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Showing posts from April, 2018

Zeenat Mahal: The Historian and The Hunter

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Book Blurb: The Historian and the Hunter by Zeenat Mahal

"Laila and Shirin are ordinary girls living in the old city of Lahore just like millions of others...except they live in the Red-light District area, and they're identical twins. Also they hunt monsters no-one knows exist...Okay so, maybe not quite like millions of other girls..."


The Historian and the Hunter by Zeenat Mahal is an urban fantasy novel, very much different from the romances that the author is famous for. The title refers to sisters, Shirin and Laila, who having lost their parents while young, live in the red light district of Lahore under the protection of Madame Ara, but tend to have secrets of their own. Lahore here is shrouded in mystery and some centuries old secrets.

Shirin is a strong, courageous, and determined hunter. Laila is a smart and sensible historian. They are identical twins. While Shirin is outdoorsy and chooses to go on fighting and slaying evil monsters, Laila chooses to lose hersel…

Young Author Award Winning Odia Poetry Collection

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The poetry collection, 'Achinha Jahna' by Sumit Panda was selected along with other five, to be published by PEN IN books, and the authors were felicitated with Young Author Award at Bhubaneshwar Poetry Festival 2017. As a debut author, Sumit's works stood out in its simplicity. The easy language, common man's tongue and honestly in the portrayal of emotions made it a favorite among the readers.

I had the opportunity to listen to him performing his verses in between hectic work hours to lighten the atmosphere and during the evening snack time at the food court. We colleagues would enjoy the poetry sessions a lot, lauding his choice of words and the vast canvas of emotions captured in just a pocketful of Odia words. He had the talent to mesmerize the audience, compelling them to repeat the stanzas again in their minds to recreate the magic. I remember busying myself in translating them to the best of my ability for those who couldn't understand Odia well. Such an i…

E[x]ploring Odia Literature Through 'Punyatoya'

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Odia is my mother tongue but I had never really focussed on Odia novels, given that I love reading. Of late I realised that I should explore the culture and language of my native land, and see for myself whether it suits my reading sensibilities. I read “Jagyaseni” by Pratibha Ray a few years back, over a span of several months. It is a retelling of Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective, which brings about her inner turmoils, confusions, decisions, desires and dreams, really well. It was the first Odia novel I ever read. Three days back, I completed reading my second novel in Odia, coincidentally it is by the same author. “Punyatoya” - literally it means the river, or ‘as pure as the river’. It is also the name of a revered river in Indian mythology.
The book has been translated into Hindi with the same title, with the tagline “the story of a village girl Meghi”. Other translated versions are in Marathi and Malayalam.
The story follows a young girl named Barsha, dearly called Meghi at…

Webtoons - A Korean Escapade

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Webtoons are the South Korean webcomics published online, updated episode by episode on a regular basis. It's a totally different medium of story telling in South Korea, which has its dedicated fan base and readers. It is a very integral part of Korean culture just like theatre, or any form of art. And many stories here are adapted to TV series and movies too. Webtoons are thus a rich, varied, ever increasing repository of unique stories that thrive on reader's demand and ratings. Some run years like 'Cheese In The Trap' and 'The Tower of God' but they are gems in this medium.

Webtoons are different from the American comics or the Japanese Manga. They are gaining popularity slowly and steadily internationally through apps like Line Webtoon, Comics Naver etc.


Dr. Frost:

"Lauded as a genius, psychologist Dr. Frost uses his belief that all humans are basically the same to guide his practice. His keen mastery of the human mind will strike your heart."

If …

Voicing Your Thoughts

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There's a thought. A thought that germinated in many minds around the world including mine. A thought that has been ridiculed, humiliated, and questioned numerous times in history. It has also been validated and proved innumerable times. A thought that believes in divinity of art. That art is the essence of life, art is power and more. And most importantly, Art is NOT just an escape. We are connected by the invisible string of that thought. And I here invite believers and non believers in the exploration of art and the world encompassed by it.
Art is meant to be imperfection personified. What is art if it is just another word for perfectionism? What is art if it does not cry out from the depth of your soul, echoing inside your mind incessantly till either your mind bursts or it is expressed out in some form. What is art if not a question. If not an expression of emotion. If not an outlet for Chaos. Liberation of thoughts that taunt your psyche. Outlet for grief and gratitude ali…

Urdu- The Language of Poets

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"Urdu. A language as diverse and inclusive as a language can be. Expressive, like none other. Its charm finds accord with those with a taste for deep, emotive expression generation after another across geographical borders."- aamozish.com

I don't remember when exactly I started loving Urdu. May be it was always there, it just took a few years to realize and internalize it. Shayaris and ghazals have always stayed ever since I started watching television, reading newspapers and sneaking away my cousins’ personal diary for a read into their secrets. Days of SMS packs and forwarded messages were all about heartfelt couplets and touching Urdu shers. And the healthy affection towards this language kept on increasing through my growing up years. When poetry started appealing to me I copied quotes, sayings, lyrics of songs in my personal journal. Year after year, my journals curated my love for words. Gulzar, the hindi songs, dialogues in certain movies made way straight into my h…

Theatre Olympics Boosts the Art Ecosystem In India

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The 8th edition of Theatre Olympics was inaugurated in New Delhi at Red Fort by honourable Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu on 17th February 2018. The event was organized by National School of Drama supported by Ministry of Culture. The theme of the festival was “Flag of Friendship”- a celebration of universal human values and the world being a global village. With an aim to bridge borders and blur boundaries for the love of art, this 51 days long nationwide theatre extravaganza featured both Indian and International theatre groups communicating the culture and ethos of people around the world. Eminent theatre personalities performed in various parts of the country on different genres, ideas and forms. A total of 30 countries participated in the festival from across the globe, Australia to France to Russia. The Theatre Olympics ended on April 8th. This was the first time India was hosting the largest international theatre festival which showcased plays around 17 Indian cities including …

Studio Ghibli: My Favorite Anime Movies

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Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio best known for its anime movies, and famous for making some of the highest grossing anime films in Japan. Hayao Miyazaki, the acclaimed director, is one of the founders of the Studio. Much like Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks, Studio Ghibli has a standard and reputation of its own. I have grown a liking for the extensive, immersive storytelling, imaginations implemented with wild abandon, and the colorful characters showcased in most of its movies.
Howl's Moving Castle
This is my personal favorite. I just loved the story, which was rather beyond imagination, wildly changing courses, full of magic, fantasy and awesome characters. It has a village girl, Sophie, who is turned into a wrinkled, stooping old woman, by a witch’s curse. And it has Howl, a half-man, half-bird, and an accomplished magician who has no permanent residence but prefers to move around in the countryside in his moving castle. It's a love story of sorts. Curious, ar…

Stories By Rabindranath Tagore

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In school days I used to read a lot of anthologies- collections of short stories. I would always search in the school library to take a book home for the summer holidays. Saki, O.Henry, Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Ruskin Bond- the list went on increasing gradually. If I couldn’t find a suitable book there, I would scavenge through the dusty book piles in our neighbour aunty’s residence. Even Sony di would promptly share with me her favorite reads and we would discuss the stories for hours. It was from her that I first read the short stories by Rabindranath Tagore in 8th grade. Kabuliwalah and The Postmaster found their roots in my teenage curious little mind ever since.
I watched the Aishwariya Rai starrer ‘Chokher Bali’ directed by Rituparno Ghosh during the college days. It raised several questions in my impressionable fertile mind about marriage, society, rules and desires. I couldn't really understand then why Binodini did what she did with Ashalata whom she had considered a n…

Quotes On Art

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“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” 
― George Bernard Shaw
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” 
― Pablo Picasso
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” 
― Thomas MertonNo Man Is an Island


“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?” 
― John KeatsLetters of John Keats

“Creativity takes courage. ” 
― Henri Matisse
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Cesar A. Cruz
“The first mistake of art is to assume that it's serious.” 
― Lester Bangs
“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. 

This most of all: ask yourself…

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