December 23, 2017

Book review: 'Padmavati - the queen tells her story'

It is December, the season where wishes are granted in mysterious ways. It was just the other day that I was cribbing about the deferred release of Sanjay Lila Bhansali's movie 'Padmavati' because of the row created by the Karni Sena.
Having read about the legendary queen of Chittor in my childhood ('Amar Chitra katha' phase) I had been earnestly looking forward to see how it would roll out on the big screen.
However, I wasn't disappointed for long. Thanks to Readomania and Sutapa Basu for coming up with this beautiful rendition  of the glorious legend. It seems like this heartpiercing  tale with all its vivid imagery is going to stay etched in my memory for a very long time.

    Book title: Padmavati: The queen tells her story.
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Readomania 
  • Published in: December 2017
  • Language: English
  • Author: Sutapa Basu

'Padmavati---the queen tells her story' is a fictional account of the extraordinary journey of an extraordinary queen.
Introduced in modern times, the author has incorporated a contemporary element to this age-old folklore. Mrunalini Roy, a journalist for a national daily is researching the life of Rani Padmavati for which she travels to Chittorgarh. This is where she meets Uma, a village girl who lures her into listening to the story with the promise of leading her to Padma-Wali, an autobiographical document on old parchment that is written by the queen herself.

As Uma narrates the story enroute, we are transported to the lovely kingdom of Singhaldweep with all its blooming details.

"An oval emerald, snugly nestling in tiers of frothy white lace, floated in the crushed silk of turquoise seas. It was the enchanted island of Singhaldweep, off the eastern coast of Bharatdesh. A land that entices you into such a magical spell that you wonder how you existed without experiencing such a paradise."

A few pages down and one cannot help but notice the stark difference between Singhaldweep and Mewar (where Princess Padmini moves after marrying Ratan Singh). The difference is made evident by Ginni's (a talking Hiraman parrot) description of the rocky and sandy desert land of Mewar;
Ginni describes Mewar (Is it never pleasant here? What a land! During the day, hot winds howl and blow sand through the palaces while at night the stone walls are chilled by icy breezes. How I wish I was back in Singhaldweep!)

The book provides a window into the soulful and heart-wrenching journey through the life of the legendary queen Padmini, who is well acclaimed not just for her beauty but also for her strong character, skills at warfare, and astute wisdom.
With a talking parrot, Ginni, and her childhood friend, Ambika, as companion and confidante, and a kind and compassionate husband whom she barely knows but soon grows to respect and love unconditionally, the young queen bravely battles against the plots and plans that are schemed against her, both by family and foe.
But will her unparalleled beauty and elegance prove to be a curse for the young queen?
As Rani Padmavati faces and fights her destiny, she makes one final decision---she documents her story until the end; a story that transcends all boundaries of friendship, love, and honor.

The book has an attractive cover, although I felt it could have been a tad more innovative. The use of Mewari, Singha, and Urdu words gives the story a colloquial appropriateness, that is well translated by a helpful glossary in the last few pages.The narration is carefully detailed yet crisp and suggests meticulous research on the topic. Intermittent dialogue and interspersed poetry add the necessary creative zing, turning a piece of historical fiction into a riveting page turner. The scheming nature of the crafty Raghav Chetna and the treacherous lust-ridden Alauddin Khalji leaves you feeling sorry for the virtuous Rani Padmini who finds herself at their mercy time and again. But the undaunted queen refuses to bend.
How then does she change the course of her fate? Despite being fully aware that Padmavati is just a fictional figure, what is it that makes one ponder on whether there could be a semblance of reality amidst all the literary devices? Is it just extraordinary story telling, or is there really a fine line between truth and myth, between history and historical fiction? I guess it all depends on what you want to believe in. For now, let's just believe in good literature and our love for reading.

The end caught me by surprise, and no, I'm not talking about the obvious here. That is not the end. There is a story within the story. (Read the book to find out. You can order your copy here.)

Personal rating: 4.0 out of 5

About the author: Author, poet, editor, and ardent bibliophile, are just some of the feathers in Sutapa Basu's hat. She is a prolific writer and has several published short stories and poems to her credit. Her debit novel 'Dangle', a psychological thriller, was published by Readomania in 2016. This is her second novel.

(The views in the above review are entirely mine, and are not subject to obligation of any sort.)

August 08, 2017


You never realize when or how it slips in. But by the time it makes itself evident, it's almost always too late. It has embroiled itself into your life, made its way through the labyrinth of your thoughts, and depending on how it shapes, is destined to liberate or destroy you. You attempt to ignore it, perhaps even succeed for a while. But then it comes right back, gnawing at your neurons, demanding your attention, distracting you off the imperative in your life until you allow it to hold you by the hand and lead the way. Even then it is seldom satisfied. It does not rest until it has consumed you completely. You are tempted to give in. Tempted to see where it will take you. But you resist. Moments of incertitude and self-doubt begin to creep in. Should you or shouldn't you?

Eventually you learn. It teaches you to channelize, focus, and finally surrender. Fighting it is futile. It's not leaving, and that only means it's meant to stay.

You cannot kill an idea once it has made a home in your head!

July 31, 2017

Z for 'Zig zag zindagi'

Life, as we all know, is like that troublesome virus that keeps changing its morphology and hence makes it impossible to nail a cure for. In fact, so vain are its complexities and idiosyncrasies that we are often left befuddled, with mouth agape, trying to make sense of the curveballs it (life, not the virus) keeps throwing at us.

Back when I was young and naive, I used to believe that in the 'no-regrets' philosophy. You know that theory which says you shouldn't regret anything that once made you smile blah blah...
Well, now I'm older and wiser. And like most mature people believe that what you believe in when you are young and naive is a load of crap.
Of course, you have regrets. And sometimes you regret things that once made your addled brain happy too. But that doesn't mean you stop making mistakes...nah! You just keep making new ones. You keep regretting them. And you keep learning from them. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

You see, that's the thing about regrets and realisations. They usually happen only (and I mean ONLY) in hindsight. By this I mean that when they happens, the clock has already ticked by, the circle is complete, the chapter is over, and the deal is sealed. Things attain clarity only when you are not desperately seeking for the haze to clear. And all you can do then is shrug your shoulders, fake a wan smile, and say 'C'est la vie'.
Because that's what life is all about anyway, isn't it? It's never a straight curve on the time versus progress graph. It's a zig-zag...a roller coaster ride with surprise ups and downs. You remember the game of snakes and ladders you used to play as kids, wherein you could never be sure what the throw of the dice would bring you? Well, isn't life pretty much like that? A series of unfathomable situations with puzzling choices for solutions, with the only way of surviving the chaos is to go with the flow.

However, all this is easier said than done. When push comes to shove, you tend to get clingy, desperate, hopeful, even obstinate. You try to tighten our grip over what you think is yours and reach out for more...
And somewhere amidst all this mess, you tend to lose out on what is most important...the here and now.

Your present, however fleeting it may be, is the only thing that is certain. And you tend to give up on it in the pursuit of an elusive tomorrow.

You get too busy chasing butterflies when you can stop and smell the flowers...

Z for 'Zig zag zindagi' is the twenty-sixth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

With this post, I finally complete the A-Z series of posts. I have been guilty of neglecting my blog for a while now. But I promise that is going to change start August. So watch this space for a lot more frequent updates in the days to come. 

April 05, 2017

Y for 'YOLO'

5 th April / 12:48am

You Only Live Once- and thank heavens for that. I wouldn't be able to handle my life another time over...

Y for 'YOLO' is the twenty-fifth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 31, 2017

X for '(e)X-factor'

Relationships are complicated, and even more complicated than them are break-ups. We all have had at least one person for whom we have suffered through the anger-despair-regret cycle, for whom we have sat on the bathroom floor crying buckets, devoured dollops of empty calories from ice cream tubs, binge watched movies and emptied boxes of Kleenex.
It is true that getting over a relationship is an arduous process, and drains you out emotionally especially when you see your ex moving on at break neck speed. That is when the  reality of the situation strikes you the hardest. You know you need to move on but feel you will never be able to. But like they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

So for all you broken-hearted people, who, right now, just need that one person who can assure them they are going to survive the pain they are feeling, this one's for you. The fact that you have stumbled upon this page, and are reading this post which I have no clue why I got about writing is proof enough that it's all happening for good reason. Maybe this is exactly how it's supposed to work.

Anyway, let's not digress too much. We got work to do. Long story short, here are some tips collated from the experts and their break-up experiences which promise to help speed up recovery.

So buckle up, and put that smile back on your face. It's time to axe your eX.

1. First and foremost, accept that the relationship has run its course. Every relationship comes with a shelf life, after which it starts to lose its flavour. The chinks in the armour begin to show, the flowers seem to  wither, and the stars don't twinkle as bright as before. It's rather tough to detect these changes because human as we are, we keep convincing ourselves that it's just a speed breaker and not a road block. But deep within, we know when it's really over. Accepting a drastic change like that is difficult. But it's no use holding on when it's time to let go.

2. A common mistake we tend to do after breakups is hurry. We do not give ourselves enough time to bleed. You must realise that healing is a gradual process. Finding a rebound will only provide a temporary emotional crutch before things get messy again. Take your time out. Bleeding wounds if bandaged prematurely will only soak the bandage. Grieving over a dead relationship is alright. Don't be too hard on yourself. Cry a river. Then build a bridge and cross it.

3. Concentrate on your career. Invest in your passion. Learn a new language. Paint, write, sing. Pursue a hobby to the hilt. A better future involves all this and so much more. If you meet love on the way, welcome it. But don't forget, it's just a pit stop. The journey is long and wonderful. This time, don't settle for less than a love that agrees to go the entire nine yards with you.

4. If you've had an ugly breakup, the best thing to do is end all communication. Go cold turkey. Block messages. Ignore calls if any. There is no point in playing blame games or mud slinging. If you cannot be courteous about it, a clean finish is the dignified way to end a relationship.

5. Spend time with people you have been neglecting, friends who won't venture into 'curious' territory and still make sure you are having a good time. Step out more often. Make the trip you always wanted. However, try and keep away from places where you are likely to bump into each other.

6. Ice cream always helps. But watch those calories. Remember once you start feeling better, you wouldn't want those extra inches around your waist to be cause for misery again.

7. Jive, Salsa, Zumba---participate in some high energy activity.

8. Kill the green monster. Don't stalk him/her on Facebook to check out who he is hanging out with, who has tagged him in pics, or what he is up to. It's only going to get you jealous for no reason. Moving on takes time. Don't impede the process.

9. Love yourself before anyone else again. Because in the end, it's only self-love that proves to be the strongest.

10. Make art . You are in this world for a reason and as much as you'd want to believe that the reason is love, it isn't. In the famous words of Carrie Fischer, "Take your broken heart, and make it into art.

11. (Sell off all the stuff that reminds you of him.

12. When in doubt, read. A good book is guaranteed to open up a whole new universe and show you how inconsequential your heartbreak is. Err...just make sure you keep away from the romance novels in the first few weeks.

13. Work out. Get into shape. Lose that extra flab you have gained by gorging on those ice cream tubs. It's time to fit right back into your favourite outfits. Let him eat his heart out when he sees you next. And when that happens, make sure you don't go back. Remember all the reasons you guys broke up for/over. Remember that they aren't going anywhere. They will be right there where you left them.

14. Now that you have read this list, it's time to focus on acting on it. Just like you won't find the same love twice, every break-up is also unique in its own way. Make your own rules. Find out which of these suggestions work for you, and pass it forward. There is always a heart breaking somewhere around you. You aren't alone in this.

Yes, we've all been there at some point, watched our hearts cracking open, witnessed/experienced the waterworks, cursed, ranted, raved, and sworn off love. But a few years down the line, it no longer seems as significant as it did once. Why?
Because we live only once. We are not coming back this way again. So why cause ourselves unnecessary pain and agony? There are more things to life than seemingly torrid short-lived love affairs. But it's hard to realise that when you are nineteen, right? Hell! It's hard to understand that even in your thirties or forties or fifties at times. But trust me on this, nothing in the whole wide world is worth the misery we are capable of bringing upon ourselves.
So cheer up and save that spark. The fire will burn again. Trust the magic of new beginnings.

Until then, keep smiling.
Peace out!

X for '(e)X-factor' is the twenty-fourth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 20, 2017

W for 'Wastrel proceedings'

I tried to cheat time by breaking the hour glass. I wanted to lock every moment, feel every memory in the palm of my hand, hold it, relive it, immortalise it and never let it go.
Carefully, I emptied the contents of the hour glass; golden dust of a magical past that I yearned to safeguard. But every time I closed my fist in an attempt to tighten my grasp over it, the grains of sand would slip from the gaps between my fingers.

As my gaze fell over the broken hour glass, I realised what I'd done. In my vain attempt to control time, I'd lost my chance of turning the hourglass over and starting anew. Desperately, I tried to collect the sand that had slipped onto the ground. But it was too late. My past, had taken along with it, my present and future and mingled with the dust.
And I could do nothing but watch...

W for 'Wastrel proceedings' is the twenty-third post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 09, 2017


As a child, I'd never seen a rainbow for real. But I remember dreaming about one.
I'd memorise the different colors and wonder if they could be shifted and mixed. I'd wonder if one color drained into another when it rained, like the way my water colors would when I dipped my paintbrush in a palate of water for a little too long. I'd fantasise about collecting pieces of coloured rainbow falling from the sky. I'd even dream of  eating them---savouring their taste which I'd imagine would be akin to Poppins, the popular multi coloured hard candy available those days.

But my flights of fancy were soon to end, and one day, I finally witnessed a real rainbow. There it was, peeping at me from behind the clouds, sharing the same sky as the golden sun. I immediately started counting it's colors. But I could hardly discern all seven. This rainbow was nowhere like the mesmerising one I'd seen in books and animations, the one that my childish imagination had fallen in love with. I felt duped...cheated, sold off an inferior quality version when all I'd wished and prayed for was the VIBGYOR of my dreams.  My brain and heart, all of seven years, felt terribly let down. And that is when I first realised that reality is never as beautiful as you hope and imagine it to be.

Later in life, I learned that most things are like that. Expectations are often braced with disappointment. But human as we are, we never really learn.
Even now, there are days when I still expect that rainbow, all bright and flashy with seven strips of color and leprechauns flying over it. But soon enough, reality strikes making me feel heavily disappointed and disillusioned.

Nevertheless, the child in me still believes!
When the world is whitewashed of joy and I see no hopeful hues, I reach out to that imaginary rainbow I'd first witnessed in books and animations; the one I'd fallen in love with, the one that set the bar so high that reality couldn't  match up to it, the one I still adorn and immortalise with my words and imagination from time to time---My VIBGYOR with all its colors intact, perhaps waiting at the end of this mystifying yet  magical experience called life.

V for 'VIBGYOR' is the twenty-second post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

Dated March 11th 2017

February 23, 2017

Back to blogging: 'Breaking the silence'

A couple of days ago, I insisted on calling a friend who I've been guilty of not being in touch with for a while now.
More so because he texted me that he was majorly hung over on a concoction of red bull and fresh pineapple juice, and I was curious to know how that sounded.

Much to my surprise, the said friend (who was once known for his rambunctious attitude) suddenly shied away and started making weird excuses.
"I have a sore throat," he said. "I sound really bad."

In accordance with the theory of the forbidden fruit, I now wanted to hear him even more. And so I adamantly told him I'd deal with it.

Now, all my friends know that there is one thing that invites the wrath of Priyanka Naik like nothing other. And that is if my call is cancelled. This means even if my friends are in some major life threatening situation and cannot answer my call, they let it ring and fade out gradually but in no situation cancel it. It's a quirk of mine that they entertain.

Anyway, so I called and he answered. I said the customary hello, but nobody spoke a word.
After a moments pause, I heard a mousy squeak.

"Hey Pri, I need to call you back. I have a client," he said.
"You sound fine. You really do," I laughed.
He laughed back awkwardly, confirming my suspicions.
"No no. Really, there's a client. Will call you."
I knew that was a lie. But I gave in this time.

"Ok. Say Hi to your imaginary client from my side," I teased.

Seconds later, I received a text from him.
"You sound just like you did five years back. I'm so jealous."

I laughed it off then. But this  incident got me thinking.

How much of our state of mind or maturity do we really let on in our voice? Am I expected to sound different now than I did a decade ago or another decade ahead? Not all of us choose to do a 'Geet' from 'Jab we met' and manifest a major transition in personality post interval, no? Life doesn't always work that way.

Most of the times, personality changes are internal and not that obvious. My voice might stay the same. But I am changing...every single minute. Evolving, growing up, hiding, revealing, trying desperately to preserve whatever is left of who I used to be. And yet, striving to be a better version of who I choose to become.

As this explosion of thoughts wreaked havoc in my mind, I got reminded of these lines from a favourite song.
"Naam gum jayega. Chehra ye badal jayega. Meri awaaz hi pehchaan hai, agar yaad rahein... 

January 05, 2017

U for 'Untitled'

Dear Heart,

When in doubt, I want you to know that it's okay not to understand.

Don't beat yourself about it. You are not responsible for striking the perfect balance in the world. It's okay not to have some confusions sorted. Life is like that. You don't need to feel terrible about it.

You must realise everybody has their own cross to bear. You can't make anything easier  for anyone, not even
yourself, by trying to understand. Don't waste your time over it.

So sail away and don't hope for company in any kind of storm. In the end, nothing really matters (and perhaps this is the only thing one needs to understand.)

Selfishly yours,

U for 'Untitled' is the twenty-first post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

January 04, 2017


I see the seasons changing
Once again too soon;
The leaves are turning
From lush green to yellow-grey
The Sycamore is in bloom no more
It's strong roots and naked branches
Remind me of our love
That could neither be uprooted
Nor bear flowers,
And of us; you and me
Who just like the seasons,
Couldn't stay for long.