So world book day today… Sending all of you who love to read a happy day. Which brings me to, what kind of a reader are you? Does that question sound weird? 

I have my reading days where I cannot put down a book, and continue reading without a care for food or drink, rain or shine. Then there are those set of days when I have my reading blocs where I wouldn’t touch a book if I can help it. Then there are days in between where I have a book or two around me which I’ll be reading from. My prof tells me to read at least 1000 words a day, and read three books at the same time, a morning, lunch and evening book varying in plot, its degree of intensity and genre. 

I just finished reading “The Killing of Polly Carter” a few days ago. A breeze of a read, a very similar style to Agathe Christie kind of murder mysteries and solving them. It reminded me of one of Mrs Marple’s cases she solved in the Caribbean when she was on vacation. 


Shall I be your Summer’s Day … 

“… a trickle of hot sweat rolled from his cheek, down his neck and into his shirt collar, and suddenly every inch of his skin under his suit seemed to prickle from the blistering heat…” (79) The Killing of Polly Carter, Robert Thorogood. 

Tell me a fav line from the book you are reading. I found this an apt description of what I feel when I’m out in the sun these days. And Thorogood has put its scorching hot and I want to take a shower right now feeling into words. 

Random House Book Review: The Imran Series | Ibn-E-Safi | Translation: Taimoor Shahid (2011)

The dangerous man by Ibn-e-Safi | View all my reviews

Remember him, Mogambo… and Amrish Puri who played it to the T in Shekar Kapoor’s Mr. India. Javed Akhtar says in the blurb of this book that the character was inspired from “Safi’s […] penchant for villains with striking names like Gerald Shastri and Sang Hi …. taught me the importance of creating larger-than life characters like Gabbar and Mogambo as a scriptwriter” Now we know the inspiration behind two of Hindi cinema’s most memorable villain characters.

I woke up to Ibn -e-Safi with this book and I have become a fan, of the writer and his creation, Imran. The two stories, The Mysterious Sounds and The Dangerous Man, form part of the mysteries titled the Imran series.

One more detective character added to my list of favourites. Our detective, Imran, is described as a loaf, who is lazy and crazy quite the opposite of our so-called arrogant Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Others consider him stupid that in turn becomes Imran’s trump card to being unnoticed. Even his father, “Rehman Sahib, the Director General of Intelligent Bureau, thought of him as half-crazy, ox-witted and stupid among other things.” He couldn’t believe that Imraan was the brain behind solving many of the unsolved cases the bureau was investigating.

I chose this book for two reasons, one the name, The Dangerous Man, who does not love dangerous mysterious men, and two, it is a translation. However, what came out of the book is a surprise: For one, it had not one but two stories, two mysteries at that, three, the blurb had recommendations by two eminent people I admire, Agatha Christie and Javed Akhtar and four, this particular translation is the first official authentic one, says its translator – Taimoor Shahid and publisher Random House.

Ibn-e-Safi (also spelled as Ibne Safi) (Urdu: ابنِ صفی) was the pen name of Asrar Ahmad (Urdu: اسرار احمد), a best-selling and prolific fiction writer, novelist and poet of Urdu from Pakistan. The word Ibn-e-Safi is an Arabian expression which literally means Son of Safi, where the word Safi means chaste or righteous. He wrote from the 1940s in India, and later Pakistan after the partition of British India in 1947.

His main works were the 125-book series Jasoosi Dunya (The Spy World) and the 120-book Imran Series, with a small canon of satirical works and poetry. His novels were characterized by a blend of mystery, adventure, suspense, violence, romance and comedy, achieving massive popularity across a broad readership in South Asia. (GoodReads)

Talk about ignorance about our own writers who published excellent literary works, had a sustained readership and fan following, inspired larger than life popular characters on-screen and still stay invisible because they wrote in regional languages; the reason, they were rarely translated into a lingua franca such as English or Hindi! Or it could be my ignorance of books and writers of my country in the regional tongue because I don’t read Urdu.

“I don’t know Urdu but have knowledge of detective novels in the subcontinent. There is only one original writer – Ibn-e-safi.” – Agatha Christie

Film Review: Grand Master (2012) | Malayalam | B. Unnikrishnan | Mohanlal, Naren, Jagathy, Priya Mani, Anoop Menon


I loved the film. Period. Therefore, I was a little disturbed and surprised at the not so good reviews.

To me it seemed to be one of the better made thrillers in some time in Malayalam filmdom or Mollywood as some refer to it.

Mohanlal in the character of the head cop is different from the aggressive cop roles played by Suresh Gopi in Commissioner and Tiger. It is also different from the Sethuram Iyer roles played by Mammootty in the CBI series. If this character has to be likened to somebody it has to be the cop played by Anupam Kher in A Wednesday. If my memory serves me right, Mohanlal plays the role assigned to Kher in A Wednesday’s Tamil remake.

As in films, this head cop has a past, a briliant past as a police officer  that is brought down like a stack of dominoes as a result of a personal crisis. The current case, the ABC muders and the murderer brings his past into the present; his personal past gets entangled with the professional present. Most of the murders are revenge stories, this one is no different. However, the narration takes the audience away from the personal and the vengence in the first half. It makes us focus on the professional present and while we are at it, the narration takes us back to the past. Every character falls into place and the film ends in a grandiose way.

The two motifs that take the film forward are the motif of the stage and the motif of the chess board. Grandmaster, the title is related to the game, and in the film the battle is between the cop and the murderer and among them who wins the title of the grandmaster… the tweaks in narration and narrative flow is brilliant where at every move, there is the scene of the two players on either side of the chess board. The face of the villain/murderer is revealed in the end. The film enters its climax and resolution through the motif of the stage. Both Shakespeare (stage) and the mystery writer Agatha Christie (ABC Murders) are remembered.

The dramatics and the face paint on the villain in the end, especially during the scene when he is lured on to the stage where his identity is revealed is brilliantly executed. There is an aftertaste of a drama there…. the spotlight, the exits and entrances… The film brings to life… what is oft quoted from Shakespeare’s As You Like It:

“…. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances …”

The plot of the film is such that one man sets out to direct a set of serial murders – a set of ABC Murders, however he also makes a cop a participant in it. The police chase begins … Apart from the Bard and Christie, a third idea comes from the Da Vinci Code*… where, a man, the dummy killer is persuaded to commit the acts of murder (Aside: believe that for the time being), the cause – religious persuasion leading to blind faith in one human being…. whom he thinks is God himself!

The songs are hummable… Arike vaAranu Ni is catchy. Edited to add: it is much later I realized from an interview that vijay yesudas sang akaleyo ni… love it, it runs as a loop on many days, beautifully sung. The man sings very well, and has a range. For instance, mangalyam from bangalore days is also sung by him, but it is of a very different timbre.

One cannot rush through the film… The slow pace, gives it the edge, the intermittent scenes of Mohanlal with the Chess Boards, with his nameless, faceless opponent gives a meta view of the tale itself….

  • Babu Antony’s make-up and make over – good.
  • The kid who plays their daughter – charming
  • Mark Roshan is expressive
  • Anoop Menon should come in cameo roles 🙂
  • Priya Mani’s saris – loved them
  • Naren looks so toned down in body as well as acting….

There is no rush of the youth, it is a calm mental game…calculated of course. I hope I have not put forh spoilers 😛


Blogadda Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X | Keigo Higashino



The Devotion of Suspect XThe Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

The Devotion of Suspect X is a translation of a Japanese crime fiction into English. A page turner where we the reader know all the details as to who killed whom and who helped to shove away the body, still with all details the reader reads on to know how it plays out in the minds of the police officer and his sidekick friend (the genre of the Sherlock Holmes tale, Bhyomkesh Bakshi, look at any, almost all the time they have an assistant). A popular crime story with all the elements of the detective fiction in place where the mystery lies in how the writer grips the reader to reading it to the end in one go 😉 and that’s art 😀

How is it different>>>>> It is not in our regular Perry Mason or Agatha Christie style, here we know all the whos of the who-dun-it. It is a matter of how the police figure out, how it was done how-dun-it may be. The mystery is in the reconstruction of the crime scene.

Intertextuality >>>>>> As always, the first thought that came to my mind when I saw the book cover, was an earlier book, quite popular, a bestseller which was made into a movie and (did it win an award?) Memoirs of a Geisha, especially the cover page, the eyes and the face and the hair falling on the face… #reading memories

And for a change, we are taken away from the all so familiar western setting of a story, the US or the UK or the Continent, to our eastern neighbour, Japan. Like in the story of the Geisha, Oshin (remember Oshin, an oldtime DD1/2 Japanese serial)

Together with the plot of the story, we discover Japan as well. We enter a new scape, the outside and the interiors of a home with new names to new items of furniture to begin with, sliding doors, it is a little difficult to remember the names–character, places, things, flip a few pages back and forth and you get a hang of it… the description is just right that we walk with the Maths teacher up the river, looking at the dwellers there, looking back if there is a green bicycle in the parking lot…

The feeling is that of being under Potter’s invisiblitly cloak following every action of the characters without their knowledge, like a meta, our place is that of the reader and the silent observer in a new place…

A few tips, if you are reading it for the first time, look out for words that repeat, I wonder how many times, the word logic and its adjective logical is used from page 1. Hold on to it, and combine it with the clues where it is most often used and you are set. Nothing out of place, just like a crime scene wiped clean of all the evidence and then a reconstruction of it… that’s what this story from Japan is all about…

You’ll enjoy it 🙂 I certainly did.

PS: I’m fascinated by cover pages, it is one of our immediate entry into the space of the book, it works like an advert trying to entice a reader to pick it up and read. The book was released in English in 2011 and with a year and a half, we have so many different covers and a couple more publishers. The red of the book attracted me when I spotted it first at the airport a month back, and to my joy, Blogadda gave away 100 copies to review… (And FYI, Harish does send reminder emails when the review is not up on time :P)

This review is part of the Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. To Get free books! Participate now!

Something to keep you occupied on that long bus/train journey or on a lazy day when it is raining outside, and a cup of coffee beside you, or when you have just finished your work and you need to relax …Highly recommended 🙂

Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered. When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that day, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense, and it will take a genius to understand the genius behind this particular crime. One of the biggest-selling Japanese thrillers ever, and the inspiration for a cult film, The Devotion of Suspect X is now being discovered across the world. Its blend of a page-turning story, evocative Tokyo setting and utterly surprising ending make it a must-read for anyone interested in international fiction. (Summary from Flikart)

Author: Keigo Higashino| Book Name: The Devotion of Suspect X (2005 in Japanese) (2011 English)| Genre: Mystery & Detective |Police Procedural | Puzzle | Translation

Happy Reading folks

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PS: View all my reviews