Raiders from the north by Alex Rutherford

The first book of Rutherford’s historical novels of the Moghul emperors is as expected a gory tale of fighting tribesmen and all the usual Game of Thrones style plotting and treachery. A good read and at least it is historically accurate. Otherwise it could be any medieval historical novel set anywhere. Only criticism is the…

The illicit happiness of other people by Manu Joseph

Joseph’s second novel starts of a bit slow but turns into a wonderful, insightful and sometimes witty read. A Malayali father, who has plenty of problems himself tries to understand why his son committed suicide by talking to everyone he can track down that knew him. The book touches on psychology and philosophy as it…

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Possibly the most relentlessly depressing novel I have read, which is very disappointing from such a good writer.  The characters are all miserable, as is the location in Rhode Island. I kept reading it thinking something positive would happen but it doesn’t. I was attracted to this book because it deals with the Naxalite rebels,…

The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup

A bit of a hotchpotch but enjoyable nonetheless. Swarup sticks to his numerical formula (Millionaire questions, 6 suspects) with a young woman facing 7 challenges in a reality show type challenge from an eccentric billionaire. The book is more like 7 short stories with a common link, and all give the author an excuse to…

Chennai Express

Colourful and crazy movie featuring Sharrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. En route to scatter the ashes of his grandfather at Rameshwaram,  Sharrukh gets involved with Deepika who is the daughter of a local Tamil gangster.  All sorts of ridiculous nonsense ensues, as well as the romance and some rather unnecessary violence. Deepika is fantastic but…

Dangerous Ishhq (film)

A clever story idea ruined by a poor script and weak direction. A young woman starts reliving scenes from her past lives, and all are interrelated to her present life. Could have been great but badly made. Karisma Kapoor tries hard to make it all work. Boring soundtrack. 55/100

Turbulence by Samit Basu

Unusual in many ways – being an Indian science fiction comic superhero novel. Also very witty and full of pop culture references, and very entertaining. Basically all the people on a British Airways flight to Delhi gain superpowers based on what their personal dreams and aspirations are. Conspiracies and super villains abound, and you are…

Once upon a time in Mumbaai

Finally got around to seeing this one. have loved the soundtrack for years, as it was the big soundtrack when we were in India in 2010 (apart from the inescapable Sheila!). The movie is based on the true romance of a gangster and an actress, and  charts the growth of the underbelly of Bombay. Ajay…

Student of the year

Amusing and entertaining film about how a group of friends are torn apart by a student of the year contest at school. The contest itself is rather farcical, including a dance contest, but the pace, music and satire of the film makes it quite enjoyable. No real stand out performances, but great to see Boman…

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia

No, don’t panic, I haven’t started giving investment advice. This is the title of Mohsin Hamid’s new novel, written in the form of a self help book. It takes a bit of getting used to the narrative style of this one, written in the second person in a very oblique way (if any of that…

Ek main aur ekk tu and Tere naal Love ho gaya

Two movies with quirky, individual characters getting it together in unusual ways. Ek main is more intelligently written and believable, tere naal just gets sillier as it goes along but both are enjoyable viewing. Ek main gets 75/100, the other 65/100

Ferrari ki Sawaari

How can you not like a Bollywood comedy about cars and cricket?  Lots of amusing characters and good performances by Boman Irani and Sharman Joshi in this story about a single dad trying to raise money for his cricket prodigy son. Nice car too. 70/100