Friday, 28 September 2018

#Review Adazing is an Amazing Book Marketing Tool for Indie Authors

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If you're an Indie author you probably can't get away from the fact that marketing plays a huge role in the success of any book. Even if you have written the most awesome books since JK Rowling's Harry Potter series!

Before you work yourself up into a tizzy imagining doomsday scenarios of the thousands of bucks you're likely to spend to promote your book in order to give it a modicum of visibility in a hugely cluttered digital marketplace, here's some good news. There are enough tools out there to create stunning images for advertising your books. And these are known as Cover Mock-Ups.

A cover mock-up is basically a digital presentation of your book cover. Don't you love those pretty Instagram like images? And don't you wish you could create great looking advertising quality images for your books? With Adazing.com's mock-up generator, you can create these for your books in a jiffy.

There are plenty of options to choose from and the website also offers a couple of free templates. Best part is the ease of use. All you do is choose the template, upload your book cover and voila...you have a nifty little mock-up that you can share all over social media.
Take a look at these lovely mock-ups  that I created with the Adazing mock-up generator for my books. Unless you're a graphic designer and have some heavy duty photography skills to boot, creating these images would cost you a neat pile of bucks.

So, what are you waiting for? Check it out today and do come back and let me know what you think of this book marketing tool.

Click here to find out more about Adazing.com

Thursday, 27 September 2018

#Review of an Evergreen Bestseller - A Stone for Danny Fisher

A Stone for Danny Fisher is one of those evergreen bestsellers that has wowed readers across several generations. 

Why did I pick this book? For one, I remembered reading it way back when I was in college and being consumed by it! It had made a huge impact on me and I particularly recalled one scene that has remained with me all through the years -- an emotional, gut-wrenching scene involving Danny and his beloved dog, Rexie.

Second, it was one of the first books that introduced me to the genre of "pulp fiction". Harold Robbins was notorious for writing 'trashy books with a lot of sex' but this is not one of them! This is one of his early books -- the depth of emotion and the motivations of Danny Fisher who lived in the times of the Great Depression could rival those of any literary fiction novel.

Third, A Stone... has tremendous nostalgic value for me. I remember discussing this book with my Dad. Somehow, reading it again was like reconnecting with him and reliving those moments.

Here goes my review:

Forty-plus years after I'd first read A Stone..., I found it as compelling a story as I had when I first read it. I could not put the book down until I finished the last page. I was tearing up once more when Danny loses his beloved dog Rexie. I found myself experiencing anguish all over again at the blows that life deals this talented boxer. Danny could have gone on to become a celebrated boxer but instead has to constantly fight poverty. The angsty relationship between Danny and his father is one of the best fictional accounts of father-son relationships. Sarah/Ronnie the prostitute with a golden heart is probably a role model for all those yesteryear movies with similar characters that have graced the celluloid screens of Hollywood as well as Bollywood. The relationship between Danny and Nellie and the ups and down they face is sweet and emotional, heart-wrenching and realistic. And then there is Danny's brother-in-law, Sam - a character with shades of grey who plays a huge role in Danny's life. Set in the age of the Great Depression, the story delivers an emotional punch in the gut after all these years! 

It would make a great movie and strangely enough there has been only one adaptation of the book -- the 1958 movie starring Elvis Presley, King Creole.

If you have read the book, do read it again and if you haven't, don't miss it!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Bingeing on Movies -- #Review of Qarib Qarib Singlle

My movie bingeing on Netflix continues. And inspired by the rush of blogging that is happening everywhere I have decided to kill two birds with one stone.

So, here is my review for an offbeat Bollywood romantic comedy by the name of Qarib Qarib Singlle directed by Tanuja Chandra. 

I say 'offbeat' only because it does not conform to the escapist, fantasy fare that Bollywood romances usually are. In fact, the strength of QQS is that it is rooted in reality and its characters are the average everyday people you would meet. The protagonist Jaya is a single career woman whose soldier husband is no more. She is constantly being egged on by friends to start dating and shed her single status.

She finally puts up her profile on an online dating site and is inundated with lewd messages from weirdos. But one message catches her eye. From a poet named Yogi. Jaya is amused and slightly bewildered by a man who insists on telling her about his ex-girlfriends on their first date. Yogi turns out to be a charming and eccentric character and she finds herself going on a road trip with him, ostensibly to meet his exes. Charming, quirky incidents follow and through it all the poles-apart Jaya and Yogi fall in love with each other. 

While it was watchable -- thanks mainly to stellar performances by Irrfan Khan and Parvathy -- I'm confused as to why exactly Jaya would agree to go on a road trip with a man she has just met and that too to meet his ex girlfriends! There is a lame effort to explain this, in the third act of the film, but it comes too late and doesn't quite work.

Have you seen the film?  Do share your thoughts in the comment box below.








Sunday, 23 September 2018

Bond of Brotherhood



By Jaideep Sen


Undoubtedly two of the most significant films in Salim Saab’s glorious career both as a writing duo and as a solo writer are Deewaar and Naam. The common thread that runs between both films is the Bond of Brotherhood.

As I sat down to write this piece, two interviews came to my mind very vividly. The first was an interview with Salim Saab’s eldest son, Salman Khan, who had mentioned that during the days of his father’s collaboration with Javed Saab, “Dad was never the front-man, he was always behind, much like an older brother to Javed Saab”. The second was a recent interview in which Javed Saab mentioned that their partnership was not of equals as Salim Saab was an elder whom he looked up to almost as a parent.

I guess the pure and unadulterated love that emitted from Salim Saab as an elder stemmed from his deep understanding of human relationships.

A still from Deewaar
In Deewaar a young Vijay telling his Mother that you don’t earn enough to educate the two of us but the two of us can earn enough to educate Ravi laid the foundations of a selfless elder brother who gives up on his dreams to support his Mother.  This brilliantly played out in the latter part of the film when the relationship between the two brothers is tested as they find themselves on opposite sides of the law.  

The dilemma that Ravi faces on discovering that his elder brother has gone illegal is so palpable when he says that his brother had played a huge role in his life and  taking him down in the name of duty is an impossible task for him.

How the impossible becomes possible is perhaps one of the most emotionally impactful scenes ever written featuring Shashi Ji and A.K Hangal Saab which culminates with Shashi Ji saying one of the most enlightening dialogues I’ve ever heard in Indian cinema: “Itni badi shiksha kisi teacher ke ghar se hi mil sakti thi”.

A still from Naam
How uncanny it is that Naam, the first film Salim Saab wrote as a solo writer was also a story of two brothers. And, how fitting that it should also be about a relationship and emotion that he was so aware of. Salim Saab struck gold with this tale of two half-brothers who have tremendous love for each other which only gains strength even after they come to know that they are not real brothers.

The scene in which Vicky reveals to Ravi that they are not real brothers has a huge impact on him. For till then, whatever Ravi had done for him, he had accepted as his “right” but now it all feels like a favour. This is such an emotionally overwhelming scene that even today on watching it your eyes well up.

Later when Vicky goes astray Ravi leaves no stone unturned to get his brother out of trouble, and that too in a foreign land, but alas…

Both the films leave a lump in your throat but they also leave you with reverence for Salim Saab’s soul-stirring writing in creating such wonderful characters of both the Ravis – one for not compromising on his ideals even if it means firing that fatal shot and the other for going all out to take the real son back to their mother against all odds.  Even in their loss there is a sense of victory since they give their all to sanctify the Bond of Brotherhood.


Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling.
Read his previous posts in this series:







 



Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Writer Protagonists make for Entertaining Movies! -- #Review

It's been a while since I posted movie reviews on my blog. Heck, it's been a while since I watched movies! How does a movie buff who is also a screenwriter not watch movies? That's sheer sacrilege. Well, life (and deadlines) have a way of getting in the way. But let's not dwell on that.

The good thing is that Netflix and Amazon Prime are just what the doctor prescribed for a screenwriter deprived of her fix of movies. Binge-watching movies is good for the soul too! Try it some time. ;)

The other Big Plus about watching movies via streaming channels is that you can simply watch the first 10-15 minutes of a film and decide whether it grabs you enough to see the rest of it.

So, here are the top two movies that grabbed my attention...interestingly, both are adaptations.

Ittefaq

Ittefaq (directed by Abhay Chopra) is a taut thriller that is an adaptation of a 1969 film of the same name starring Rajesh Khanna-Nanda. I call it an 'adaptation', rather than a remake, because there are many differences in the storyline and the new version with Siddharth Malhotra and Sonakshi in the lead roles is a much more taut and well-told story.


A famous novelist Vikram Sethi (Siddharth) is on the run from the police. After he is grabbed by the cops it turns out that Vikram's wife has been found dead. Moreover, he is also a prime suspect in the murder of a man in an apartment where he had taken refuge.  Two murders involving the same man in one night? Too much of a coincidence thinks the investigating police officer Dev (brilliantly played by Akshaye Khanna). The drama piles up as new revelations come to light and each one has a twist to it. Saying anything more would be a spoiler and detract from the enjoyment of the film.

A wonderfully adapted film that keeps building on the suspense and keeps you watching till the very last frame. This surely ranks on the top of my list among Bollywood crime thrillers -- second only to another well told mystery/crime story, Reema Kagti's Talaash.

Bareilly Ki Barfi

I'm a sucker for romance movies, especially the Bollywood kind. Sadly though, enjoyable, feel good romances have become a rarity in today's Bollywood. So, Bareilly ki Barfi (director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari) was just what my romance-starved movie buff soul needed! It has the right amount of sweetness and tartness. The story is an adaptation of Nicholas Barreau's book 'The Ingredients of Love'.

Amazingly enough, the original story which is set in Paris has been relocated to small town Bareilly with all its local colour, lingo and quirky characters. Bitti (Kirti Sanon) is a small town girl with loads of attitude. She works in the customer service department of the local electricity utility company, occasionally smokes and hates the fact that as a girl she is constantly under pressure to "get married". Her father is more indulgent (the right mix of traditional and yet unconventional dad) while her mother keeps a sharp look out for potential grooms for her daughter. The moment she spots one, she plies him with juice!

Enter, Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurana) owner of a printing press, a broken heart and author of a self-published book about the love of his life Babli. When Bitti reads the book, she wonders if Babli is based on her and if so, how did the author (Pritam Vidrohi) know so much about her? Bitti is directed by the bookseller to Chirag who has published the book under his friend Pritam's (Rajkummar Rao) name much against the latter's wishes. Now, Bitti wishes to meet the author of the book and Chirag coaxes -- rather bullies -- the reluctant Pritam to meet Bitti. What follows is an entertaining, comedic romantic drama. It's a well told tale with just the right amount of comedy, drama and romance to spice up the story. Don't miss it!

After watching both movies, it occurred to me that both had writers as their protagonists. What an 'ittefaq' (coincidence)!!

Have you seen any great movies lately? Do share so that I can put it on  my "watch list"!



Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The Strength of Characterisation




By Jaideep Sen

Salim Saab was once asked in an interview what he considered to be his biggest strength in writing and he instantly said, “characterisation”.

Characterisation is at the heart of the story which is evident in every film that Salim and Javed Saab have written. In Zanjeer, a child who has witnessed - and is subsequently haunted by - the killing of his parents grows up to be in Salim Saab’s own words a “high strung” character who’s extremely combustible. Having been a victim of injustice, he cannot tolerate it, especially when it happens to others. The outrage of Inspector Vijay Khanna in the hospital when Mala, the knife sharpener, refuses to identify the truck driver is testimony to the hero’s characterisation.

In their latter work, Vijay became a representation of the no-nonsense crusader of justice, whether against the system in Zanjeer, or against society for the ill-treatment of his parents in Deewaar or even against his biological father for abandoning his mother in Trishul.

Coming to Trishul, Salim Saab had once mentioned how a very respected film maker after seeing the first half of the film had told him that the film wouldn’t work because a son bringing down his father would be rejected by the audience. Salim Saab had told him to watch the second half and that his opinion would change after seeing the scene where Balwant Rai unaware that RK Gupta is Vijay’s father abuses RK Gupta. Vijay slaps him for this and Geeta questions him about it when at every step he has worked towards destroying Gupta. That’s the moment when the strength of Vijay’s characterisation comes to the forefront. The strong value system is embedded into the character so much so that even in enmity, there needs to be dignity. What’s between RK Gupta and him is between them and nobody else has the right to trespass into that territory.

Another master stroke that the Masters of the Pen, Salim Saab & Javed Saab created was the flip side of the coin in the form of a lighter character epitomised and immortalised by the legendary actor Shashi Kapoor whose take away of the situation was a little more forgiving which is why he did not see life through the same intense binoculars that Vijay did. This provides the buoyancy and humour that a film also needs to engage with the audience.

Not that ShashiJi’s Shekhar in Trishul or Ravi in Deewaar are by any means weak characters as compared to that of Vijay. For, when the time comes, Shekhar stages a walk out from his father’s house and in Deewaar, Ravi on knowing the truth of his brother’s illegal activities takes Vijay head on, thus giving Indian cinema two of its most memorable clash of ideals scenes between two brothers and the greatest dialogue ever in ‘Mere paas Maa hain’ which got its thrust purely from the strength of characterisation. 


Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling. 
Read his previous posts in this Series here: