Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Long Way Home (A Memoir) - Saroo Brierly (Book)

A Long Way Home (A Memoir) - Saroo Brierly
The book came highly recommended and I hardly had anytime to finish it before I could watch the Movie adaptation that too before the Academy awards it quite a few well deserving awards. And after reading the book back to back in flat 48 hours followed by the movie this morning - I have no doubts that it will definitely get those and are well deserved. The book is simply superb as hardly 115 pages but covers so much and in such great details with the simplistic writing one could read ever, genuinely from the heart. Story of a five year old kid separated from his family one fateful day, who travels unknowingly about 1600 Kms from his home, lands in Australia with sheer good luck - how he traces his life / family and journey back to home is the book all about. Right from the very first page it is indeed so gluing and engrossing that I just couldn't keep it down, started on Thursday and fortunately had to work from home on Friday (didn't work at all although) but finished the book and watched the movie first thing in the morning. As I said the book is written like a memoir and the best part comes as a surprise in the ending in the form of real pictures - the ending 30 odd pages are simply too good to be true as it takes the reader back on a visual journey of what we had read and lived with Saroo's memory. Its an amazing amazing book which deserves to be read by all and I hope and guess that the movie and accolades will now make it pretty famous too.
Movie Adaptation: I had no expectations from Dev Patel as never liked him in any movie (apart of-course from Slumdog Millionaire) and find him overrated. I recently saw "The Man Who Knew Infinity" and the less said the better about him and the movie. But with "Lion" I will say he has certainly come of age now and is genuinely fantastic and in character, too good. Right from the very start the kid who plays the little Saroo impresses so much and you just cant but feel for him and fall in love with him so much that it is an unbelievable feeling - mostly I had a big huge lump in my throat throughout. By the time he grows up to become Dev Patel - my tears were almost ready to drop down seeing his pain and expressions to find his lost life back. The way his family, mother, brother(s) and sister must have cared and tried finding him. The way he tries to find them all back, his new amazing parents (equally good work by Nicole Kidman - not Oscar worthy though) is too good. As the book is too short - movie feels even shorter or may be as an audience I was looking so much forward to it that wanted it to keep going. Movie does full justice to the book but as is always the case - it does loses quite a lot (details) from the book but still a great adaptation I will say. covers most of it. For people who do not plan to read the book - I will say go ahead and enjoy the movie, do not miss it at any cost as it is one of those few movies which comes very close to a perfect 5/5 and I will rate it no less then 4.5/5. A must watch for all movie lovers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cometh The Hour - Jeffrey Archer (Book)

Cometh The Hour - Jeffrey Archer
6/7 of The Clifton Chronicles.
If I have a right to fall in love with more then one writer in my life time - I will use it now. Sir Jeffrey Archer as I love to call him now is simply unstoppable, so is Harry Clifton and his fictitious character Inspector Warwick solving mysterious cases, his Wife Emma heading the Barrington shipping, his brother in law Sir Giles hanging in and out of power at house of commons and house of lords, his Son Sebastian Clifton getting in and out of troubles (read love), Lady Virginia getting in and out of tatters (read giving more troubles to more people) and if this wasn't enough we have damn good cricketing connection and even if that wasn't enough of enough - now we have an Indian connection too that Sebastian had to travel to India in search of his love (another love affair - hope its the final one now). Hilarious take on life in 70's so much so that it makes it up for a racy read to finish with no looking here and there in between. Try(ied) as harder as I could - just couldn't keep it down even after knowing that I do not have the final book in place now - I even tried to read a book parallel to break my own pace and speed - just couldn't do it - if you know what I mean, Phew!! and I wanted to type it all in one breath and sentence - grammar my foot! Also, I believe in our next quarterly official meeting I hope I do not do a "hear hear" when my boss proposes something and I like it :). But I do add when I help anyone with an address looking for direction that "you cant miss it" :) - if you know what I mean.
Although the Indian connection is nothing great to talk about but I guess it has always been like that and even today all they could talk about is slums, bad infrastructure, no law n order, traffic jams, cows eating on the center f the road - its heart breaking but I guess we have to live with the facts - it is still happening in our part of the world. On lighter side there is this Mr. Sharma briefly involved with the story and then there is this Mr. Rohit Singh too - ROFL stuff. But the best part of this second last book of the series is the court case against Hakim Bishara - too good a fight and fantastic ending. Finally I see a silver lining in every characters life as it all is coming to an end now, gotta going to have a jolly good ending I guess. One more thing which kept making me smile throughout the series is the subtle mention of great historical figures, like Giles Barrington coming across some lady known as Margaret Thatcher while contesting for a seat from Bristol Docklands. An Indian lady Prime Minister, a first for a lot of countries and Britain meeting its arch rivals India in a tough game of cricket and so many other instances.
Finally!! Moving to the last one with heavy heart - another damn good series getting done and dusted.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mightier Than The Sword - Jeffrey Archer (Book)

Mightier Than The Sword - Jeffrey Archer
5/7 of The Clifton Chronicles.
Fifth book of the series and I still haven't got enough of the loved characters - imagine the story has covered their lives for around 38 odd years already but still the trio of Harry Clifton, his wife Emma and her brother Giless Barrington are going stronger with superb support from the younger generation who themselves have so many of their unresolved issues. It is indeed commendable of Jeffrey Archer to write the whole series and not lose any of its steam anywhere as he is such a wonderful story teller that it is very hard for me to imagine how he keeps our interest not only alive but we also look forward to whats coming up next. And never and I mean NEVER it goes down for one moment of readers expectations. Even in this one - the young Sebastian Clifton is definitely the hero with his career hitting off well and with some superb rivalries - I can imagine the tussles he is going to go through in very near future, his personal life, family, burden on his young shoulders - there is so much to look forward too. Even for his dad Harry - this one has some real good interesting moments with his campaign going strong for the Russian writer he sets off to get freed - even his own fictional character (in his books) has grown by leaps and bounds :).
The way Sebastian Clifton's story and life goes forward, you just cant not say 'like father like son" the way he takes care of his daughter and her mother who he could never marry because of one silly mistake even without their knowledge is commendable. Troubles still haven't come to an end neither for Clifton's nor for Barringtons, the race of takeover is still on for Barrington Shipping as well as for Seb's professional front - totally hooking journey's hope, wish and pray that they end in the end which isn't that far now :). I love the way Lady Virginia keeps bouncing back with her confidante Mr. Fisher - unbelievable guts these guys have got to never give up. But the fate has (had) something else for them - if you know what I mean only if you have read the book (insert a smiley). Wonderful ending yet again to keep the reader in a cliff hanger by Sir Archer - I loved the book inside the book by Harry Clifton - pace of this one again is amazing and tried as harder as I could - just couldn't resist to pick the second last of the series with at least 4-5 days before I get the ultimate one delivered.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nocturnal Animals (2016) - Movie

WOW! WOW! and WOW!
Jake Gyllenhal has definitely come of age in last couple of years, do not remember any of his movies that didn't work for me in last so many years and he is going from strength to strength. And they keep taking my favorite Amy Adams to make / keep me emotional / sentimental throughout with such an amazing author backed role I must say. The movie big time works not only like a thriller but also so involving that I actually at times felt and wished that I could get inside the screen may be with a baseball bat or a gun and turn those buggers into pulp. Story of a guy whose wife gets abducted, raped and killed while they are on a road trip passing from Texas. The helpless guy had no option but to save himself and then be on the lookout for them, what turn outs next is not only heart warming but very convincing heart breaking drama / action. How he turns his life story into a shocking book, he not only shocks his x wife - Amy but kept on shocking me too with all the twists and turns - was able to keep me hooked throughout sitting at the edge of my seat t see what comes next.
I loved the way story keeps going in flashbacks back and forth, perfect timing and very well done too. Michael Shannon too is in excellent form - totally amazing character of a dieing cop who gives no shit when it comes to bringing bad guys to justice - law way or his way.
Unfortunately the ending didn't work for me at all, knowing the character of Jake - how he was in the movie - he would definitely not do what he does in the ending, no ways, I am convinced with that ending but whatever it is, totally loved the movie.
It is going to remain in my memory for a long time to come.
Definitely a 4.5/5 stuff with a must watch recco for Psychological thriller lovers - do not miss it at any cost.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Palace of Illusions - Chitra Lekha Banerjee Divakaruni (Book)

The Palace of Illusions - Chitra Lekha Banerjee Divakaruni
The Epic - Mahabharat is I guess one of the most loved mythological book from our part of the world, second only to Ramayan in my opinion. Since my school days as a part of curriculum, I must have read quite a few versions of the same but this one - the one that I read recently stands out from all of them as it is the "Draupadi's side of the same story". Of-course it should be called a work of fiction and wildest imagination but yes it has almost all the twists and instances of the original one tweaked and made more interesting by the writer. Although it should be debatable from the point of the historians but I seriously wonder how far back in time we can go to find the truth and how someone can justify the story other way round as we believe it or are told. I had heard of this quite a while ago and was always keen on it but never got the opportunity to read it - this time around as part of a break between 7 books back to back from one of my favorite writers - I picked this one as a refreshing change. And let me say this - it indeed is a very interesting book and superb story telling from Chitra - she had me totally hooked to the book from the very start to the very end (ending is a bit lethargic and over stretched) and is damn good.
With so many mesmerizing characters in the epic story - it is indeed very tough to name your favorites but my top three in no particular order will always be Krishna for sure with his divine smile and cool attitude, Bhishmapitamah an immortal and for the third favorite it has to be a tie between the great Karna and Ashwathama (son of Dronacharya). As we have seen the amazing television series by one of the greatest film makers of India on the same book and unbelievable even after two or more decades later - the images of those characters kept coming to my mind as the story progresses.
The only change this book or the author offers to the reader is that Draupadi is infatuated or rather madly in love and awe with Karna before even she had met the Pandavas. Unfortunately she was destined to have a different life and outcome but throughout her life all she wanted was Karna, she really cared about him a lot until the secret of him being a Pandava himself is revealed. Also Krishna is shown and treated as a great good friend of Draupadi and not like her brother who saves her from Kaurava's as Yudhishthir loses her in the game of dice. Mind-blowing is the way she has covered, written and justified too the multiple love angels and stories of Draupadi. Never in my wildest imaginations I could have thought of that but it was a very interesting perspective and I will not deny that she had me amused rather smiling throughout the narrative. Also the Mother in Law and Daughter in Law rivalry between Kunti and Draupadi is too good a read and it actually made me think - why not? But all in all its an amazing story that we all know word to word yet it is told in a refreshingly new way with new twists that no one could imagine and is a must read for all mythological story fans. Do not miss it as it gives you quite some food for your thoughts.
After finishing this - now I am more inclined to read the new versions of "Bhagwad Gita" guess Devdutt Patnayak has written one and then there is this new version of Ramayan too available from the point of view of Sita I guess - I gotta get them and read them too.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For - Jeffrey Archer (Book)

Be Careful What You Wish For - Jeffrey Archer
4/7 of The Clifton Chronicles.
WOW!! Is the one word that comes to my mind right from the very start of the fourth book of the series - I was feeling a little let down by the third but by God - fourth one picks up the pace again kept me hooked throughout its narrative. All the wrong people that I hate in this series (read I love to see them back again) make an entry, Lady Virginia my favorite and that Major Fisher is one heck of a guy, if Martinez was any less with his histrionics we have quite a few more to keep the reader in hooks. But there is only one Hero of this one and I guess for the rest of the series thats the next heir of Barringtons and Cliftons - Sebastian Clifton - what a rocking character - totally in love with him and his story. Loved his Japanese connection and his little in and outs of infatuations - hilarious stuff. Story has progressed further in this one with the third generation of the great family taking it ahead and definitely there is no looking back anymore. Also this became the first time in my life ever that I missed having a real sister - reading the account of Sebastian and his love for his sister Jessica - totally out of this world, adorable creatures both of them. I am touched, shocked, surprised and what not by the way story progresses for The Clifton's, wish I could change the fate (for them). And hope their never ending troubles will come to an end sooner.
This one is so far the best book of the series I must say that I wasn't able to put down (unless I had to work, eat, sleep and do a little other compulsory stuff), fortunately got an unplanned break today and just finished it. The further building up of the Barrington Empire, making of the dream vessel and successful launch (more on that later), working of the company, people loyal to the owners, their stories and so much more is covered in such a racy way in this one that it was very hard to judge who amongst them got the most attention. As the story happens to be around the mid 60's - it was quite hilarious to read about an "African Terrorist - Nelson Mandela" getting arrested, also some mention of Russian's not willing to pay their bills and Indians not able to - you see we were still poor back then and I found it heartening to read the negative reference in my one of the favorite authors book. And another cliff hanger ending from Sir Archer :) as he will make me race to the fifth book now and shockingly the seventh and the ultimate book hasn't got delivered yet.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Best Kept Secret - Jeffrey Archer (Book)

Best Kept Secret - Jeffrey Archer
Book 3/7 of Clifton Chronicles
The third book of the series in last 10 days that I have (had to) pick has put me a little at ease with the characters and story going forward. With the dispute settled of who will head the Barrington Empire and what the other party get in turn (being all family members only - one way or the other) makes it a little easy to read, finally they and we both get to see some good days ahead (and so I thought). Also, with this book I realized that even Archer has a very good sense of humor - the way he points out the difference between American and British in literary sense - you just cant not find it hilarious only but true too. This is the first time that I have actually witnessed the importance of the game of cricket in any book so far I have read, of-course with a British background but I like it. Harry finally settled as a writer with some success to his credit the attention moves to the Clifton's third generation and as expected - Like Father Like Son - the adventures of Sebastian start with full throttle. Lady Virginia is another character to watch out for in this one and I sincerely hope she makes a re-entry some time soon ;) to mess her way around a little more. Also the way this one ends in a cliffhanger situation ;) the Accident and all - by god - I actually will have to rush and pick up the next part to confirm that it isn't what I think it is.
Although this book - third in the series isn't a patch on its first part but does very well takes the story forward and am still hooked to see some more adventures of Jr Clifton now. So far so good - working for me.