Book Review: The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

Quite magical, isn’t it?

“Where you tend a rose my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”

Ben Weatherstaff

Title –  The Secret Garden

Author – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Pages – 331


I read this book as a part of my Re-Read Challenge, and man, I can’t believe I’ve forgotten everything about it!

The story revolves around Mary Lennox, an India-born young girl who loses her parents to cholera. A sour-faced, unpleasant girl, she moves to Yorkshire to her uncle’s house, and to her horror, finds that people behave differently than they did in India.

Soon, she learns about the ‘secret garden’ that belonged to her aunt, who had died there. Distraught, her uncle locks away the garden and throws its key away. Mary is curious to know more about it and tries to find it.

Put together a boy who can char animals, a hypochondriac who behaves like a prince, some Yorkshire slang, and lots of Magic, you have a typical Burnett book – magical and charming.

Despite all it’s beauty, I hated the racist point of view that the narrator has towards India. It is completely different from what she portrays, and she twists history according to her own whims and fancies. But seeing that racism wasn’t a crime back then, I (generously) forgive her.

The part I love the most about this is the transformation of the selfish, wicked, Mary to an angel who wins everyone’s heart by the end. Filled with hope and positivity, you are sure to love this everlasting classic.

I’ll rate it **** out of *****.

Have you read this book? What do you think about it?

2014 In Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 15 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year: Just Ruined The Happiness

Director: Farah Khan

Production: Red Chilies Entertainmet

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah, Abhishek Bachchan, Jackie Sheroff

Now, I’m a lenient reviewer as I believe that every film deserves a chance. Sadly, Happy New Year broke that carefully formed trust.

Simply put, HNY is an extremely stupid, annoying and immature Bollywood version of Ocean’s Eleven.

Charlie (SRK with a blonde lock of hair…gross) wants revenge against Grover (ugly Jackie Sheroff), who cheated and caused the death of Manohar (read: Misuse of Anupam Kher).

So Charlie teams up with a bunch of goofy friends, Jag (A hot but deaf Sonu Sood), Tammy ( middle-aged heartthrob Boman Irani), Rohan (a cute Vivaan Shah), and Nandu Bhide (Abhishek Bachchan has keede in his dimag to take on this role).

ALL these guys have something to pick on Grover, and so decide to steal his diamonds at the Shalimar. However, there is also a World Dance Championship on the same day, same place, same time.. So, the ONLY way to steal the diamonds is through the WDC. And none of the five can dance.

So enter Mohini Joshi (Deepika Padukone essaying an extremely sexist role), a bar dancer who teaches the five. The five learn dancing, get qualified to the WDC through Rohan, the hacker, and somehow manage to impress everyone in the UAE post their egg-and-tomato entrance.

If this bullshit isn’t enough to rot your mind, here’s the scoop: Charlie always insults Mohini, but Mohini always stays back. Reason? Not love, idiot. Mohini loves people who speak ‘the English’ as she cannot speak ‘the English’. So genius tolerates abuse from Charlie many times over.

The only reason I sat through the film was because of Sonu Sood and Vivaan Shah. Ah, and also for a few songs. Maybe Indiawaale  might be top-notch, Manwa Laage the sweetest, Nonsense Ki Night the funniest, and Lovely the most daring, but to me, Satakli is the best. My mind has kicked out the notion that every movie deserves a chance.

Please, please don’t watch HNY unless you want a splitting headache AND your New Year ruined at the wrong time.

Leaving for the pharmacy to get an aspirin. Sorry, Farah.



Haider: The Chutzpah To Adapt Hamlet!

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Production: Vishal Bharadwaj and Siddharth Roy Kapoor


  • Shahid Kapoor: Haider / Prince Hamlet
  • Shraddha Kapoor: Arshia / Ophelia
  • Narendra Jha: Dr. Hilal Meer / King Hamlet
  • Tabu: Ghazala / Gertrude
  • Aamir Bashir: Liyaqat / Laertes
  • Kay Kay Menon: Khurram Meer / Claudius
  • Irrfan Khan: Roohdar / Ghost
  • Lalit Parimoo: Pervez Lone / Polonius
  • Sumit Kaul: Salman 1 / Rosencrantz
  • Rajat Bhagat: Salman 2 / Guildenstern
  • Ashwath Bhat: Zahoor / Fortinbras

Haider, a poet, returns to his homeland, a war-ravaged Kashmir, only to find that his home has been destroyed. His father had been arrested for housing militants, and his mother, Ghazala was in love with her brother-in-law, Khurram.

Okay, we all know the story of Hamlet. But it is unimaginable that Bollywood could produce such a masterclass adaptation of one of William Shakespeare’s best tragedies.

Vishal Bharadwaj had undertaken the impossible, and has succeeded in making it possible. With excellent direction and an even more brilliant music score, Bharadwaj proves his mettle as both a director and a composer.

Shahid Kapoor is, well…Shahid Kapoor. Only he could have portrayed a sane, but insane Haider to perfection. The viewer will never doubt the sincerity of his angst, grief, rage, and sorrow. Such is his genuine talent. His high-octane performance as Haider will certainly earn him well-deserving awards and accolades.


But it is Tabu who rules the roost. She does not portray Ghazala, she IS Ghazala. She makes the viewer dance to her tunes. Sometimes, she makes them mad at her, and sometimes, she makes them cry for her. Tabu’s performance is so perfect that Shahid and Vishal’s skill almost goes unnoticed. Such is her enchantment.

Kay Kay Menon does well as Khurram, the jealous brother, who makes advances at his sister-in-law. Shraddha Kapoor seems to have a knack for dying in every film of hers, starting from Ek Villain, but she is a bit raw in this one.

To Be or Not to Be is written beautifully by Gulzar as Main Rahoon ki Main Nahi soliloquy. Check it out!

Ah, now for the best part of the film: soundtrack. If Aao Na does not give you goosebumps, nothing ever will. For Aao Na by far surpasses Bismil and Khul Kabhi TohGulzar’s powerful lyrics and Vishal Dadlani’s hoarse singing makes the song rock.

I’ll advise everyone to hear the soundtrack at least once. No wonder if you continuously listen to it for the rest of your life, though.

Overall, Haider, though disturbingly violent and tragic in some parts, is excellent. This one will surely get nominated for some award or the other.

Khoobsurat: Beautiful Indeed

Director: Shashanka Ghosh
Producers: Walt Disney Pictures, UTV Motion Pictures, Anil Kapoor’s Films Company
Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Afzal Khan, Ratna Pathak, Aamir Raza Hussain, Kirron Kher, Ashok Banthia

Labelled as ‘The Royal Misfit’ in the film, Dr Mrinalini ‘Milli’ Chakravarthy (Sonam Kapoor) is sent to treat a Rajput king (Aamir Raza Hussain), who has lost the use of his legs. Milli’s happy-go-lucky lifestyle at the palace does not go well with the royals, especially  with the over-controlling queen, Nirmala Singh Rathore (Ratna Pathak). Milli neither clicks with the king, Shekhar Singh Rathore, nor the crown prince, Vikram Singh Rathore ( Fawad Afzal Khan). However,  the princess, Divya, whose ambitions are restricted by her mother,  takes a liking to Milli.
Soon, Milli discovers that though there is a sensation in the king’s legs, he was unwilling to walk again. She realizes that his dull lifestyle is killing him and decides to put some joy in the king’s grim life. Her outrageous ideas of fun is always frowned upon by the queen, who feels that she is interfering in Divya’s studies. However, Vikram appreciates her efforts to get his father walk again. Predictably, both of them fall for each other. But as Vikram is engaged to another princess, Kiara (Aditi Rao Hydari), he refuses to accept his feelings for her and declines her proposal.
Throw into this situation Milli’s outgoing mother (Kirron Kher), the Rathores’ loyal butler (Ashok Banthia), Vikram’s friend (Cyrus Sahukar) who desires Kiara, and a bunch of kidnappers, and you have a masaledar Bollywood film.
Sonam Kapoor does a good job as Milli, the Disney Princess, and makes you laugh and cry with her. Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan’s Bollywood debut as Vikram will be unforgettable.  With his aristocratic nose held high, the ‘business machine’ wins the viewer’s heart as easily as he wins business deals.
However,  it is Ratna Pathak’s stellar performance as Nirmala that rules the film. Her pride at running the entire royal household is evident. Incidentally,  it was Ratna’s mother who played Nirmala in the original Khubsoorat.
The film’s music is good, barring the bummer that is Engine Ki Seeti . Though a promotional piece, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai should either have been removed from the film or given a more prominent place in it.
In all, Khoobsurat is for all romantics who want to watch a romantic film with a generous dose of comedy. You just have to  forgive the minor loopholes that is inevitable in a Disney movie.

Queen: A Royal Treat


Director: Vikas Bahl

Production: Viacom 18

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon

Kangana does a brilliant job as Rani Mehra, aka Queen, the girl who is dumped by her fiance Vijay (Rajkummar Rao), on the pretext that he has changed too much for her in the last couple of years.

The distraught Rani comes from a traditional Indian conservative family, and is always accompanied by her younger brother everywhere. So when her world comes crashing down in this fashion, she does the unexpected: She decides to go on her honeymoon…alone.

So now we come to Paris, the city of love, where a girl is trying to move on with her life. Kangana portrays Queen to perfection. She proves her mettle in acting every bit the innocent, simple girl we tend to imagine Rani as.

Rani then meets the bubbly Vijaylakshmi, aka Vijay (Lisa Haydon), a waitress with French/Spanish/Indian origins, who manages to shock the naive Rani with the Parisian culture.

Vikas does a commendable job of showing Paris. The discos, bars, pubs, hotels, streets, graffiti, and its colorful people are portrayed brilliantly. Hats off to him.

From Paris, Rani visits Amsterdam, where she is forced to share a room with three men: the cute Oleksander (Mish Boyko) from Russia, Timy (Joseph Guitobh) from France and Taka (Jeffrey Ho) from Japan. Not to mention Rani’s heartthrob, Marcello (Canadea Lopez Marco), an Italian chef who challenges her to prove her culinary skills.

These four actors collaborate well with Kangana.  They play excellent supporting roles, but maybe more back story should have been developed, and more limelight should have been thrown on them, to add more content to the story.

These four constantly call Rani ‘Queen’ ( a name that once her fiance used to call her affectionately) while Rani persists in calling Oleksander ‘Sikander’. These make up some of the light moments in the film.

As Rani lives with them, she understands that everybody has to overcome hurdles at some part of time and that it is no use moping over them. She decides to forget and forgive Vijay and move on with her life.

So what she does when Vijay (her fiance) calls up to make up with her forms the reminder of the film.

The music by Amit Trivedi goes well with the film. London Thumakda especially stands out. The music videos are a treat to watch.

Queen is not just about Paris, Amsterdam, fun, life, love and joy. It is about rediscovering oneself and developing self-confidence, and just trusting your heart that sometimes, it is just best to let it go.

I’d recommend this film to anyone who’d like to recover from any heartbreak or something of that kind. And also for those who’d like a desi twist in an out-of-the-box Bollywood film, which not only was a commercial success, but received rave reviews too.

Queen is indeed a royal treat to watch.