who raped and brutally murdered an innocent and helpless 23-year old girl in Delhi in a moving bus on a cold night in December 2012. We might not recall the name “Mukesh Singh”, but all of us remember that ruthless rape and murder very vividly. It still gives me shivers right through my spine. It will take another couple of sleepless nights before I am able silence the “laughter” of this murderer in my subconscious. And why am I, along with all other people who are boggled by this interview, being subjected to this torture again.

Because Leslee Udwin, a British filmmaker, thought of making a documentary on Nirbhaya Rape incident and wanted to see if Mukesh Singh had any remorse for his actions. I am very sure that Ms Udwin had only the best intentions to highlight the plight of rape victims in India. I totally appreciate her efforts. But if you ask me, if I want to listen to what a culprit of one of the most heinous crimes wants to preach about how an “ideal girl” should behave. The answer is big and bold “NO”. (After all we have our distinguished politicians for that.)

With all due respect to Udween, I don’t want Mukesh Singh to have his 2-mins of fame. I don’t want him to think people want to listen to him or care for what he thinks about women. And I certainly don’t want him to rob me of my peace of mind.

Yes, we know our society hasn’t always been fair to women so far. But we are moving in the right direction. Aren’t we? On Women’s Day, it is our duty and responsibility to applaud the women who fought this battle and refused to surrender. It would be inspiring to watch stories of women who set an example for others.

Mukesh Singh can go and rot in a dark cell for all I care