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The Secret Of The Palamu Fort: An Interesting take on valor with a good mixture of mythology and mystery!

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Book Title: The Secret Of The Palamu Fort
Author: Razi
Format:
Paperback

About the Book
Someone has risen from the dead and is haunting the sinister ruins of the Palamu Fort, situated in the mystical land of Jharkhand.

A few hundred kilometers from the fort, in the capital city Ranchi, a History Professor of St. Xavier’s college is murdered at his home. The witnesses claim he was killed by a ghost!

The police is clueless. Inspector Patrick Minj ropes in Detective Robin Horo, who unearths a clue which indicates that the murder has a bloody trail running as far as 350 years in the history of Jharkhand. A poisonous conspiracy was plotted centuries ago in the Kingdom of Palamu that designed the downfall of an empire and forced the king to hide his legacy in the unforgiving and indifferent womb of time.

The ghost is leaving behind a trail of dead bodies and to solve the case Robin has nothing but an Artifact that is said to have an ancient curse over it and a centuries old riddle that if solved, could lead to an Elixir.

Witness the conspiracy unfolding that spans 350 years in the making and takes Robin and his companions on a labyrinthine adventure involving deadly secrets, dangerous threats and a lethal encounter with a beast in the jungles of Palamu.

Review

The Secret Of The Palamu Fort is a thriller with a twist of Ghost. The story is set up in the city of Ranchi, with Robin, the protagonist who is also a detective who is capable of solving every case. This is the mystery of a “ghost” who is killing people in order to protect “treasure” of King of Palamu. This ghost is rumored to be Satyabhama, the right hand of the king. There are unsolved murders before Rabin takes up the case. Will he be able to solve them?

With a book title which is interesting and mysterious, with a defining cover image of an abstract art of a warrior at a war scene, story is a good read without any drawbacks.

With a great mysterious plot-line, many subplots in the main story and a sequence of mystery elements, this book has well scripted characters that makes the narration an engaging one. An easy language with good vocabulary is observed in the story which makes a reader to pick up the book and read it to satiate the mystery hunger.

Book Review by Swapna Peri

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Reviews

Dream Girl movie review: Ayushmann Khurrana delivers yet another gem

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Dream Girl
Director – Raaj Shaandilyaa
Cast – Ayushmann Khurrana, Nushrat Bharucha, Annu Kapoor

Whoever said you don’t need to take your brain with you while going to watch a comedy film, think again. Dream Girl is a far cry from run-of-the-mill comedies that try hard to tickle your funny bone but in vain. Directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa with actors Ayushmann Khurrana and Nushrat Bharucha in the lead, Dream Girl hits the bull’s eye being the laugh riot it was touted to be. Without trying to enter the league of ‘superhits’ or ‘blockbusters’, Shaandilyaa has put all he could into his directorial debut. A quirky and crazy comedy, Dream Girl makes you laugh endlessly, thankfully on genuinely hilarious jokes, and nothing lame or yawn-worthy.

The story starts with Karamveer Singh (Ayushmann Khurrana) as a child, unwillingly agreeing to play the role of Sita in his town’s Ramlila, and continues to do this even during his mid-20s. Popularly known as ‘Ramlila ki Sita’ and ‘Krishanlila ki Radha’, a jobless Karam lands a job at a shady adult hotline where women sweet-talk with lonely men. No prize for guessing it’s a night-shift job that pays handsomely. Used to impersonating a woman’s voice without any hesitance, Ayushmann turns Pooja and makes it look like a cake walk, instilling a sense of tough competition among other sari-clad middle-aged ladies working there.

And his regular callers — as an old man in the film says — covers a variety of characters. There’s a middle-aged drunk cop (Vijay Raaz) dying to unleash his inner poet, a young chap (Raj Bhansali) with a heavy Haryanavi accent and testosterone level rising by the second, a dejected-in-love man-hating journalist (Nidhi Bisht), his fiancee’s brother (Abhishek Banerjee) and the fifth one who is a game-changer — his own father (Annu Kapoor). Insane how these five characters fall head over heels in love with Pooja and want to marry her, Ayushmann at one point compares his plight with that of Draupadi in Mahabharata, and how it would have unfolded in the times of MeToo.

The very fact that the film stars Bollywood’s self-professed ‘poster boy for taboo subjects’, the most bankable star in recent times, and also the National-Award winning actor, was enough to put all the pressure on Ayushmann’s shoulders. And the actor deserves a pat on the back for effortlessly pulling off this tough act proving once again why he continues to scale heights. Each time he talks in the voice of Pooja, you actually pinch yourself to believe it’s really him! Dream Girl gives Ayushmann ample space and scope to perform. It’s him who leads the narrative and weaves the whole plot bit by bit. The ease with which he switches on and off from his character, he, once again, has hit the ball out of the park. You think Ayushmann should consider keeping ‘quirky’ as his middle name?

With Dream Girl, Ayushmann Khurrana deserves a pat on the back for effortlessly pulling off this tough act.

Finally shunning the ‘Punchnama girl’ tag or the vicious Sweety she played last in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Nushrat Bharucha has convincingly stepped into the shoes of this demure yet modern girl, Mahi. Though her character gets a fair amount of screen time, including two songs, the way Karam and Mahi’s love story flourishes is a bit of a drag. Which girl accepts roses from a guy who she just called a stalker, and soon after, she is engaged to him. Living life in the fast lane or what?

The supporting cast consists of quite a stellar line-up. Annu Kapoor never fails to entertain, amuse and win hearts. Playing Ayushmann’s onscreen father, he often reminds you of their Vicky Donor camaraderie, which they take a notch higher in Dream Girl. Manjot Singh as Smiley, Karam’s best friend and partner-in-crime, gives major Fukrey feels while keeping his comic timing intact. Abhishek Banerjee and Vijay Raaz have a strong grasp of their characters that you can’t miss but notice their weird antics each time they are in the frame.

Dream Girl could have ended a bit earlier.

An entertaining screenplay makes for a fast-paced first half, which is followed by a rather long and slightly repetitive second half in which Ayushmann is only trying to get rid of this facade he has put on for long. How does he manage to do that without letting his love life go for a toss is what keeps you intrigued until climax unfolds. By this time, you feel the story could have ended a bit earlier. Nevertheless, Shaandilyaa manages to hold your attention with some great comic punches and subplots.

The director has put his writing experience of years penning scripts for noted comedians to its optimum use, and therefore, the overtly funny dialogues and comic one-liners give life to this romantic comedy. The seemingly preachy climax, however, with a message that won’t necessarily register in your mind looks a bit off-track. But Dream Girl, overall, is a winner for sure.

A must-watch mainly for Ayushmann’s laudable performance, and of course a heavy dose of laughter to break free from your boring and busy lives.

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The Spy review: Serious Sacha Baron Cohen saves new Netflix series from being a joke

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The Spy
Director – Gideon Raff
Cast – Sacha Baron Cohen, Noah Emmerich, Hadar Ratzon-Rotem, Alexander Siddig, Waleed Zuaiter 

Gideon Raff gives himself at least six credits in each episode of his new Netflix miniseries, The Spy. He doesn’t combine them for the sake of brevity (or humility), but instead, in highly irregular form, doubles down on them, giving himself a proud pat on the back before each episode has begun, and again, after it has ended.

As annoying as it is to see his name again and again and again, this knowledge comes in handy when you’re looking for someone to assign blame upon for the show’s many missteps, but also when you’re looking for someone to praise when it occasionally succeeds. Because by hogging the limelight, creator, executive producer, writer and director, Gideon Raff has also painted a target on his back. The Spy, for better or for worse, is a Raff enterprise. It lives and it dies on the back of its creator’s sensibilities.

Watch The Spy trailer here 

The six-part miniseries arrives less than two months after his highly problematic Netflix film, The Red Sea Diving Resort. The Spy is an infinitely better experience, but one thing is abundantly clear now: Raff is a much better fit for television than feature films. Long-form storytelling irons out some of his more controversial tendencies, which were there for everyone to see in The Red Sea Diving Resort, a film that had the unique ability to offend different audiences depending on which corner of the world they came from. So while I found its divisive politics rather troubling, others thought it celebrated the White Saviour trope.

And either by complete coincidence or by design, the lead character’s skin colour plays an important role in The Spy, as well. Eli Cohen’s Arab appearance was one of the key reasons he was handpicked by the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, to undertake a highly dangerous mission in the 1960s. He would be their man in Damascus, Syria, at a tumultuous time between the nations. He would establish himself as a patriotic Syrian businessman, host lavish parties for statesmen and military officials, and relay whatever he learns to his handlers back home.

Sacha Baron Cohen in a still from The Spy.

It took me a full episode to accept Sacha Baron Cohen as Eli, which is a shame, because once the initial shock of seeing him, a comic legend, deliver a dramatic performance wears off, he is revealed to be quite excellent in the role. The accent that initially seemed like it belonged to one of his Who is America? characters becomes less distracting as the actor sneaks under Eli’s skin. As broad as some of his choices may be, Sacha Baron Cohen can be disarmingly subtle, as well.

While Eli is shown to be a regular family man who adores his wife, his Syrian secret identity, Kamel, needs to wield an uncommon confidence as he develops relationships with important Syrian figures; he must be charming and sociable, authoritative but never arrogant.

The actor’s performance goes a long way in toning down some of Raff’s more eccentric directorial flourishes, none of which is weirder than his decision, in one dramatic sequence, to intercut between a military coup and an orgy.

The writing is also rather plain. As expensive as The Spy looks and feels (save for one glaring moment where modern cars can be seen on the streets of 60s Damascus), it is decidedly lowbrow in its treatment. It is the sort of show where fireplaces tend to make themselves available when letters are in need of burning; the sort of show where, if wives are being missed, a lookalike appears out of thin air to be followed on the streets; where secret conversations are conducted within earshot of exactly those people who shouldn’t be hearing them.

It sort of makes sense that the show is a smoother ride when it is focused on the character of Eli, and not when it slips into that uncomfortable political zone that Raff routinely finds himself veering into. You see, most of what has been documented about Eli’s life is from an Israeli perspective. To them, he is a national hero; a man who played a key role in his country’s victory in the Six-Day War. And it is with similar reverence that Gideon Raff tells his story.

Sacha Baron Cohen in a still from Netflix’s The Spy.

I’ve always thought of Israelis as a paranoid people. As a child, minding my own business outside the French cultural centre in New Delhi, I was approached by a man in dark glasses and a suit – he looked like a secret agent! He asked me what I was doing, and vaguely dissatisfied with my answer, he noted down my name and address in a pocketbook. As he walked back across the street, I learned that he worked the security at the neighbouring Israeli embassy. I was later told that the Israelis across the street kept a better record of the goings on at the French cultural centre than the French themselves. To be clear, this was in New Delhi, perhaps in the mid-2000s.

Israel of the 1960s was a very different place; it was when the seeds of the nation’s current belligerent attitude were first sown. And Raff, to his credit, offers a sort of explanation for his country’s psychology back them. Because barely two decades before Eli was sent into Syria — his patriotism exploited for the greater good of his nation — the Israelis felt that they had been let down by the world, and made to believe that if they didn’t take care of their own people, no one would.

The Spy isn’t perfect, but at least it has the humanism of Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi and Yoon Jong- bin’s The Spy Gone North — both recent benchmarks for the genre.

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Book Review – The Little Light: A Story of Reincarnation and the Crazy Cosmic Family

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Book Name: The Little Light: A Story of Reincarnation and the Crazy Cosmic Family
Author: Dipa Sanatani
Publisher: Mith Books

Ratings: 4/5

About The Book

The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu – Celestial Beings from world mythology – bicker and squabble, just like any family. But they’re going to have to put their differences aside to help the Little Light – a wise soul, imbued with insight and curiosity – prepare for its birth on Planet Earth, where it has a great and far-reaching destiny…

“A part of the Sun will always shine inside the Little Light, come what may. Life can be full of pain, suffering and strife, but this spark will always remain untouched because it belongs to the source of all life on earth. Nothing and no one can take it away because it is a gift from the father to all his children. It can never be tarnished or spoilt. It exists and will continue to burn bright till the death of the physical body.”

In her debut novel The Little Light, Dipa Sanatani takes the reader on a voyage of awakening and discovery, ideal for lovers of mythology, spirituality, folklore and fairy tales.

On the eve of its birth, The Little Light finds itself in the topsy-turvy world of the Planet Party, hosted in the Cosmic Womb. Here, anything is possible, and anything could happen… and the Little Light must do all it can to listen, learn, and ready itself for the path which will lead it to its destiny on earth.

Along the way the Little Light meets Mercury, who bristles at being constantly overshadowed (literally!) by his father, The Sun, a flamboyant figure who wears a gold ring on every finger and bright yellow loafers. As the rest of the Celestial Beings gather, they have to contend with Havah and Dag, the Guardians of the Lore, who know that the Little Light will soon be a tiny baby in a cold, hard world where it will have to struggle for its survival.

Alongside the Little Light, we learn there is more to explore in the heavens and on this earth than anybody could ever imagine possible. Endless lives, perpetual cycles of death and rebirth, infinite possibilities for love, happiness, renewal, enlightenment and wisdom… it’s all out there, waiting to be discovered, and waiting to make a change deep within us all.

Review

‘The Little Light: A Story of Reincarnation and the Crazy Cosmic Family (The Guardians of the Lore Book 1)’ by Dipa Sanatani is a surprisingly unique and captivating story!

The plot is abstract and artistic, letting the readers experience the book instead of reading it. It’s a unique tale with an amalgamation of philosophy, inspiration, metaphysics and some knowledge of planets and their effects.

The content presented in the book is almost surreal which makes it difficult for the readers to differentiate fiction from reality.
Certain statements from the tale are deep and touch exactly the right chord in readers’ heart. The concepts of time, desire, fulfillment and various thoughts hovering in human’s mind are addressed logically with an underlying artistic imagination. The author has beautifully penned down her thoughts with a creative expression. The depiction of planets and heavenly bodies as persons and their effects makes the reading experience further enriching.

The concept is distinctive and unusual with warmth and emotions overpowering the readers throughout the book. Characterization is unlike the other storybooks with unique characters like “the little light” who are strong and influential. Narration and description is heart warming with a vivid and imaginative style. Language and vocabulary is simple and lucid.

I found the cover artistic and contextual to the storyline. Title is apt and justified. Blurb is well written enhancing the desire to read what lies inside.

Overall, a unique tale with distinctive and artistic aspects awakening spiritual thoughts in readers.

Review by Niyati Gogna

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