Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Beaten by Bhagath!: A Tale of Two Writers by S. V. Divvaakar

Title : Beaten by Bhagath!
Author : S.V. Divvaakar
Genre : Fiction
Publisher :
Leadstart Publication
Pages : 193
My Rating : 7/10
Reviewed For :
Author / First Reads Challenge 2013 / South Asian Challenge 2013 / IQRC 2013


‘I’m sure you can do a much better job than Bhagath!’
When BB hears these inspiring words from his sexy lady boss, his staid life as a successful analyst in an MNC goes into a tailspin.
Bitten by the ego bug and smitten by her, BB sets off on his quest to write a book that’s better than India’s greatest writer Dr.Bhagath’s blockbusters. Nothing unusual about this for BB, who likes a good fight. Except that he and Bhagath had been classmates and friends at college.
What follows is a roller-coaster voyage of the debutant author and his book, with all its twists and cul-de-sacs. Brushes with publishers, celebrities, retailers, book chains, and competition with the alliances among giants, mark the challenger’s journey, upping the stakes at every stage.

Will BB catch up with his famous friend?
What will their encounter be like?

Written from inside the ring, ‘Beaten by Bhagath’ is a gripping tale ...the first-ever about the unseen side of the wonderland of Indian fiction

My Review:

Beaten by Bhagath is one of those reads that can be termed as a “book of facts” about the current and ever-expanding publishing industry in India. Through his protagonist, the author presents before us a full, if a little cynical, picture of the world of a debut author, his struggles as his book clambers into the world of fiction & publishing, every small accomplishment that seems like a herculean win, the disaster i.e. failure waiting to happen and its aftermath. S.V. Divvaakar (SVD) like many of the budding authors, muses if there is indeed a winning formula to writing fiction and if at all, it exists then what it might be.

BB, an executive in a MNC is happy spending his days on the side-lines whilst writing reports and earning profits for his company.  However, an off-hand compliment from his sexy lady boss (talk about woman power!!) on his writing skills and creativity sets off our protagonist into action. To top it up, the lady boss unknowingly sets the stakes high for BB by comparing him with the country’s most successful and prominent writer Dr. Ketan Bhagath. But what we don’t know is that best-selling author Ketan Bhagath & our protagonist, BB go a long way back. From hostel room-mates to partners-in-crime to classmates to friends in college life, BB & Ketan (K-10 as he was known then) have had a couple of colourful years together. However, in the present day, boosted by a single compliment, BB immediately takes this impulsive decision not only to pen down an entire novel but also to beat Bhagath in his own game i.e. Writing. And thus armed with an aggressive obsession to churn out a read better than K-10, BB sets off to explore the dangerous and unknown minefield i.e. the Indian Publishing Industry. What ensues is the ride of BB’s life with sharp curves and steep inclines as he moves through the various phases of his literary sojourn.

The most applaud-able fact of this read is that, SVD not only takes us through each phase of publishing – from the initial exhilaration of deciding to become an author, to going into a panic mode whilst deciding a plot, to writing down the actual book, to finding a decent publisher, to promoting it quite effectively, to the book finally making its way into the hands of the readers, to hitting the hard reality – but also lays out the facts bare – as they are – without sugar-coating them. SVD draws from his own experience as an author and has broken many myths about publishing with this read. While most of us believe that the author’s work is done after he/she lands a publication deal, SVD points out that the journey is actually uphill from here for the author. The author not only has to handle the hullabaloo around the publication and promotion of his book but also has to keep up with the latest technology & maintain his presence on the various social platforms. The readers also get a glimpse into the working methods of online stores, leading chain bookstores, the stocking & distribution of books and the advent of eBook market.

Another highlight of this novel is that it is sharply satirical with each chapter giving an elaborate view of the kaleidoscopic publishing industry.  Also, you will laugh out loud at the cleverly twisted names the author uses for different publishers & e-sites throughout the narration. This read clearly etches out the struggles of a debut author & portrays their emotions, hurdles, backbreaking work, time, patience & resources required on the author’s part quite vividly. However, SVD also provides some very useful & important tips to the aspiring authors out there.

Coming to the plot, it itself is a bit of a drag at the outset & threatens to run off its course with BB going back into the past. However, the plot picks up pace once we come back to the present before losing its charm in the end again. Most of the characters are under developed since they are created with the sole intention of providing a specific lesson and then they vanish into thin air. Also, there are a couple of parallels drawn between a book and many things, which might not go well with book lovers.

For newbie writers planning to get published and surviving in the literary world, this book is your guide. For others, this novel does take some patience at the beginning, but as you proceed, you will get to know the pattern our publishing industry.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Redeemers by Suresh Taneja

Title : The Redeemers
Author : Suresh Taneja
Genre : Fiction
Publisher :
Leadstart / Frog Books
Pages : 229
My Rating : 6.5/10
Reviewed For : Author /
First Reads Challenge 2013 / South Asian Challenge 2013 / IQRC 2013


One bizarre vacation marked a turning point in the lives of four teenage friends. It dawned upon them that corruption and malpractices had become rampant and deeply ingrained in our culture. They felt anguished and shocked at the shameful state of affairs.

They pledged to redeem and change the destiny of the country. They had only two weeks of vacation left to take some big initiatives. The pressure on them was immense. Status quo or failure was not an option for them.

Read the inspirational story of a unique movement masterminded by youngsters through innovative ideas and creative thinking. Not a single family could escape from its unrelenting onslaught. It was a rewarding outcome for their persistence and hard work, as they nostalgically recall in 2030.

My Review:

The Redeemers by Suresh Taneja is a thought-provoking novel that focuses on a lot of issues that India faces today. In the times that we are living in, it can safely said that the state of affairs in our country has taken a turn for the worse. People responsible for country’s development are exploiting it instead. As a result, our country’s economy is taking  a regressive path rather than a progressive one. Amongst this scenario, reading a novel like The Redeemers is almost like that hypothetical fantasy that you want to happen but know that it is too good to be true. The author strongly believes in the fact that the youth of our country can play a crucial role towards shaping its future & the plot for this read is based exactly on this theme.

The book kick-starts in the future, i.e. in the year 2030, where the situation is totally and astonishingly so, diametrically opposite to what it is today. USA and India have literally exchanged places, India being a super-power & the value of 1INR being equivalent to 100 USD. We are introduced to a group of close-knit friends – G4 - Vikram, Yuvika, Manisha and Akshay. Vikram is the Indian Ambassador to America & the other 3 have gone to visit him in the US along with their families as a part of their annual vacation which is a tradition that is carried down in their families. As family & friends gather, the elders (G4) end up telling the younger generation a story that happened in one such vacation – a story about the great Indian revolution & its aftermath that changed India’s position in the history of world map. The plot then moves back to 2009 where the G4 are in their teens and have gathered with their parents for the annual vacation. On this vacation they face a bizarre situation – a situation that forces them to come out of their privileged cocoons and changes their lives altogether. They finally decide to confront the ugly side of reality & pledge to redeem the country. They launch a unique mass-movement and unrelentingly strive towards changing the destiny of our country.

As I said earlier, the author emphasizes the fact that the youth need to play a pivotal role in moulding the future of our country. Needless to say, the target audience for this read is mainly the youngsters. Through this read, the author attempts to inspire us into action so that each one of us, in our own small way, purge our corrupt system through prompt thinking and innovative ways. Also, the author highlights a very valid point - that the change which we desire might not happen overnight, nevertheless we need to persistently keep striving towards achieving it. However, the most salient feature of this read is that it will strike a chord with every Indian reading this book. Suresh has written in a way that arouses the otherwise dormant patriotism in us albeit it just falls short of bringing out the rebellion. The language is simple & the narration keeps the readers interested. The character development of all the members of G4 was particularly well done, with each of them having their own distinguishing trait & yet they all fit in together in the same group seamlessly. Coming to the downside, the plot as well as the editing could have been more taut. Also, in many instances, the author has presented the discussions & conversations with respect to the groups (G3, G4, G6..) rather than between individuals. At such places, the read seemed a bit strange and impersonal.

All in all, The Redeemers presents a hopeful story that forces us to think if we are doing more for our country rather than just sitting down with our friends/families & having conversations about the downfall & doom of our nation.