The Common Man Speaks

10Dec/170

Short story: The Kashmiri girl who waited for her father to return

The newspaper vendor at the corner of a quite road in a town in Kashmir was disappointed with not many customers turning up to buy the papers that November morning. He wasn’t surprised though. Who would pay to read the same set of news taking place in the valley?

24 hours ago

Nazia was sitting by the window of their wooden house as dusk neared. The cute 7-year-old was anxiously waiting for her father to return home. At times she would venture out of the house and gaze at the long road ahead. His return would determine whether she would be able to go to school the next day. The principal had given a final warning to Nazia’s parents, who have been unable to pay her fees for that year.

KashmirThe thought itself of not having the company of her friends next day onwards was too depressing for her. Her school was situated right in the middle of few picturesque hills. In fact, the entire town was an epitome of natural beauty. The greenery laden hills turned white during winter after snowfall. The flowerbeds, on the other side, provided perfect compliment.

Kashmir was nicknamed jannat (paradise) for a reason.

Bu the lives of the people from the lower strata of the society, like Nazia’s, didn’t resemble a paradise by any means. With most of the town folk struggling to make ends meet, their inner feeling was complete contrast to the beauty of the town. Just like Nazia’s father, who relied on odd jobs for his family’s survival.

It was a result of the tense political situation in the valley, which can be felt in the air. Clashes between extremists and army had become frequent. ‘Stone pelting’ had lately become the new keyword with regards to the valley.

What made life even tougher was that currently it was the ‘off season.’ November is the time when tourist footfalls decline by a great deal. As a large number of men worked as guides, the off season was no less than hell. So, when they would spot a group of tourists, they would literally hound them. But they can’t be blamed as they have stomachs to fill.

KashmirNazia started getting worried as the sun was about to set. Sundown happens here sometimes even before 5 pm. As she was staring onto the mountain behind which the sun would set any moment, her father emerged in his usual slow walk.

He would always flaunt his red muffler around his neck. His body language and smile told Nazia that his father had managed to get the sum for her school fees. This was confirmed when he happily broke the news after entering the house.

The next day Nazia cheerfully walked to her school. She passed through the newspaper vendor who was disappointed with hardly any newspapers being sold that day. To kill his boredom, he picked up a paper and glanced just to pass his time.

The front page splashed the news of a stone pelting incident that happened in their town the previous day to oppose a political leader’s visit. The picture showed a group of people aggressively pelting stones at a government building. A man standing at the front had a red muffler around his neck.

By: Keyur Seta

Kashmir mountains

3Dec/170

Photos: Shikara ride and Houseboats in Dal Lake, Srinagar

Think about Srinagar and the first thing that comes to your mind is Dal Lake. The capital city of Jammu and Kashmir is completely based around the iconic lake. And once you think about Dal Lake, you automatically see the visuals of the beautiful little Shikaras (boats).

In fact, Dal Lake without Shikara is like body without soul. One can find a large number of them going around the lake in their sweet, own pace. Just like an antithesis to the fast moving world we all are used to. The boats are in different colours, each offering a new dimension to the waters below.

Shikara

The Shikara ride is a soothing experience in itself. The man riding the boat will show no inclination of hurrying up whatsoever, which adds to the serenity. To see other pretty boats passing around you offers a childlike pleasure. Most of the times, the men riding the boat nearby you will offer a smile.

Despite it being a hand ridden boat, the Shikara offers very comfortable seating. There are cushion seats on both sides, with one side offering the luxury of almost lying down while feasting on the view.

A man selling vegetables on his Shikara.

At times, you won’t feel as if you are in the middle of a lake because of the frequent vendors that would pop up regularly. They sell varied range of items like saffron, clothes, dry fruits and vegetables while you will also find professional photographers.

A floating canteen or fast food corner took us by pleasant surprise. To sip Kahwa in the Shikara was quite something. The guy also sells snacks like Maggi, pakodas, Chinese, Pasta and some beverages.

Fast food stall

Fast food stall

The problem area is that the vendors can get too pestering if you refuse to buy. This is seen not only in Dal Lake but in other areas of Kashmir too. The other minus point is that the water of the lake has become quite dirty. But the efforts of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) can be seen in cleaning up the lake daily.

The market

The market

Some distance away at the far end lies a market selling textile and show piece items. There are proper shops, so one is required to alight from the boat to pay a visit.

The green vegetation might appear as if it is floating but the area is actually hard ground. And it is not a wasteland or weed. They grow vegetables in and beneath it.

The vegetation

The vegetation

The Dal Lake also has hundreds of houseboats lined up.  They are proper hotel rooms with all the facilities one would expect. Staying and, most importantly, sleeping in rooms inside a lake is quite an experience. These houseboats don’t float like they do in Kerala.

Houseboats

Houseboats

The Hindi film Mission Kashmir was shot in one of the houseboats here. Being a film buff, the very mention of Kashmir makes me recall the Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta starrer. This was the film that enlightened many in the country about Kahwa.

Few more houseboats

Few more

A passing Shikara

A passing Shikara

Pictures and write up: Keyur Seta

19Nov/170

Disclaimer: This short story has nothing to do with Padmavati controversy

The bright and sunny day at the little but picturesque village of Shantigram became all the more delightful for Ramcharan and his team. At the end of the final rehearsals, they all heaved a sigh of relief. Now they were convinced that their puppet show would indeed turn out to be a success.

Ramcharan’s troupe has been working day in and day out to tell an important story from their old folklore. It was the saga of valour of their ancestors that they were eager to show to the people of today’s generation. Abundant wealth and hard work had been put in. But they were sure it will all be worth.

But a rude twist awaited them just a week before their first performance. It came in the form of a team of blood-hungry goons who vowed to make sure the act will never take place. Led by Rankesh, they were infamous for their hooligan methods against those who they felt insulted their culture, tradition, pride and what not. In fact, they don’t even show qualms in killing their ‘enemies.’

Puppet show

Photo courtesy: Griefhealed.com

Rankesh and his pals just assumed that Ramcharan’s team has distorted history in their performance and portrayed their ancestors in ‘bad light.’ The artists tried explaining that they haven’t shown anything of that sort. But Rankesh was adamant. He just won’t let the performance happen.

At night, Ramcharan and his group members went to the village Sarpanch. He and his team were chosen unanimously by the villagers few years back as they expected terrific governance from them. This is what they had promised when they were selected and had even proven it through some of their welfare works.

The Sarpanch couldn’t meet them as he was occupied with something. But he sent a message through his second in command that everything will be taken care of. Ramcharan and others heaved a sigh of relief. That night they slept peacefully after days. Two days to go for the performance now.

Next morning, while they were just about to reach the area of rehearsals, where the stage was already built, they could see Rankesh and his men were already present. They were standing few steps besides the stage brandishing an array of weapons and a smirk on their faces. Ramcharan and the rest could feel their mouths drying up. Will they be the next victims?

Just like clouds suddenly dispersing making way for the sun, the artists saw Sarpanch’s best men charging to the area where the goons stood. What brought Ramcharan and others more confidence was the fact that they too were carrying a wide range of weapons.

The axes, bamboos and spears did a lot of work as the Sarpanch’s men attacked in full force and enthusiasm. However, despite such brutal use of force by Sarpanch’s comrades, Rankesh and his men didn’t even get a scratch.

Seconds later, standing opposite each other, both the parties had a hearty laugh as the stage remained demolished besides them.

Disclaimer: As said in the headline, this story has nothing to do with the Padmavati controversy.

By: Keyur Seta

12Nov/171

Flamenco-Kathaa: The Kathak and Flamenco fusion gives you a tremendous kick

Kathak is a classical Indian dance form. It is based on two words – Katha – which means story and – Kathaka – the one who tells a story. Hence, Kathak involves telling a story through dance without the use of words. On the other hand, Flamenco is a Spanish dance form.

Normally, a layman would consider the two arts forms poles apart. But Kathak performer Aditi Bhagwat and Flamenco artist Kunal Om revealed the similarities between the two dance forms not just verbally but through an awe-inspiring collaborative performance in the show Flamenco-Kathaa. The show was recently performed at the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai.

The roots of Flamenco can be traced to the gypsies in Rajasthan. They traveled to various countries like Romania, Egypt and Hungary before finally settling in Spain, where they developed the art further. It is performed on a wooden board since the performer uses his strong shoes almost like musical instruments.

Kunal Om and Aditi Bhagwat

Kunal Om and Aditi Bhagwat

Among the few similarities between Flamenco and Kathak is that they both contain 12 beats.

To put it simply, Aditi and Kunal created an electrifying effect through their respective acts and co-ordination. It was not jugalbandi in actual sense. It was more like complementing each other. There were regular moments where the audience was forced to applaud. Kunal creating music out of shoes is hard to believe, especially if you are watching it for the first time.

There are chances of dance performances not being gripping enough after a point. But that is avoided here through the sequence and types of performances. The support of the rest of the artists – Aditya Kudtarkar on the Cajon, Tanay Rege on the Tabla, Shruti Bhave on the Violin and Anubhav Suman as the vocalist – and their brilliant solo performances cannot be ignored.

The vocalist’s rendition of ‘Tu Hi Tu’ from Dil Se (1998) deserves mention; also because one doesn’t expect a popular Hindi film number in such shows. It came as a pleasant surprise.

Every performance ought to have the best moment. Over here, in my opinion, was the Mahabhrata Kathak act on the incident of Draupadi’s disrobing and Lord Krishna arriving in time to save her.

Bhagwat played various characters from the Mahabharata with amazing ease and did justice to all. She convincingly narrates the story without saying a word.

Overall, Flamenco-Kathaa is an entertaining dance show that gives you a tremendous kick, even if you happen to be a layman like me.

By: Keyur Seta

Kunal Om

Kunal Om

5Nov/170

Pictures: Ferry ride from Gateway Of India to Mandwa

This is something I have observed among people in Mumbai (including me). We visit far off places very often but fail to relish the experience of nearby destinations. I have been to various places in north and south India. But I explored Pune properly for the first time in May despite living in Mumbai all my life.

The same happened again last month during our office trip/ picnic to Alibaug.

Alibaug or Alibag is a coastal town in Raigad District of Mahrashtra. It is considered an ideal picnic spot. People usually spend time over here on the famous Alibaug beach or the various resorts and guest houses. The easiest way to reach there from Mumbai is to take the ferry or jetty ride to Mandwa from the Gateway Of India and then go by bus.

Gateway of India

Just halfway during our ride from Mumbai to Mandwa I was amazed by the experience. This also made me regret not experiencing this before after growing up. The last time I took the jetty to visit Alibaug (via Mandwa) was way back in the early 1990s, which I hardly remember.

We took the more comfortable and kind of luxurious jetty called Maldar. It costs Rs 125 in the lower deck and Rs 150 in the upper. I would advise you to go for upper so that you get a chance to visit both sections during your journey. Upper deck ticket holders can visit lower but that isn’t the case vice versa.

They also have an air conditioned section costing only Rs 15 more. But it doesn’t make sense to sit in the AC and not experience the sea ride from the open. The ferry also serves snacks and beverages at reasonable rates.

The journey from Mandwa to Alibaug is around 30 minutes by road.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures from our ride:

Alibaug ferry

Alibaug jetty

Alibaug ferry picturre

Ganga K ship

Ganga K ship

Oil plant Arabian sea

Arabian sea

22Oct/170

Book Review: Dance Of The Spirits

Supernatural stories contain at least one of the following elements – ghosts, souls, miracles beyond human explanation and occultism. Some of these are also present in author Sanjai Velayudhan’s novel, Dance Of The Spirits.

But it follows the route of a normal, simple story. This makes it appealing and intriguing even for those who don’t believe in the supernatural and just wish to feast on a normal mystery book.

Dance Of The Spirits revolves around Krish, a consultant working in Dubai. He lives with his dominating wife Lakshmi and daughter. Circumstances compel him to visit his native place Kerala to write a book revolving around the dance form, Theyyam. Once home, he reunites with his school friend Ajay, a chauvinistic cassanova.

Krish comes across a foreign tourist Maria and gets fascinated by her. He finds himself drawn to the beautiful lady and slowly becomes her companion. She too is here to study Theyyam for her thesis. What is this association meant to be?

Dance Of The SpiritsThis is one book that makes an excellent use of flashback. Before the story goes back few months, we are told right at the start about a passionate extra-marital affair and who dies in the end. But instead of being a spoiler, this makes the narrative more interesting and gripping as you eagerly wait for the event.

Velayudhan ensures that the wait turns out to be a pleasant one. This well-structured story is developed smoothly with some well-etched characters. We are given lots of in-depth knowledge on the art of Theyyam along with the culture, history and socio-political situation of Kerala. In other words, Kerala becomes a familiar character even if you haven’t visited it. But nowhere does it make it sound like a documentary.

The author has achieved high standards in writing despite using simple language. Like I have said quite a few times before, the key is to make it friendly for anyone from a literary expert to someone hailing from vernacular medium. The editing too needs to be lauded here for no major errors.

But what takes the cake is the supernatural connection to the story. It is not something that is done in a straightforward manner. We are told a supernatural tale and are asked to draw conclusions on the incident in this story. But at the same time, this is a rare supernatural story that gives you an option of not believing it if you wish to.

However, regardless of you believing it or not, you would surely go back to the start and few other portions to join the dots. Doing this increases the effect.

The only kind of negative point here is that the narrative becomes too descriptive when it comes to describing a person or a place. Similarly, the entire chapter on the character of Lakshmi could have been shortened to get on with the story. These aren't major put offs though, thankfully.

Overall: Dance Of The Spirits is a fascinating novel that gives a new dimension to supernatural stories.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Sanjai Velayudhan

Publishers: Leadstart publishing

Cover: A picture of the Theyyam performer. The sight is pretty but at the same time gives a mysterious feel about the story.

Pages: 268

Price: Rs 299

19Oct/170

Secret Superstar Review – A story of two secret superstars

A small town character wanting to be famous through an art he or she is passionate. Sounds familiar? Of course, it does.But debutant filmmaker Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar ensues that you won’t even think of films with similar themes due to quite a few reasons. This also includes the special touch of Aamir Khan. The actor-cum-producer has delivered another winner!

The story revolves around Insia aka Insu (Zaira Wasim) who stays in Baroda with her parents, younger brother and granny. She dreams of becoming a singer. However, she knows that her super conservative and patriarchal father won’t allow that. In fact, her father is so ruthless that he beats up his wife at the drop of her hat. Later on, the eccentric music composer, Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan) enters her life. But will her dream ever be fulfilled?

Secret Superstar includes a superstar as part of the cast. But it’s primarily a content oriented film. Every such film needs top notch writing if it needs to appeal and this is exactly what is seen here. Chandan has provided a well-structured screenplay that has the right balance of funny and emotional moments. He has brought in the various turns at the right time and in a matured way.

Secret Superstar posterSecret Superstar isn’t all about a teenage girl’s dream. The film actually makes a powerful social statement on the lives women silently go through even in 2017. It does make you sad at the ruthless patriarchy, which was the intention. Another good thing is that it does that without saying anything about the issue. This is a major reason why the film manages to stand apart from other films of similar themes. Secondly, you gradually realize that the phrase ‘Secret Superstar’ can also be used for the character of the mother.

Films of this genre tend to go downhill post-interval. But in the case of Secret Superstar, it’s the opposite. The film, which was already appealing in the first half, goes onto the top gear in the second when Aamir’s character gets more screenspace. Later on, the all-important climax becomes the trump card. The main point of the finale is delightfully appealing despite the absence of melodrama.

The film has a flaw at one point related to the humongous views received on YouTube. Another act of rebellion in the second half is also a bit far-fetched. These are not big issues though.

A film about music has to have impressive songs. The ones over here might not appear like hit materials but they certainly serve the purpose and enhance the narrative. Singer Meghna Mishra, who is Zaira’s voice, is another secret superstar here. She plays a large role in bringing in the effect.

Secret Superstar is laced with brilliant performances. If Zaira Wasim was impressive in Dangal (2016), she is incredible here. You just can’t stop being impressed as she brings in various shades of her character with finesse. Meher Vij, as the mother, deserves equal praise. She too succeeds in moving you no ends. Needless to say, she should be seen more.

As the ruthless and psychotic husband and father, Raj Arjun generates fear every time he appears. His single expression is enough to frighten you. Aamir Khan brings in his talent on display once again. He scores high in the transformation from an energetic cassanova to a caring individual, as is expected from him. During one sequence in the car, he tries a bit hard though.

Kabir Sajid, as Insu’s brother, is adorable. Farrokh Jaffer, as the old lady, and Mona Ambegaonkar, as the lawyer, also create impact.

Overall: Secret Superstar is a delightfully moving saga about fulfilling one’s dream. But the film is not limited to that. As far as box office is concerned, it relies heavily on word-of-mouth since it is pitted against the commercial caper Golmaal Again.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Advait Chandan

Producers: Aamir Khan Productions

Cast: Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Aamir Khan, Raj Arjun, Kabir Sajid

Music: Amit Trivedi

Genre: Drama

Release date: October 19, 2017

8Oct/170

Kaasav (Marathi Movie) Review

When I saw director Makaran Mane’s Ringan: The Quest, which released earlier this year, I felt it would be almost impossible for any Marathi movie to match up to this film in 2017, considering the kind of Marathi films made this year.

But I am too glad to have been proved wrong by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar’s Kaasav. Although the subject deals with psychological disorders, the film provides a thoroughly beautiful feeling through various deep meanings.

Kaasav revolves around a depressed and disturbed youngster (Alok Rajwade), who is literally loitering on the streets of Mumbai. He attempts ending his life but is saved by concerned people. He then aimlessly boards a tempo that is going to Konkan. Janaki (Iravati Harshe), a social worker and a kind soul, finds him in a semi-conscious and ill state at a shop on the highway.

She decides to look after him at her sea facing apartment despite him being a complete stranger. Janaki works for the welfare of sea turtles. Despite her constant efforts, the young guy doesn’t co-operate and throws tantrums. In fact, he doesn’t even reveal his name. Who is he and what is him aim in life? Janaki calls him Niche.

The director duo succeeded in narrating a heartwarming tale out of a story based on a mental condition in their last film Astu: So Be It (2016). They raise their bar even higher through Kaasav.

Kaasav movieThe film starts off as a serious or somewhat disturbing tale of a person’s psychotic behavior. But the narrative gradually brings in newer layers about various human aspects without making it sound preachy. To put it simply, it says a lot without saying much.

The film’s portrayal of loneliness is completely relatable to people from today’s era. For example, a character states that, these days, despite having hundreds of contacts in their phones, some people are still lonely.

What makes the film reach bigger heights is the deep meaning behind the title. The character of Niche resembles land and sea turtle on different occasions. The manner in which the sea turtle analogy is established makes you applaud the creativity and its execution.

In addition to the top-notch content, the icing on the cake is the beautiful location of Konkan, which is artistically captured by DoP Dhananjay Kulkarni, and the two soulful songs.

A slight drawback here is that the back story of Janaki is hardly narrated. This would have helped in knowing her more and having sympathy for her. But, as mentioned before, it is only a slight drawback.

Kaasav is blessed with utterly realistic performances. Alok Rajwade plays the suicidal and disturbed character of Niche with flawlessness. His slow transformation also displays his raw talent.

Iravati Harshe makes terrific use of the opportunity to play a deeply caring individual who is battling her own demons. It is difficult to find people in Janaki in today’s era. But her act provides hope that it is certainly not impossible.

Kishor Kadam, as Harshe’s servant, once again displays his dedication. In the role of Harshe’s mentor, Mohan Agashe does what was required. Devika Daftardar, who is a favourite of these filmmakers, leaves a mark despite playing a cameo. The boy who played Rajwade’s friend and the one who donned the role of the helper at Harshe’s place are also praiseworthy.

Overall: Kaasav is a deeply moving saga that leaves you super impressed. This one is easily one of the best Marathi films of the last few years. Director duo of Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar has once again given a winner.

Special note: It is shocking that a film of this caliber has got just ONE show in the entire city of Mumbai. More so since it has won the National Award for Best Film. The makers have assured that the shows would be increased in the coming days. Fingers crossed!

Rating: 4.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Directors: Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar

Producers: Mohan Agashe, Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar

Writers: Sumitra Bhave

Cast: Alok Rajwade, Iravati Harshe, Kishor Kadam, Mohan Agashe, Devika Daftardar

Music: Saket Kanetkar

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 104 minutes

24Sep/170

Newton Movie Review

This year has seen big budget films being rejected by the audience, some even starring superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan. But at the same time, the audience has helped films with quality content succeed at the box office. Hindi Medium, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan are some examples.

Now, we can add Amit V Masurkar’s Newton in the list. In fact, it deserves a top place as it’s by far the best Hindi film of 2017 so far. The makers have tackled a super serious issue of the relevance of voting in a severely naxal prone area in a humorous manner without taking away the main essence.

The film tells the story of Nutan aka Newton (Rajkummar Rao), who starts his government service in Chattisgarh. He is an epitome of honesty and idealism. He gets a chance to handle the voting process in an area deeply hit with Naxal activities. How Newton goes about forms the rest of the story. His biggest thorn in the path is a tough army officer (Pankaj Tripathi).

Newton posterNewton doesn’t follow a conventional story pattern. It just provides you a glimpse of an exercise of voting in an area where getting people to vote is almost impossible. We have heard numerous times as to how culture changes in India every 200 kilometers. However, very few of us would have got the opportunity to witness this reality so closely. For city dwellers, this wouldn’t appear like our India.

The film presents the ghastly situation in the deeply naxalite areas without taking any sides. It doesn’t take long for you to realize the messed up condition of the people living in these areas with hardly any hope of resurrection. It takes a dig at the notion of democracy in such areas of India but doesn’t question its importance.

However, all these realistic attacks don’t prove heavy whatsoever due to the humorous approach. The film is peppered with humour in almost every situation. It is extremely difficult in terms of the writing and presentation to make sure the main issue doesn’t get lost in the laughs. Newton takes care of this perfectly.

The pace drops somewhat in the middle. An act by Tripathi’s character is questionable later on. Thankfully, these are minor issues and they don’t qualify as proper flaws.

The production design makes the scenario believable, especially the school where elections take place. The camerawork is up to the mark while the background score is as minimal as possible, which goes with the nature of the film.

Rajkummar Rao is going through a terrific phase. His utterly honest and dedicated performance here once again shows that he is one of the finest actors in the country currently. It will be an understatement that he makes Newton believable. You realize that there can’t be a person more honest than Newton.

Pankaj Tripath makes his mark felt yet again this year. The actor once again forces you to notice him through his powerful act with shades of dark humour. Anjali Patil made a terrific debut with Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh (2012). She continues the goodness here as she actually appears like a local. Raghuvir Yadav is lovable, as one expects from a veteran artist like him.

Overall: Newton is an example of honest storytelling that makes it the best Hindi film of 2017. Personally, I feel its selection for the Oscars is just. The film saw a huge jump in its box office collections yesterday. With the very positive word-of-mouth, it is sure to turn a safe bet for the producers.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Amit V Masurkar

Producers: Drishyam Films

Writers: Amit V Masurkar and Mayank Tiwari

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil, Raghuvir Yadav

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 107 minutes

13Sep/170

Book Review: Return Of The Trojan Horse

Author Amit Dubey’s Return Of The Trojan Horse is a crime novel consisting three stories – Return Of The Trojan Horse, Independence Day and That Little Girl. They all revolve around the character Amit, a young software engineer, and the senior cop Dilip.

The book is worth savoring for those who enjoy thrillers. Its biggest strong point is that it’s a fast paced page turner. There is some high and deep usage of technology. Thankfully, this part is simplified as much as possible.

More about the three stories:

Return Of The Trojan Horse: Amit suddenly gets a call from a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) officer who knows everything about him. He urges him to help him and his colleagues learn hacking and other security techniques in order to safeguard the country against terrorists. After initial refusal, Amit agrees. But he has no idea that his rendezvous with terrorists can prove to be fatal for him.

What works the most here is the twist in the middle, which not only makes the tale interesting but also adds to the thrill. You do wonder about Amit’s naïve behavior at one point. But that was imperative for the twist and the author has managed to hide it well. Hence, it doesn’t bother you much.

The Return Of The Trojan HorseIndependence Day:

Balwant Singh, director of a well-known public sector company, gets kidnapped on August 14. The kidnappers demand a ransom of Rs 2 crore from his wife, who has no idea how she would manage such a huge amount. The government of India’s reputation is at stake since their own person has got kidnapped just when the security is so tight a day before Independence Day. Amit’s technical expertise is sought to solve the case.

This is the best of the three stories. We have been through too many kidnapping dramas in Hindi films. But this one doesn’t appear repetitive. This is largely because the investigation and the consequences in the end produce tremendous thrill and tension. The finale is very crucial in such kidnapping stories and this point is also taken care of well.

That Little Girl:

A rich fellow loses control of his car while being in a drunken state and crushes a group of homeless people. Some get killed and others get injured. One survivor is a little innocent girl who gets severely injured and loses her parents. Amit is heartbroken looking at her condition. He vows to help Dilip solve the case and punish the guilty.

The story follows the same fast-paced narration pattern. The investigation process with respect to trapping suspects is interesting. But the problem here is the climax. It not only makes you sad but is also not presented convincingly. Plus, the entire episode with the journalist at the start wasn’t necessary.

There are few issues that are noticed in all three stories. There should have been more depth in Amit’s character. In order to make it a fast read, the focus is too much on the dialogues instead of the narration of the tale.

But the biggest issue is the editing as one can regularly spot errors related to sentence framing and in the spelling of ‘Khyaam.’ Also, the use of sexism to create humor is questionable in stories that are otherwise modern and progressive.

Overall: The Return Of Trojan Horse is an interesting thriller book that makes for a fast read.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewed by: Keyur Seta

Author: Amit Dubey

Publishers: Leadstart Publishing

Pages: 258

Price: Rs 249

Cover: Artistic close-up of a keyboard along with an image of a Trojan horse