Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Lucky Guy - II

Yeh Neelesh Inamdar ji kahan hai?

Imagine that line spoken in the unmistakably Amitabh Bachchan baritone, and you can also imagine the thrill that Neelesh Inamdar felt on hearing it. 

Those who grew up in the 1970s and 80s will recall 

Main aaj bhi phenke huey paise nahin uthhata.

Agar kisine hilne ki koshish ki to bhoon ke rakh doonga

Don ko pakadna mushkil he nahin, namumkin hai.

The greatest star of India, the man loved by millions of Indians cutting across religions, languages, countries and cultures - had called out my name.

I can never forget that day.

I was a cub reporter assigned to collect starry anecdotes for a column called Sugar N Spice, roaming the grounds of Kamaalistan Studio in Mumbai in search of some spicy tidbits. I was teamed up with senior photojournalist Mr Gokhale. Gokhale was a very enthusiastic old man. He'd tutored me in the ways of filmdom and always gave me tips to improve my people skills. A little bird whispered to us that AB was shooting on one of the sets. Gokhale was very excited and urged to me to try to meet him. 

I was thrilled and shit scared at the same time. For me, Amitabh Bachchan was not only Amitabh Bachchan. He was God.

However, I did not have the confidence to interview Bachchan. Just a few months ago a senior journalist in Screen had been shortlisted for one of AB's first interviews after a decade of boycotting the press. That journalist was asked to prepare a questionnaire which was reviewed and re-reviewed and re-re-reviewed first by the chief reporter, then the deputy editor and finally by editor Udaya Tara Nayar. Interviewing AB was not child's play for any journalist, let alone someone who hadn't completed even a year in the profession.

And here I was, standing outside the set, with Big B inside and Gokhale breathing down my neck, "Go and talk to him. It'll be good for your standing in the mag."

Gokhale was right. But meet AB without any preparation?

Then I told myself, "You saw Zanjeer when you were hardly six years old and smitten with this actor when you didn't know how to tie your shoelaces. You saw Majboor, Sholay, Trishul, Amar Akbar Anthony - boy, you've grown up watching AB. Can't you think of three questions you need to ask him? You're a mutthead if you can't. Don't be stupid - don't miss this golden chance."

I mustered enough courage to go inside. The production manager was at the gate, not allowing people to go through. But Screen was a big name in those days and I was ushered in with respect. 

Big B was in a shot where he was roughing up a hoodlum by the collar. The actor playing the hoodlum messed up his lines and directors Tito Tony shouted 'cut'. Big B brusquely told the assistant director to get the actor to rehearse his lines and proceeded to sit on a sofa in one corner of the set.

I approached him apprehensively and told him I was from Screen and would he mind if I asked few questions? 

If he'd asked me what questions, I was prepared to run.

He asked, "Aapka naam kya hai?"

I answered, "Neelesh Inamdar"

"Toh Neelesh Inamdar ji, aisa hai ki ye sajjan jo mere saamne baithe hain (pointing to a gentleman sitting opposite him) vo kaafi der se mera intezaar kar rahe hain. Pehle main inse baat kar loon, phir aapke sawalon ka jawab doon toh aap ko koi dikkat toh nahin?"

Trans. - Mr Neelesh Inamdar, this gentleman sitting opposite me has been waiting for a long time to speak to me. If you don't mind, may I finish with him first and then answer your questions?

I was like - are you crazy? You - AB - are willing to grant me an interview without prior appointment - and you're asking me if I can wait a while? A common man couldn't have possibly met AB even if he had kept the karva chauth vrat for ten continuous years. And here he was, politely asking me would I wait for him?

There was no way I could refuse the offer.

Harbouring a secret desire to become a film director some day, I was curious about what went on behind the camera. So while AB was talking to the other reporter, I wandered around the sets, watching the lightmen at work and a lot of people simply scurrying around for no reason.

After a few minutes, there was a lull. The crew's movements stopped and there was silence. AB, who was busy talking to the other journalist, sensed the stillness around him and looked at the assistant director standing in front of him.

"Kya hua? Shot ready hain?"

"Jee sir," he mumbled.

So I was not the only one who was tongue tied in front of him.

"Toh bolo na bhai. Hum yahan kaam karne ke liye aaye hain ya interview dene ke liye? Producer humein paise deta hai kaam karne ke liye - interview dene ke liye nahin."

He excused himself to the journalist, rose and took the position marked for him. The shot with the hoodlum was repeated and this time the actor didn't fumble. After the director shouted 'cut' AB went back to the sofa.

Again there was a flurry of movement and I was lost in the midst of men carrying around lights on their shoulders and furniture being pushed around. I was trying hard to make sense of what a film unit really did.

That's when AB's voice rang out.

"Yeh Neelesh Inamdar ji kahan hai?"

He said it one more time before I came out of my coma and raised my hand. 

"I'm here, sir."

And I sat opposite Amitabh Bachchan.

On the same sofa.

And I talked to him, and he answered my questions.

What did we talk about?

Who gives a damn?

I asked him whatever came to my mind. He patiently answered my inane questions.

I came out of the studio amazed. Not because I'd met the superstar AB. But because he had remembered my full name. 

It must have been over 30 minutes since I told him my name. Thirty minutes, in which he continued to shoot without forgetting his lines, gave a rather longish interview to another journalist and yet, after all that, AB had not forgotten my name! When he didn't see me around, he called out for me by my name, and my full name.

I am very bad at remembering names. When I'm introduced to a stranger, I forget his name barely sixty seconds later (please note I have written his, not hers). And to think that the greatest superstar of India had remembered my name! It was enough to put me on cloud ninety-nine.

That day I learnt one of the secrets of successful people - they have a terrific memory.

Not taking names here, but in my brief stint as a film reporter, I'd come across many stars of the 90s. Not one of them had asked for my name, forget about remembering it after I'd turned my back. I was already in awe of AB, but when he called out for me after finishing his earlier interview, my respect for him increased exponentially. 

What difference would it have made to Amitabh Bachchan if he had not met me? Why did he remind me that I was supposed to meet him? He was a superstar. He had journalists, producers, businessmen, actors, actresses, directors queuing up for a minute of his time. He was splashed across magazine covers (Page 3 of TOI had not come into existence then, and TV was confined to Doordarshan). What would the publishing or non-publishing of a small interview by Neelesh Inamdar matter to him?

But his gesture showed that it did matter to him. When he said he would answer my questions, he thought of it as his commitment, not only my want. Perhaps that's why Amitabh Bachchan is Amitabh Bachchan.

Decades later, I saw various episodes of several versions of 'Who
Wants to be a Millionaire?' on TV. They were hosted by various stars - Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Anupam Kher - Manisha Koirala and one by Salman Khan too. But none were as successful as the show hosted by AB.

I tried to analyse why, and then it suddenly struck me. 

Have you noticed that whenever Amitabh Bachchan speaks to a fan, or a contestant, or anyone else he comes across, he speaks very humbly? He doesn't talk as if he is a superstar. He makes the opposite person feel as if he were the star and he (AB) was a mere mortal? Have you realized how many compliments Amitabh Bachchan gives to the contestant? How much AB praises him/her?

When I compared him with Shah Rukh, Salman and others, I realised that they make the contestants feel smaller than them. They always go about as if they are extraordinary beings and all others are nothing but extras. On the other hand Amitabh Bachchan always places the contestant on a pedestal, constantly praises his achievements and emphasises that he, AB, was lucky to sit opposite him.

All contestants of Kaun Banega Karodpati, when they get the chance to sit on the hot seat, first confess that for them, meeting AB and sitting across him was a dream come true, winning or losing was secondary. They are not lying, trust me. Meeting the man was an event that changed my life. (More about that in part III.)  

Perhaps that is the reason why he is so popular. In spite of being the idol of a nation of over a billion people, he is still humble and down-to-earth.

I'm not naive. I don't claim that Amitabh Bachchan is all goody-goody. He is shrewd and knows how to play snakes and ladders. He knows exactly which moves to make, when to make them and for or against whom to make them. One cannot reach his stature without knowing how the game is played - and won.

But that's exactly why I admire him. 

He does not need to please anyone to be liked. 

He does not need to be respectful to his fans. 

That day he could very easily have said, "So who is the next journalist?" I can't think of a single reason why he should have remembered my name, even if it was for an hour or less. 

But he did. His humility bowled me over.

Whenever I see AB performing I always remember the time when I was sitting face to face with him. I was the one asking questions - he was on the hot seat.

Didn't I tell you I'm a lucky guy?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Scarlet Revenge

Scarlet Revenge by Ann McGinnis

The Blurb

The FBI doesn't know what to do with Analyst Caycee Scarlet. She's brash, brilliant & brutally relentless when tracking a serial killer. But she also has a temper, problems with authority figures and recognizing the chain of command. Things go sideways for Caycee when she uncovers a lead that saves the Omega Killer's latest victim. Rather than working the system and making nice with her pompous boss, sparks fly and she gets into an altercation with the lead Special Agent on the case, resulting in a transfer to another assignment. Caycee finds herself transferred to an FBI interrogation facility where she assesses the most dangerous of criminals in custody. She struggles to get over the loss of her dream job, but her new boss, handsome Special Agent Gil Graham, may soften the blow. Sparks, of a different variety, fly between the Special Agent and his new Analyst, as they work together to crack the most difficult cases. Just when Caycee's wounds are healing from her expulsion on the Omega Killer team, she is dragged back into the thick of it. Caycee and her new team are front and center, focused on an interview of a bombing suspect, when Omega comes looking for revenge. His attack wounds her team, leaving Caycee with only one option for help-the devastatingly handsome bombing suspect. It will take all of Caycee's wits, and a kiss for luck, to stop Omega and save her co-workers.

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Meet the Author

Ann McGinnis writes about characters that let their egos and sense of justice rule their lives, while they protect the public from serial killers and unthinkable crimes. Of course, Ann's characters always find a way to blow off steam -- romantically!
As a writer, Ann comes from the world of action/thrillers and screenwriting. She has two scripts currently in development. A third script, about a spunky FBI analyst, is the basis of "Scarlet Revenge" and the main character Caycee Scarlet. It is the first book in a series, with Book 2 “Scarlet Envy” coming out in September 2014.

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 The Review

Caycee Scarlet joins the FBI as an Intelligence Analyst and proves the very first day that she was born to be an IA. She puts a good memory, common sense and the world wide web together to reveal an important clue about the location of a possible serial murderer's victim.
The info is spot on and FBI Special Agent Wilkes' team succeeds in thwarting serial killer Omega's plans to murder one more victim.
But he hogs all the credit, leaving Caycee frustrated. She dares Wilkes and he throws her out of the team. Before Caycee can figure out that she's fired, another Agent Gil, who's been watching her closely, picks her up for a three-member FBI team  working from a remote location.
Gil is handsome and unattached, and Caycee can't help succumbing to his physical charms. They're in a dilemma because she can't keep herself away from him and being boss and subordinate, they can't openly declare their relationship.
Her interest in the Omega murders keeps her connected to the case from which she'd been dropped unfairly. Omega, as it turns out, has an ego which can't accept that his lid was blown by an intern and takes it personally. Too personally, in fact. He picks Caycee as his next victim, and she finds herself face to face with her killer.
Ann McGinnis weaves a hell of a plot for a romance novel. Crime, passion, backstabbing colleagues, cold blooded killers, pace, action and nail-biting sequences - it's all there.
One can't help feeling that the book could have been better if all characters had been designed as painstakingly as that of Caycee Scarlet. Gil, Wilkes, Nina, Omega  - all are extremely interesting characters but seem to be bound by an oath that they won't be better than Caycee. Omega is the lead baddie but is outshined by Hicks all the way. Wilkes is put out of action pretty early, Gil is injured and stays injured for longer than necessary, Nina's entries and exits trigger the story forward but she's always missing in action. Everything seems sort of designed to let Scarlet be the hero.
One might say that all weaknesses can be excused under the genre of romance. But even romance just shows its face in the beginning and then appears to have hidden in the weapons locker, afraid of all the criminal elements.
In the end it turns out to be a mix of crime, romance and stunts which leaves you baffled. If the FBI is really as bad as it is shown here, all FBI offices would be ideal hangouts for criminals.
But Caycee Scarlet steals the show with her verve, intelligence and bravado. She deserves a better team.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bollywood Fiance for a Day

12th July, 2014

Ruchi Vasudeva is the 12th Author in the Tornado Giveaway.She has decided to give 10 copies of her book to 10 lucky winners. To enter the Giveaway, see the bottom of this post. To see all the books that are part of the Tornado Giveaway - Click Here

Disclaimer: This is an initiative of The Book Club


Click Here

The man of her Bollywood dreams

Winning the chance to meet the ultimate Bollywood heart-throb, Zaheer Saxena, is just what Vishakha needs to take her mind off her recent humiliation—being jilted the week before her wedding! And when gorgeous Zaheer offers to be her fake fiancé, the chance to save face with her family is just too tempting…

It’s a deal that benefits them both—Zaheer is warding off any unwanted female attention until his next film is finished—but can Vishakha trust herself not to hope that her dream fiancé for a day will be her forever man? 


I'm a doctor by profession, a teacher by vocation and an author by destiny. The writing bug has long resided in me and a contest held by Harlequin for Indian authors gave me a golden opportunity to have my dream realized. I debuted in August '13 with my book 'Bollywood Fiancé For A Day'. I write romantic fiction with conflicted characters who come into their own in their quest of reaching out for love. I love to write about spirited heroines getting hurtled out of their daily life as soon as they cross paths with their rather challenging heroes.

I keep busy juggling writing with my medical job and family life with my doctor husband and two wiser-than-thou teens. When not bent double over the laptop, I might be found with my nose in books or munching nachos at the movies or glued to the telecast of Team India or Chennai Super Kings in action. Sometimes I drag myself for walks and surprisingly discover they are rather good for brewing story ideas!

To know more about her :  Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Lucky Guy - I

I'm a lucky guy. Not everyone will agree, but it's what I feel, and it's my life so it is what I think of it.

In the final analysis, nobody can call me successful - the way the world measures success anyway. 

What have I got to show?

On my 8th birthday I was gifted a book (one of Enid Blyton's adventure series) and little did I know that it was a hook. I swallowed it willingly and hung on to it for dear life. But unlike other hooks, this was connected to a lifeline. I clutched it like a hungry fish. I haven't let go of it yet, and don't intend to. It's like being married - till death do us part.

So when I finished school, what else could I dream of except opting for English literature in college? But fate had other things for me.

My mother wanted me to be an engineer. 'Mera laadla engineer banega.' I couldn't deny her her ambition. So yours truly went to a polytechnic and completed four years of engineering.

What most of the people around me thought was a big break was for me a disaster. But I was lucky and how!

In our polytechnic library, there was a section of World Literature. No, don't rub your eyes. You're really reading what you are. And neither are you dreaming. I reacted the same way as I stood in front of the shelves of original editions of Dickens, Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Simone de Beauvoir, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Homer, Shakespeare, Alexandre Dumas, Miguel De Cervantes, Rabindranath Tagore - I didn't count the number of books but my guess is there were close to 500 books in the literature section. 

Yoohoo! Paradise Regained. Suddenly I longed to spend more time in college (while folks around me thought I was in love with some girl in the college. I was in love, but you know with whom, or what.)

5 months of every semester, I was reading literature, leaving the last month for engineering. So the end result was a Grade A+ engineer with a literary (you're kidding) bent of mind.

Who said an engineer's life was dull? I worked for six months at Hindustan Organic Chemicals where a brand new Nitrochlorobenzene plant was commissioned. It was a risk, as NCB had explosive properties and the technology was new. Moreover, the technology was developed with Swiss expertise mixed with our own scientists in HOCL. But our own engineers were sceptical about the success of the plant, more because it was indigenously developed and they, like all their Indian brothers and sisters, believed less in Indian and more in 'phoren' technology.

Our senior engineers showed us how the plant was to be operated and retreated into the safety of the office building a good 3 km away from the plant. Yours truly was handling the pressure and temperature gauges and meticulously minding the plant as per the operating manuals. Every time one of us interns turned a knob, we held our breaths because we didn't know if the thing would blow up in our faces. But we survived, as sure as you're reading this blog today.

I was complimented for being the most enterprising and promising young engineers of my lot.

Lucky, ain't I?

But I didn't think so, again. In those four years something else had happened. Something that pulled me to the creative side of this rat race. I had fallen prey to the wonders of moving pictures and being called a good engineer did not make me happy. Blame it on the flood of Video cassette recorders which turned moviegoing from a monthly picnic into a weekly and sometimes even more. I devoured movies and before long, I wanted to make my own.

I was biting my nails. I had no filmi connexions. Hell, I didn't even know whom to approach. I was voraciously reading film magazines, interviews of film directors. I explored the possibility of getting into FTII but a technical hitch made me ineligible for admission.

24x7 I was thinking of movies, movies and movies. Then all of a sudden I saw an advertisement for a course in journalism. I jumped and landed straight in the Screen magazine as a sub-editor-cum-reporter.

Aahh! This was life. I went to film sets, travelled with film crews to exotic locations, partied late into the night in between interviewing producers, directors, actors. And then the day dawned. The moment which every Indian film journalist waits for.

I interviewed - guess guess guess who? Yes! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Indian Tycoon's Marriage Deal

9th July, 2014

Adite Banerjie is the 9th Author in the Tornado Giveaway.She has decided to give 10 copies of her book to 10 lucky winners. To enter the Giveaway, see the bottom of this post. To see all the books that are part of the Tornado Giveaway - Click Here


Click here 

Dancing with the enemy

Krish Dev needs to find a bride—and quick! With a marriage arranged by his father looming, Krish finds the key to his freedom in Maya Shome, but is this dazzling beauty really all she seems...?

Maya has only one thing in mind: revenge. But when the host of the most exclusive high society party asks her to dance what is meant to be an innocent tango leads to an engagement to Krish—her enemy’s son!

Arranging their own marriage could work to their advantageif they can resist mixing business with pleasure!


Adite Banerjie discovered Mills & Boon romances and their amazing assortment of drool-worthy TDH heroes in her teens. Around the same time she fell in love with song-and-dance Bollywood romances. Growing up in a home with a filmmaker dad who worked in the world’s largest film industry (yes, Bollywood!) and a voracious reader for a mom, it was inevitable that she would come to love both films and books.

During her exciting and fulfilling career as a business journalist, she found the time to indulge her passion for both Bollywood romances and M&Bs. But after years of reporting and writing about the real world, she chose to return to her love for fiction and turned screenwriter. She turned Harlequin author after winning the 2012 Passions Aspiring Authors Contest.

Her debut novel was released in September 2013. Her second Harlequin release "Trouble Has a New Name" comes out in July 2014.

To know more about her :  Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Biggest Giveaway in the World of Books!

Welcome to The Book Club’s very first Giveaway
Tornado Giveaway

We’re extremely excited about it. You will be toowhen you hear the details. Get ready to be blown away by Tornado Giveaway! 

A tornado of books is coming your way. We love our Authors. They give us hours of entertainment; they fill our lives with love and passion. Today, we want to do exactly that. Fill your life with love. This is a Romance Giveaway with a smattering of crime thrillers and a heartwarming family saga - to spice up your life.

Starting on the 1st of July we will introduce each of the twenty-three participating Authors on our Book Club page. Some you already know; some are new.  But all promise to keep you entertained with their words.

Believe it or not, we have 200 books to give away.  Didn’t we say, a Tornado is coming your way!  And there will be not one... not two ... but 17 Winners who will get 17 books each and 6 Mega winners will get a chance to grab 22 books each.

How do you participate in this Giveaway? It's simple... just follow the Rafflecopter(scroll down) and win all the books. 

So what are you waiting for?  Join us here as we introduce each author daily and get a sneak peek into their writing. Get ready to be swept away! 

The Rules....

Love Books of course :)

In the Rafflecopter follow the rules....

1. Like the Author Facebook Page - Mandatory - 1 point
2. Follow the author on Twitter -Mandatory- 2 points
3. Tweet on the dates mentioned in the Rafflecopter about the Author - Optional - 3 points
4. Like the Harlequin India Facebook Page - Mandatory - 5 points
5. Like the Indireads Facebook Page -Mandatory - 5 points 
6. Like The Book Club Facebook Page -Mandatory -  5 points


Participating Authors

Name of the Book Name of the AuthorDate of Post
Scarlet RevengeAnn McGinnis1st July
Saving Justice Tasman Gibb2nd July
The Perfect Groom Sumeetha Manikandan3rd July
Wilde RidersSavannah Young4th July
Scorched by His FireReet Singh5th July
When I see your FaceDevika Fernando6th July
The Malhotra BrideSundari Venkatraman7th July
Butterfly SeasonNatasha Ahmed8th July
The Indian Tycoon's Marriage DealAdite Banerjie9th July
Bootie and the BeastFalguni Kothari10th July
Full CircleYamini Vijendran11th July
Bollywood Fiance For a DayRuchi Vasudeva12th July
The Truth About De CampoJennifer Hayward13th July
Twelve Hours of TemptationShoma Narayanan14th July
Monsoon MemoriesRenita D'Silva15th July
His Captive Indian PrincessTanu Jain16th July
The Return of the RebelJennifer Faye17th July
Rapid FallAdiana Ray18th July
Kingdom ComeAarti V Raman19th July
Crossing the line Nicola Marsh20th July
India was one An Indian21st July
Lily's LeapTéa Cooper22nd July
Love's LabourAndy Paula23rd July

All the Best Dear Readers...
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Participating Blogs

Bloggers/WritersBlogging @
Aarti V RamanRt_Writes
Adiana RayRayyyydays
Adite BanerjieAditeBanerjie
An IndianIndia Was One
Ann McGinnisAnn McGinnis
Arti MetroreaderArti Metroreader
Bhavya NKIshithaa
Devika FernandoDevika Fernando
Dola Basu SinghShiuli
Falguni KothariFalguni Kothari
Inderpreet Kaur UppalEloquent Articulation
Janaki NagarajMemoirs of A Homemaker
Jennifer FayeJennifer Faye
Jennifer HaywardJennifer Hayward
Jigar DoshiJigar Doshi
Parichita SinghParichita
Natasha AhmedDear Rumi
Nicola MarshNicola Marsh
Nikita SoniNjkinny's World of Books & Stuff
Pooja AbhayThoughtless Ramifications
Reet SinghReet Singh
Renita D'SilvaRenita D'Silva
Rubina RameshThe Book Club
Ruchi VasudevaRuchi Vasudeva
Savannah YoungSavannah Young
Shoma NarayananShoma Narayanan
Sonia Raosoniaraowrites
Sumeetha ManikandanBooks Reviews by Sumi
Sundari VenkatramanFlaming Sun
Tanu Jaintanurja's Blog
Tasman GibbTasman Gibb
Téa CooperTea Cooper
Usha NarayananUsha Narayanan
Yamini VijendranStraight from the heart
Andy PaulaAndy Paula

This Giveaway is hosted by The Book Club. A group of Writers and Bloggers who have come together to spread the works of different authors from around the globe. 

Logo design by Natasha Ahmed

A special thanks  to Adite Banerjie, Sundari Venkatraman and Dola Basu Singh. Without you this Giveaway was not possible.