Book Review: Love has its Various Ways is the invisible force of the universe

Book Review: Love has its Various Ways

Author: Divya Kapoor

Genre: Self Help and spirituality

Rating: Four stars

Book Cover


Life is never known to put us on a pedestal. It is ruthless and often takes away our self-worth. Depression is one thing that gnaws us and bites us like termite in every breath that we take. Nobody can claim to be safe from the blows that life deals, be it a lack of self-worth, frustration and career swing where we suddenly find ourselves in shamble. The uncertainties and vagaries of existence can haunt us where happiness becomes a traded luxury.

Author Divya Kapoor approached me on Linked in for the review of her book, ‘Love has its Various Ways ‘where she takes a methodical approach to treat the issues that we face in everyday life. It would be wrong to confine this book under the tag of self-help but a gem that will accompany you at every step in life and push one’s boundary to fully explore the self at every stage.


Divya Kapoor gently explores several issues that touch lives where she offers a step-by-step approach to face the downside of things. We often stumble but willfully ignore the factors that make us an emotional wreck.  The book touches several aspects where the human mind and the body are constantly at odds that hit a new low every single day. The mind is not free from ailments. We are often surrounded by several negative people who bring such toxic energy that bogs us down and contributes to make us lose our self-worth and mental peace.

I like the caterpillar and butterfly analogy which is striking and powerful at the same time.  The pain that the caterpillar goes through before it takes shape into the colorful butterfly reminds us how change can tear us apart but at the same time, it takes the form of self-growth and empowerment. Life calls for drastic changes that allow us to discover a world of extraordinary and limitless possibilities when pushed to the brink.

Self-destruction mode is something that none of us is immune to and there are many who live a dead existence, losing the zing and mojo. Divya explores this issue of ‘US against US’ where she taps into the energy flow that we attract through our psyche and energy. The ingrained pessimism inside us will only bring negativity and it’s interesting to see how the whole thing works like a tide. There is a need to question established norms and beliefs that lead us to grow from strength to strength as a human being. Accepting the status quo has never led us anywhere. The book serves as a reminder and it shakes us to act.

Ever wondered why we are in a pit most of the times! There is a fear within us and it grows mightier that sucks our energy, hence, paralyzing our well-being. It’s a conditioned response, Divya observes.  But, she brings to the fore small exercises that we can do to flush it out. It’s about killing the fears. Most of us have gone through the mental blocks which are fed inside our mind.

I really like the three bones advocated, the wish bone, backbone and the funny bone. The sense of oneness and purpose coming face to face with the real are priceless learning that will make this book not only your guide but a friend that will equip you to face the trials and tribulations. Loving the self should be above everything.

The book includes a work book, from day 1 to day 10 which is very therapeutic and as I glean through them, I not only felt light like the light feather. It’s the real me. The exercise explains in detail the Emotional Freedom Technique (ETF) which every person in my humble opinion must go through. It’s a must have book. I personally love what Divya says, ‘Invisible force of Universe.’ Don’t resist and let it carry you.

Final Words

It is not just a book but a friend, an inner voice that must be nurtured and made part of your journey. Don’t push this force and tenderness away from you! It’s called Divya Kapoor’s Love has its Various Ways.

You can check out Divya Kapoor’s blog, check out the book blurb on Gooodreads, and click to buy it here. Check here for more details and the You Tube channel.





Book Review: KJO’s An Unsuitable Boy bare it all, is honest and triumphs with style

Book Review: An Unsuitable Boy


Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena

Publisher: Penguin

Released in 2017

Rating: Four stars,204,203,200_.jpg


Karan Johar is a brand name for success in the movie industry and it’s no secret that he is a man with the Midas touch, having a strong business acumen on the winning formula at the box office. There are very few people in the industry who are ready to make open revelations on what goes behind the curtain or bed sheet, giving an insight into his private life, paid sex or the different power games or the relationships balance that gives fillip to our minds. KJO has a larger than life personality and like his movies and chat show Koffee with Karan, An Unsuitable Boy offers a king size adventure not only in the life of the filmmaker but his growing up days, film-making journey, taking the mantle of Dharma Productions, Bombay days and grappling with sexuality. An Unsuitable Boy is similar to Karan’s movies, the ups, and downs faced in both his career and personal life but at the end of the day, triumphs with style.


The book starts with his growing up years in this building called Acropolis in Malabar Hill in Bombay and according to the film-maker, finance was a real struggle at home. Now, that’s quite a revelation when Karan says that his Dad, producer Yash Johar was able to make both ends meet by profits earned through the family export firm. The only hit in Johar senior’s two decades old career before Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was the Amitabh Bachchan-Shatrughan Sinha starrer Dostana so much that Karan as a young boy was discouraged to get into films.

The book traces his interesting journey, right from assisting Aditya Chopra on DDLJ, to write sequences in the film, the story-teller quality that was always inherently present in him, to be clueless on the first day of shoot, striking a close friendship with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol to ultimately making Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH). It’s quite hilarious to read about the film’s premiere when the new film-maker received death threats and was confined inside Liberty theatre while all he wanted during all these years was to see Shammi Kapoor walk out of his Mercedes to see his premiere. He did.  It was his moment of fame and glory but was soon sent back inside the room where two body guards played darban.

The book is honest to the core, right from taking over Dharma Productions to bringing back his college friend Apoorva Mehta from London to see things over and Anil Ambani handing him a chit that contained investment, bank account, and go-to-people details. Of course, Karan confesses on what went behind the scenes during the shooting of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna which is based on extra marital relations. How many film makers would open tell that most of his actors, right from Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta, except Abhishek playing the wronged guy, whined about the subject-matter? That’s quite a confession to make because as a creative person, there is a certain ego to justify your work but here is a man saying how he hated KANK and the reality behind the whole saga.

He provides a sharp, bare it all and insightful take on marriage and extra relationships that most of us prefer to hide:

‘You find me one marriage that has opportunity and hasn’t succumbed in it. They experience it at home, brush it under the carpet and move on. There is a huge latent hypocrisy in our society…sometimes you do love your spouse but you’re not necessarily turned on by them after two decades of marriage. So they come back with a guilt and a present…Is this the reality of our times? Where is that old school resilience? Is divorce the new marriage?’

How interesting! The questions asked by the film-maker are not something many of us are comfortable to face but we wilfully run away from. It’s the reality in today’s times. The confession of joining an online dating service, unrequited love in the past and the nerve-racking experience of paying for sex deserves respect for the filmmaker choose to come out in the open in a brazenly honest manner. He openly confesses of seeing a counselor after facing depression and the need for medication to calm him or experimenting with popping a pill in Goa that did nothing to him ecstasy wise but went to sleep. There is a certain fun in the seriousness that KJO injects in the book. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

KJO is not shy in speaking about the fall out he had with close friend Kajol following Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, gently broaching on his sexuality, an entire chapter devoted to his association with Shah Rukh Khan whom he consider as a brother or his closeness to Gauri and the kids.

Of course, being a celebrity in the age of social media is no easy task where you are subjected to all forms of ludicrous public scrutiny. It’s something that he assesses in a competent manner on how the younger kids are too worried about failure or too careful to take risks. Compare it to the Khans who hold a controlled megalomania but the people feel close to them because of their relatable quotient and endearing quality. Or, Amitabh Bachchan is an exception where no one knows what goes inside his head but there lies a certain mysticism and silence that makes him relevant and so loved even in today’s times.

What’s Not!

Karan Johar should have been more open about his sexual orientation taking into account that he speaks about the lack of relatable factor when it comes to the younger brigade of stars. Perhaps, that would have broken the ice and make his personality more endearing that people could have related more to him. But, then, it’s his personal calling and something that we should respect. The book is an odd 216 pages which give the feeling that it’s quite short on the enigma that Karan Johar is becoming in the film industry. Salacious and juicy, something which I feel is somehow missing in parts.

Final Words:

‘There is no nepotism any longer. Film-makers are bringing in new cultures with their own style of film-making…Hindi cinema is actually not an invasion, it’s an inclusion. A new kind of content is being made and appreciated.’

An Unsuitable Boy is not just a book but a vivid journey tracing the life of one of the most successful film makers in the Hindi film industry. It’s a bold account. The best thing about the book is that he touches the various issues with a certain raw reality and credit goes to him for saying how Indian cinema will become more relevant globally with the kind of experimental movies being made. I have always been against this commercial versus art debate for it’s my firm belief as a film critic and passionate cinema goer that either you make a good or bad product. Casting aside the whole nepotism fracas, An Unsuitable Boy gets so real and whether you adore or abhor KJO, this book is a compelling read and a page turner so much that you will laud the man for the courage shown. It’s the book’s USP for it lays bare everything under the sun. A must read in the world of glitz, glamor but also what lies behind the curtains.



Book Review: The House that BJ Built is trance to the mind

Book Review: The House that BJ Built

Author: AnujaChauhan

Publisher: Westland Ltd

Rating: Five stars

The House That BJ Built by [Chauhan, Anuja]

‘I’ll make my sisters squirm like well salted earthworms.

I won’t sell. Even my jutti won’t sell. And if I die na, then even my gosht won’t sell!’


A dint of imagination, soaking readers in a trance at the posh Hailey Road in Delhi and making one swirl to the cocktail of romance, wacky characters, and pricey women, spate of lies and lusty encounter. A family feud in full throttle and the crazy Bonu who explodes at the drop of a hat gives a high that it’s almost impossible to recover from it. Anuja Chauhan’s writing hooks from start to end where she takes her readers in a flawless journey that win hearts to make it an eternal romance tale that flows like alcohol in the vein. The book is an addiction and the cherry on cake is that she takes, ‘The House that BJ Built’ where she left, ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ to make it a cheek-by-jowl narration.  Certainly, Anuja Chauhan is the Queen of romance that tickles the funny bones and the non-veg jokes are lent so much dignity and once you flip the last page, it takes days to recover from it.


The late Binodini Thakur had been very clear that she would never agree to sell her hissa in her Bauji’s big old house on Hailey Road. And her daughter Bonu is determined to honor her mother’s wishes. late Binodini Thakur had been very clear that she would never agree to sell her hissa in her Bauji’s big old house on Hailey Road. And her daughter Bonu is determined to honor her mother’s wishes.


‘Tharki Thakur…obvio…this abstinence shit you’re pulling out is fuckin’ unhealthy…Two months of no action…All your juice is gonna back up inside your body…clog your bloodstream and give you gigantic pimples. You could even burst like, one gigantic pimple’

Rolling your stomach and churning in pain for you know there is no GST on laughing. It’s Anuja Chauhan for you. Sensual writing, tickling, sharp and divvy characters that capture the hearts to make it an epic and joyful ride as you enter the world of shtick, sympathetic and jaunty faces that comes alive with force. Anuja Chauhan whips a storm of relentless laugh and her observation of quirky characters teasing the readers endlessly and giving their imagination wings to fly.

The characters,  from the Thakur sisters whom you love to hate to the endearing Trings are as sweet as the mouth-watering Gulab Jamun. Of course, Bonu aka Bonita Singh is explosive as one depicts her twisted mind, cham cham and on your face ‘I don’t give a shit’ meeting Samar Vir Singh. There is hate, love, friendship and, of course, Samar’s buddy Zeeshan bloviating at length on his ‘glorious’ vocabulary of cusswords. The romance between Samar and Bonu takes it to another level, serving sauce a la Debo and Dylan in the earlier outing, living up to the adage, the more the merrier. Of course, Steesh is back as the suave businessman and rekindling romance with Eeshwari in the ‘losing control’ moment that sets the adrenaline spurting on a high. There is nothing that beats the Pricey Thakur Girls, right from Anjini to Debo and Eeshwari with Chandu. The debilitating Chachi-ji serves the cracker pot right and her stories make the tickling sensation run amok from top to toe. There is evil of course with AN Thakur who is in contrast to Judge Narayan Thakur’s character.

Anuja Chauhan’s makes a strong and subdued statement at the same time on citizens we consider as second class…the Tring Brothers and the peek into the film and fashion industry which is effortlessly fun. Case in point is the epic conversation between Bonu Singh and Susan.

Hardly any brownie point, except if you want to count the forgettable Mustaq Khan which is more a blink-and-eye character that doesn’t really fit in the novel.

Final Words:

If there is anyone in India who can claim the mantle of rom-com writing, there is no dispute about it. It’s Anuja Chauhan. She takes The House That BJ Built to another level right from the spicy humor to the lovable characters and, of course, aur jee item song or Tharki Thakur. The one-liners are weaved in an intelligent fashion.  The spunky writing simply grows on you that you will abandon everything on earth to flung yourself in this universe. Time to move over Chetan Bhagat for Anuja Chauhan sashays like a storm. Sad, that I stayed away from her books all this while but gonna lap everything that comes from her, Battle of Bittora or Baaz. Dirty words can be sexy, glamorous and spicy! You cannot love romance and shamelessly confide not reading Anuja Chauhan’s Pricey Thakur Girls and BJ’s House.

Postscript: It’s a non-commissioned review and grab your copy at Amazon and follow the author’s FB page.




Book Review: Love & Vodka is wine to the mind

Christina Strigas is a wonderful friend, based in Montreal and her poems are gems that make sensuality a powerful affair. I’ve been off book reviews for a while but sometimes, you need a friend to kick the lazy bum that you are into action. I took a hell long time to do the review and reading the book but when I did, it flew like gentle breeze of caress. Chrissy words on her blogs can inspire someone to create poetry out of nothing and do subscribe on her space. Apologies for taking so long to put the review. Here you are:




Love and Vodka-a book of poetry for glass hearts

By Christina Strigas

Genre: Poetry

If poetry is sheer madness and exuberance, word is wine to the mind. A dash of emotions, oodles of sensuality gently caressing the mind, sheer passion running through the soul and it tastes like the hurricane force of intimacy. Love and Vodka is the gentle breeze that captures everything aesthetic as the author invites you inside her world and emotions running deep through modern love, resist, love, dirty talks, tug of war and see you anon. The book takes you by storm and doesn’t leave any shred of emotion unturned, flinging right in front of your fate and existence. In one shot, it’s exuberance in all its forms.


Christina’s choice of words is fearless and limitless making the soul alive and vibrant in all its forms. There is no limit to anything yet it embraces everything. The ‘conversations with my daughter’ is gentle and removes all burdens of past, present, and future where gap is just a word that society imposes as a stamp. Words that simply cuddle you and snuggle into the arms of an invisible love reaffirm the faith in sheer madness and messy. Be real. Christina sends a gentle but provocative message. Her words provoke and push you to an octane level, whether making love, caress or fuck.

‘If you could fuck just dare

to fuck the art in me.

The kind of sex

That would put us

Both on fire.’

She is unabashedly unapologetic and her words create a stormy furor inside the mind and body. Outrageous would be an understatement yet we love it like the wind shaking our roots violently. The tales of cities be it Brooklyn, New York or Montreal builds a visual image of free spirited soul, unshaken by boundary to embrace love, sorrow or sheer intimacy. At times, the words weaved are poignant and arcane. The writer takes you on the wide roads and cities teemed with the bustling crowd to explore the You with passion. ‘Death’ brings you face to face with the reality that you avoid with comfort but punch you hard. It knocks you down. The world becomes a dreaded existence.

It’s one sentence, simple but pregnant with meaning: ‘You can’t break up with a soul mate’. How many of us reflect on it but shrug it off? It’s the reality, the tale of our lives. The bond is deep and eternal beyond lives.

As she depicts her city or cities she lives in, a flurry of emotions pans out and paralyzes the soul that we were and cherishing the words as if our universe has stopped in an abrupt manner. The moment of joy, craving for lust and breeze that kiss our skin to make it a living experience.

‘Naked before you…snug top…words between us like sand in an ocean…naked and embrace the demons talk to them.’

Isn’t it enticing and mysterious at the same time like the reality of life sounding like a mere illusion?

The segment ‘Dirty Talk’ transgresses the bodies and skins to make it the truth serum for the soul, hardness, stiffness, and sex expressed in art form. Lust can be aesthetic. Words that cover not just the body but the love, craving for a fuck, enslaved but caught in the flurry of intense emotions. It’s a masturbation but of the mind.

‘When you fuck me,

We still make love…Do you want to fuck me?

Like what?

So honestly.

Do I make you wet?’

There is a certain honesty that many of us are shy to ask and it’s a crude form of art that shakes us off our comfort zone. The human identity is given wing and reality told in a blunt manner.  In ‘Lines of Insanity’, Christina explores the shaky existence that we take pride in and reminds us how we stop living to become dead souls.

There is ‘see you anon’ where the author treads on earth, souls and the end of it. Death can be intense and the fallacy of existence is treated in such a powerful manner through prose.

‘It is when the coffin settles, the sculpted wood evaporates, the mud dries on our boots.’

It’s about live life on the edge, tromping dangerously with ‘weeds’ making rhyme and love to make one’s mind dance and swirl to heavenly bliss.

The poem ‘Ticket Train’ is the abstract observation of life and painting of the flow of human emotions depicting love affairs, murder, rape and the death of a cat that pricks the skin and sends shudder down the spine. There is pain that overpowers the soul as we wonder where one stands at the juncture.

Christina’s ‘12 steps to writing is a real gem, one after the other, exploring the nuances of words and is sensual art on canvas to make writing simplistic yet intensely beautiful. The writer has a gift, ‘For You, The Reader’ which tastes like honey, unbridled and mystic sensuality that flow like ink kissing the naked soul. The writer traverses minds to make poetry unabashedly sexy.

Final words:

In short, Christina Strigas through her book, ‘Love and Vodka’ takes her readers on a trance and a journey of illusion. I never know that illusion and imagination could look so beautiful and enticing. A brilliant poetry collection that will stoke your creative bulb and make minds steamy, transgressing barriers.


You can the buy the book on Amazon. The author can be contacted on her website. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.




Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum offers scholarly, in-depth analysis of women issues


Book Review: Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum

Authored by: Dr Rachna Arora & Deepika Sharma

Released in 2016 by Authors press, New Delhi

Rating: Four stars


Today, March 8, the world celebrates International Women Day and it is important to reflect on the place held by women in society who makes several choices that defines their life, career and issues that plague them in juggling family and professional life. The book, ‘Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum’ assesses issues faced by women in their married life which is often dictated by a patriarchal society that treats the ‘fairer sex’ as inferior and roles they are expected to play in society. Often, religion, rites and rituals get the upper hand where women face the ire of misplaced rules in society. The author addresses several themes pertaining to relationships, expected roles for women, stereotyping and equal values which seems to wane by the day. The issues treated in the book is timeless, relevant during the bygone era, the present and the future where it seems dogmatic views has not changed an iota no matter how much we shout hoarse about equality in society. In short, ‘Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum’ serves as guide in terms of practicalities in offering first-hand account and is a small bible that has explored in-depth the role of woman in their married life. Let’s analyze the focal points.


“Post marriage, my life has become miserable because of constant interference from the family members. I am expected to take permission from my in-laws before buying clothes for myself. Privacy is an alien concept in the house, as my sisters-in-law walk freely into our room at odd hours.”

Authors Dr Rachna Arora & Deepika Sharma use first-hand accounts in exploring the situation of women who often lack the support of their respective husbands in several instances and points out at the so-called happy and long-lasting marriage. Pride is taken in a society like ours where divorce is taboo. Unfortunately, many of us prefer to evade the grim reality and we proudly wear the veil of seeing everything hunky-dory but had we chosen to look behind the curtains, a box of Pandora would unveil right in front of our eyes. In this book, the right questions are asking on the role of mother in-laws in the way they treat their daughters where honest questions and assertiveness is recommended for the woman so that she is not taken for granted.

The role of extended family is also being addressed and the courtship period where the mandatory six months is recommended before a woman takes the plunge. The authors recommend on the need for a woman to put things in perspective and not succumb to the pressure of tying the knot. Oh! The famous log kya kahenge and if needed call off the engagement off if the ‘stone-aged’ influence of doggedly keeping rituals, customs and traditions arise.

What I like the most in the book is that it has several Dos and Donts, checklist on how to gauge a prospective groom and aspects where a woman can work it out or cannot compromise with in-laws. I think before getting married each and every woman must have a checklist before going ahead. The book has a must have list that addresses pressing issues such as a realistic approach to marriage, knowledge about laws and legal rights and financial security, among others.

The uniqueness of women should be celebrated in all its forms and it whittle down to personal choice. The hair style, choice of jewellery, weight or shopping shouldn’t be a matter of seeking approval on the eve of marriage. These are simple things but something which the authors deemed right to remind women whose individuality are often lost in translation.

The book points out at life post marriage where a woman suddenly finds herself at the cross-road with labels such as bhabhi, devrani or jaithani. A strong message is sent: Treat us like a daughter and give equal treatment. The main points are often on the need for a daughter in law (DIL) to be answerable and boosting the image of an ideal bahu or the fact, she will learn and manage on her own. The authors explore the various issues and discuss communications as an effective tool for a healthy relationship. It’s about the need to engage directly with in-laws and be assertive when things go awry. It’s important to accept new relations which is often tough, taking into account that a girl is leaving her comfort zone and ‘privileges’ at home. It’s a two-way traffic, I’d argue. Be assertive and learn to say No matters above everything else not to crush the self or individuality.

A whole chapter is devoted to patriarchal nature of society where the father-in-law expects his morning tea and owing to the protocol for DIL in India, whose parents never get special treatment. It serves as a great contrast, as the authors rightly figure it out, how women don’t make demands to the Jamai Saab. It’s a tragedy in today’s time how parochial and patriarchal our society is ingrained in rules dating back to the dark age. Or, the preconceived notion when it comes to arranged marriage where the woman is controlling the man and this cliché that she is too independent.

There are passages like, ‘The girl is too cunning, that is, why she has brainwashed our son… He chooses a girl he loves, she would not want to live with us after marriage…This boy is married to a girl from the hills. These girls are so cunning and into black magic…He has married a different culture girl, these girls are mithi churi.’ Sounds familiar!

In the chapter, ‘Self-Empowerment: The Key to Happiness’, the authors points at common stereotypes where women grew up with rules such as women don’t laugh loudly, a shame to play sports, your rightful place is in the four corners of the home or a woman is respected after marriage because of her husband.

The authors make a great pitch for parents to instill equal values among girls, urging her to say no, curfew applying for both women and men as well as addressing the much-dreaded menstruation which is treated as taboo. It’s no secret in many homes girls going through menses are treated like outcasts and it’s time to throw out such illogical and ridiculous practice where society, albeit parents are to be majorly blamed. A woman going through menses is a normal being.

The authors devote an entire page in the form of a chapter to in-laws, reminding them of shared efforts in a household which is not the sole domain of a woman, the need for reciprocal relationships, keeping a check on personal boundaries and avoiding comparisons. It’s much-needed tips for parents-in-law in today’s times.

The husband or hubby to be is also urged to take a stand for women and it’s his responsibility as an equal partner to voice out against social injustice or helping during the adjustment period.

What’s Not!

Honestly, I am not going that route in pointing out at flaws in the book since it’s a scholarly product where the authors have used extensive survey, much to their credit and case studies to support their claim on something obvious. It’s a worrying aspect in the way we treat women as second-class citizens after marriage where she is expected to fulfill social obligations without reasoning.

Final words:

The work of authors Dr Rachna Arora & Deepika Sharma in Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum must be lauded for their in-depth analysis and critically assessing the position of women in the marriage sphere. This book should serve as a reference point for organizations such as National Commission for Women and the case studies as a guide in drafting legislations to protect women, upholding their rights in society. A brilliantly explored scholar work that serve as a guide to the Government, academic institutions, NGOs and helping to spread awareness, raise mass consciousness and educate. Full marks to the authors for urging us to question rules that discriminate against fellow human beings. Such nonsensical rules should not only be questioned but chucked out. It’s written in a simple and direct language, that makes it easy to understand minus technical jargons. Go and grab it.

PS: The book has been given to me for review by the authors through my good friend, poet and author Soumya Mohanty Vilekar. You can buy the book on Amazon and check out more on Goodreads.


Book Review: Smitten with Smita

Book Review: Smith Patil, A Brief Incandescence

Author: Maithili Rao

Publisher: Harper Collins

Rating: Four and a half



I have always felt a deep and strong connection with one of the best actresses that ever sashayed on the Indian silver screen, Smita Patil. Her looks, smoldering expressions and the raw intensity in her eyes haunts you and captures the heart. There was almost something about Smita-ji that stays forever.  For me, she is and will always be a Goddess. And, to think, when she died I was very small. Having been born and brought in an Indian family outside the country, I remember that as a child once Dad took me to a concert when Amitabh Bachchan came to perform. He waded his way on the stage with tears in his eyes. I recalled or, like my Dad explained, that Bachchan said that he just got a bad news that one of his closest friends in the industry, Smita Patil, passed away after delivering a baby boy.

It’s a dichotomy that I watched the movies of Smita-ji after she passed away and whenever I think about her, read her impressive work or watch her, tears flow down the eyes. That’s the kind of cosmic bond I have with one of my favorite actresses. It doesn’t come as a surprise that I ordered Maithili Rao’s book Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence on this personality who is intriguing and soulful at the same time.

The author has provided a detailed insight and description on the life of Smita-ji, the heart of gold that everyone was attuned to and someone who remains unaffected with showbiz, her craze as a ‘biker woman’ and the huge body of work in a short span of time. In my world, she is a Mom, sister, friend and perhaps, we were connected in an earlier birth if something like this exist. She is a national phenomenon which the author has successfully unraveled in decoding Smita the person, daughter, and actress. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that as a reader and admirer, you are invited into her life and give the sense of interacting with the actor where Maithili Rao makes you a part of her existence. It feels that she never left us.

The book is divided into her Puneri roots, reluctance to move to Bombay and her movies described as ‘Her Dasavatars-her artistic outing and how she makes the leap into commercial cinema. The cherry on the cake is the different testimonies given by theater actress Vaishali, filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai’s love letter to his favorite actress, film critic Deepa Deosthalee on ‘Smita and Deepti Naval poem and Nandita Das heart felt letter, ‘Smi: The Sister I never met. It makes you choke with emotions. I did. I cried my heart out.  In Smita Patil and her Dasavatars, Maithili Rao shared tit bits on the critically acclaimed Marathi movie, Mantham, Jait re Jait, Bhumika, Umbartha, Arth, Sagar Sarhadi’s Bazaar, Mandi or the commercial outings where she shared screen presence with Bachchan in Namak Halal and Shakti.

Smita-ji was in a hurry, tells the author who spoke about her questionable choice in mainstream cinema where the actor went on record to say the reason she is acting in them is because she wants her audience to grow bigger to her artistic outings. A Brief Incandescence is not just a book but a real-time experience in re-visiting to the past where there are interesting snippets on Smita-Ji being an unwanted child, her shift from Marathi medium to English, the Doordarshan newscaster who had such an impact on the viewers that Vinod Khanna would storm home to watch this newscaster that haunts or her passion as a biker woman. Yes! I bet that not many of us knew about it.

Born to a politician father Shivaji Rao Patil who served as Union Minister in Maharashtra, Smita-ji has done a lot of selfless work for the poor, in particular women but she is not known to push her way to reach the pinnacle of glory. It’s a rare insight on how Mahesh Bhatt pushed her to be selfish and competitive, two personality traits that never belonged to her. The author offers interesting insights on how she remained unaffected by showbiz where she would go out of her way to hug a spot boy on sets and would brush away the whole ‘I am a star’ kinda thing. Smita Patil was not known to be someone fettered by convention, whether in her choice of friends, films or personal relationships so much that when she constructed her house in Bandra, she wanted the construction workers to be her first guests. What a human tragedy that she wasn’t alive to see the sea-facing bungalow that she spent years in chosing the land or doing the house! The family fed the construction workers in the bungalow after she passed away.

The famous song Aaj Rapat Jaye in Namak Halal is something she abhorred doing and Amitabh Bachchan testified how she has complained about doing something she hates but completed it with some convincing by the supersta. Smita-ji nurtured a passion for photography and her shots were showcased by an IIT professor Trivedi who discovered the rare pictures that she clicked and screened, ‘Through The Eyes of Smita’ who was the new cinema icon and captured the dream girl Hema Malini in all her forms. Such is the power of the author Maithili Rao who makes us discover the real Smita Patil!

“She had full knowledge of what she was doing, how and when to open the lens, take out parts and reassemble them. I was surprised. I asked her, how do you know all this. Camera is my shaukh, she replied. If it is my passion, I will learn everything about it.”

-Amitabh Bachchan

The endearing and humane quality in Smita Patil is narrated by Arun Khopkar, “The stardom didn’t weigh heavy on her shoulders. Once she became a friend and you kept the trust, there was no change in the relationship. She has become a kind of role model for women in Maharashtra. Here, was a woman with no airs, whom you could directly approach. She was direct, she had no contamination…”

It’s hard. I mean, an uphill task to draw loopholes on a book that has been written so well, be it the choice of subtle language that captivates readers or the research to decode the person behind the book. Perhaps, the writer’s quest to justify art movies and discard from commercial ones where Smita’s choice of films are questioned. I think she knew what she was doing and her justification, ‘..was one way of enlarging the audience for art cinema once its actors become stars of mainstream films.’

The afterword by mentor, Shyam Benegal who penned a letter to Vidya tai (Vidyarao Patil), Smita-ji’s Mom in the form of a beautiful poem by Persian poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, best describes the actor and the person behind the frame. A Brief Incandescence: Smita Patil is not just a book but an experience in understanding your favorite actor that still haunts you decades after her death. She was an enigma. It’s a cinema guide where the author has laid bare the rich repertoire of work that Smita Patil has done over the years and details about her filmography is given.

Smita Patil is a phenomenon. Her mythical looks, eyes expressing sparkling fury and is one of the rarest actors who doesn’t need to deliver punching lines but the eyes did the talking. What is it about her that years after she is gone, she stays with you forever? Perhaps, a soulful experience and an enigma with a sixth sense who could get a feel about someone who was on the verge of meeting a near fatal experience read Bachchan. It’s a book that touched my inner soul and that will stay with me forever.

There hasn’t been anyone like Smita-ji and will never be. It comes as no surprise that since 1986, we haven’t had another Smita Patil. We will never have. I have decided to write her a letter every year on her birthday or death anniversary, perhaps my way to be closer to the gentle soul that she was. A healer in the truest sense. I always extend my gratitude to her.

The book shouldn’t be missed for Maithili Rao gives such as brilliant description and her words evoke emotions, building a vivid imagery of the star and the person behind the image. Smita Patil was destined to be in such short time.

Postscript: I got the book on December 13, this year and perhaps, it’s a strange sheer coincidence that it came on her death anniversary.





Book Review: Glitter and Gloss is the season’s rom-com read

Book Review: Glitter and Gloss

Author: Vibha Bhatra

Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Released in: July 26

Pages: 184

Rating: Three and a half stars



A cocktail of love and break ups, crazy roomies, and friendship exploring the erogenous zones makes Glitter and Gloss an explosive read this winter. It’s the first time I am reading Vibha Batra and she cooks a unique appealing dish of romance, friendship and bitching that makes Laughter Challenge fade in comparison. The book is breezy and the spasm of laughter pumps the adrenaline with Vibha effortlessly exploring the nuance of relationships that never loses steam and it makes her latest romance outing all glitter and gloss.


Misha is a make-up artist who, after a series of mishaps and twists and turns, falls madly in love with Akshay who reciprocates her love with ardour. The only hitch in this perfect romance is her prospective sister-in-law who thinks Misha is everything a Bahu shouldn’t be: garrulous, geeky, gawky, gainfully employed (especially the last bit).

Blurb credit:


The life of Misha as a make-up artist can be drab and routinely blissful in the company of besties, Poulomi and Samy who love hating each other but adore the main protagonist to death. Misha’s bestie is on a mission to save Misha before all the guys go instinct and urge her to hunt desperately for a date. It comes in the form of a fleshed out version of Fawad Khan who doesn’t trot on a horse as the black and shine armor when he comes across Misha in a fashion show. The narration and dialogues are effortlessly done in a constant flow that will make readers laugh their lungs out.

The book will be identified with Gen X and the author makes no bone in sketching the narration in such a manner to tap relationships complexities. Glitter and Gloss truly live to its genre of rom-com with the one-liners and funny situations. The light moments are not forced on its readers and provoke peals of laughter.

The character, Poulomi, is one-of-its-kind and the in-your-face chick that will take us back to our college friends for we all had that one friend for whom the world never goes around and it can be merrily twisted to one’s bizarre imagination. The hero of the book, Akshay is described as a charmingly unique mystery man and Misha gets an adrenaline rush and oxymoron crush drooling over his sexy quotient. Like in the movies, the man comes as a savior to the heroine where love gotta ignites fire.  The first kiss, stoked with ‘head dip and lips brush against mine’ happens in the unlikeliest situation to create a dynamite of sort. The author should be credited for creating the first kiss in the unlikeliest situation or place and injecting intimacy and hilarious touch at the same time.

“He tears his mouth and releases me abruptly from that delicious warm embrace. My eyes fly open as I go from sensuous Cinderella to Piddu Pumpkin…Bade deshon mein aisi choti choti galtiyan hoti rehti hain? My heart threatens to explode out of my chest as I gawk at him.”

Our Akki has a sister, Didi, who swears by jewelry, prayer meets and of course, upholding the family traditions for the new to be Bahu in the Agarwal khandaan. This puts Misha in a fix when Didi meets the former’s Mom who isn’t shy to parade her young boyfriend. It gets hilarious when both Didi and Misha’s mother discuss saat pheras and religious outings. It couldn’t be better framed than that and is one of the core highlights of the book. How Mom almost spoils the fun! The sequence in the narration has been one of the best ‘comedy of errors’ that you could have read in recent times. The cherry on the cake is Misha who imagines herself to be a fresh version of  ‘Tulsi Virani’ and takes it upon herself to save the family honor. A fun ride!

What’s Not!

There are quite a few glitches in this tale of Glitter and Gloss. The new age, Misha, tries hard to be a sati savitri, taking it upon herself to fit in this crazy religious family and being a Manglik, seems regressive in today’s world. Not that, it doesn’t happen in society. Moreover, the transition of the lovelorn couple, Misha, and Akshay wanting to get hitched seems drastic to a certain extent, in my view. Even, the break up between Akshay and Misha seems too sudden. I feel that the author should have delved deeper into the romance angle and flirting to keep the suspense alive till the climax end.

Final Words:

Glitter and Gloss is a refreshing tale with the ‘condom moods killer friends’ spoiling the night’ to the ‘veggie suitor’ feasting on flesh and detectives that makes it a read to kill. Vibha Bhatra has churned a delightful tale of love and romance that will find its way in your hearts. You cannot afford to miss ‘Glitter and Gloss.’

I was contacted by the author who gave me the book for free in exchange for a honest review. You can buy the book here. You can follow the author on Twitter.