Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Her every fear – book review

First thing that strikes about the story is the characterization. Infact, this is one notable aspect across all three of Peter Swanson’s novels. You will have the lingering effect of the character long after the chapters end. Every single one of them, right from the very beginning, are a specimen of their own. From the 3 novels I’ve read, he doesn’t discriminate heroism as male dominion and is generous in spacing out the roles of both the ladies and gents. Infact, it’s the lady characters who drive the show from start, with the males filling out the support cast. Her every fear, has its soul on the lady character around whom the entire story unravels.

Starting with the titular lady character, who, as per the title itself, is like Thenali kamal, with her endless list of phobias. The interesting aspect about her profile is that, rather than deliberating on the fear, it’s the fix or the solution provided by the therapist and how she repeats those confidence building sentences to herself, is what makes it even more eerie. Unlike the other two novels by Swanson, this one takes a while to settle, not from a pacing perspective, but with the way situation unfolds as we are thrown right into a middle of an event happening  and the deliberate efforts at detailing the location is trying to say the least, to start with. Slowly when it settles in and the next character profiling begins, it all sinks in super-fast and makes absolute sense. You get so hooked to the story that, when she jumps at shadows you tend go knee jerk as well and when she has palpitations, you would be able to feel it.

The second character is that of a stalker. Though I’ve read stories in which the possessiveness of the character makes them turn violent, not in a situation as thrown in the book and the extent to which it impacts the victim. More from the aggressor perspective, the victim’s side of the story makes it all the scarier. Very rarely I’ve come across stories where stalking is explained in such a detailed manner, which brings about the scariness in that activity. Whenever I used to read in news about stalkers who watch people, it never felt that serious. But the detailing from which it’s shown from the stalkers perspective, adds to the eeriness.

The third character, is probably the best of the lot in terms of profiling, for its so very relatable and common, if not genuine. You immediately get synched with this person and the emotions, feelings and even the false sense of pride we at times in trying to get the approval nod of those whom we adore, the level of detailing on this character is amazing and its never preachy or in your face. Its all thrown like bread crumbs, leading us all the way to..well..the bread. The reason why this is the most interesting of the lot is for the fact that, as much as it being one of the darkest character of the lot,  its also the most vulnerable, swaying to the tunes of the fourth character, which is classic pyscho.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Instrumental instructions

What does the music instruments teach office goers, especially IT guys –

1)      Flute – sagala holesaiyum opena vachalum..mooda vendiatha moodina thaan music varum. Plugging all shut and leaving all open makes one a bamboo with holes and nothing much.

2)      Guitar – you need to pull some strings to get the right output. Knowing which string to pull and how will help you strike the right chord

3)      Gadam – probably the closest to resemble an onsite resource. Nimithi poata thanni kudama use aganum..kavuthu poattu saaathinalum satham musica varanum. Versatality makes one never go”dumb”

4)      Tabla – offshore resource equivalent. Offshore lead kitayum adi vanganum. Onsite kitayum adi vanganum. Rendu adiyum correcta reflect panna than music. Ilaati noise thaan.

5)      Sax – sometimes people may push your buttons, but remember music is nothing but noise well tamed

6)      Trumpet- Equivalent of  self appraisal, which even though being the loudest, often considered as un-important

7)      Veenai – If not tuned properly, it would simply go “veen” and no nai would seendify

8)      Jing-Chuk – the master of all

Monday, May 08, 2017

The girl with a clock for a heart – book review

I had received 3 books of Peter Swanson and started with the “Kind worth killing”. I couldn’t bring myself to complete the book in one sitting for it was way too dark. But the moment I stepped into the zone of the second part of the book, it all went in supersonic speed to a finish. With so many twists and turns, that story would’ve made a rollercoaster proud. Egged on by that belief decided to try his other books and started off with the one titled in the most distinctive manner of any book I had ever read – Girl with a  clock for a heart. As usual, I spied for some reviews about the book before starting and most of the reviewers had mentioned a striking similarity with “Gone girl” novel but praised this one to be several notches better. Compared to the first book, this being somewhat smaller, I decided to go for it. The prologue, itself gave quite a heads up that, this author uses murder as icebreaker premise!!

The story revolves around the titular “girl” who goes by as many names as all the spies in the world and how she manipulates her college sweetheart, in what appears to be a one sided love story. She springs up on him all of a sudden and asks for a favor to return the money that she had stolen from her current ex-boyfriend/old man, who she claims has sent a bouncer on her trail to collect the money back. The sonagiri boyfriend makes the trip on her behalf only to find that the bouncer guy was not from the ex-boyfriend. She again tricks him and leaves him after a steamy night, only for the police to visit him, questioning about the death of the ex-boyfriend, whom he met the previous day. As the story goes back and forth we get to know that, this girl has done a “3 Idiots” Aamirkhan on her college and had been an impostor all her life. The sonagiri boyfriend has been accustomed to the ritual of falling for her and getting beaten for her all throughout.

The story might go in concentric circles which looks like intersecting and the characterization is so top notch that it has the hypnotic effect on the readers. You never realize when you got sucked into the story of the sonagiri boyfriend, who for some reason is obsessed with this girl. What is her real name, you would never know. What are her true motives, wonder if she herself will know. But like Hutch dog, this guy follows her everywhere and gets duly beaten. Every time he thinks he has cracked a clue about her, he ends up getting beaten to a pulp and when he almost makes up his mind to go away from her, magically she gets linked with him again. She goes on from being an imposter to murder suspect to robbery to be a murder suspect again. But the sonagiri keeps believing that she may be a victim in this elaborate game of deceit all the while pining for her. Love does makes one stupid, but this is downright, border level insane kind of lust filled love. When he confronts her for the first time, with her telling him her version of why she faked her profile, when he confronts her again about her leaving him and her response which convinces him, every time she lets him have a peek at what he wants to hear about her as the truth and makes him fall for her bait every single time. The climax was pakka cinematic, which while reading, you can even hear BGM playing frantic yet taut, reaching into a crescendo. Atleast, that’s what I thought was the ending and was wondering, why the story is dragging onto so many more pages. But there comes the biggest twist of them all. The actual ending takes place quite some pages from the incidents on the sea and finally gives some clues on the happenings. Though most of them are open ended, it doesn’t leave any doubt on who is the villain. As the story concludes, the result is left for the readers to make, did he become an accomplice? Did he found her? What would/did he do after finding her? The questions may not be in that order. But they are questions left hanging, nevertheless.

Gils verdict – more than “The girl with clock for a heart”, it could very well be “The guy with muck for mind”. Very rarely I’ve come across stories where the antagonist is a lady and out and out negative. After the success of “Gone girl” this seems to be the trend I guess. For all those twists, story going back and forth in flashback and present, you still end up feeling sorry for the sonagiri boyfriend, for as much as him, you would want his love to succeed and the villi turn a good leaf in the end. More than the other book, this one I feel would make a blockbuster movie script, across all languages. The mystique around the girl with clock for a heart, would make you want to know more and more about her. But I am pretty sure, grasping wind would be easier compared to that.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Kind worth killing – book review

Kind worth killing – review

Wow!!This author is interesting. If this is the feeling you get after reading the first part (review for which is here),the second portion would leave you like “OMG!! This author is insane!!!” Though the plot and scenes are a repeat from first part, the twist in the ending is a literal punch to the gut. At hindsight, one should’ve seen it coming. But with the level of deliberation the author takes us through, with the entire story moving in point-of-view approach, with each character narrating the story per chapter, the entire script is mind bogglingly real and natural. The first part, begins with the lady character, Lily, who attempts to aid Ted murder his adulterous wife, ends in Ted getting killed by the guy having affair with Ted’s wife. The second part is all about how Lily, the adulterous wife and her boyfriend, their equations and stories criss-crossing the ongoing police investigation of Ted’s murder and finally how it culminates in the ultimate twist of all. The screenplay is so fantastically simple that, you are drawn into the narrative of each person. Every single character, be it Ted, Lily, Brad or Miranda are murderers or at least plotting one on the other throughout the first two parts. The entire story of one-upmanship, ends with Ted being the first one killed and second part takes form of spoiler inducing ending.

What hits you when you read the book is the casual way in which the psychopaths (for no other way to describe them) discuss and plot the killings. Especially Lily. Cold blooded gets a whole new definition, spread over several hundred pages. Conscience is clearly conspicuous in its absence across all characters. There is not an inch of positivity across any of those characters and the entire story is an out and out dedication for everything negative. That actually works is the stunningly scary deal. There is no hint of remorse or as Lily puts it, morality. Except for the policeman, who is hot on the case, everyone lies, cheats, kills and seems like they are on a challenge to complete the 7 deadly sins as many times as they can in the limited time span of their lives!! The third part of the book is dedicated to the hunt for killer and going by the details mentioned, any up and coming psycho can learn a thing or two on how and what to avoid in a police investigation. Everything is so simple, practical if not logical and matter of fact and the amazing pace which the author maintains throughout all those scenes, makes you realize a bit later what you’ve been reading through and when it hits, you never knew when it crossed your mind!! And then comes the ending on Chapter 33. You go all OMG..what’s wrong with this guy again!!!! But still like a fish hooked to the bait, you can’t simply resist keeping the book down. You start the next chapter and it’s again WHAM!!! And the final chapter which ends with a letter from Lily’s dad is the best of all twists and leaves the reader to wonder what would’ve actually happened. Which never matter anyway. Except for the poor police guy, who even though got a raw deal, there were small details about him which could’ve eventually validated the treatment meted out to him. Probably it’s the author’s way of implicating stalking, as made evident by the first kill of Lily. There are similarities to both,even though characterwise the 2 victims may be poles apart.

Gils verdict – it’s a mindboggling read to say the least. Feels like I should take bath just for reading this book. Though there are only a handful of characters in the book, with almost everyone getting killed, it feels like a bloodbath. But for those who love thriller genre, they may really like the twists in this tale.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Bahubali 2 - Review

For long I’ve wondered how come Westerners, with hardly any history, make such EPIC scale movies, while we, with such a treasure house of stories never meet them even half way. Even China with its long history and culture suffers from same mishap. But for crouching tiger, which may in all probability been a recognition of a nation on the move to powerdom, they hardly have anything major to show off at a global scale. Maybe their movies, which are translated and played on regional channels, does have the grandeur. But do they’ve world-wide connect is a serious question. A Spiderman or a Superman relates to everyone. But a Raja Raja chola or anyone from the mighty Ming dynasty may not have that global connect. Where the westerners ace is that they can sell a “Troy” or a “Wild West” story to worldwide audience and still make money. Not just that, we end up aping their costumes and create flop movies, which neither have the connect, nor the concept correct. Just for this singular aspect of ticking all the right boxes, Bahubali deserves all the hype. Be it first part or the second, one thing that stands out in the movie is not the VFX or the larger than life characters or even their performances and struggle. It’s simply our story. Our raja rani kind of stories that we’ve grown up with, published in Gokulam or Amar Chitra Katha. It’s absolutely relatable to any Indian kid who grew up with the world of comics and especially ACK.

The other striking aspect about the movie is that, it brings back the Hero – with all his virtues and promises and chivalry and honor. Character-wise, Black is pitch black and White is soulful again. There is no grey area in between and that is for the nitpickers who argue over nitty-gritties and for pattimandram folks, who debate everything under the sun. It was a pleasant experience and a reminiscent of what our parents and theirs would’ve felt when watching MGR or NTR swishing their swords and thumping their enemies, managing to remain virtuous, respecting elders and even their enemies and win their ladies with chivalry. And ladies are not just shown as glam-dolls either, with solid character presentation. Add to this amazing spectacles aided by top notch CG, you’ve got your paisa vasool already. Bonus being the performances of the lead and supporting cast.

Prabhas, probably can retire now, having achieved what he would never ever be able to match, in sum total of all his movies and those he is going to sign up down the line. One can stick his neck out and comment like this, considering his pre Bahubali projects. As the son, Mahendra, he is all brash and brawn, but as the dad, Amarendra, he is unmatchable. The scene where Prabhas and Anushka shoot triple arrows in one shot, its tango and poetry in motion. Leave behind logic to enjoy it. There is this post interval scene, where Anushka, is brought handcuffed to the court for chopping the fingers of the rogue senapathi. When he enters the hall, there is some chant in the background with the moving camera capturing him walking past flames, symbolizing his mindset. When the senapathi explains the crime of Anushka, he walks behind him back and forth, causing the senapathi to scarily watch out for any attack. It’s a masterclass of a performance akin to a lion on prowl. When Anushka explains why she chopped his fingers, he admonishes that she was wrong and saying that “any man who misbehaves with women shouldn’t have his fingers chopped, but head” and in one swish he knocks the head off the senapathi. Let me tell you the word you are looking for –Goosebumps.

The other scene is the interval portion, which simply is the mother of all mass scenes ever made in any Indian language. I always thought “Enakku innoru per irukku” would never be rivalled, for the simplicity and yet stirringly epic of it. But Bahubali 2’s interval block is like Sachin’s record of international centuries. It may never be matched on scale atleast. The beating and chanting that slowly starts as chaotic and in a disorderly manner, when Amarendra begins to take oath, becomes a rhythmic frenzy and the vibrations it has on stones and objects is shown akin to the dino scene in Jurassic park. With the crowning glory being Bahubali holding the flag aloft. A.W.E.S.O.M.E. If you didn’t get up and clap or whistle at this scene, this is not the movie for you.

There are quite a few logical connects and throwback to previous part, which is neatly synched into screenplay. Battle scenes, which were the USP in the previous one, are kind of a letdown this time with hardly any new idea being floated in, but for Asterix like slingshot attack using pine trees. The immense power of Bahubali and the villain is amply showcased across scenes. So, seeing them, breaking trees and statues and throwing it at each other, doesn’t look odd. Anushka, who came as a blink and miss in part one, holds on to her own in second part and probably has as much screen space as Prabhas. Tamanna compensates for her role in first part, donning Anushka’s screen time in that version here. But the surprise package is the role of Satyaraj as Kattappa. He has the maximum screen time, even more than Prabhas. Probably, the viral effect of why he killed bahubhali and the reason is a damp squib, as compared to all those hundreds of memes in circulation. Ramya krishnan has proved time and again what we are missing in our movies – stand out and strong lady characters. She is all regal and command and has performed solidly. Naaser as the scheming villain is again top notch. Music, may suffer due to the multiple languages to which the same tune has to fit in. But might work out for telugu audience.

Gils verdict – I saw it twice on same day. That should tell you my result. This movie is toast of Telugu/South Indian cinema and pride of Indian culture of storytelling. Wish AmarchitraKatha does a reverse and come out with comics of Bahubali from the movie. More power to Rajamouli for this epic movie and many thanks for bringing back the heroism in hero.