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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Publisher on The HOT SEAT


           On the HOT SEAT: Srishti Publishers &Distributors

Publisher On The HOT SEAT is a ground breaking attempt to discuss the trends in Indian writing and publishing. Per our knowledge, this is the first attempt in India to hear the voice of an often neglected but very important part of the publishing cycle : The Publisher. This group of people are visionaries, the final decision makers and the very people who decide fates. They decide fates of not only the manuscripts but of authors too. They have the power to establish trends and deliver to us what we would like to read.

Our first guest on the HOT SEAT, is none other than "Srishti Publishers & Distributors". One of the most influential trend setters of Indian books market in the current times 

"Srishti" has reach; you go to the smallest town in India and you are likely to find their books. I speak from experience because I could find their books in one of those small towns, in south Gujarat, where I grew up. Widely seen as the promoters of young talent, they have launched the likes of Preeti Shenoy and Ravinder Singh. Srishti is a boon for readers, like me, who save their pocket money for books. They have published many a bestseller each year, concretely proving their belief in the budding writing talent of India. Even in the face of criticism from the media, on the falling standards of Indian literature, they have continued to work with young talent. 

Q. What was the main motivation behind starting Srishti Publishers?
A:  Srishti stands for creation, and has been referred since time immemorial to the creation of the world by Brahma. Srishti Publishers was set up with the objective of creating a unique set of books that provide unmatched reading pleasure to people across the country. We have not only given a platform to budding, debutant authors, but have also made quality books available at affordable prices across India.

Q. What is your opinion about the current trend of writing in India “where anyone can be a writer”?
A: Writer by definition is someone who uses words to convey idea’s, images and stories. So we firmly believe anyone who has a story to tell or an idea to share can be a writer.
But that does not necessarily mean anyone who writes is a writer. A gripping storytelling style, firm grounding in basics of grammar and the power to create images out of their words still remain as the most basic and necessary qualities of a writer.

Q. Srishti has been a pioneer in the 100 INR category written by young authors, why? There has been a lot of critique about this, how do you answer that?
A: The main objective behind the price point of INR 100 was to encourage the youths of India to become readers and increase the readership in India. The pricing is done keeping in mind, affordability of an average Indian reader ensuring that it does not burn a hole in the pocket, making them ideal gifts or regular indulgences for the reader themselves.

Q. How many books have you published so far?
A: We have more than 350 titles published by us till date starting with our Teaching Series, incidentally international rights for which were bought by Random House UK.

Q. How many best sellers so far have been published by you?
A: We have approximately 45 titles which can be categorized as “bestsellers” in terms of traditional definition.

Q. Which books are your personal favorites?
A:  All of them are personal favorites. A strong emotional connect, is but natural, owing to the fact that we work so closely and invest so much personally into each title. So it becomes really tough to single out any such favorite.

Q. What are the upcoming books coming from Srishti?
A:  2013 is going to be a very exciting year for Srishti. We will be breaking into the field of multiple new genres with books by debut authors coming out from our stable. Releasing in April we have The Homing Pigeon by Sid Bahri and The Secrets of the Dark by Arka Chakrabarti followed by Ketan Bhagat’s Complete/Convenient and K. Hari’s When Strangers Meet in May. In the month of June we have Ohh! God’s are Online and The Guardians of Karma scheduled for release.

Q. Tell us a little bit about these books?
A: The Homing Pigeon is a tale of love- lost, found and lost again set in the backdrop of 2008 recession. Coloring the tale with even more interesting shades is the moral complexity of the characters, interesting anecdotes and the unique storytelling style.  The same title has been endorsed by Dr. Shashi Tharoor as “a remarkable novel by a first-time novelist of immense promise... often exquisitely rendered... An exceptional achievement.”  Also in my personal humble opinion this is one of the finest piece of fiction I had the fortune of reading as a Publisher.

The Secrets of the Dark on the other hand is a tale set in the mystical land of Gaya- a land of wise kings and evil guardians, brave warriors and devious renegades, fractured by a prophecy foretelling of doom. Involving elements of both Western and Eastern Fantasy and Mythos the author vividly creates a new world of epic proportion and wild fun.

In may we have Ketan Bhagat’s Complete/Convenient which explores and contrast’s the life of a young professional in India and abroad. Based on personal experiences of the author it provides a complete new outlook towards life abroad.

Q. Srishti has managed a good number of “best sellers” in the last few years, what is the secret of success? Is it the in depth understanding of distribution that helps?
A: Marketing and distribution both play an integral role in the sale of these books. Our reach enables us to ensure that our books reach our readers not only in the metros & big cities but even small towns and cities. The readerships in these parts, long neglected, are quite size-able and are hungry to read.

A special mention of the role of social media is very important. The intended audiences are most active there and are not shy to voice their appreciation or discontent over the same medium. Hence the need to engage them over the same is also important.

Q. In your opinion collectively speaking is Indian writing suited for an international market? Why?
A: Indian popular fiction is primarily aimed at the audience in India. The plot, writing style and language are very India centric. But with increasing globalization and integration of world cultures soon these walls will crumble and lead to introduction to a more global audience.

I thank "Srishti Publishers & Distributors"  for encouraging The Readers Cosmos in their newest and first ever attempt to bring a publisher on HOT SEAT and more for their honest answers. I also wish the authors of their upcoming books Arka Chakrabarti, Sid Bahri, Ketan Bhagat and K. Hari all the best. Looking forward to reading wonderful stories from Srishti. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bali and the Ocean of Milk by Nilanjan P. Choudhury

Title: Bali and the Ocean of Milk
Author:  Nilanjan P. Choudhury
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre : Mythological Fiction 
Date:  2011
Price: Rs. 199
Pages: 320

SNAPSHOT: This is the popular story of churning the samudramanthan as we know it. But have you ever wondered what brought the Devas and Asuras together? Who were the participants? What happened after that? This book precisely is a beautiful figment of artists imagination around this event.

We all know from the Hindu mythology, once upon a time the ocean was churned and from it emerged the amrit or elixir of life. An event in history which united the two sides of a coin, Devas and Asuras. The story grabs the reader from the first page, as on one hand Indrah the king of many Gods, the fame crazy, spotlight seeking God feels old and weak. The best medics - The Ashwini Twins try their best with no results. He begins to worry as his condition worsens with time. He confides in Lord Viru (Vishnu) as we know him. 

Then comes  out a grave truth "The Curse of Asura Vritra" who was killed by Indra in sleep. According to this curse all the Gods will eventually grow old like men of earth, either die if lucky or live for thousands of years in that state. Scared by this situation and to find a solution The Council of Gods meet urgently. There Lord Viru proposes that they should churn The Ocean of Milk and extract the Amrita. However as the elixir of life couldn't be created without creating poison along with it (when matter is created anti-matter is also created logic). Also to protect itself from the wrong hands it was kept alongside poison and could be extracted by forces opposite in nature.

On the other hand, someone is bent on killing the mighty emperor of Asura Kingdom,Bali, the son of Vritra who is the modern and progressive emperors of Asuras. Bali though loved by some of his people for his modern thoughts and changes he brings into Asura way of life, like equality for women, not forcing them to shave their heads, including Brahmins in his kingdom at higher posts as priests, scientists etc; he has many against him, the orthodox Mahakali temple priests who want the old Asura way of life.

His scientific council advisor Bhrigu discovers that Surasena, the chief commander of the army is the culprit. This is a secret plan of Indrah to bag the stars, however at too bad a timing. So to correct it he with the Ashwini twins disguise themselves, reach Bali's kingdom Tripura. Being more advanced in sciences they are successful indeed. Bali, as any great emperor would, being happy promised anything that would be asked for. Indrah then cunning as he is shows up his original self and proposes Bali to help him along with the Asura team. Bali's thoughts, his confusion and emotion is captured perfectly by the author here. His wife Avani helps him clear the clouds and go for the unique opportunity that would ever come. Therefore, he agrees. So the team of the Devas and Asuras as we all know churn the oceans. Indra discovers the elixir first and tries to consume it all by himself. In his foolishness he forgets about the venom that is released alongwith which starts killing everyone else. All the Asuras apart from Bali and Gods apart from Indra, Jai and Viru are saved as Jai (Shiva) consumes all the poison. Bali is surprisingly saved by the leader of the Mahakali priests Suketu. Suketu updates Bali that Bhrigu killed Avani post him leaving the kingdom. Bali is shattered but he gathers himself to rule over his kingdom once again only to find his trust to be broken and many secrets to be revealed once again.

Friendships between people who have been sworn enemies since generations, friends turning into mortal enemies, some love and more deceit are the crests and troughs the story goes through. For the complete roller coaster ride and unpredictable surprises read the book.

The Review:
Positives: The characters are very well portrayed and the first half of the story till the ocean churning is amazing. Excellent flow that matches the pace and excitement exactly at the amplitude the reader wants. However the later part is a little slower and looses the initial crisp. The language is good. 

As this book falls into the Mythological fiction category, which is hot now a days owing the best seller "The Immortals of Meluha", I would like to congratulate the author for not giving the language a high degree of unnecessary urban touch that kills the feel of the story and never imports the person into the scene. I loved the book for the way in which it was written. Had the book been crisp throughout, would have put it on the alter with The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. However the author has tremendous scope of going to the heights never explored in Indian fiction and especially the mythological fiction category that more often fails to do justice to the Gods/ legendary figures it aims to address. The author surely is the bright ray of hope in this dark tunnel. 

Negatives:  The last part is not as crisp as the standards the author himself sets in the first part, nevertheless one 
keeps reading as the road has turns where you wont expect them.

The Verdict!!!  A must read. An exemplary book for budding writers in the mythological fiction category!!! 4 stars on 5. Grab a copy now!

I thank the author Nilanjan P.Choudhury for a copy of the book and a chance to review his precious work. 

About Nilanjan P. Choudhury
Nilanjan P. Choudhury is an Indian corporate professional turned writer.
As of September 2012, he has written one book, Bali And The Ocean Of Milk.
Armed with degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur) and the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), Choudhury spent several years in a corporate setting, until a midlife crisis forced him to rethink his career choices. He subsequently joined an NGO in the field of education. He lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When The Signal Turns Red by Jayanand Ukey

Title: When The Signal Turns Red
Author: Jayanand Ukey
Publisher: Alchemy Publishers 
Genre : Fiction 
Date:  2013
Price: Rs. 175
Pages: 198

Fictionalizing of real events or characters has been an age long appealing subject for the creative people. Be it in movies or novels or art or theatres – the style of adopting something real time is both way attractive and easy to relate.  But the most important part is the readers can visualize the event, its impact. Surprisingly, most of the novels, encompassed on real events are based on assassinations. Be it Frederick Forsyth or Mohammed Hanif – they have chose to write on the world’s most shocking assassinations.

In his debut novel,  Jayanand Ukey has chosen the Great Recession of 2008 as his backdrop.  The plot revolves around a couple victimized by the economic down slide – and how they came over it. Given the target group of contemporary fictions in India of this genre – it was the perfect setting.  An incident in the near past – and the impact had been huge on Indian citizens. So, it got to hold the attention and make the plot more gripping.  The author has intelligently chosen the plot. So, far from getting into the league of the “assassination novelists” – Ukey extended the tradition by spinning his plot on an incident at the backdrop of the plot.

The language used is lucid and is apt with the plot. The pace also suits the flow. But, the author has used very short sentences. Though it makes the book an easy read – it hampers the flow of writing on the whole.

The author took a contemporary subject. Losing a job confirmed by campus drives of reputed firms – is equally frustrating and shocking. So, the author had full opportunity to explore the psyche of a young soul at that point. Though he tried in few instances – the attempt remained too much half baked. The sorrow – the shock – the nowhereness that the boy would face at that point was hardly mentioned. Though, the author has tried to give a glimpse of the condition any middle-class family would face hearing their loss of job of their only son – it was a glimpse only. A few more detailed descriptions would have helped to get the real picture.
The author has shown his prudence in defining the differences between two families. The differences in economic stature and culture were portrayed in a very realistic way. The meets of two families, more specifically, two fathers were very interesting.

Apart from all the other tantrums – the central theme of the novel is the romance and love of a couple that came over all tumultuous times. And, romance means moments. And, here the author pulled down the bar completely. A novel based on an affair of an early twenty couple had the opportunity to display some great romantic moments. Unfortunately, the book is devoid of that. There are only some half baked if not unbaked attempts of the same. I have noticed in some other books – the subplots not steady enough to support the main theme of the book. But, in this book – the subplot is a major let down. Though a third male character peeped in – it seemed more implanted than required. The climax is another debacle. From the realistic ground of economic down slide – the book ended on a ‘comical’ note!

Few days back, on my Facebook wall, I noticed a bestselling authors’ status. It read “Most novels are written in first person, "I". Anybody know the reason for this?” May be the answer lies in the fact that “It is really easy to write and express the feelings when you keep yourself in place of the protagonist” (as replied by one). Really it matters. In the whole book, though it was a very contemporary topic – the characters did not evolve that close. The counter characters never grew strong. And, the whole story took a mere simplistic approach.

The author has infringed very positive attitude throughout. The main character in our story never loses hope. And, he bounces back with a promise. And, this is what that wins over. Though it avoids many vital turns – it leaves over a happy-feeling with the readers. And, that is what counts!

The Review:
Positives:  A light read, casually written
Negatives:  Plot disappointing, characters not well defined. 
The Verdict!!! 2 stars out of 5

About the Author
Jayanand Ukey works for an IT company and is also a freelance journalist and blogger. He has a computer engineering degree from VESIT, Mumbai University. In a career spanning a decade, he has kept his hobby alive by writing three books. This book is his first published work. Jayanand lives in Mumbai with his family. To know more about the author, visit him at or email him at

This book has been reviewed by Sankha Ghosh:  Sankha Ghosh was never born in that 'City of Joy', never dreamt of being a banker, never watched a Godard, never loved Kafka, never fell for that Solitary Reaper, never danced on a friend’s wedding, never fought for human rights, never had a crush at college and never ever aspired to work on a novel! Never was he as simple as this! #He wishes

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Love and thehe Circle of Six by Avishekh Das

First of all I thank the author Avishekh Das for a copy of the book.

Title: Love and thehe Circle of Six
Author:  Avishekh Das
Publisher: Diamond Books 

Genre : Literature Fiction
Date:  2012
Price: Rs. 100
Pages: 192

The story is about six characters Siddy(Siddharth),Aaliya,Niyati,Aanyo,Viraj&Gargi. These character cross paths in the story and finally unite at last therefore the title "Love and the Circle of Six".

The first few chapetrs are dedicated to introducing and portraying each character to which the author has given good time and done a fair job. Siddy(Siddharth) is someone who left a very lucrative job to follow his dream of becoming an authors. He on the other hand wants to become a rich and famousbut the road less traveld has a lot of pebbles and his journey is no different. Very soon he realises that what he pens down is not good enough for fame. Therefore he decides to write a story on a star. That star is none other than Viraj who is the football champ, the "Beckham of India". On the love side Siddy loved only one girl all his life, though lusted many, Aaliya Bose. That love apart from one opportunity he had didnt go any further as Siddy was young and didnt take any initiative.

Aaliya on the other hand is a beautiful Kashmiri girl, someone anyone would just fall in love with; with a step father who was an army officer. Her parents are traditional while she harbours the dream of becoming a star. She runs away from her family to live her dreams, as her parents try to get her married with an army officer. She enters the glamour world where she meets Aanyo and gets involved with him the very first night.

Aanyo on the other hand is a lost soul, a fashion photographer by profession and a drug addict.He is a confused soul who leaves his studies of law, which he unlike his successful father in the same profession loves dearly.  He is surrounded by beautiful women for photoshoots and is able to impress and get involved with many of them. However his weakness is drugs and Aaliya discoveres it at the very first encounter. He faals in love with her. But does she? For this love he is ready to live the addiction and aamits himself in the rehabilitation centre where Aaliya does leave him but never returns.

Viraj, is a dounto earth person who fights his own stars suffering from LQTS syndrome, yet becomes a great football player guided by Uncle Pai, his coach. He falls in love with what seems to him a confused journalist - Niyati. It is more like love at first night.  He is a down to earth person and agrees to Siddy's proposal on writing a book about him. They become good friends. 

Niyati is a girl whose father left his mother because his family emotionally blackmailed him to when Niyati was born, as she was a girl. She is smart, opportunistic and beautiful. She wants to prove herself to her fathe who left her and that makes her go beyound the good into getting promotions etc. She is well aware she can make her bosses heart skip a beat and uses every chance, therefore climbs the ladder of success quickly. Niyati does like Viraj too, but is she really in love or? What would happen to her boss when he knows about it? will she choose love or success?

Gargi on the other hand is a lawyer, a tomboy, who whe loves someone does i with all her heart. Just that the heart  chooses the wrong person Aanyo who one day when his mother dies just leaves everything and disappear from her. She never falls in love again though her collegue falls maddly in love with her.

The characters as told before meet each other, get involved, yet their prominent past and love still there. What will they choose, Will the broken lines mend? Will they make peace with their past, their families and themselves. What will happen when a love so promimenet - your first love comes to your life again? This is all the story about.

The story has characters well set, a mix of a lot of romance, a little bit of family bonding, some values and a little bit of  confusion with the characters getting involved with each other. However the end is a masala and perfect for a bollywood movie script and makes up for the glitches before.


Positives:  Good story with a masala coated ending. Language is fine and flow is good.

Negatives:  The most annoying part in any story is when there are errors where the characters names are wrongly written and this book is full of it. I believe the author himself got confused handling six characters and the editors couldnt do a better job as well.

The Verdict!!!  They say all is well that ends well, therefore 2.5 stars for the ending.

About the Author
Avishekh Das is not a geek. He is not a nerd either. He is something in between the two. He was born in Shillong and he wants to die in Shillong. He wanted to be musician for he thought that music ranthrough his veins, but unfortunately, he could not prove that to anyone. He wrote a book instead. He wrote The Journey of Rock, a book based on music, which stagnated on the bookshelves. However, he does have a legion of followers who love him.

The Damned and the Dumped is his second book.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bakers Dozen by Prakash Gowda

Title: Bakers Dozen 
Author:  Prakash Gowda
Publisher:  Maitreya 
Genre : Literature Fiction (Short Stories)
Date:  2012
Price: Rs. 200
Pages: 156

First of all i thank the author Prakash Gowda for a copy and more for his immense patience while waiting for me to review the book.

Snapshot:  A collection of 13 short stories aptly named as Bakers Dozen, some of which are about real life people and situations and some a component of fiction, each one different from the other. Not only does the way the story turns out in the end amazes you but some concepts of fiction are so brilliantly thought and presented that you will savour every bit of the story. If you have loved the O'Henry style of writing, revealing the most unexpected twist in the end, this is certainly a book you must read.

The stories and the critics perspective:  The first story is the authors en route to  introducing the Bakers Dozen, it is gripping and stuns you, making you flip the pages till there are none left.

The stories "Three Desires One Destiny" is a collection of three stories with a common ending that you cant guess. It further strengthens your desire to read the book. While "Anonymous" is a story of three young bachelors trying to make it big in the world of art, it is not unimaginable, yet shocking with multiple twists. "The Veil" on the other hand is the story of transformation bye life of a woman, that can touch any heart. It touched me deeply. "Vande Mataram" on the other hand is the story of an Indian boy raised by a Britisher and his dilemma as he returns to India during the freedom struggle. 

"Big B &Me" is a brilliant work of imagination, simple yet a striking story in its own way. Yes it does involve Amitabh Bachchan . "I Love You" contrary to its name is a fun story of a young, smart and independent girl trying to search for that one true love. Best part is, its written in a light manner that really makes it an enjoyable read. "Neer" is the best story in my opinion, of a girl who cannot drink water, survives droughts and goes through the crests and troughs of life because of this single attribute. Its a brilliant piece of imagination. "Lallan Leader" on the other hand is a story into politics and its "dirty games". This one is predictible. "The Altruist" is a story of a writer who writes the autobiography of an underworld don cum Robin Hood figure. It s about where a mixture of his talent and nature leads him to. It is one of my favourites. "Punching bags" on the other hand is a must read for every wanna- be-entrepreneur before you want to start up, just check where you put your foot!

"Sickle &Sprouts" on the other hand is for sons of successful business families with a lesson of  "what not to do if daddy earned it hard." "The End" is again on one of my favourites list that has an out of the world concept of "what would happen if sperms were no longer efficient to fertilize an egg and women cant conceive?" "what if there are not even children to adopt?' "Where then will the world go?" Its is written as a simple story addressing these questions, and yet in a manner leaving a deep impact.

Positives: Well written, language and editing cant be better. Stories on most bizarre and varied topics, beautiful imagination at some places and simplistic yet artful presentation.

Negatives: The negative as is with all short story collections is that the author starts writing each story in a similar fashion, revealing the unknown in a similar way, that makes it predictable once you are three stories through. That effect was seen in this case too. However, the choice of a variety of topics and good imagination lessened this effect to a great extent.

The Verdict!!! Simply amazing. 4.5 stars on 5. Don't think, just grab it!

About The Author : Prakash Gowda, 32 is writer by passion and copywriter by profession. He believes that if music has seven notes writing has twenty six, and the written word can transform a person's perspective. He has been writing poetry in English since the age of ten and went on to express himself in Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) poems and short stories.
A degree in Commerce and Hotel management landed him in jobs at plush hotels and cafes. A poem written by him and framed on the wall of a coffee shop presented him with an opportunity to freelance for newspapers, Eventually, he gave his job at the coffee shop and started working as a copywriter at a leading advertising agency in Vadodara.
Backed by a decade of experience in professional writing, he went on to pursue a course in d film-making and discovered a new medium of expression in short films, scripts, screenplays and lyrics. 'Baker's Dozen is his first book and on the anvil are more of such writings laced with profound layers and simple lyricism.

Buy it Now: