Tag Archives: Campus Fiction

Book Review of “Just Friends” by Sumrit Shahi

Just Friends

By Sumrit Shahi

Picking this up wasn’t a bad deal at all. Sumrit has shown good potential with his debut novel JUST FRIENDS – a story that revolves around the friendship between a girl and a boy. The age old question of whether a girl and a guy can be friends seems to be answered almost perfectly by this teenager.

The story is about the two youngsters Aaryan and Tanie and their growing up years in school and hostel. Very relatable instances of the regular bunking, group studying, hostel tantrums, indulging in sports, examination fevers, friendships, crushes and first love add flavor and fragrance to his writing. School life is an important part of a person’s life. Those are the days of carelessness and alertness all the same. It somewhat leads you to your path ahead in life. For some, those are the most wonderful days of growing up…while for some a difficult road with hardships and bruises. Filled with humorous incidents and decently intellectual conversations, the book overall is a breezy and a refreshing read.

What prompted me more to pick up the book was its blurb/synopsis on the back page. “He knows everything about her, right from her favourite books to her favorite bra. She knows everything about him, right from his favourite soccer club to his favourite x rated websites. He will complete her English homework, even at three in the night. She will arrange an Armani suit for him, even if it calls for flirting with ugly guys. He has her picture in his wallet. She has his number on speedial. They talk to each other all the time. They talk about each other when they don’t talk to each other. They discuss everything from periods to playstation. They have tasted alcohol and then thrown up…together. They have bunked countless tuitions… together. They cant live without each other. YET They don’t love each other. They are JUST FRIENDS.”

Also, for me, most importantly, the correct usage of the language made it an enjoyable experience. I’m happy Sumrit did not disappoint me. There is humor, wit, emotions, and an element of connectivity.

Good work. Worth reading.

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Book Review of “Revolution 2020” by Chetan Bhagat

Revolution 2020

By Chetan Bhagat

I have a mixed view about Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel.

It opens with Mr. Chetan Bhagat visiting GangaTech College in Varanasi for a discourse. He meets Gopal and then we see Gopal pouring his heart out to Chetan Bhagat, under the influence of alcohol and a sad incident.

 

To give a background, this is a love triangle and it also brings out the corruption and facades of the education sector (with coaching classes mushrooming eveywhere, esp. for IIT, JEE and CAT exams).

Gopal belongs to a poor family. His friend Raghav belongs to a middle class family. And Aarti (Gopal’s love) belongs to the affluent section of society. Gopal has to struggle all his life for everything. From making a decent living to taking the exams to claiming his love. Raghav on the other hand stands up to values and fights against the wrong-doings in society. Aarti is a rich girl with her good looks and charming smile and great lifestyle. The three have been friends from childhood. Gopal falls in love with Aarti, while she falls in love with Raghav.

Then comes the “Love, Corruption and Ambition” angle to the story. Gopal wants to prove to Aarti that he is better than Raghav and he designs a plan to seek revenge in his own twisted way. He ends up starting his own college and coaching classes for IIT aspirants and takes the generation under his stride. Raghav is an upright and morally/ethically righteous person who defies everything wrong and corrupt. And we see the fight between the good and the bad.

Quite a bit of the book was clichéd and predictable. The climax was, yes, a bit “feel-good-factor”. The language and the flow of the story is very simple. I would’ve preferred crisper editing. But is it just me or do you also feel that the book read mostly like a movie script.
I even imagined the actors playing the parts while reading this one.
Not something that I would appreciate.

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Book Review of “Third Best” by Arjun Rao

Third Best

By Arjun Rao

 

Campus Fiction seems to be the flavor for most people today.
Bringing back memories of school days is Arjun Rao’s debut novel – Third Best. Though quite a lengthy read, it is interesting and well written.
Set in a fictional co-ed, boarding school Shore Mount, Third Best highlights the story of a batch of schoolmates – essentially Gautam, Nirvan, and Faraz. The other characters you come across are Ruma, Natasha, Bose, Zoya, Gomez, Adi, and Billy.

While Gautam is the noisy and obnoxious being, who doesn’t get frazzled by the bullies, Faraz is the most sophisticated of the lot, with his ideals and morals strongly set, but ends up falling in love with his teacher Zoya.
Nirvan Shrivastav, a shy, reluctant hero burdened with a family history of achievements at Mount, stands up to the bully Nanda and wins his girlfriend Ruma.

The book reveals small-time lies and big heartaches kids face; it highlights the expectations parents hold over a child’s wish; it portrays peer pressures and troubles faced in childhood; it reveals the depths of friendship expressed through fights and quirky nick names given to each other; overall it brings back memories of school days that now seem long, lost and forgotten.

The background about the school’s rituals and location and legend etc are overtly detailed ones. They not only slow the pace but also irk the reader sometime. Too much detailing is never appreciated.
But the characterization shows the author’s keen observation and the talent of getting into a child’s mind/psychology.
The author shows an interesting perspective on life in a residential school with house masters, prefects, bullies, friends, making adolescence quite a trying period in a person’s life.

It sure is a sweet story about school, friendship, loyalty, love – and how not to get caught while you’re making out. The humor, the innocence and the seriousness are quite balanced and the reader is sure to relive school days reading the book.

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Book Review of “Reality Bites” by Anurag anand

Reality Bites

By Anurag Anand

Reality Bites is a pleasant read. The story is about Atul’s hostel life and all that he faces/experiences as a hostelite.

It opens with Atul’s first day at engineering college and moves a bit into flashback revealing his hostel life in junior college.

Atul moves from Hissar to Delhi to be a part of a prestigious school (junior college) so that he can seek admission to a good engineering college after that. All this because of his dad, who wanted Atul to be either a mechanical or an electronics engineer to make the family proud. Yes, we all have faced such situations at some point or another – giving into the demands of our folks, who think we would do well in certain school/college just because someone else suggested the place, or some kid who happened to score a place in top notch engineering college having passed out from a certain school/college.

His first acquaintance, Alok, is a senior hostelite and he introduces Atul to Swati, Anirban and Bobby.
But the arrival of Atul’s room-mate Santosh (Senti) sets ground for new friendship.

Atul goes through the ups and downs of hostel and college life- making friends for life (Senti and Bengali), falling in love with the beautiful Ayesha Kapoor, spending wooping amounts on a weekend with her, indulging in frivolous passionate activity in an abandoned building near the squash court, getting his heart broken, getting into a mess, being saved by Swati, and the likes.

All the incidents in Atul’s life will bring in a smile as you read them. The narration is breezy and quite captivating. The author has a way with words.

Although, I didn’t quite get the “not so innocent” part of the love story. Was going away to Agra and staying in a hotel the “not so innocent” part? Or was Senti’s love story the “not so innocent” one? Yeah, Senti too falls in love with a girl elder to him and how he gets out of it makes for a hilarious read.

Sprinkled with humor, and garnished with some wisdom and maturity later, the story takes a peep in to the world of young adults…freshly in college – worrying about falling in and out of love, and fretting over exams and differences with friends…the cute stuff we, workaholics, have left far behind.

Quite an enjoyable read, as you lay in bed tucked in your warm blanket, with the continuous drizzle dropping the temperatures by the minute. Don’t forget the hot coffee mug by your side.

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Interview with Harsh Snehanshu

Not many budding authors end up harnessing the power and potential of social media platforms. And we were pleasantly surprised when Harsh Snehanshu smartly “crowdsourced” the title of his new book. Wait…we shouldn’t be doing all the talking. Here’s Harsh talking about his inspirations, ideas, wit, social media and more!

What inspired/provoked you to write “Oops! I Fell In Love…just by chance”? How did you stumble upon the title? Ain’t it just too long?
The novel’s creation was miraculous. I started writing it on my blog hoping to come up with a short comedy of errors about a guy who goes on his first date. When I began writing, I got immersed in the process so much that the short comedy of errors turned into a novel, which when published on my blog received enormous response from the readers all around. It drove me to approach publishers, who liked it and got me published.

The title is “Oops! I fell in love!”, ‘just by chance’ is the subtitle. The title suited the plot and was catchy as well. It clicked just while writing the book. I don’t think it is ‘too’ long.

Nowadays, every other person is getting published, penning a story revolving around his/her campus life. And most of it is clichéd. What would you say is the USP of your first book? What makes it “different”?
My first book is less about college life and more about the erroneous love story of the protagonists. As I said it’s a comedy of errors, packed with emotional punches. I’ve not read many other college based romantic and humorous novels, so I can’t really comment about how it is different. Regarding my work, I’ll say that it’s straight from the heart, innocent with whacky humour. People could relate themselves to the book.

How much of Kanav is Harsh? Is there a real Tanya (in your life?)
Kanav is just the manifestation of my imagination. I’ve made the character too shy and too ugly-looking, which thankfully, I’m not. Harsh is around 10% Kanav, in relation to his xenophobia. I can’t chatter much when I’m facing complete strangers, much like Kanav. Regarding Tanya, I just wish there had been one in my life.

Was there an interesting moment/anecdote when (any of) your friends realized how their personality traits reflected in the characters of Aryan, Anuj, and Sameer?
One of the chapters written in my book was actually a real life incident that occurred in my friend’s life. He read it when my book was published. He was dumbstruck that I had mentioned about the event in my book. Initially, he got frenzied but then I made him realize that his interesting story was shared across India and made people laugh. Thereafter, I even managed to extract a handsome treat out of him. Hope he’s not reading it. (Anuj!) 😉


How did it feel to hold the first print of “Oops! I Fell In Love”?

It was delightful. I was touched. It was something that I could never imagine and holding my book when I was just 19 was something that was way beyond my dreams.

If the book gets picked up for a movie tie-up, who would you want to see play the main protagonists?
Wow, interesting question. The heroine, without any doubt, would be Katrina, since while writing the book I imagined her to be in place of Tanya. Yes, that was the inspiration. As for the hero is concerned, I can’t think of any actor who could fit the role of an ugly hero. After watching 3 idiots, I think Sharman Joshi could fit in the role. He can aptly suit the role of a shy and timid guy.

We heard that your second book is a sequel to the first one. Would you like to tell us something more about the story – just briefly. When do we get to see the second book?
My second book is the sequel to the first book, which carries the story of my protagonists Kanav-Tanya forward. My first book ended on an incomplete note and my readers desperately wanted to know what happened next, which made me write the sequel, despite having no such plans initially. Interestingly, now Kanav-Tanya’s story has turned into a trilogy. After my second book, I’ll launch the third one in the series, which will complete the story. The second book will be out in the market in July.

So, how lazy are you really?
I’m very lazy when it comes to writing/thinking again for the book, after I’m done with the process of writing it. Once I finish the epilogue and finish the editing-rewriting part, I go for a long break from writing, where I explore my other interests such as music or photography.

Is that why the thought of “The Lazy Writer’s Competition” bubbled in your mind? Or was it just another smart marketing gimmick? (If that’s the case- it worked!)
I was actually out of ideas. I couldn’t devise a title for my second book. That was when i got this idea of asking my readers to construct a title for me. It worked. I’ve got two titles, which I’ve considered for my second and third books. Also, being a social media enthusiast after handling my venture thewittyshit.com’s social media handle since the last one year, I was adept in using social media for this cause. Of course, another intention was to create a buzz about my second book, which has proven to be successful in the last one 20 days.

You seem to have made great use of social media platforms across the web. What is your take on social media optimization today?
Social media has emerged as the cheapest and one of the most effective modes of advertising and brand-building in the current date. Be it facebook, twitter, linkedin or blogs, the use of social media enables it to get traffic as well as advertising across the network users. I feel that SMO is as important as SEO, since nowadays social media platforms have more engaged traffic than the search engines and it would give any venture a greater visibility at very low cost.

Quick 5
Favorite authors: J.D Salinger, Roald Dahl, Guy De Maupassant
Favorite books: The Catcher in the Rye, The Autobiography of Yogi, Five Point Someone
Favorite genre: Humour, Biographies
A memorable compliment: “I’m in love with Tanya. Tell me when you break up with her.” – a reader from Abu Dhabi mailed to me.
An unforgettable criticism: When my best-friend said, “Your potential is much much more than these light fiction books that you’re writing. I’m waiting for a book from you that can become my lifelong friend.”

Let’s talk about your creative entrepreneurial venture – thewittyshit.com. It’s a year old now. Tell us about its ideation. The name sure is unforgettable. How did you come up with such a quirky name?
I co-founded this venture with a friend because we saw an opportunity to monetize traces of creativity in common people. We saw that owing to the advent of facebook and twitter as social networking giants, many people started writing one-liners, which were sometimes witty and original. So we created this platform to give the common man recognition, voice and get their creativity reach a wider audience alongwith fetching them monetary incentives through contests where they could fabricate punchlines for companies and start-ups.
Regarding the name, it just happened, much like our tagline ‘Because wit happens…’

What’s new with thewittyshit? Something our readers should look out for?
We’ve a very active fanpage, with over 16 thousand members till date. Join the page and register on the website thewittyshit.com and get your creativity recorded in a wit-book. I’ve graduated right now from IIT, so now I’m pursuing the venture full time. We’re currently working on the contest section which will have monetary incentives for the user. We hope to launch it within a month, while wit-store – a store that will retail all our wit-based merchandise would be launched within the next five months.

What do you like doing most when not doodling some witty shit or writing an interesting story?
I like photography. I’ve my own photoblog named ‘Rods and Cones’. I’m a connoisseur of music. I collect musical instruments and like playing them.

So, on a departing note: if you had a book club, what would you name it? And what would you be reading in there? (Please don’t just say- “books!”)
I’ll call it “Serendipity”. It’s my favorite word and it also echoes the chance encounter with a random book that could change your life forever.

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CONTEST!!!

Down the Road is the latest anthology from Grey Oak Publishers, a book with 28 short stories about those unforgettable, warm, thrilling, and at times embarrassing memories of life in school and college campuses.

Helter Skelter is running a contest for the same.

here’s the link:

http://helterskelter.in/contests/downtheroad/

Give it a try. You could win a copy of Down The Road!

🙂

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Book Review of “Jab Se You Have Loved Me” By S R Saha


The book titled “Jab se You have Loved Me” by S R Saha is quite silly I must say.

The backdrop of IIT Madras will remind you of the umpteen other novels based on college campus love and drama.

Atin, the protagonist is a student of IIT Madras. He is a mediocre student and ends up selling cheap Chinese gadgets (after graduating) for a living, in Kolkatta.

He falls in love with a pretty dame named Ujani, a graduate in Bio-Sciences, who ends up working as an airhostess.

Atin’s gang comprises Luv, Iqbal, Russell Raj, and Rumia. Luv starts off to be a CA but ends up working for a stock broker. Iqbal is a Philosophy graduate but now runs a shop. Russel Raj has a Ph.D from an American University but is unemployed. Rumia is a fine electrical engineer but her sad childhood haunts her.

How their life shapes up is supposed to be one story. But I hardly found it.

There seems no concrete flow. It reads like certain humorous incidents penned together to make the readers laugh at some odd places. That too looks forced and lame at places.

The timeline is a major problem with the author I feel. At one point he mentions that Caller IDs were new gadgets in the Indian market and at another point he reveals that Obama is the US President. Dude! What is going on?!?

There’s major confusion. How does he get the new offer letter? How did the riots suddenly happen? And in the three days of him being unconscious, his aunt has already re-married and Luv kinda goes missing. WOW! That’s fast.

Oh, and this hero manages to convince the Americans to use water instead of toilet paper. Yeah sure! Something that hasn’t happened in like a thousand years, our hero does it in one meeting!

There are quite many popular brands mentioned in the book. And I see no logical point to those. I mean really! It is quite filmy and flimsy.

Overall, the incidents are worth reading only for the bit of laughter they bring in. No real story. No real plot. (And by real I don’t mean- real life- I mean no good stuff happening here.)

Btw- bad quality paper and sad cover design too.

Though I got it for a reasonable price, it hurt to spend money on “this”.

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