Friday, July 29, 2016

In Conversation With Author Aditi Mathur Kumar

Author Aditi Mathur Kumar's latest book Love, Whatever That Means... (LWTM) is out in the market and as expected, drawing a lot of attention from readers and book lovers. What could be a prologue to her first book - Soldier & Spice, LWTM has kept the promise to be witty and entertaining. Media girl Tina is our lead character in LWTM and she is living a normal, uncomplicated life, dealing with her pervert boss and enjoying life in general with her friends. In comes a surprise in the form of an unexpected promotion and from there on, life starts getting exciting. Tina meets a man in olive greens and a dozen questions roll in altogether. Will Virat and Tina click? Will it be a happily-ever-after or will it be a get-out-of-my face kind of a story. That remains to be known after you read the story. Meanwhile, here are snippets of a conversation with Aditi - 

Is LoveWTM a continuation to where we left at Soldier & Spice?

It actually is a prequel to Soldier & Spice. Haha, yes! I wrote Love, Whatever That Means as a prequel to my first book, Soldier & Spice because after the first book, so many people told me that they loved the chemistry between Pia and Arjun, and they’d love to read more about them. So I thought, why not tell the readers how Pia and Arjun met? You know, their romance of sorts. But my favourite genre is Humour, and I wasn’t sure if I’ll be able to write a dedicated Romance story – so I made this one more about our protagonist and her point of view on Love, whatever that means.
And oh, in the later stages of the book and the draft and the editing, I decided to change the names to Tina and Virat. I did this mainly because I wanted it to be a stand-alone book – which it is, and not be bogged down by the notion of not getting the story if you haven’t the first ne in the series. It seems to be working well, because a lot of readers who picked up LoveWTM, have now started reading Soldier & Spice. See, there’s no rule or sequence! *wink*

What is Tina like? Tell our readers a little about LWTM.

Love, Whatever That Means.. is a story full of laughter, friendships and finally, romance. It is the story of Tina, who is caught up in several things at once – a glossy yet demanding job that isn’t living up to her expectations, a set of goofy yet amazing friends, lots of day dreams which fail on all reality checks, among other things. Tina finds love, so something like it, in a stunning Army Officer – did I mention he’s super hot and very, very intense? – but is scared of the What Ifs. This is about her conquering her fears, learning to be brave in the face of adversity and yes, learning to fall in an all-consuming love without any over analyzing.

Also, if you’ve read Soldier & Spice, Tina is Pia.

Do stories come to you or do you create them? How does the process of storytelling work for you?

I hate to admit that for both my books, I started with just an idea of what I want to say through the stories, but no real flow or plan. I do rough algorithms at several stages during a story, but they change very frequently. So, in a way, most of the story comes to me while I am writing it. And I follow my gut – I go with what I’d want to read. The only thing I stick to is the essence of the story, the effect I want the story to have on a reader.

All authors have their own quirks related to writing. What is yours? 

Mine would be being unnecessarily moody when it comes to writing. I can’t follow a schedule, that’s not how it works for me. Some days I don’t write at all, and some other days I can’t stop writing for hours, all consumed in the story. Very erratic, this thing with me is.

Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. An army wife has a lot in her plate. That and with a toddler, how do you make time to write? 

Like I mentioned above, I have no schedule. Most of the times, I am playing pretend games with my daughter, or working/blogging, or attending Army things, or wasting time on social media. I need complete peace when writing, so that obviously is not possible with a kid in the house, especially when the kid in question is always coming up with super interesting new games for us to play. I mostly write at night, after she falls asleep.

Say, someone who wants to be a published author, asks - should one write if they have a story to tell or one should start writing and let a story take shape, what would you suggest?

I think you have to definitely know what you want to say through the story. More importantly, I think before you start writing, you should know how you want to make the reader feel through your words, through your story. Having a rough plot in mind doesn’t hurt either. Basically, you need to know why you want to be a published author and the answer will tell you how to go about it.

How much of the onus towards publicity of the book lies on the author? Many people out there can tell a decent story but social media is not their game. Is social media presence important to reach out to readers and promote one's book?

Till my first book was released, I used to think that the author’s work stops after she/he finished the writing part. I was wrong, and how! Today, the author’s job doesn’t stop at writing a good story, but also extends heavily to promotions. Especially on social media. 

A few authors hire an agency to help out with engagement and social media account management and if you have the budget for this, I think it makes a lot of sense because social media for self-promotion is very, every exhausting. Plus, the agencies know the market well and they can ensure a good hike in sales.

What next? A sequel or are you thinking of dabbling in different genres, maybe?

I want to try a non-fiction next, or a story that deals with serious issues like depression, but with a light treatment. Haven’t started work on anything as yet, so can’t be sure. Like I said, mostly the story comes to me, haha (yes, that’s my lame excuse). I hope to start soon, though.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

#MovieReview: Madaari

Once in a while comes the kind of movie which requires all the laud and praise not only because how well it is made, or how brilliantly the actors have performed, but also because the movie manages to touch emotions set deep inside us. Madaari is one such movie. Nishikant Kamat directed Madaari has Irrfan Khan in the lead and it is said that Irrfan had read the script first after which he had searched for a capable director to handle this subject. 

A social-thriller, Madaari is story about a father who loses his sons and then decides to cleanse the system because no one else was doing so. Also in the cast apart from Irrfan Khan are Jimmy Shergill, Tushar Dalvi and Vishesh Bansal. Irrfan Khan's solid acting and gentle presence took the movie up by many notches. 

A must watch with the family, for the movie will not invoke negative emotions. It will instead urge you to come out of your shell. With commendable direction by Nishikant Kamat, this Vashu Bhagnani film gives a strong message to the society. Irrfan, a techie whose own son had died due to civic negligence which had resulted from corruption, kidnaps a high profile politician's son to take revenge for the death. A regular citizen of the country, going about doing his own job, being as much an ideal citizen as possible, and suddenly his life gets disturbed. Madaari portrays how common people face exploitation in the hands of politicians and other government officials.  

A satirical yat hard-hitting portrayal of how few people in power make the rest dance to their tunes, just like a madaari does to monkeys. Apparently, this is a real life story, the probability of which made the story even more heart touching. If you are looking for a way to spend this weekend with your family, Madaari would be a good choice. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#BookReview: No Safe Zone by Adite Banerjie

On the jacket:

Qiara Rana will do anything to save her mentor and their non-government organization from ruin. Even if it means visiting the city she had vowed never to return to. But within a few hours of landing in New Delhi, she is being chased by a gunman and is a potential suspect in the murder of a high-profile businessman.   The only person she can turn to for help is Kabir Shorey, the man who stood her up ten years ago. Past and present collide in a deadly plot of crime and greed that moves from the cosmopolitan streets of Delhi to the bazaars and villages of Rajasthan.


Love, in itself is a no safe zone. You get into the zone unaware, and by the time you realise, you get sucked into it. Some love the experience and come out happy, while some don't. When I heard that Adite Banerjie's latest book is titles No Safe Zone, it triggered my curiosity. I've read Banerjie before and quite like the kind of stories she spins. So with hightened curiosity, I picked up the book.

Kabir and Qiara are our story's protagonists. While Qiara is a lawyer-cum-social worker based in London, Kabis in a intelligence bureau office in India. I loved the career chosed for the protagonists. Not the they-do-nothing-but-are-very-rich kind of people, but normal people who work hard.  Qiara is associated with an NGO which is in serious trouble because of a particular patron who himself was in trouble. Qiara comes to India to get to the bottom of these problems and meets Kabir with whom she has had a turbulent past. Every time they meet, they leave each other unsettled. And when they meet this time, more drama ensues. 
Things were complicated between the two and it would have been best if they went their own ways. But when does life behave how people want it to? The two get together, somewhat gudgingly, to solve the mystery - him as a part of his job profile and she for the reason she'd come to India in the first place. 
No Safe Zone is not your usual run-of-the-mill romance story but it has drama and suspence in equal dose. A smooth read, since Banerjie is an accomplished author and is already famous for writing beautiful stories. A perfect accompaniment for these rainy afternoons we are witnessing all around the country.

Rating: ****/5

[This is an author request review. However, the opinons expressed are my own and unbiased.]

#BookReview : The Shrine of Death by Divya Kumar

On the jacket:  Prabha Sinha, an IT professional in Chennai, is plunged into a murky world of idol theft, murder, and betrayal aft...