BOOK REVIEWS, top post on indiblogger

Book Review – Destination Kakori – By Smita Dhruv

Around 22 years before India got her freedom, few young boys in their early twenties challanged the mighty British empire and sacrificed their lives for the independence of India. The Kakori train robbery took place on 9 August 1925 during the Indian Independence movement against the British Raj.
The robbery was conceived by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan and was executed by these two along with Rajendra Lahiri, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarty, Manmathnath Gupta, Mukundi Lal, Murari Lal Gupta and Banwari Lal.
On 9 August 1925, the Number 8 Down train travelling from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow. It is believed that they looted this train because it was supposedly carrying the money bags which allegedly belonged to the Indians and was being transferred to the British government treasury. They looted only those money bags ( ₹ 8000) from the guards’ cabin.

Smita Dhruv

Ms. Smita Dhruv has weaved an engrossing fiction around this brave act of young sons of India who were totally committed to the freedom of their motherland. Though we know of only few leaders who fought for our beloved country’s freedom, there are many more Indians who had fought for India’s freedom but their names are no where to be seen. “Who are these hundered and thousands of people?” This thought used to disturb Smita a lot and became the basis of this amazing book. Freedom neither happened in a day nor was the result of efforts of few handful of leaders.

Smita created a fiction which is based on not so known incidence of “Kakori Conspiracy”. But it really shook the mighty British empire. This book shows the trying times which was faced by families when their young children revolted against their own parents to join independence struggle and how their families suffer emotionally and financially.

The story started in the backdrop of cancellation of Non-Cooperative movement by Gandhiji which has disillusioned the youth of country who had participated enthusiastically and made it a successfull movement. The main characters of the story are – Banvari and his brother Satish, close friend Mukund Pandey and Leena (sister of Banvari and Satish), who was married to Mukund in the later part of the story. Some representation is given to Britishers too, which shares the view point of Britishers. The story is in the form of narrations by each of the characters and strongly shares the emotions, anger and struggles of each one of them.

In our history books, we were taught about the sequence and the major event but what this book has brought is the humane side of common man who had contributed to India’s freedom struggle. This book has brought the common Indian to the centre stage. As one goes through the book, one feels to be part of the history. I felt as if I am walking along with the characters as they walk through their life. Many a times, I had goosebumps and tears while going through the struggles of their families who were suffereings but still supporting their children in their fight against British Empire. Leena, the only major woman character in the story represents the role of women in freedom struggle while maintaining their family responsibilities. Author is able to paint a very realistic picture by sharing the social ethics, frustrations, struggle and strong will of the committed Indians of those times. It is a successful attempt to revive the shining moments of the valours of brave Indian freedom fighters who were not given enough credit. The book has successfully portrayed the mental agony, dillemma, financial and survival issues of the freedom fighters and their families.

Smita has done lot of research and met with the families of many freedom fighters to listen to their memories and experiences. This is the reason, she has been able to bring authenticity to the story and transported readers back into those times.

This book is a must read book for our young generation to know the sacrifices of our people in getting freedom which they are enjoying now , the price being paid for it and value their struggle.

Highly recomended to read. You can buy this book from below links.

Amazon Online Gatha


Book Review – Unspoken: A Bouquet of Short Stories


Unspoken is a collection of seven short stories of colorful moments of life. You can immediately relate to the happenings in the story. It appears that you are part of it. The stories are quite captivating in a simplistic way. The writer has avoided unnecessary detailing and focussed mainly on the plot of the story. In a way, the stories are crisp and do not have unwanted details to distract the mind from the main issue.An easy read, these short stories  are clear and are heart touching. They are of various themes like, love, friendships, relationships, life.

Each story is weaved through simple life’s happenings in a natural flow and as one goes through, it feels like being a character there in. The fervour of each story is contemporary and she has touched many emotions and situations which one sees around us in society. More so, they are not run of the mill kind but present a fresh perspective on the situation. 

The stories do not just leave you after reading, they will stay with you. The open ended finishing leaves much to think about. The seven stories leave an impression on the reader’s mind as they all explore human relationships with a fresh and contemporary perspective. Whether it’s about long distance relationships or exploring one’s own sexuality or accepting the children’s choices, the book covers it all.  The stories bring about a lingering question and end with a meaning and resolution. They appear to be real and as if they happened in our life around us. 

In short, these are an excellent bundle of stories.  The book is written in a simple, lucid writing style and it is highly recommended. The writer is young and her fresh views are seen in in her writings. Wishing Sadhna Wadhwa  good luck and looking forward to more !








LIFESTYLE, Movie Review


With lockdown, the movie theater has come into my bedroom because my TV is in my bedroom 🙂 . Though not a great movie or TV watcher, once in a while, I do scroll different apps. Yesterday, I happened to go on Netflix and Pagglait caught my attention. I misunderstood it for “pigtail” as Paggtail was not in my vocabulary. I watched it’s trailor and liked it. So gave my almost 2 hours to watch this movie.

Pagglait covers the period between Astik’s cremation and tehrvi, the concluding ceremonies on the 13th day after his passing. The title comes from the word “paagal”, which is Hindi for “crazy”, “mad”, sometimes “foolish”. It indicates the churning in Sandhya’s mind and in her life during this decisive phase that leads her to unleash the “crazy” within her.

Cast: Sanya Malhotra , Ashutosh Rana, Raghbir Yadav, Sheeba Chaddha, Sayani Gupta, Chetan Sharma, Rajesh Tailang, Meghna Malik, Preeti Khare

Director:  Umesh Bisht

Story: This is the story of a young woman who was widowed soon after marriage  and  unable to grieve. The behaviour of  quirky relatives and a startling discovery about her late husband has helped her to grow as an independent person. Beyond the mourning family activities like family gossips, financial wranglings and personal tensions all are woven through with deft direction  but keeps its focus on the family’s  attitude towards the newly widowed woman.

Sandhya Giri (Sanya Malhotra) loses her husband Astik soon after their marriage. His relativs condemn her in the way Hindu society often does in such circumstances. “No, she is not Manglik. Their horoscopes were matched,” one of them (Meghna Malik) tells someone in the film’s opening moments. This  sums up the protagonist family  “Giris” and their extended family as not the worst among conservatives, but they are not progressive either.

Sandhya is like any girl next door, who lets her elders decide for her. She has so far gone along with choices made on her behalf. Her MA degree earned her a husband with a salary that impressed her middle-class parents. She got married to the man her parents found for her. Now that he is gone, she is struggling to figure out why she feels no sadness.

This calm narrative style is a strength. It is matched by the shades of grey in all the characters: none of them are all-out evil, but they are no saints either, and they err in the most human of ways.

Pagglait then is not without hitches, but it is all heart with substance to match. The spotlight remains on Sandhya throughout, but the sidelights too are rich in detail, from observations about forbidden love and sexually curious teens in a traditional family, to that gorgeous Lucknowi home, and an unlikely bond forming between women who would have been pitted against each other by a writer prone to stereotyping.

There’s the grieving father discussing gadde (mattresses) ka rate, an elderly relative (Raghuvir Yadav) simmering at the raunchy, inappropriate door bell, Nazia Zaidi being served tea in special, separate cups, gossip, snide remarks, old grouses, a bed-ridden Daadi, one know-all government-servant relative.

It is a very creative experience to hear the call of a muezzin laid over the opening aerial shot of the city (Lukhnow)from wherethe camera travels all the way to Shanti Kunj where Sandhya lives. You can relate to every sequence of the film. Teenage love between cousines, family’s reaction to Sandhya’s Muslim friend who stays with them for 13 days, change in the relatives’ attitude when they got to know about 50 Lakh received by Sandhya from insurance and an affair of her husband with his collegue. You have it all these and much more.  Sandhya’s churning from all these as a strong and independent woman, the movie has all of it. It is definitely a movie of our times of changing social norms.

Hindi films, even progressive ones, have down the decades depicted widows as tragic figures. There is nothing miserable or sentimental about the portrayal of Sandhya. Not that she is a Rani Laxmibai either. She’s a regular woman leading a regular life of conformism who has an awakening in the midst of a tragedy. Pagglait’s big win is that it spots the potential for extraordinariness within apparent ordinariness.

The only break in Pagglait’s tone comes with the song ‘Phire Faqeera’ playing in the background at one point.  The title track is generic, but ‘Dil Udd Ja Re’ and ‘Thode Kam Ajnabi’ are pleasantly pensive albeit too similar sounding to each other. Singh has filled it with female singers, which is unusual even for women-centred Bollywood films. Neeti Mohan is lovely, and I love the buttery-voiced Himani Kapoor who sings ‘Thode Kam Ajnabi.

Ashutosh Rana, Sheeba Chaddha, Rajesh Tailang, Raghubir Yadav , Sayani Gupta and Shruti are excellent.

Bist maintains a deceptively equanimous tone throughout Pagglait, although it kicks off with a tragedy and what subsequently occurs with Sandhya is also dramatic.

A must watch film, if you love the small town anecdotes.

Rating – 4/5

Photo credits – Google