Monday, August 26, 2013

Rajini's Punchtantra by P.C.Balasubramanian & Raja Krishnamoorthy

Title: Rajini's Punchtantra
Author:  P.C.Balasubramanian & Raja Krishnamoorthy
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
Date:  2012
Price: Rs. 95
Pages: 124

Snapshot: This book is a novel approach to deciphering the dialogues of Superstar Rajnikant with their deep implications in life and business. 
 
The Review:  There have been many great actors in Indian cinema but in my opinion there are just two stars, who when appear on the 70mm screen one does not see anyone but them, they are Rajnikanth and Amitabh Bachchan. India is a nation where Cricket & Movies are a religion. We are very fond of quoting movie dialogues in our conversations and remember our favorite ones by heart. I even remember entire movies by heart. So when the author approached me to review this book I was fascinated. Who thought these dialogues could mean so much and teach about life and business? And who better than Rajni sir whose dialogues and stardom reach the heights like never before.
 
Positives:  The book is very well structured and beautifully presented.  Each dialogue is accompanied by a picture, the author then begins explaining its meaning in brief, followed by a crisp implication in life and business.
 
A fun and motivating read. The originality of the idea is commendable.
 
Negatives: The font size is small.  
 
The Verdict:  The most entertaining way to get inspired! Go grab it!. 3.5 stars on 5.
 
About the author:  
 
P.C. Balasubramanian is one of the founder directors of Matrix Business Services India, one of India's leading verification companies. He is passionate about enterprise and institution-building and is of the opinion that it is people who matter the most in any company and loves being able to motivate people in order to bring out the best in them. He believes that one must always give equal importance to one's professional as well as personal life; he is also an ardent admirer of Rajinikanth. It is the coming together of these two elements that provided the motivation for this book.
Raja Krishnamoorthy has over thirty-three years of experience in the field of human resources. He is one of the directors of Talent Maximums India, a Chennai-based HR services organization. As a trainer and consultant in the area of organization development, he does extensive work in team synergy, transformation and leadership skills and personal growth through self-awareness. He is also an actor, explorer and thinks of himself as a student of life.
I thank the author P.C. Balasubramanian for a copy.
 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan

Title: Shadow Princess
Author: Indu Sundaresan
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Genre : Mythological Fiction 
Date:  2010
Price: Rs. 399
Pages: 380

Snapshot: The Shadow princess as the title suggests is the story of princess Jahanara Begum, the eldest daughter of one of the most respected Mughal emperors Shah Jahan, who unlike her father adored and respected by generations as the creator of one of the wonders of the world "The Taj Mahal or The Luminous Tomb" , lived and died in the shadow. Her role in the emperor's life was so important that he did not let her choose marriage and leave him. She too played the obedient daughter and sacrificed her life for her beloved father, the then emperor of India, who as we know from our history had lost the will to live post Mumtaz Mahal's death. The person who brought him back to life was none other than Jahanara Begum, but unfortunately her contributions will not be remembered nor will she have the significance or the remembrance that her brothers (none of whom could prove a true heir to the throne) have received. 



The Story from a Critics Perspective:  The story begins with the death of Mumtaz Mahal during child birth. Shah Jahan is shattered upon the loss of his most beloved wife and it grieves him so deeply that at one point of time he even thinks of giving up the hard earned throne and his beloved empire. Then his biggest support becomes his eldest daughter Jahanara Begum, who has the patience, the wisdom and the love for her father none of his siblings would ever have. Also they were very young then. She makes him understand that he will have to find the will to live and to rule the kingdom he fought battles for as none of his heirs were of age. 

He then concentrates on creating The Taj Mahal or The Luminous Tomb or as it was called then the "rauza-i-munavvra". The story goes on around the time with intricate details of the tomb's planning and construction and their lives around that time. All of Shah Jahan's Children grow with time, each with a character and mind of his own and then begins politics to conquering the throne to the empire of Hindustan. The story is laced with connect the dot episodes of Jahanra and Roshanara (the younger daughter of Shah Jahan) falling in love with the same man, though none was allowed to marry, Jahanara's secret visit to her grand mother, he love affair despite her circumstances which spice up the content. Also there is a detailed description of their visits to Kashmir which is refreshingly beautiful. Above all the history enthusiast in me loved to witness the entire procedure, planning and experimenting that went behind the grand construction of the beloved queen's final resting place.

For more details read the story.

The Review:   
  
Positives: To begin with the literature review for this book is thorough and great. Every chapter begins with lines from the books where the facts are picked up from, that creates and impact on which the author further builds on with her amazingly smooth story telling skills. The use of appropriate terminology is the most important and commendable part, which certain writers now a days have chosen to not do, trying to be cool with the current generation, but to me either its lack of knowledge or an unthoughtful decision. I always believe that the most important part of any book is its ability to drown its reader into the story, this is more challenging for the story set in ancient times. Terminology is a very powerful tool here and Indu Sunderesan utilises it well. 

What is outstanding is how immensely and without partiality she portrayed each character. Aurangzeb had a soft side and deep admiration for Jahanara. Though a ruthless
king as we know about him, some situations that made him so are well described. This book though has a lot of fiction but fills in the gaps by writing about significant characters that have been lost to history.

Summing it all, this was one book I lived through. Brilliant. Waiting to read all the books by the author.

Negatives: None

The Verdict:  A not to miss book. A must read. 5 stars on 5. 



About the Author: 


Indu Sundaresan is an Indian who lives in the United States.
Other books written by her include The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses.
Indu, an economics graduate, went to the United States for her higher studies, and earned an MA in economics and an MS in Operations Research. She has settled in the US and her first novel, The Twentieth Wife, won the Washington State Book Award.


I thank the author and Harper Collins India for the review copy.

 

My Beloved's MBA Plans by Disha

Title: My Beloved's MBA Plans
Author: Disha
Publisher: Srishti Publishers& Distributors
Date:  2013
Price: Rs. 100
Pages: 128
 


Snapshot: This book has 16 short stories, personal accounts by people who left their jobs, spouses, family etc. in short "got out of the comfort zone" to achieve the dream of an MBA degree from one of the most prestigious B-Schools in India 
IIM C.

The Stories & The Critics Perspective: Honestly I being a PhD student myself and single think that education and marriage are two separate phases which if occur at the same time do not lead to success. I always believe that any higher education is possible only as long as you are single and can have your entire focus on your education. Managing education with marriage and family to me was a bad idea until I read this book that completely changed my perspective, for here were real life stories about people who have not only managed but excelled in their unconventional choice of pursuing an MBA from IIM C post marriage.

Generalizing all the stories are of people who left their businesses, lucrative jobs, comfort life abroad, families etc and prepared for GMAT to realize their dream to get into one of the Top B Schools in India, well they got admission into IIM C for an executive MBA. However that was just the first step. Imagine an year away from your family? or settling with your spouse on a campus far away from the city? One of them, a lady even got pregnant during the course and she did manage it? Its IIM and life is all about assignments and exams, hardly time for family, even phone calls and yet they managed it, but how?

What made these people go through all the hardships and follow their heart was love, faith and trust of their partners. Read their real life accounts in their own words, grab a copy today!

This book, each story will always make you believe "You Can Do it". Read it to get inspired.

The Review:
Positives: Each story will inspire you immensely. Its a book to be kept by your bedside and read again and again whenever you feel low or to boost your morale.

Negatives: I believe it would have been better if it was written as short stories instead of the interview format that the author chose. Also I wished there were more stories :P.

The Verdict: Highly Motivational. Undoubtedly a must read!  3.5 stars on 5.

About the Author: An IIM-Calcutta alumnus, Disha loves to express herself through her poems and short stories. Be it travelling with friends, philosophizing on life, working on a social project through her NGO or cooking for her family, Disha comes across as a multi-faceted person with an energetic smile. My Beloved’s MBA Plans is her debut novel.

 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Compass Box Killer by Piyush Jha

Title: Compass Box Killer
Author: Piyush Jha 
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Date:  2013
Price: Rs. 195
Pages:240
Snapshot: This is a single story novel unlike Mumbaistan where inspector Virkar(the smart inspector with a constant of self evaluation) is out chasing a criminal who leaves a hint about whom he will kill next, making the case interesting for him and the police. But why does he do so? and a lot more thrill is what this story has to offer.

The Story from the Critics Perspective: A police inspector is murdered, everyone thinks food poisoning, the case can easily pass off as that, but the killer leaves a compass box with the hint of the next victim and sets the police on chase. Though the next victim is a doctor and under strict police supervision, the killer still manages to hit the target, with another note in a compass box. Well yes this time the person is a well known NGO personality. He is kept under complete security but the killer seems to love challenges. Not only does he keep giving hints to the police but manages to hit the target, more fiercely, in the last case at the public gathering. Then the killer halts, his next hint is not clear but a code.

Why is he doing so? What connects an inspector, a doctor and an NGO personality? Why if he can murder brilliantly and get away with it does he choose to tip off the police? Who is "The Compass Box Killer"? Who is his next target? Well for all that read the book.
The Review: 
Positives: Inspector Virkar and his character has been well sketched. The plot is good. The killing methods are amazing (I do appreciate intelligence in all forms :P). In most parts you will enjoy the book more than any crime series you have ever watched. Also the suspense is well kept, I couldn't guess the killer till his identity was revealed.

Negatives:
First of all I have read Piyush Jha's Mumbaistan and loved it. I has rated it 4/5 and looked eagerly to read this one. However it failed to match the thrill of Mumbaistan. The reasons I believe are:

1. The character of the reporter Raashi could have been sketched better. The twist involving her was very predictable. 

2. Too descriptive at certain places. The author would go on and on describing at certain places where all the reader needs is pace. Some of it could have been avoided totally, making it crisper. This was the major drawback of the book in my opinion.

Piyush Jha himself had set his standard of writing a thriller via Mumbaistan so high, that raised the bars of expectations which wasn't unfortunately met by this book.
The Verdict: An entertaining thriller. 3 stars on 5. Would still recommend Mumbaistan over this one.

About the Author:

Piyush Jha is an acclaimed film director, ad filmmaker and the author of the bestselling novel, Mumbaistan. A student political leader at university, he pursued a career in advertising management after acquiring an MBA degree. Later, he switched tracks, first to make commercials for some of the countrys largest brands, and then to write and direct feature films. His films include Chalo America, King of Bollywood and Sikandar. 
He lives in his beloved Mumbai, where he can often be found walking the streets that inspire his stories.