Book review – Murder in Amaravati

5

Short review: An honest attempt to write a murder mystery in an Indian setting. Very raw and fresh, it’s a good read.

Detailed review:

This book will remain very close to my heart till the last day. It’s been 2 years that I have been writing actively and this book is the first materialistic reward. Lemme explain, Blogadda.com have this book review program. If you are passionate about books and can write reviews, you just have to sign up with them and they will send you new books for free…. Yes, free. You just have to write the review of the book you received within 7-10 days.

Coming to the book in question

Title: Murder in Amaravati. Straight to the point, very few books have a title which reflects the content. Even the great Chetan Bhagat’s recent one ‘Revolution 2020 ‘ failed in this department.

Cover: Mind blowing. It once again precisely depicts the two main important corner stones of the story.

Plot: In the Indian context, attempting to write a murder mystery is a mammoth effort by itself. Even though as readers we understand the Genre very well, we hardly come across any new authors who experiment with this Genre.

Without revealing too much, the plot is about the murder of Padmavati, a village hostess (prostitute). Investigated by a village constable, who has never had the chance to solve a case of petty crime, forget about murder investigation. He finds seven suspects and each of them with a strong motive to kill Padmavati.

Sharath Komarraju, the author, once again did a fantastic job in coming up with the commendable plot.

Setting: Amaravati –  No, this is not the same populous city of Maharashtra. The author forgot to mention that it’s a village in Andhra Pradesh. The other facts about Amaravati (AP) have been depicted quite beautifully.

It’s like saying, there is a village called London near Mumbai. The author could have done better in selecting a fictitious or better setting to avoid the confusion. On the other hand, he could have added more clarity on the name and difference between the two cities of the same name.

Characterisation, story, structure, dialogues, etc.,

The novel started pretty well. It did provided an initial hook – full marks on the same. The story had its own pace, a slower one, what I expected out of Murder mystery is a fast, page-turner kind. But on the contrary, it came out a Malgudi-days-type slow paced but honest to it’s title story.

Let me be brutally honest here – The book had all the right ingredients to become a block buster, but sub-standard editing messed it up. I mean like I didn’t expect this from a seasoned Literary agent  and seasoned publisher. Sharath, write to me in case if you want to learn about those editing glitches in detail. Few of them, I am jotting them down here.

  • Too many characters, often get’s mixed up. You had to go back to the previous chapters to recall about the character and come back.
  • The plot says the constable has never faced even a petty crime before. He’s a small time, small town constable not a detective and definitely not the smart types. How come all of a sudden he has contacts  (that he has used before) in the city that can do the job of investigating within no time.
  • Extensive use of the word Gaaru during the conversation, which could have been ironed out. In fact this is the only word used to depict the culture, I would have liked to learn more about the nuances, the music, the art, the food, etc.,

Now this book belongs to the genre of Easy reads, but at times the author shows-off his vocab which was completely unnecessary.

However, there were some good lines that stayed with me.

  • Education doesn’t make people smart or foolish. Education just makes people educated.
  • Huge patches of grey clouds irregularly punctuated the blue sky.

So my dear reader, overall it’s a nice, slow paced story – a welcome break from the College romances and chic-lits that are being floating around. Go read it and let me know.

It deserves a good 3/5.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Click here if you wish to buy it from flipkart or

Click here to visit the author’s website to read the first two chapters for free.

Advertisements

TEDified

5

Boss sent a mail on Friday, saying that there is a TED event which is happening on Sunday, 20th at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. The details said that it’s an audition event. Another line, we have closed the auditions. The other confusing one, we’ve added 500 seats.

Confused, I shot a mail to the organizer Ram, to my surprise he replied in a flash. He said there will be presenters, just come over.

Buddy Vinod said he also have registered for the event and will be going.

Sunday came. Was not sure to go or not. SMS’d Vinod what time is he starting. He replied, ‘not feeling well, so not going today’.

It was 12:30 in the afternoon, at one hand not sure about what’s in store at TED and on the other hand guilt of not being with the family on Sunday. On top of it, Vinod dropped out.

Discussed with Biwi, she first agreed half-heartedly.

I said, “Ok, I will stay back.”

At 1PM, She said, “Go for TED, we’ll be fine.”

I said, “You are the best.”

Took my bike, started towards Mount Carmel College filled with guilt. Constantly haunted by a question, whether I’ve done the right thing?

Reached Mount Carmel.

Blown away by the design of the stage by Shilo Shiv Suleman @shilo1221

So, as I settled in, I came to know that there are 23 speakers who will be talking and the time limit given to each of them will is 6 minutes.

I was like Wow. TED event… in Bangalore …. Free entry… Superb. I never thought, I will be get to see TED ….live.

Now without going through the details of the events, I will chalk down what I learnt from few of the speakers.

‏@puneet_sahani : He is a Colorful Hitchhiker. Loved his lines.

There is a beauty in being lost!

In India, Gods are corrupt.

Mumbai dabbawallas: I’ve heard about them a lot, seen their talks online. But this is the first time I saw the presentation in person.Truly remarkable to find out that their model is sustainable. During the break, I had a chat with the dabbawala who gave the talk, poked him when is He starting services in Bangalore. He honestly replied, “We can do that in Mumbai because of its well connected Public transport – the local train and the bus.”

Mansukhbhai: Loved his mitti cool (www.mitticool.in) inventions – Water filter, Refrigerator and Non-stick pan, all made of Clay at 1/10th of the cost. The best part is, no electricity required to run the filter or the refrigrator. Great going Mansukhbhai. Chatted with him during the break, He was so humble and open. True son of the soil – Gujarat.

The other invention I loved was by Sushant Patnayak (http://www.susantpattnaik.com), 18 year old boy from Orissa, invented a device to control wheel chair through breathing. Yes, just by sniffing in the sensor, you could control the movements of a Wheel Chair. Bravo kid, way to go.

Ira Trivedi

I was star struck after seeing the gracious Ira trivedi (http://iratrivedi.in/) on stage. Didn’t knew that the author will be presenting today. She spoke on the subject of Love Vs. Arrange marriage. She told us amazing facts that the divorce rate in India is 10% which is less than western countries, but increasing at an alarming rate. She said, “Consider love marriage like a stock, it’s volatile, goes up and down and sometime it goes bust. While Arrange marriage is like a bond, it has a steady pace and…” … “I want a bit of both stocks and bonds.”

Spoke to her during the break and found her extremely beautiful and down to earth.

shilo

Enjoyed chatting with the set designer Shilo (I’ve known her through twitter from quite sometime). She not only brings alive the beautiful apsaras (fairies) from Indian Mythology in her work, but she looks and dresses like one. She is an illustrator and have designed magnificent sets, diaries and interestingly an iPad app. Check out her work at www.khoya.in

But the real heroes of the evening were two women

Ruma roka in the centre

1. Ruma Roka – who works for Noida Deaf Society. She said,

“Deaf doesn’t mean dumb.”

Anjali Gopalan

2. Anjali Gopalan – who works with HIV affected children.

Big picture can overwhelm and paralyse….just do your bit.

Anjali has been named one of the Time 100 most influential people in the world.

Had fun talking to the other speaker Aparajita Datta (http://ncf-india.org/) of Nature Conservation Foundation.

Out an out an experience of a life time, to see passionate people talk. So, if viewing one TED talk is like a prayer, the whole event was like a RETREAT or PILGRIMAGE.

Kudos to Lakshmi and Chris Anderson (@TEDChris) – You guys rock.

PS: Some pictures of the event clicked by fellow participants here

PPS: Ignore typos and usage, writing this half-asleep.

kutta kho gaya

3

Story inspiration: Amit Mitra

“Now to present you the new advertisement campaign, I would request Amit to take over,” Boss said handing over the presentation pointer to me.

Biwi calling flashed on my phone as I was about to make the presentation to our customer – Vodafone. I rejected the call and started my presentation. My phone vibrated again. Even though I didn’t bother to pick it up, everybody looked at the cell phone light emitting through my crisp white shirt. My boss signaled to address it. I took out the phone, checked the caller and handed it over to boss, to take care of it, in case it vibrates again.

The calling protocol established with Biwi was:

One missed call – Casual call, no urgency.

Two missed calls – Emergency, but can be addressed later.

Three missed calls – Emergency that cannot wait.

Even though I continued with the presentation, I secretly prayed that there was no third call. But Murphy was at his best again and in a matter of seconds, I could see the light flashing again in boss’s hands.

In a split second, I snatched the phone from boss’s hands and said, “Excuse me gentlemen this is a real emergency. I have to take this call.”

I rushed outside the boardroom as I received the call.

“Amit,” she sobbed, “Chutki vomited……. It’s all brown…….She has not eaten anything…….. I am taking her to Manipal Hospital……….. Come fast.”

“Was there any blood?”

“No… no blood… but brown and … thick. Come fast.”

“I am on my way,” I said.

Back to the boardroom. I announced, “Sorry gentlemen, I have to rush to the hospital. My 5 year old daughter has not eaten anything since last one week. Sorry.” I didn’t look at boss’s eyes, I just rushed out.

Twenty minutes later, I was in the hospital’s emergency ward. I saw a doctor examining Chutki.

“Amit,” Biwi rushed towards me and starting crying on my shoulders.

“Shhh, Madam easy,” said the nearby nurse attendant.

She continued sobbing while a lady doctor was examining Chutki. When she finished examining her, the doctor said, “When was the last time she ate?”

I replied, “Yesterday night we forced her to drink milk, but only two spoons.”

“I see.”

I continued, “She has not eaten a proper meal since last one week. Since the day Bingo, our dog, went missing. She just cries all day. We tried to force feed her, gave her chocolates, ice creams, every thing she loves, but she refuses to eat anything. We don’t know what to do doctor. We’re helpless… and now… this vomiting…”

Doctor said, “She is weak, very weak from inside. The brown vomit is nothing but Bile. Let me explain. Bile is a liquid released by the liver to decompose or digest the food. In the absence of food, this liquid comes out in the form of vomit. We’ve to wait and watch if it happens again before starting a heavy course of medicine. In the mean time, we are keeping her on drip, so that she has glucose in her body. She has to be given liquid diet for the next two days. We have to do something to make her drink. Otherwise, we have to inject glucose twice a day. We are shifting her to the General Ward.”

As the doctor was about to leave, Biwi started crying again. Tears started coming down from my eyes. I managed, “Thank you doctor.”

After an hour, we were sitting by her bed in the General Ward. She lay awake looking at the ceiling. The circle around her eyes appeared so dark, as if someone had put a finger in kohl (kajal) and spread it all around her eyes. We both sat on each side of her bed holding her hands.

My boss called, “Is everything okay?”

“Sorry, I had to leave. She is under observation. She is on glucose at the moment,” I said.

“What happened to her?”

“She has not been eating from the day her dog, Bingo, went missing,” I said.

“Oh!…. how did it go missing?”

“Our maid took the dog out for a walk at 4 in the evening in the park. She told us that Bingo started chasing another dog. She couldn’t hold on to the chain any longer. He ran faster than her and she couldn’t catch up. He disappeared.”

“I see.”

“But after threatening her, we found out that she was actually busy talking on her cell phone with her boyfriend at that time. And she couldn’t keep a watch on the dog.”

“Oh…. have you filed a complain in the police station?”

“Yes, we have.”

“Is he a Labrador?” He asked.

“No, he is a Pug. A light brown one.”

“Interesting, the Vodafone dog, but those are plenty these days…..How will you identify, even if the police finds one?”

“He has a big red patch between his eyes. A birth mark.”

“I see, can you send me the picture, I will email it to all my friends.”

“I will. Thank you boss for calling.”

We sat there silently for few hours, Chutki had dozed off. At 8 in the night, the doctor said, “This is a liquid ORS drink. Can you wake her up and make her drink?”

Biwi woke her up, “Princess, my baby, let’s drink this orange juice.”

“No.”

“Beta please.”

“No… don’t wanna drink. I …. I…..want my Bingo.” She turned around and buried her face inside the pillow.

Biwi signalled me to do something.

I took the glass and started, “Princess, my good girl no?”

“No, I am not a good girl,” she got up from the pillow and pushed the glass away from the tray. It broke into pieces.

Biwi shouted, “Chutkiiiiiii”

Doctor intervened, “Let us give her glucose once more.” She signaled the nurse. She set up the drip again. Chutki was quiet and stern.

Doctor said, “Can’t you buy her a new dog?”

I replied, “We bought one two days ago. The same breed – pug. But he didn’t respond to her and almost bit her that day. She got wild and said take him away. We tried explaining that it will take time. But she didn’t budge. We returned that dog.”

“I see…” Doctor said, “but somehow you have to make her eat and drink,” and left.

Next day afternoon at 2pm the doctor came again.

“Hey Chutki, how are you?”

She didn’t reply.

The nurse showed her reports.

She addressed to me, “She passed normal stool which is a good sign. You can take her home if you want in the evening. But she has to eat. We can’t just keep on injecting glucose every six hours. You guys have to do something.”

Biwi and me exchanged glances. We were both clueless, what extra should we do.

Doctor looked at Chutki, “Princess you know I have a cat.”

Chutki glanced at her.

“Yes, I have a cat named Tom,” Doctor waited, “You want to see her?”

She took out her cell phone, it was an iPhone. She tapped few buttons and said, “Look, this is my cat Tom. He will talk to you, say hello.”

Chutki took the phone, there was an imge of a cat on the screen, she said, “Hello.”

“Hello,” a squeaky voice came from the iPhone, an echo of Chutki’s voice.

A faint smile appeared on her face.

“Who are you?” Chutki asked.

“Who are you?” the squeaky voice echoed back.

Her smile grew.

“My name is princess,” she said.

It echoed back. She was laughing after few moments.

Doctor said to us, “It’s a Talking Tom application for smart phones. If you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can download it for free.”

Neither me nor my wife had a smart phone. I rushed to the nearest Vodafone store and bought an iPhone. It cost a bomb.

Chutki was happy to play with it. We brought her home in the evening. She started cooperating by drinking ORS. The next day, she played the whole day with Talking Tom by making him drink milk, occasionally hitting him but most of the time talking to him. I downloaded other applications like Talking Santa and Talking Toby to keep her entertained. I also downloaded LEGO application to keep her entertained.

A week past, the apps on iPhone kept her busy. She drank and ate only when we threatened to take the phone away. She was always playing with the phone as long as she was awake. By then she discovered how to see would see youtube videos on her mobile. She used to see ‘Dogs 101’ videos on youtube and had so much fun watching ‘Zoo Zoo’ videos. She cried at times while watching the videos that had pug in it.

She also learnt to chat with her grandparents from Cellphone via Skype and Facetime. Whenever she used to feel alone, she would just tap once and it used to establish a video call with her granny. At times, she used to record from her cell phone camera and watch those recording over and over again. Phone time was fun time for her, which was nearly the same time she was awake.

For the next few days, I actively started searching for Bingo. I visited the police station twice each day. Ran an advertisement in the newspaper for missing pug. I pasted posters with Bingo’s photo on all the trees . I even kept a reward of Rs. 10,000. But nothing worked.

One day Biwi suggested, “Let’s try Facebook.”

I uploaded the picture with the caption “Our pug dog is missing from 26th March. He has a red patch between his eyes. Please help us find him. Please forward it to all your friends. Reward Rs. 10,000”,  on Facebook and kept my fingers crossed.

Sadly, only few of our friends forwarded that message. I lost all hopes of finding Bingo ever again.

Two days later, boss called, “Any news?”

“No boss, no news. I’ve tried everything  newspaper, TV, posters and even Facebook. Nothing is working,” I sighed.

“Facebook, that’s interesting, lemme see what you posted,” he said.

I heard him type frantically on his laptop. After a while he remarked, “Amit, now I know why people have not forwarded this message to everyone.”

“I didn’t understand,” I said.

“Come on, you work in an ad agency. This message doesn’t strike a chord. There are hundreds of people going missing everyday. We Indians don’t bother and so why should we bother for a dog?”

I was silent.

“Look, you have to be creative and weird or in other words creatively weird on social media-aka-Facebook, Twitter,etc.,”

He was silent.

He said after a while, “Let me think and come back to you.”

I was thinking hard, but nothing was coming to my mind. I was exhausted due to lack of sleep and loss of appetite.

Boss called back after 10 minutes, “Amit, I nailed it, I have a brilliant idea.”

“I am listening,” I replied.

“First we have to create a video. An emotional one, in which only your daughter should talk. Tell her that this video will be seen by everyone and she should tell the world, what Bingo means to her. And you should upload this video on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.”

I saw a ray of hope in that idea. “Brilliant”, I said.

“The most important part. Like advertisements, we have to name this campaign.”

“Hmm”

“I have thought of the name that has the potential to go viral.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Kutta Kho Gaya.”

“What?”

“Yes, Kutta Kho Gaya. See how you reacted. It’s weird, it’s simple. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, but?”

He said, “Leave buttism. I know that on social media it will go viral. Just do what I said, shoot the video and good luck.”

I prepared the script. Asked Chutki to speak. I shot the video through iPhone and since I had Vodafone 3G connection in it, within two minutes it got uploaded on youtube. Chutki did a fabulous job in the video and also told viewers about Bingo’s birth mark. She also told about the phone numbers, address and the reward of Rs. 10,000.

I named the video, as suggested, ‘Kutta Kho Gaya’. I uploaded the link to the video everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. I attached a tag to it ‘#KuttaKhoGaya’ to make people easier to share.

To my surprise, within 2 hours, it got 1000 views and around 400 people shared it. The response from the people started pouring in. People sent us good wishes and prayers.

It went on for a week. Within a week, we got 50,000 video views and around 11,000 people shared it on Twitter and Facebook. But nobody came forward with any information on Bingo.

Another week, the number of people watching the video slowly started decreasing.

We started losing hope again. Chutki occasionally gets up in the middle of the night and starts crying. We lost our hopes in everything – Law, People and even God.

I went to the Puja (Prayer) room, looked at Lord Ganesha and said, “This is my last prayer to you. Bring him back or else I will become an aethist.”

I couldn’t sleep the whole night. The following morning at 8am the bell rang. I opened the door.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. A boy of about 8-9 years holding Bingo in his hands. He extended his arms to give Bingo.

“Bingo!” I exclaimed.

Bingo jumped to my arms. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Bingo… Bingo… Bingo… where have you been,” I cuddled him.

Hearing my voice, Biwi and Chutki both rushed out.

Chutki shrieked on seeing him, “Bingiiiiiiii!”

Bingo jumped from my arms to her.

She cuddled him, “Where did you go Bingo? Why did you leave me?”

She started crying and took him inside.

“Hello Mr. Amit, my name is Wilson,” a gentleman in Reebok tees and Reebok shoes said. He was almost the same age as mine.

“Hello,” I said.

“This is my boy Sid. He found your dog near the garbage dump, looking for food, in the garden. He asked people around but everyone refused to take ownership. He brought him home. We asked our neighbours if they knew this dog. No one replied. So we decided to adopt him. My son has become fond of him and the last few weeks they have become inseparable. The last night I saw the video Kutta Kho Gaya.”

“Thank you Wilson, thank you very much,” my eyes started watering. I took his hand and held t tightly.

“No problem Amit.” he assured.

“No, you don’t know what this means to us.”

He said, “Glad that I could help you. We better get going. I promised Sid to buy a same pug today. We are going now to get one.”

“Thank you, thank you very much,” I said. Before I said anything else, both father and son rushed out.

I saw Chutki. I was ecstatic.

I dialled on the iPhone, “Boss, Kutta Kho Gaya worked.”

I looked at Chutki, she was happily recording video Bingo on her Cellphone. I thought what a fun-cum-life-saver the internet was on the phone.

~ * ~

This is entry to Indiblogger contest ‘Internet is fun on Vodafone.’ Here’s the link www.vodafone.in/fun

Dear reader, thank you for your time and attention. Do leave your comments.

Dear Indiblogger, please vote here.

Movie review – Vicky donor

3

Eleven pm on Saturday night, Wife-in-law and Brother-in-law finished a TV serial while I was working on my laptop for Monday’s presentation. Both of them started whining about my working on a weekend and that too at night. Unfazed, I continued.

Suddenly Wifey declared, “I want to watch Vicky donor.”

Me, “Yes, we’ll watch it tomorrow afternoon. Pukka.”

She replied, “No, I want to watch it now,” with the sharp look that could chop of a tree. A big banyan tree.

I gave in and started set up. My laptop works as an entertainment device which connects to the TV.

Wifey said, “I will take a quick shower in the mean time you guys start the movie. Will be back in five minutes.”

Me and my Brother-in-law started the movie. Twenty minutes into the movie, I heard someone snoring. Brother-in-law dozed off on the sofa with the mouth wide open. I paused the movie and went inside to check on Wifey, she was in deep sleep. Sigh!

Coming back, I had two options – whether to continue with the movie or to continue working on the presentation. I chose the former because I was already hooked on to the movie and boy what a decision that turned out to be.

Ms. story writer – aka – Juhi Chaturvedi, tussi Kamaal kar ditta oye. A perfect story line that actually is the main hero of the movie. Leave the awareness part aside, this one is the must watch for every single wanna-be-writer or story enthusiast.

(the one on the right is Juhi)

Juhi, with your outstanding script and screenplay, you simplified the lives of actors and director. I loved the way you seamlessly merged all the sub plots in the end. Do you take interns by any chance?

Casting & performances

Annu Kapoor (yes, the same who played the role of newspaper editor in Mr. India) as Dr. Balwinder Chadda was exceptional. His role as a fertility specialist was truly remarkable. He added a lot more weight to the character, effortlessly without compromising on his funny lines. Guess Juhi and Shoojit Sircar (director) would have written the lines keeping Annu in mind. Extremely swift and perfect timing, the way Sehwag hits the cricket ball for a six.

Ayushmann Khurrana (yes the same MTV VJ) is definitely a strong contender for the Best Debut Male award. Since he is from Punjab, he played a character of a Punjabi boy effortlessly.

Yami Gautam, as Ashima Roy, played a Bengali girl opposite Vicky was awesome. She played the role of a Bengali woman who I was convinced that she is a bong. But after research found out that she actually is a Himachali girl and acted in South Indian films. She looked so warm and convincing. She is another one for the best debut female award.

The were two more ladies who played their role with utmost perfection and were hilarious. Dolly Ahluwalia (as Vicky’s mother) and Kamlesh Gill (Vicky’s coolest grand mother – aka – Beeji)

Dialogues

Easy, free-flowing, funny and true to the script. Reminded me of Jhankar beats. Few that stayed on in my mind

Romantic  (translated) – “It has become my responsibility is to make you laugh.”

Funny – Ashima’s Bong aunt said proudly, “I am not married, I haven’t found any one suitable.” Beeji (Vicky’s grand mother) replied laughingly, “You should have met me, I would have found you best one.”

Another one: Vicky said, “In Delhi, there are only two things that are modern. One is Metro and the other one is my Beeji.”

Touching – towards the end, when Yami said, “Ghar Chalein?”

Apart from that all the dialogues of Annu Kapoor, Beeji and Vicky’s mom were simply cool.

Ashima’s father’s dialogue in bengali added a lot more color to his character. Just at one point where he talks about “how good lovers” the bengali men are? was completely out-of-place – could have been avoided.

Setting and direction

As the director rightly pointed out – this movie couldn’t have been shot anywhere else but Delhi. The nuances – nosy neighbours, Bengalis in CR park, beauty parlour in every corner run by a woman named Dolly, you won’t find in any other city in India. Shoojit, you did a fantastic job. Everyone, a big round of applause for the director please.


If I were given a chance to edit the story/screenplay

1. The whole plot of how Dr. Balwinder Chadda met Vicky could have been much better. Perhaps it was the only (small) error in the story.

2. The kids towards the end of the movie appeared to be 5-7 years old. Wasn’t very convincing. Since the story span in the movie appeared like 1-2 years.

3. Would have given the following scooter to Dr. Balwinder Chadda .

Oh and one last thing:  Did I tell you, this movie is produced by Johnny (John Abraham). Good investment John, I am sure it will pay all your wedding bills. Good luck.

My dear reader, It deserves a good 4/5 rating. Do watch it and let me know your views.