Monday, November 10, 2014

‘And then one day’ – we got an autographed autobiography

And then one day- a memoir’, the autobiography of Naseeruddin Shah is storming up the bookstores across the country.

At the Bangalore launch last Saturday, Shah traced the years of his growth as an actor and a human being. “You will waste total five years to study acting?”, was his father’s remark when Shah told him about his decision to join the Film and Television Institute of India after completing his study at the National  School of Drama. The father-son had a love-hate relationship, and the book shares painful incidents of being compared with his more academically inclined brothers.

Apart from his struggles in the film industry, Shah also recounts his love for the gentleman’s game cricket, equations with co-stars such as Om Puri and the problems he had with his first wife.

“It took me many years to finally come out with my autobiography; some of its thoughts had been penned down years ago” he said.

Naseeruddin Shah with his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and son Vivaan at the release of his autobiography.

The intelligent and quirky Shah declared his “love” for Bangalore and Kannada theatre, adding “the stage was, is and will be my first love”.

A thrilled crowd at the jam-backed Landmark bookstore had the pleasure of hearing eminent historian and writer, Ramachandra Guha who was also the moderator of the event. Guha called the autobiography as a ‘fun, in-depth and a brutally honest work’.

His actor wife Ratna Pathak Shah and son Vivaan who is an upcoming actor joined him as the audience jostled for selfies and autographs. We got an autographed book, and were amused to see that it was a ‘stick-on’. 

By Sreeraj TK
For Raintree Media Features

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Much Ado about Adakkam

Poile Sengupta with Inga
In Malayalam, just one word is enough to tell a woman what she should or should not be doing. It’s this word that had writer/ playwright and teacher Poile Sengupta in full theatrical flow at the recent launch of her book Inga.
Inga focuses on the feudalistic, deeply patriarchal and oppressive towards women in Indian society, more specifically in Kerala and the Malayali diaspora. As a writer who loves to play with words and effectively uses colloquial slangs, Poile gave a humourous demonstration of her usage of Adakkam, the Malayalam word in a satirical manner.

Having written books for children earlier, city-based Poile Sengupta says that she felt, “that to be a complete author, one must write for adults despite the fact that writing for children is way tougher”.

Inga is her debut novel for adults, but Poile has in the past written hard-hitting plays for adults: Mangalam, ‪Body blows, A woman speaks, Vikramaditya's Throne and others, all of which have been staged to appreciative audiences. She has also penned Sliced Balls, a rip-roaring comedy on golf, married as she is to golf-addict retired bureaucrat.

With Inga, Poile enters “the crowded compartment of writers for adults” in the words of Sahitya Akademi award winner Shashi Deshpande, who released the book. While Deshpande likened the book to "a thick strong coffee", Chiranjiv Singh, retired bureaucrat and former ambassador to UNESCO, who is a popular figure in the city’s cultural circles, preferred to call it "strong liquor".

Veteran theatre artist Ashish Sen read out an enthralling poem on alphabets from the book while Lekha Naidu brought in her experience in women-centred work, in reading out the dialogues of the female characters Inga, Rapa and Aunt Kuppai from the book.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wild'less' Wildlife experience in Masinagudi

A herd of Cheetals (Axis axis) oblivious of the human (homosapien) presence 

Visiting a wildlife sanctuary had been always on my to-do list due to my immense fascination for jungles and wild animals. But my visit to Mudumalai National Park, Masinagudi last month was a disappointment. I had expected that I would be out in the wild and will get a chance to catch a glimpse of tigers, elephants, leopards, bears and what not. Sadly, all I could see were homosapiens. The primary habitat of these ‘creatures’ is cities where they are found in abundance. But these creatures were seen all over the forest reserve. They had come in huge numbers along with their fellow beings. As I was myself coming from a big city, I was sick of their sight. Determined, I decided to go on a wildlife safari. I was expecting to meet new friends from the wild there but I found none. All I could see were these homosapiens who were moving in their fuel guzzling and noise making vehicles.

Waiting to catch a glimpse of some feathered friends
I went to a homosapien who addressed himself as a forest guide and asked about the absence of ‘wild’ animals in the forest area. He replied that the alarming presence of homosapiens had scared away the ‘wild’ animals which made them go deep into the forest. I became disappointed again. In short, my highly anticipated trip was nothing but a ‘sit back and relax’ resort stay with homosapiens. While returning back I saw a board which prohibited homosapiens from wandering in the forest area as it may be ‘dangerous’. I laughed at it and recalled a signboard which I had seen in a zoo few months back. The signboard simply stated that it is us, the homosapiens who are the world’s most dangerous creatures. 

By T K Sreeraj/ Raintree Media Features

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Nokia's Asha was to empower young women.

The first telecom MNC to set up a full-fledged handset manufacturing facility in India, global communications leader Nokia had been connecting people to progress. By empowering women factory workers and creating community improvement initiatives, it had engineered economic transformation in Sriperumbudur.

Sriperumbudur’s economic landscape had undergone a complete transformation with the setting up of the Nokia Telecom SEZ in January 2006. While its recent decision to stop production of the poignantly named ASHA (hope in Sanskrit) and to shut down the plant itself soon, we recall the hopes of the young women who at one point, composed 70 percent of its workforce.

Our story in the BEST OF CHENNAI had chronicled the heydays when Nokia seemed to be a direct catalyst for economic growth in the region.

Ed: Nokia sold its devices and services business to Microsoft, but it could not include the Chennai plant in the $7.5 billion deal as the Indian government has demanded taxes on software downloaded on handsets manufactured at the unit since 2006.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The hills are alive…with the crackle of plastic

The Queen of misty mountains, Kodaikanal, might soon vie for the title of Queen of garbage hills. The lovely green slopes of the Palani Hills are paying the toll for the popularity of the hilltop getaway, and how.

Tourists throng waterfalls (or stalls)
in scenic Kodaikanal.
Tourists leave a growing trail of litter – water bottles, empty packets of chips, biscuits and every thing they can possibly want to dispose off through the windows of buses and cars.

Plastic is banned in markets and around the popular lake, shopkeepers keep a stock of paper bags made from recycled newspapers. But fruit vendors are prone to slip in a banned plastic cover to keep the fruit from getting squashed. Other hawkers dish out food and drink on plastic or paper plates and cups, all of which fall all around and everywhere but in the trash cans, which are very often seen looking forlorn even as the pile of rubbish around them grow.

What is it with the tourists’ seemingly insatiable urge to munch? Go up Coaker’s Walk and you see them, with their backs firmly turned on the tendrils of mist that cloak the mountains, the far off views of distant peaks and the verdure along the edge. No, what interests the hordes that have spent sums of money and time to travel nearly 7000 ft above sea level, is the row of footpath vendors. From henna tattoos to woollen clothing and of course various eatables, the tourists can’t keep away from the hawkers. Scenic walkway? No, thanks.
Ditto on the route to any of the waterfalls. After the idiotic race to the spot, all they seem to do is to rush to the nearest vendor, eating ceaselessly, bargain vociferously and leave the place in a horrific condition.
None question them; a few valiant signs adjure people to Keep Kodai Clean, and most often these are hidden and obviously unheeded.
- Sandhya Mendonca

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Bombe Habba: Dasara is the time to doll up in Mysore

One of the highlights of the Navaratri Dasara celebrations in Mysore is the bombe habba or the festival of dolls. 

In the days when the city was ruled by the Vijayanagar kings, the rulers showered their benevolence on their subjects, and the people reciprocated by displaying dolls decked up in regalia, and offered prayers for their well being. Over time, animals and prominent people have been to the doll display, including of course cricketers. 

Like this information? Read on in Marvels of Mysore & More: available in all Sapna bookstores in Bangalore & Mysore, Gangarams and other leading book stores in Bangalore.  For the ebook, Click here 

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

A thrilling holiday read: Sentinel House ebook

Lots of long weekends to catch up on your reading and we are rolling out juicy ebooks with our tie up with magzter, the cool digital store. Just click, download and enjoy on your tablet, smartphone or kindle! If you want the paperback copies, please write to

With antics of powerful media houses making as much news as the Mars orbiter, you can’t miss Sentinel House, an insider’s account of media barons and their power crazed shenanigans. The plot moves at a crisp pace and the lyrical prose transports readers through time. Allen Mendonca’s novel is a wicked cocktail of fact and fiction that will keep readers hooked to the last word.

Anita Nair, best- selling novelist, calls it, “A racy read… a novel in the tradition of Arthur Hailey and Jeffrey Archer.”

Mrinal Pande, journalist, author & chairperson of Prasar Bharati, “A searing novel about the intrigues within the Indian media.

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