Monday, 6 July 2015


What next?

Whatever it is, there is no looking back, there is no turning back.

To be mentally saddled with a single genre is against my nature and is anathema to me. Even as I was into my first venture, “Dance of Life”, ideas for many novels started germinating in my mind. As is my wont, I opened several document files, either with the first ideas translated into words or with just the titles, tentative in most cases (read my blog post MY JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF WRITING - IV).

My experiences with my first book instilled in me huge confidence in my ability, especially after getting the feedback from my guardian angel. (“Dance of Life” is her favourite among all my novels, she says). I had it in me. With the newfound self-belief and self-confidence, I set out towards my second novel.

I gained confidence that I, too, could write – effectively, coherently, and meaningfully – without giving in to the hype that is so prevalent these days all around us in newspapers, TV, movies, books, society, in every walk of life.

I also decided that I just could not “stick” to one single genre. This guided me to a new topic, a new genre for my second novel – a kidnap drama.

I christened it simply “THE KIDNAP”.

Would you be surprised if I said that I resumed my “novel” journey based on three factors, the general topic, the first scene, and the last action scene? Since criminal investigation in our country is the responsibility of, and only of, the police departments of various state governments and central government (no Private Investigators are permitted on the hallowed ground) the hero had necessarily to be a police officer; in this case, the entire police department of Tamil Nadu.

In one of my earlier blogs, I unashamedly admitted to the influence of Late Alistair MacLean and Late Agatha Christie on my writings and me. That came to the fore in this venture of mine – the descriptive prose, the eye for detail, and the characterisation. The confidence that grew in me manifested itself in the number of pages of the whole narrative – about twenty more than my first venture, “Dance of Life”; not that I willed it and filled it with garbage but that I went into detail as demanded by the storyline.

The narration flowed smoothly; the characters and situations came out as planned. This story proved a wee bit tougher since my knowledge of guns, canine squads, forensic procedures, etc. was limited to what I read in novels and what I saw in movies, especially American movies and TV serials. (Indian movies and TV serials are pathetic even in imitating their Hollywood counterparts and offer nothing to enhance my knowledge). In particular, American TV serials “CSI” (Crime Scene Investigation – all three franchises of it) and “PRACTICE” left an indelible mark on my mind. The knowledge I gained from them helped me in my small research for my work. To say that a great amount of my forensic knowledge is due to my writer-icons Agatha Christie and Alistair MacLean would be no hyperbole.

General information available on the Internet apart, Tamil Nadu Police website was of great help in matters concerning canine sleuths. I added my own intuition and imagination to that in the action scenes.

I dwelt for a while on Tamil Nadu Forensic laboratory (TNFL) an imaginary forensic laboratory of the Tamil Nadu Police department. An ardent fan of CSI, I could never understand the fair-like scene that we witness telecast at every crime scene; not just the investigating police personnel, but ministers, politicians, media personnel, and all and sundry just stomp the crime scene. Don’t the police realise that this causes loss or compromise of evidence? Aren’t there any strict guidelines to be followed by forensic scientists in maintaining the sanctity of the crime scene? I wonder.

This prompted me to “create” a forensic laboratory of international standards to help analyse evidence from crime scenes and apprehend culprits. The narration flowed smoothly and reached “The End”.

That’s it, friends. Meet you in my next blog with some eerie stuff.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

AJAYA Book I – Roll of the Dice

During my childhood, I used to read one of the greatest of Indian epics, the Mahabharata, in Telugu, as a comic-book in black-on-white (Balala Bommala Bharatamu - బాలల బొమ్మల భారతము). I lost count of how many times I read it, never getting satiated.

There were heroes, there were villains, there were heroines, there were Gods and angels; all characters clearly etched, leaving no room for doubt. The Pandavas were the heroes, despite the subterfuges they indulged in, in the name of dharma. The Kauravas were the villains, despite the noble acts they committed. The heroines were chaste, despite being promiscuous, power-hungry, and polyandrous. No questions asked. No answers given.

Right through my life, from childhood until now, I have been hearing people - erudite savants - categorise the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, as the treatise on politics and power, but I have never looked at it from that angle, having accepted the “uncritical conventional renderings of the epic” handed down from generation to generation.

It is in this back ground and mindset that I read the book “Ajaya Book I – Roll of the Dice” by Mr. Anand Neelakantan.

How do I find it? Simply, brilliant.

The language is flowery, as is befitting the epic that it is. The descriptive prose is meticulous with an uncanny eye for detail. The storytelling is masterly, making the book a compelling page-turner. Well, all this is in the realm of the mundane. Is it controversial? Of course it is. The angle from which he looks at the epic makes it so - from the “villain’s” point of view. “Nothing succeeds like success,” is the adage. It was true in Dur(Su)yodhana’s case. It is true today.

However, the greatest achievement of the author is the demythologising of the characters, the significant incidents, and the story itself. I see that a lot of research has gone into the work. The power play, the caste equations, the class prejudices, the political manoeuvres, the interpretation of raja dharma by various players to suit their needs, have all been brilliantly depicted through the narration, giving the reader a glimpse of the goings-on behind the royal curtains. This has unequivocally exhibited why this great epic is still topical.

One issue that is a little jarring (to me) is the frequent references to India as one united nation during the ancient Mahabharata times; the ancient name of Jambu Dweepa or Bharata Khanda or Bharata Varsha might have been more appropriate. This, along with some modern-day expressions and grammatical errors, mentioning which will be inappropriate in the context of the excellence of the work, are the minor faults I could see.

I congratulate Leadstart Publishing for bringing out this excellent work and the author for creating it.

I wish Mr. Anand Neelakantan would, even if temporarily, loan me his magical literary quill.

Saturday, 2 May 2015


Definition of “rape” in Indian Penal Code:

A man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:
  1. Against her will. 
  2. Without her consent. 
  3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
  4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
  5. With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent. 
  6. With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.
  • Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape. 
  • Exception - Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.]

Pay attention to point 6b, which says, “Exception: Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

This gives rise to several vital issues:

  • It is unconstitutional since it discriminates against a certain “class” of women called “wife”, whereas all are said to be equal in the eyes of our Constitution.
  • While a woman is said to be protected from all forms of domestic violence – physical, mental, verbal – she is not, from this form of violence that her husband perpetrates against her! Why? Is this not “violence”? Or, does the husband have some divine right over her body and soul?
  • It unequivocally exhibits age-old male arrogance and chauvinism, anachronistic in today’s world, in that it defines the role of woman as the vassal of man.


This, again, gives rise to several vital issues:

  • Is it the sole responsibility of the wife to uphold ‘family honour’?
  • Must she surrender herself even to ‘rape’ to avoid “great stress to her family”? While she has protection against ‘domestic violence’, even from her husband, she has none whatsoever if he chooses to ‘rape’ her!

From time immemorial, woman has been nothing but the vassal of man. She continues to be so, even in the twenty-first century!

Just imagine what could happen if the definition of rape is to include marital rape. A husband forcing sex on his lawfully wedded wife can be booked for rape! The question that arises is whether it is bad. Is it the duty of a woman to have sex even if she is unwilling, just to avoid “great stress to the family system”? How something that is a crime in the case of other women is not a crime in the case of a wife? Does it not come under domestic violence?

We do not have a Ram Mohan Roy, who emancipated women from the evil of sati. We do not have a Jyotirao Govindrao Phule, who, along with his wife, Savitribai Phule, pioneered women's education. All we have today are male chauvinists, who belong to medieval times, at the helm of organisations and affairs, governing us and making laws that govern us. The appalling disrespect they display even on the hallowed floor of our parliament is evidence enough. It is a pity our women parliamentarians are party to it, too. The innumerable inhuman and heinous crimes against women and female children have failed to open the eyes of the lawmakers.

A Kiran Bedi, a Kiran Majumdar Shaw, a Chandra Kochar, et al are but a collective, insignificant droplet in the ocean called our society. Things are changing, only seemingly.

The more things change the more they stay the same, they say. How true!