Pandeymonium by Piyush Pandey [Book Review]

Pandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On AdvertisingPandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On Advertising by Piyush Pandey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading this book was a journey down the memory lane. We all have grown up watching and admiring Oglivy’s ads- “Har ghar kuch kehta hai” by Asian Paints, “Hila ke Rakh De” by Center Shock and “Paas Aao Na” by Closeup are indelibly etched in our memories. In this short memoir, Piyush Pandey, the god of Indian advertising opens up with what went behind while brainstorming and scripting these groundbreaking TVCs

The best part of this book is where the author discusses his humble background, his days of growing up in Jaipur and how multiple anecdotes experienced during his childhood eventually became the sources of ideas of many Ads that he worked for. This book reaffirmed my believe that the more diverse experiences you have and the more kind of people you interact with, the more creative you end up being. The author also advises on multiple aspects of work ethics that are useful not only in the field of advertising but for all streams per se. He also discusses some of the common myths associated with the field of advertising and busts them with examples of his experiences.

Another favorite part of my book has been the pictures. Looking at the screenshots of those Ads of bygone days was nothing sort of nostalgic. If only, the publishers wouldn’t have saved money and printed the high definition version of those pictures on plastic pages!

The book is a quick read and an engaging one, apart from the last few chapters where Piyush Pandey discusses his colleagues and Oglivy’s leadership in India.

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Diwali in Muzaffarnagar by Tanuj Solanki [Book Review]

Diwali in MuzaffarnagarDiwali in Muzaffarnagar by Tanuj Solanki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got my hands on ‘Neon Noon’ (the debut book of Tanuj Solanki) accidentally (the review copy was sent by the publisher), but by the time I completed it (which was within a few hours), all my friends knew (because I told them vociferously) how much I loved the melancholic tale of love, longing & heartbreak.

Needless to say, when I came to know that the author is releasing his second book (which would be a collection of short stories), I knew I had to prebook my copy.

An unknown, unpublished author commits suicide while his friend ponders on the probable reasons behind it. An uncanny friendship between two teenagers which ends up with a feeling of guilt, remorse & regret. A fresh architecture graduate has bitten the ‘wanderlust’ bug, only to realize the realities of much talked about ‘Solo trip’. The title story- ‘Diwali in Muzzafarnagar’ which is a meditation on the lives of ‘small town middle class ambitiousness’, which manifests in multiple ways as the time passes. ‘Reasonable Limits’, which is a single sentence story, spreading across a few pages, nothing but a chaotic ramblings of mind. A girl had been sexually abused during childhood, but when she should try to forget those scars and just ‘let it be’ so that her present life isn’t affected? ‘The Mechanics of Silence’ where the protagonist learns about the ambiguities of life & the unavoidable existential crisis when she watches an old silent movie. A girl in her late twenties finds herself in the middle of corrupt bureaucracy and never ending paperwork, when she suddenly had to return back to her hometown and take the responsibility following the untimely death of her father.

Most of the 7 stories in this book are set up in the small town of Muzzafarnagar in UP (the home town of author himself). While stories such as ‘Diwali in Muzzafarnagar’ and ‘B’s first solo trip’ has distinct undertone & prose strongly reminding of ‘Neon Noon’, other stories such as ‘My Friend Daanish’ are written in extremely simple, straightforward way. What makes this book rich & worth a read that the stories are versatile, their central theme varies so does the prose & plot.
A word of caution- all these stories have already been published in various magazines & journals. So it might be repetitive if you have been following the author’s column.

A short read, nostalgic in most of the stories, while thought provoking in almost all of them.
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Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

Men Without WomenMen Without Women by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I always say, “When in Doubt, Read Murakami” and this book is no exception. As clear from the title, the book is a set of short stories (7 in total) that revolve around a common theme- life of men who have been devoid of presence of women in their lives due to different reasons. All stories have plots, characters and setups common to a typical Murakami tale- lonely men who love to read, mysterious women, disappearing cats, quaint bars with weird frequenters, overthinking characters and endless rumbling about life, loss, death & sense of being.

While the first four stories actually follow plot and seems normal, you experience the real Murakami in last three stories- mindless rumblings, chaotic thoughts, and random brainstorming overpower the central plot and you are reminded what it is to read a story which is very typical of Murakami.

It’s the 6th book of Murakami that I have picked up. I didn’t regret.

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Crack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMO by Nitish Rai Gupta [Book Review]

Crack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMOCrack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMO by Nitish Rai Gupta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marketing is a stream where ‘nothing is wrong or right’- it’s all about the perspective. ‘Crack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMO’ takes this idea forward to build up a perspective for extremely varied sets of Marketing cases through well-defined and clear frameworks. The book starts with introduction to generic behavioral questions that an MBA student might encounter during placement interviews for a marketing role and then finally move to the technical questions.

All the frameworks introduced by the author are explained well, before finally moving to the cases. There are 18 Marketing cases in total and each case is solved by the author using the frameworks in extremely detailed way.
The reason I have given the book only 4 stars (instead of 5) is that the author doesn’t mention anything about how to do industry knowledge preparation. Also guesstimate based Market sizing, Market Entry etc questions are not discussed at all.
This book needs a second edition and better marketing (oh! the irony) so that more and more B-School Students get to know about it.
Once again, thanks to Bloomsbury India for sending a review copy.
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Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory by Aanchal Malhotra [Book Review]

Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material MemoryRemnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory by Aanchal Malhotra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, thanks a lot to Harper Collins India for sending me a review copy of this book. To make things clear, this is not just another book invoking memories of partition. Remnants of a Separation is a unique and honest attempt to revisit the gory days of Partition through ‘materials’- the objects that were carried by the refugees with them when they left their ancestral land and crossed the border. These objects range from jewellery, utensils, clothings and so on, remaining latent & undisturbed for generations. They are now testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, suffering and belonging of their respective owners.

This actually started as an academic project, eventually converted into a book by author Aanchal Malhotra, who is an artist & oral historian and is a must read for history buffs.

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A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi [Book Review]

A House Without Windows: A NovelA House Without Windows: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nadia Hashimi debuted with ‘The Pearl That Broke Its Shell’, which soon topped many bestseller charts. While that book described the trials & tribulations of two Afghan females from different generations, while highlighting the ugly menace of ‘Bacha Posh tradition’ in Afghanistan, ‘A House Without Windows’ is different. It is set in modern post-Taliban Afghanistan, a land torn by years of war, trying its best to adapt modern code of conduct, but still tightly shackled in the traditions of past where a woman’s testimony is still counted as half of that of man and her honor is something that lies between her legs and must be protected at all costs.

Zeba has killed her husband (or she hasn’t) and has been put into Chil Mahtab, a women’s prison.
Yusuf is an Afghan-born, American raised lawyer who is willing to put all his efforts to get Zeba acquitted. Then there is Gulnaz, Zeba’s mother, the sorceress of yesteryears who is all set to put her powers in use to get Zeba out of Chil Mahtab.
The book, with its description of ‘jadu’ (magic) has a mysterious touch to it, even when dealing with the sensitive topic of ‘zina’ (adultery). I did find the narration a bit dragging, but still it never digressed from the core plot- the trial of Zeba.
A satisfying & engaging read to start off my reading journey of 2018.

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An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar [Book Review]

An Unsuitable BoyAn Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one book in a long long time that I finished in less than 12 hours- I picked it up and just couldn’t put it down!
“An Unsuitable Boy” is Karan Johar unabashed, unadulterated and unedited! If you have watched lots of “Koffee with Karan” episodes, you can actually read the book in his own voice- it feels as if he is sitting just in front of you rambling, bitching, dissing and appreciating.

With an innocent, no-nonsense narration, Karan Johar bares his heart out in this memoir- his initial struggles with weight, low self esteem and being effeminate, his emotional equations with an aging father & a strict mother and so on. Then there is an entire chapter on ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ which is an admirable account of how a young boy with an experience of just one movie (he was the assistant director of DDLJ) came, saw and conquered. In this book Karan has been extremely open and candid about everything- his vanities, struggles, vulnerabilities, anxiety issues, fallout with Kajol, his relation with Shah Rukh and Aditya Chopra and in my opinion he couldn’t be any more honest and profound.

The chapters where he puts down his struggles and vulnerabilities of consolidating Dharma Productions (having no sense of business whatsoever) are not only gripping but also motivating.
The book has its own share of vanity, flamboyance and elitism and Karan never tries to hide it. Neither he tries to be politically correct while saying “Screw you” to all his twitter trolls.
The book might seem a bit dragging when he discusses his friendships but then it looks justifies given the fact that how emotionally attached he is with his friends. At the end he even reveals that he is thinking of having a child just because of a selfish reason that he wants someone to take care of him when he gets old!
All in all, this is a candid, gripping and honest memoir- something that has come straight from Karan’s heart and deserves a read for sure.

Buy a copy from Amazon here- http://amzn.to/2kawOEH

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