Murder on the Orient Express – A thrilling who-dun-it by Agatha Christie

Very few suspense novelists have the knack to play mind games with readers and Agatha Christie is one of them. After Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie is the only writer whose writing works in genre of suspense and mystery have been critically acclaimed worldwide. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the most popular who-dun-it thrillers by Agatha that has redefined the genre of suspense and thrill. The crime scene in this novel is a train named ‘Orient Express’.

Agatha Christie is the popular writer in Suspense genre

12 suspects, 1 detective are left stranded on Orient express which is stuck up due to snow. In this midst, a passenger named Ratchett is mysteriously stabbed to death in his compartment. Now the railway authorities seek the help of Poirot to intervene and solve this baffling mystery. As Poirot starts investigating, he discovers that the victim was once a kidnapper who had killed a baby girl – Daisy Armstrong after abducting her. Poirot starts interrogating each passenger on the train and to the shock he suspects that each passenger is hiding something from him. I won’t reveal the story more. Just read this novel and your wits will put to test. Especially the climax will leave you baffling. You will wonder ‘Oh I never thought in that way’.

An iconic pic of Detective Hercule Poirot. Actor David Suchet is popular for playing the Belgian Detective Poirot

What is so special about Agatha Christie’s suspense novels are that they play mind games with readers’ mind. Right from the opening sequence, Agatha Christie’s writings keep you spell bound and allow you to make your own assumptions about the crime thriller. In the climax, you will get a shocking jolt when you discover the identity of the killer. Agatha’s books are never an easy read. Agatha Christie’s character – Belgian Detective Hercule Poirot keeps a sharp gaze on every suspect through their mannerisms, communication and connects the dots that lead him to the real motive behind the murder of the kidnapper Ratchett. Buy this thriller and be a witness of the biggest crime committed on Orient Express. This is one of the baffling cases in series of Hercule Poirot Books.

The Poster of the new movie adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel

Director Kenneth Branagh is coming up with fresh new movie adaption of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ which will feature big names in Hollywood portraying the role of suspects while Kenneth Branagh will play the role of Hercule Poirot. Johnny Depp will be seen as the victim Ratchett who is mysteriously murdered in the compartment of Orient Express.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and ‘And there were none’ by Agatha Christie. Also check out ‘Death in the Clouds’ and ‘Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ by Agatha Christie.

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The day I decided to quit writing…….

Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Writing is a craft which cannot be taught. It is like learning to swim on your own. Once you take a dip in the sea, you can’t survive unless your limbs start moving. I was proud to hone this craft until that day when my so called boss (or a presumed editor) criticized my writing piece by crumbling it in his hands and handing it over to me. That incident struck like a thunderbolt. I started suspecting my own writing qualities. Was I so poor in my writing skills or was it the world that was bent on seeing me quit writing? My writing materials were criticized every day with red marks all over it. It was scorned, rejected, disapproved.

The red marks on the paper reflected the bleeding of my heart. I realized enough was enough. I couldn’t muster up the courage to continue my writing endeavors. I decided to quit writing. Even my so called friends advised me to quit writing. Some feel that writers are born failure. What a stupid misconception!! When I thought of quitting writing I realized why did I start it? Just to quit. This is not how the story is going to end.

Author Sylvia Plath’s writings were so miserably rejected that she committed suicide. Ironically she won a Pulitzer Prize for her writing works posthumously. Writer Thomas Hardy was so severely criticized for his prose that he gave up writing novels. Even Stephen King, the celebrated writer of horror genre once threw his writing materials in dustbin. It was his wife who picked his writing materials from the dustbin and encouraged Stephen to keep writing. The manuscript of Harry Potter book was rejected 20 to 30 times until it became a phenomenal landmark in literature. What if J.K.Rowling had decided to quit? We wouldn’t have been reading and seeing Harry Potter adventures in books and movies. In one of my interviews, the interviewer told me that my writing lacked the spice and flavor to attract readers. Really my writings don’t have the spice and flavor because I am not a cook  I write what I feel from the core of my heart. 99 % of the editors really don’t understand the craft of writing. They job is to reject the work of aspiring writers.

It is been 8 years since that discouraging day when I decided to quit writing. I may not become a successful and celebrated writer like Amish Tripathi, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown or Stephen King, but I will continue writing irrespective of my writing medium – Blog, Articles and books. It is my devotion, conviction and belief towards my craft that keeps me going.

If I had quit writing 8 years back, I wouldn’t have been writing this article. There may be times when I will stumble and fall down.

But why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Lines from movie Batman begins.

Whispers in the dark – A book of spooks by Ruskin Bond

What would you do if you see a ghostly figure sleeping besides your bed? Will your sweat out with fear or scream out? In such unpredictable paranormal experiences, the faint hearted can’t even scream. From ‘The Excorcist’ to the recent scary flick – The Conjuring & Annabelle, fear has taken new forms in movies. ‘Whispers in the dark’ is a fresh new compilation of spooky stories that you will change your perception towards the theory of paranormal activities. After ‘Face in the dark and other hauntings’, Ruskin Bond has penned down new spooky stories that will give you scary goosebumps.

The short stories in this spooky collection have supernatural and scary settings, but they are not mind disturbing. Most of Ruskin Bond’s stories have touch of nostalgia and romance to it. ‘The Wilson’s Bridge’ and ‘Listen to the wind’ have the theme of romance in this spooky collection. Among all the short stories, ‘A dreadful gurgle’ is one of my favorites. In this story, the author encounters a ghostly figure sleeping besides his bed. ‘A face in the dark’, ‘The late night show’, ‘Susanna’s seven husbands’, ‘A traveller’s tale’, ‘The overcoat’ and ‘The Mango tope’ are really thrilling with a shocking twist in the end. The 35 stories in this spooky collection are unique from one another. Is there any afterlife element existing in this world? Do our departed loved ones really connect with us? These queries about supernatural elements are a subject of discussion. In one of his short stories, Ruskin Bond recounts his experience of seeing the apparition of his late father – Aubrey Bond.

Ruskin Bond has also penned ‘A face in the dark and other hauntings’ a spooky collection of ghost stories

If you love spooky stories, do check out this anthology of supernatural theme by Ruskin Bond. I bet after reading this stories, you will definitely check your bed sheet before sleeping. Who knows how and when a ghost may sneak in your bed.

In search of a muse

‘Fill the paper with breathings of your heart’ – Quote

Without a muse, an artist is nothing. Neither he can paint a picture on a canvas nor can he pour words on his paper. I never believed in theories of muse until I faced the creative blockage in my mind known as writer’s block. Writer’s block is a type of creative blockage that paralyzes our creativity. Neither coffee nor music helped me to restore back my writing prowess. While gazing through some images on Pinterest, I happened to see the pic of actress Anne Hathaway from Hollywood movie – Becoming Jane. Actress Anne Hathaway played the role of author Jane Austen in the movie. The picture showed Anne holding a pen and paper. The picture had a positive impact on my mind. It was like a writing prompt for me. I felt like my mind was undergoing a rebooting phase. I immediately went to my writing table and starting tapping my hands on my keyboard. Within 2 hours I wrote an article and published it on WordPress blogging platform. It was sense of accomplishment for me. My mind was oozing with creativity. Was the creative blockage an excuse to stay away from writing or was I really facing writers’ block? Often times, we are so much enthusiastic to pen down our thoughts that we end up writing nothing. Ideas are like uninvited guests. They arrive anytime – while catching a bus, talking to a friend or while having a bath. Only the mind needs to be alert to welcome your creative guests.

Anna hathaway portrayed Jane Austen in 2007 movie – Becoming jane. She is also my current muse for this story

Do muses play a significant role in arousing ideas? Yes!! From William Shakespeare, Raja Ravi Verma, Leonardo Da Vinci to Ernest Hemingway, Rabindranath Tagore, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, John Keats and Ruskin Bond, every creative genius had a muse to keep them inspired. It is been said that a young woman named Sugandha Bai was the muse of painter Raja Ravi Verma. Raja Ravi Verma used her as his model for several of his paintings. Whether Sugandha Bai was a real life person or a fictional character from Ranjit Desai’s biography on Raja Ravi Verma, this speculation has always been a subject of debate.

In Hollywood movie – Shakespeare in Love, William Shakespeare was shown having a muse who inspired him to write Romeo and Juliet. Though the movie was a fictional take on Shakespeare, there is no denying that creative people always in search of muse.

Several of John Keats’ poems were dedicated to his sweet heart Fanny Brawne. The 2007 biopic – Becoming Jane was based on life of Jane Austen and her short lived romance with Thomas Lefroy. Though the characters of Jane Austen were happy married in her books, Jane Austen was deprived of true love and wedding. She remained alone all her life. The character Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice was based on her real life love – Thomas Lefroy. Lefroy was muse of Austen. Love is greatest inspiration of all and artists always find creativity in their muses. Ruskin Bond’s greatest inspiration was a young married woman with whom he had a short lived crush. The young married woman was mentioned in the Ruskin Bond’s debut book – The Room on the roof. Even Tagore’s novels and poems were dedicated to his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi who inspired him to write.

Even the experiences in our life are muse for us. Playwright J.M.Barrie created the popular character ‘Peter Pan’ based on his personal experiences. The Hollywood movie – Finding Neverland was based on playwright J.M.Barrie and the experiences that inspired him to write Peter Pan. Really!! Without a muse, an artist is incomplete.

Finding Neverland is based on playwright J.M.Barrie

Hadn’t I seen the pic of Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen, I wouldn’t have been bursting with creativity. All thanks to actress Anne Hathaway for becoming my muse to write this article. It is all God’s plan to drop ideas in our mind. He creates muses, ideas and inspirations. Oh God!! Please keep me blessed with beautiful muses.

Jane Austen’s greatest inspiration was her love. The role of Jane Austen was played by Anne hathaway

As for now, this article on muse is ready. It’s time for my muse Anne Hathaway to take leave. Now my hunt for next muse is on…..Who will be my next muse? Only time and my upcoming stories will tell.

Do you believe in this concept called muse? Do drop your comments. Let me know who inspired you to create your masterpiece.

The unforgettable characters from Ruskin Bond’s books

Only few authors have the knack to create memorable characters in a full length novella or an unforgettable short story. Mark Twain, R.K.Narayan and Ruskin Bond belong to that league. Ruskin Bond’s short stories have a flavor of nostalgia that lingers in heart and mind of readers. The characters in the Bond’s short stories are not heroic soldiers, undercover cops, beautiful belle or damsels in distress.

They are common masses we see in day today life. There is extraordinariness in these ordinary characters created by Bond. These unforgettable characters from Ruskin’s short stories will tug your heart when you read about their struggle. Let’s see what is so special about these unforgettable characters created by Ruskin Bond.

1) Hassan the wrestler –

‘Fame has but a fleeting hold
On the reins in our fast paced society
So many of our yesterday’s heroes crumble’

Among all the short stories, ‘The Garlands on his brow’ is my favorite short story. Here Ruskin Bond brings you closer to the pain of a forgotten wrestler from Dehra. In this short story Bond reminiscences an ageing wrestler Hassan who once a hero and a role model for the Dehra people. His brawns and brain had knocked down many strong wrestlers to the floor. During his school days, little Ruskin used to visit the akharas (wrestling grounds) to see the dare devilry wrestling matches of his idol Hassan. Hassan’s masculinity attracts several young women including a Maharani. The Maharani takes a fascination for Hassan and recruits him as her personal bodyguard. A momentary attraction towards a woman spells doom for Hassan. After the death of Maharani, Hassan is reduced to a forgotten hero who makes his ends meet by giving wrestling lessons to young kids. In the climax, the old wrestler is found dead on the streets of Dehra. It is so disheartening that a yester year hero is reduced to poverty and anonymity in the fast paced world. This short story reminded me of Yash Raj Films’ movie – Sultan which revolves around a wrestler who bounces back after losing his glory. I personally feel that this short story should be made into a TV serial or a full length movie featuring Salman Khan as the ageing wrestler Hassan. Really nothing lasts forever in the world, not even the success and glamour.

2) The girl on the train – In the short story ‘The Eyes have it’, Ruskin Bond introduces us to two strangers on the train. The blind narrator in this story meets a girl who has boarded the train to go Saharanpur. Here the narrator strikes a joyful conversation with the lonely girl to give her company till her destination arrives. He describes about the beauty of Dehradun to her. The conversation breaks the ice between them and they form a good bond. Later the girl bids farewell to the narrator. Here the narrator is joined again by a new passenger. In the climax the narrator discovers that the young girl on the train was actually blind. What a surprising climax!! We are so blinded by our preconceptions that we fail to observe people and surroundings around us. We see the world according to our nature. Ironically the world is very different from our observation and thinking. The blind strangers reminded me of Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam from movie Kaabil. They played the roles of a blind couple in the movie. This short story should be adapted for a TV episode featuring Yami and Hrithik as the blind passengers on the train.

3) The Kite maker – The skies are deprived of kites flying high to touch the clouds. Today skyscrapers, buildings, Shopping malls and Industrial complexes have reduced the space for outdoor games. Today there are neither the kids flying the kites nor there is any ample space for kite flying activities. In the short story ‘The Kitemaker’, we sympathize with the melancholy of a forgotten kite maker. Mehmood, a popular kite maker of pre-independence era recounts his moments of glory when he was praised and respected by the rich Nawab and the masses of his times. He reminiscences creating a giant sized Kite for the Nawab and the thrill of launching the kite in the sky. With changing times and advent of technology, there is no time left for trivial things like kite. People have no time left for activities like kite flying.
In the end, Mehmood the kite maker breathes his last, remembering the best years of his lives and his fondness for Kite making.

4) The girl at Deoli station – ‘The night train at Deoli’ is counted as one of the best short stories written by Ruskin Bond. This short story introduced me to the nostalgic world of Ruskin Bond. Ruskin Bond has fondness for train traveling and here too the backdrop of the story is a railway station. The Deoli station is not like the crowded stations of Mumbai. It is a very melancholic station where you won’t find any crowd. Except for a station master office and a tea stall, the station doesn’t have any passengers hanging around the place. The strange thing about the Deoli station is that the trains passing through the station halt only for 10 minutes. There is neither any passenger boarding or getting down to this station. The author connects with a basket selling girl on the station. He is smitten to her innocence in the very first glance. He not only buys baskets from her, but also promises to meet her again. Ironically when he returns to meet her again at Deoli, the girl is nowhere in the sight. He enquires with the station master and tea stall owner but fails to know about her whereabouts. Whenever the train passes towards Deoli station, the author has a faint hope to bond back with the basket selling girl.

5) Ruskin Bond’s father ‘Aubrey Bond’ – Ruskin Bond has mentioned about his father ‘Aubrey Bond’ in many of his short stories including the full length novel – Looking for the rainbow: My years with Daddy. For Ruskin Bond, his father was not just a parent, but also a companion, a compassionate friend who cared for his child till the last breath of his life. When I read about Ruskin Bond’s father in the short stories and full length memoir, I had a curiosity to see the photograph of Aubrey Bond. Sadly, there is no photograph of Aubrey Bond published on web. After the divorce of Ruskin Bond’s parents, little Ruskin’s responsibility of upbringing was taken by his dad. An RAF officer by profession, Aubrey Bond took his child under his care.

A snapshot from Ruskin Bond’s memoir – Looking for the rainbow

In Delhi, little Ruskin spent the best years of his life with his father – collecting stamps, relishing on ice creams, watching cinemas and visiting historical sites. This happiness was short lived for little Ruskin. The malarial attack and jaundice took a toll on his father’s health and Ruskin was deprived of fatherly love during his childhood. In one of the short stories ‘The Vision’ Ruskin meets the ghostly form of his father who guides him even in his darkest hours. In an interview Ruskin Bond had expressed a wish that actor Shahid Kapoor resembled a bit like him and should definitely portray Ruskin in his official biopic. Hope someday if a movie is made on Ruskin Bond’s book – Looking for the rainbow I personally feel that Hollywood actors – James Mardsen, Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumbercatch should play the role of Ruskin Bond’s father.

The girl Binya was the popular fictional character from Ruskin Bond’s short story – The Blue Umbrella

6) Rusty – Rusty is the alter-ego of Ruskin Bond, an imaginary boy sprung from the imagination of the writer. The incidents happening in the life of Rusty are based on childhood days of Ruskin Bond. ‘Room on the roof’ was the debut novel of Ruskin Bond when he was just 17 years old. Through ‘Room on the roof’, Rusty became a popular fictional character and was read and adored by readers worldwide. The Rusty series was highly popular among the young readers. Surprisingly Rusty was more popular before Harry Potter books hit the stores. Through Rusty, Ruskin Bond captured the imagination of young boys.

Room on the roof is the first book in Rusty Series

Apart from these characters, Ruskin created several unforgettable characters like Uncle Ken, Binya, Sita, Madhu, Daljit, Somi and Ranbir. Some fictional characters were based on his real life friends and some were created out of imagination. Nevertheless, these characters have succeeded to find a place in my heart. I am hoping to include some of other Ruskin Bond’s characters in my upcoming article very soon.

The Mill on the floss – A classic masterpiece by George Eliot

‘If life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?’ – Excerpt from the book

This book ‘The Mill on the floss’ was on my wish list for a long time. Somewhere or other, I never got my time to read this literary masterpiece by Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot was her pen name). In Victorian era, female authors were never given the expected encouragement, scope and success compared to the male writers. Thus, Mary Ann Evans adopted a masculine name for her literary identity. Like Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, George Eliot paints an intense picture of emotions in her maiden novel – The Mill on the floss. Especially the female protagonist Maggie Tulliver is a strong character in the book that overshadows the male protagonist – Tom Tulliver.

The story revolves around a prosperous and wealthy Tulliver Family who own a flourishing mill near the river floss. Mr. and Mrs Tulliver are blessed with two kids – Tom and Maggie. Tom and Maggie are completely contrasted in nature. While Tom is a reserved boy, Maggie is reckless like an untamed mare. Maggie adores and worships her brother so much that sometimes she ends hurting him. The happiness of Tulliver family comes to an end when a cunning lawyer Mr. Wakem usurps all the property of Tulliver by wrong means. Mr. Tulliver even loses his mill to the cunning Wakem. By a strange irony, Philip, the son of Wakem and Maggie fall in love with each other.Though Tom separates Maggie from Philip, he loses the love of his sister. What happens later is a sequence of tragic events that determine the fate of Tulliver Family and robs the happiness of Tulliver Family.

What appealed me in this book was the strong characterization. Maggie Tulliver is the main protagonist around whom the whole story revolves. She is wild, fierce like a gypsy girl who is adored by father but criticized by her mother. On the other hand, Tom is a reserved boy who works hard to clear off the debts incurred on his family.

Author George Eliot has also sketched out a strong character in Mr. Tulliver who imbibes the values of integrity, honesty, morality in his children. ‘The Mill on the floss’ is one novel that every parent should read. The climax of the book is very tragic. Unfortunately, Maggie is deprived of love she always deserved for. After reading the adapted version of ‘The Mill on the floss’, I am keen to read the full length version. I am also looking forward to other writing works of George Eliot – Adam Bede and Silas Marner.

If you enjoyed reading intense emotional novels like ‘Wuthering heights’ , then ‘The Mill on the floss’ is definitely worth the read.

Saawariya – A timeless story of unrequited love

Very few movies have poetic feel to them. The 2007 movie ‘Saawariya’ was one of it.

Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story – White Nights, Saawariya is a tale of a recluse stranger in search of love and a girl in wait of love. When their paths cross, love is about to blossom. Unrequited love stories have their own beauty and the beauty lies in its sorrow, separation, tears and melancholy. Be it the ‘The English Patient’ or ‘Lootera’, the theme of tragic love is common in them. The premise of this story is set in a fairy tale like city where there is no hurry, chaos or hatred. In this fairy tale like city arrives Ranbir Raj an aspiring but jobless musician who is in search of a rental accommodation. He befriends a prostitute named Gulabji. Unlike others, Ranbir treats Gulabji like a friend. On Gulabji’s reference, Ranbir manages to get an accommodation at a house of an old lady named Lilian.

While roaming on a dark night, Ranbir stumbles upon a beautiful girl on a bridge waiting for someone. A damsel in distress, the girl on the bridge is chased by a mad woman. The girl on the bridge seeks refuge and help from Ranbir. Ranbir rescues her from the mad woman. Ranbir and the girl strike a bond on the lonely night. Here he discovers that her name is Sakina and she stays with her blind grandmother. Ranbir is smitten by her natural beauty and innocence. Love blossoms in heart of Ranbir.

Though Ranbir and Sakina keep meeting like love birds, there is only a bonding of friendship between them. Ranbir tries to confess his love to Sakina but discovers later that she is in love with someone else and is waiting for his return so that they can get married. Hearing this, Ranbir decides to part away from Sakina.
Sakina has no clue about her lover’s return. Ranbir promises to search for her lover.Despite several attempts, Ranbir is unable to trace the whereabouts of Sakina’s lover. In this midst, Ranbir has a faint hope that Sakina may reciprocate to his love.
When Sakina realizes that there is no point of return of her love, she decides to reciprocate to Ranbir’s emotions. By a strange unfortunate irony, Sakina’s lover returns and now Sakina’s emotions are torn between Ranbir and her long lost love.
Realizing her dilemma, Ranbir big heartedly bids farewell to Sakina. Sakina connects with her love. In these four nights of friendship, Ranbir’s world changes when he meets Sakina. Now he is all alone. His days and nights are lonely again.
The hopeless, aspiring loner is back to his melancholy

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story ‘White nights’ is timeless in it. Director Sanjay Bhansali picked this short story as subject for the musical love story he was about to direct. Embellished with magnificent sets, stunning art direction, melodious soundtrack and a soulful performance, Saawariya was a critical let down. This visually engaging tragic love story is times ahead in terms of storytelling. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor made their debut with this timeless love story. Sonam’s portrayal as Sakina is unforgettable and there is a nostalgic feel to her innocent face. Ranbir’s role as the melancholic musician will win your heart. The heart breaking moment in the movie is the climax where Ranbir lets Sakina go with her long lost lover. It is difficult for a man to see his love in someone’s arms. Saawariya is a memorable movie that is not formulaic filled with typical and clichéd Bollywood drama. What appealed to me in this movie was the larger than life performance of veteran actress Zohra Sehgal as the old lady Lilian. This was one of the last soulful performances of Zohra Sehgal.

This article is not a review, but reminiscence of a heartbreaking love story faded away from the minds of people. Motion pictures like Saawariya are made only once. The word ‘Saawariya’ is derived from the word ‘Saanwra’ which means dark complexioned. Lord Krishna is sometimes addressed as Saawariya. Even Radha had to wait long for return of her lord Krishna. Sometimes one lifetime is not enough to experience the joy of love. Saawariya is about waiting in love for several lifetimes.

For those who have penchant for tragic romances, Saawariya is a visual engaging experience that will stay in their minds for eternity.

The sword of Tanaji Malusare

‘Every man dies, but not everyone really lives’ – lines from movie ‘Braveheart’

Our today’s generation mind is fascinated with fictional characters from Game of thrones and Bahubali. Kids know about Spartan King Leonidas but have hardly heard about the unsung Maratha warriors like Tanaji Malusare whose ballads are still sung in India. Should we blame the history textbooks or the growing influence of Western culture on our kids? A lot is written, sung on the great warrior Tanaji Malusare but his courageous feat is slowly fading from the minds of younger generations. It is high time that we continue to pass on the stories of our Indian history to our coming generation and this article on Tanaji is a small effort to remember his courageous feats.

The statue of the great maratha warrior – Tanaji

The ‘Povadas’ (Marathi ballads) sung by the folk singers inspired the young men of Maratha Empire to fight for Swarajya and resist the barbaric Mughal empire. Among the trusted comrades, Tanaji Malusare was the most trusted military leader who taken oath along with Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj to fight for Swarajya in Raireshwar temple (Raireshwar is Lord Shiva’s name). Shivaji and Tanaji were close friends during their childhood times and often they planned strategies to capture the forts. With coming times, Shivaji collected a band of brave Mawlas and declared a war on the Mughal Empire. With the help of Tanaji, Baji Prabhu and countless Maratha warriors, Shivaji won many battles. Though Tanaji had fought many battles for Swarajya, it was the battle for Sinhagad that was going to make him immortal in pages of history.

For Tanaji, his call of duty mattered more than his personal things. Such was his devotion to his nation that he left his son’s wedding preparations in middle to march for the battle of Sinhagad. He cared for Swarajya more than his son’s wedding.

By tying the rope on his pet lizard Yashwanti, Tanaji and his troops scaled the fort in the dark of night. The Sinhagad fort was under the control of corrupt Mughal officials Jai Singh and Udaybhan. Tanaji and his handful of men gave a tough fight to the mighty and large numbered enemy soldiers. Tanaji’s sword struck like a thunder bolt, claiming the lives of several enemy soldiers. The battle was bloodied, fierce and fatiguing for Tanaji and his band of brave soldiers. Though Tanaji gave a tough fight to Udaybhan, he was fatally wounded by the sword attacks. The fierce battle marked the end of Tanaji. In the sword fights, the cruel Udaybhan was also killed by Tanaji. Tanaji breathed his last, mortally wounded. He died, but kept his promise of recapturing the Sinhagad fort from the enemies.

Shivaji Maharaj was deeply saddened hearing about the death of his friend Tanaji. He had not only lost a great soldier, but also a close friend.

‘Gad ala pan sinh gela’ were the words uttered by Shivaji Maharaj in remembrance of his brave martyr friend Tanaji. The fort was captured but the lion was dead.

Tanaji’s ballads are still sung today by folk singers in his honor, remembering his courageous deeds and his ultimate sacrifice for Swarajya.

The sad irony about school history textbooks is that it doesn’t describe about the courageous heroes like Tanaji in detail. Kids do study history but only to score marks in exams. I had read about Tanaji Malusare in detail in Amar Chitra Katha books. It had a given a detailed history on Tanaji through illustrations.

Biopic on Tanaji – Viacom 18 is making a biopic on Tanaji Malusare which will have actor Ajay Devgan playing the title role of the great Maratha warrior. The movie is scheduled to release in 2019. I am very sad to see that it took so long time to make a biopic on this brave Maratha warrior. Thankfully, the young masses will be able to see Tanaji on the silver screen soon.

Ajay Devgan as Tanaji in 2019’s forthcoming biopic on the maratha warrior

When you can visit Sinhagad, you can see a bust of the great Maratha Warrior at the fort. Tanaji’s valor won’t be forgotten in the pages of history as long as we continue to carry forward his legacy of courage and patriotism.

A town called Dehra – Memories of Ruskin Bond’s Hometown

‘The past is always with us, for it feeds the present’ – Quote from the memoir

‘A town called Dehra’ is reminiscence of a sleepy town called Dehradun where author Ruskin Bond spent his boyhood as well as adolescent days. The characters in this memoir are Ruskin Bond’s relatives, his friends, love interest and the common masses residing in Dehra. From penning the memories of his father & granny to describing the scenic beauty of Dehra, Ruskin Bond has breathed life in the sleepy town called Dehra. What is so special about this book? The pages of this memoir are filled with the rare yester year photos of Ruskin Bond’s family (granny, siblings, friends and his mother). Sadly, there is no photograph of Ruskin Bond’s father in this memoir. In every book of Ruskin, his father has been mentioned in one or other short story. Even in this book, Ruskin reminiscences his long lost father in the first chapter.

As you gaze at these photos, you will feel a personal connect to them. The pre-independent Dehra was different from the present times. Filled with flower gardens, litchi trees, ponds, valleys, Dehra was a town of the ordinary people. Very few books mention about the struggles of common people and Ruskin Bond’s books highlights the pathos of these ordinary masses. His popular short story ‘Garlands on his brow’ depicts the pain of a forgotten wrestler called Hassan. A popular wrestler Hassan succumbs to the charm of a flirtatious Maharani and what follows later is his fading charisma as a wrestler in the arena. Hassan is forgotten, ignored by his admirers and this ignorance claims the life of this unsung wrestler of Dehra. Ruskin Bond has even penned his fondness for cinema halls of Dehra in this memoir. He recounts his best days of watching movies in Odeon theatre at Dehra. Through this memoir, Ruskin Bond takes you on a trip to Dehra where you will see Dilaram Bazaar, the famous market place where Rusty and his friends relished on road side snacks. If you have read ‘The room on the roof’ and ‘Rusty Runs away’, you will be familiar with Somi and Daljit. In this memoir, Ruskin Bond has personally shared the actual photos of his friends. What captivated me to read this book was the short story ‘The last Tonga ride’ which recounts Ruskin’s fondness for Tonga rides and his friendly bonding with the Tonga driver Bansi lal.

A single reading session is not enough to savor on the nostalgic treat offered by Ruskin Bond in this memoir. This memoir is especially been written for those people who have fondness for past. If you are away from your hometown, you are sure to break in tears of joy and sadness when you read the chapters. When I was reading the chapters in this memoir, it reminded me of own hometown, my uncle’s little room, cousin brothers who pampered me with their unconditional affection. Sadly the hometown is more of a ghost town as all my relatives have departed. What remained in my mind are the sweet memories that keep playing like a re-run of a TV serial.

No matter how far and high a bird may fly, it has to return to its nest. Same is about us. We can never forget our roots, upbringing, heritage and our home. ‘A town called Dehra’ is a classic memoir that one will keep relishing with years to come.

Visiting cinema halls – The best days of my life

‘The past is always with us, for it feeds the present’ – Ruskin Bond

For me, exiting from the cinema hall is the most emotional moment of my life. As the end credits roll, movie audiences are back to their life’s troubles. In his memoir ‘A town called Dehra’ Ruskin Bond had expressed his love for cinemas in his hometown Dehra. His visits to the yester year cinema hall – Odeon in Dehra were the best times of his youthful days. By coincidence, there was also a talkies called Odeon in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. My childhood was blessed with watching some memorable movies in movie theatres. Mard, Mr.India, Dance Dance, Andha Kanoon were some of the blockbusters I enjoyed with my family. School boys used to bunk their classes to watch the 90’s blockbusters like Baazigar, Darr, Raju Ban Gaya gentleman etc. Since I had a video player, I relished on movies from the comforts of my home. Like my classmates, I couldn’t never muster up the courage to bunk the classes and watch movies. In later years, I did catch up on some blockbusters at Malhar Cinema in Thane. I recollect watching Salman’s movie – Biwi No 1 at Malhar by purchasing tickets in black for 100 bucks. Such was my madness for movies. Though I stopped visiting Malhar cinema, I did enjoy some of the best and worst movies. Anand Cinema in Thane East is one destination which has a nostalgic feel to it. The Kopri area in Thane East is a sleepy town which is blessed with only one single screen theatre – Anand cinema. I enjoyed a forgettable romantic flick – Sirf Tum and Salman’s comedy movie – God Tussi great ho at Anand. Cinema halls have that ambience to make you fall in love with movies. Satellite channels and Movie apps can never give you the enjoyment that you relish in movie theatres.

Due to arrival of Multiplexes, several single cinema halls faced loss in their businesses and got closed down. I watched only one movie – The legend of Bhagat Singh in Aradhna cinema hall, Thane. Sadly, the cinema hall had to shut down in 2002. Among all the multiplexes, PVR cinemas are my favorite destination to catch up on movies. I remember watching ‘Jaane tu ya Jaane na’ for the first time at PVR cinemas, Mulund. I had specially taken a leave from office to watch this youthful flick. The big, wide screen, recliner seats, exclusive trailers make PVR cinemas a desirable destination. I lost the count of movies I enjoyed at PVR. Big Cinemas is one more favorite theatre which I occasionally visit. Bachna Ae Haseeno was one movie I immensely enjoyed at Big Cinemas. It had the typical Yashraj stuff – Foreign locations, romantic tracks, foot tapping music and beautiful chicks. I fell head over heels in love with Minissha lamba, one of the lead actresses in the movie. She played a typical Punbabi girl next door whom Ranbir Kapoor woos and dumps her. I still regret missing Rab Ne Bana di Jodi at cinema halls. I fell in love with Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana di Jodi. Wish I could become like Raj and woo her. The movies are larger than life as their characters.

Off lately, I watched Anushka Sharma’s movie – Phillauri at PVR cinemas. Every movie brings lots of memories with it. Whether it is watching Dostana at Malhar cinemas or Quantum of Solace at PVR, each movie is stuffed with timeless entertainment. If you watch a good movie, watch it only at a cinema hall. Nothing beats the excitement of a silver screen better than a movie theatre. I consider that days of watching movies at cinema halls as the best days of my life.

Let me know about your favorite cinema hall and the movies you enjoyed in a single screen or multiplex theatre.