Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Bestseller She Wrote

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The book was well paced and well written. And certainly, Ravi Subramanian is one of India's better English writers. The language flows easily for Ravi and the story is viable. I must mention that I was able to complete the book in roughly 3 hours, which is generally a praise to the writer than to the reader.

The characters play along to our author's tunes. Reactions are real, actions are melodramatic and are worthy verses of a crime thriller. I felt the characters though, could do with better building. Everyone's back story is too short and too light so some of them don't make an impact on you. A deeper understanding of why Maya left her job "for" Aditya is very important to understand how she reacts at later points in the book. How the friendship between Sanjay and Aditya evolved over the years and the general possible gratitude that Aditya might have towards Sanjay would give the story a nicer touch. The fact that Shreya comes from a small town but isn't constrained by the small town ways is slightly unsettling without a bit more detail into her life before IIM.

The boon as well as the bane on any crime thriller is 'the' twist, or any twist. Twists are what make thrillers interesting but of course, the story itself can provide for a thriller without necessarily adding a twist. The twist however, needs to be really good. I'll come out and say it that the twist in this story was really good but feels pretty dull because it gets lost in confusion. The twist itself was well thought out but delivered rather hastily at the end. And the author is aware of it. So the author sits everyone down at a round table (much like in Detective Byomkesh Bakshi movie) and explains the whole plot. The fact that this kind of an explanation is required implies that the author did not do enough justice to the story in the fear of giving away the twist (much like in the movie). In fact, the author is so worried about giving away the twist that he jumps forward to the end and then jumps back to the twist for the readers' benefit. When Aditya comes out with the twist some of the earlier actions of certain characters make more sense, so the author was careful enough to insert some snippets through out the book.Yet the author in some cases creates confusion with the language (giving us an impression that the book was not well edited) to avoid the twist from being given away. I was disappointed by that. As a reader, I would have preferred if the twist was let slip over time to make for a good reading rather than sprung upon me as a movie-like twist with deliberately uncomfortable prose, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the book that flows so well. 

The setting of the story is interesting. It is the publishing industry itself which is of course, the author's forte. Aditya's 'gyan' reflects the author's inherent understanding of how the business works and the subtle name dropping excellently compliments the 'gyaan' creating a sense of expertise of Aditya's character as well as building him up as a rockstar author. It's a good read for any aspiring author and almost a 101 on publishing. His references to  BlogAdda also makes us feel part of this journey of a book from a writer's idea to manuscript to an author's published product on the bookshelves. I was happy to see that our author also touches upon on the issue of plagiarism and treats it with such contempt. We need more people of his stature to come out and say it because it should not be tolerated in any industry, and even more so in the publishing industry.
On this note, I would like to make an unrelated comment. I was somewhat disappointed that the book mentioned Ashwin Sanghi's first book in the passing, even though it (The Rozabal Line) has some clearly plagiarised lines. I do enjoy his other books, The Chanakya's Chant and The Krishna Key and plagiarism happens in other industries as well like The Valley of Astonishment played in London but since this issue was mentioned in the book I thought talking about The Rozabal Line was unnecessary. 

In conclusion, Ravi Subramanian is a good writer. His product is easy English flowing beautifully on a well researched topic and showcasing him as a leading author in our country who knows the ins and outs of the business. I am sure he is capable of a writing a brilliant piece of page-turning fiction (much like this book) from start to end. And I am also sure he can convert one of his brilliant books into a full-fledged screenplay. I think he short changed the book at the end into a screenplay, at the expense of his book readers.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Four minutes and Twelve seconds

I watched Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds at the Trafalgar Studios and give it a 3.5/5 rating.

Superbly contemporary, the story line is too obvious and yet too real. It's so obvious that the suspense is not really a suspense but then again you wish it wasn't too obvious because we invent fiction to make us feel like better human beings. You hope for the mother's sake that her son didn't do anything wrong. Then, you hope the mother would call the cops on her son for mistreating his girlfriend. Then you hope the wife would give up her husband's indiscriminate act of uploading the video online because he was proud of his son. You hope the girl gets justice. But it doesn't happen.
Everyone calls the girl a liar because she is poor and not polished enough. Everyone believes the boy because he is economically better and scores well in exams. His parents protect his future and hold their marriage together for his sake. And the girl gets on with her life as best as she can, not that she had much to begin with.

What's hard to digest is that you can take this story and set it pretty much anywhere in the world and practically any time in the past and it fits. The use of technology m makes it contemporary and relatable but the story itself would be contemporary anytime and anywhere because technology has changed but people haven't. If anything, technology has become a tool for the bad as much as the good in the society.

The space at Trafalgar Studios is awfully small. The stage is a smallish square and you have people sitting in 3-4 rows on three sides of it, the fourth side being the entry and exit for actors. The cozy space makes it impossibly real as well. But on second thought, I suppose the ticket was way too expensive for such a tiny space, even though it was cheaper than most west end theatres.

Roaring Trade

I watched Roaring Trade at Park Theatre and give it a 4/5 rating.

Well executed, fast paced and exciting. Hilarious and thoughtful. And the actors were good, especially the teenage boy, and set changes were impeccable. That's why a 4/5.
But having said all that, the story is terribly outdated.

What spoon does got him fired in the play. In today's reality, he would be suspended while internal compliance teams and regulators look into the case and after fact finding, his case goes to court and most likely he to jail. The general sense of people and workspace is also about a decade old. Perceptions don't change!