Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Review "Boots, Belts, Berets"

Book Review: Boots Belts Berets

Author: Tanushree Podder

Publisher: IndiaInk

To start with when I saw this book in library I found the name “Boots Belts Berets” very strange. I didn’t understand what the book wants to talk about. But when I thought hard then word Berets and the cover of the Book which has a picture of very much worn out shoes help me understand that the book has to be about a ‘Uniformed Man’. And when I picked up the book I realized that I guessed it right. This book is about cadets in NDA i.e. National Defense Academy where finest of army officers had been developed. Life of Army men is always been mysterious for civilians. There is some sort of glamour, some mystic powerful aura around them. I am sure every civilian once in his life wanted to join the army. So did I, it is a different story that my physical structure won’t get me in the army for next seven lives.

So I picked up this book I was curious to know what exactly happens in these academies where these Army men are created. Where you enter as innocent / greenhorn boy and comes out as lean, mean, disciplined, respected Man. What do they do with them; to make them so tough fighters? You always knew there is tremendous hard work required for this job even more hard work just to qualify for the job. But I always fail to understand how they manage to survive these tough conditions. I though this is my chance to find all my answers. Frankly speaking I would have preferred if the book was written by a army officer himself like they say from horses mouth. This book is written by a wife of a army officer so it should be lot closer to the horses mouth.

As for the author I never heard of ‘Tanushree Podder’ before. And when I read that she is already penned seventeen odd books, I was surprised and little bit ashamed of my GK. But later I come to know out of these 17 books only two books are novel one is this one and other one called ‘Nurjahan’s Daughter. Remaining books are all on cookery stuff or health instructions or spiritual kind of books. So I feel relived because this is not my kind of books.

Anyways coming to the book itself is about sixteen years boys who decides to join the army and enters the world of National Defense Academy. On their very first step they realized that the world they have entered is not at all like what they thought would be or it is not at all like the life they had been living so far under the shelter of their parents and loved one. Within few days they wants to run away from all this but they couldn’t because for some it is his father’s only dream, for some it is there family ritual to be in army, some wanted to get away from there boring family life, for one he wanted to prove something to his father and for one because this is the most viable option financially available for him and his family.

This book is a tale of a bunch of disparate boys comes together at India’s National Defense Academy (NDA). They find themselves against disciplined system which could get brutal to achieve the desired result. And then there are sadistic seniors like in any other hostel but here they are more atrocious because they have right to humiliate you physically and emotionally as they are seniors and in army you can not disobey a senior. The only consolation they get out of this they will get their chance too when they become seniors. As in any other novel or in stories of friends there is one lover boy, one handsome boy who can charm anyone but does not care, one boringly earnest guy who always warns friends about forthcomings of their wild plans, and one stupid genius who always comes up with stupid plans and always gets subjected to reprimand.

Till this everything is very good. The author had one excellent story line to work with but she failed to develop any of the character. Nor she able to keep the story flowing there are too many unwanted halts. The description of cadet’s activities and drills could have been more graphical which wasn’t there. I won’t say her effort for her only second novel is bad but I couldn’t stop thinking that there was so much more this book could have offered. This may be because I was expecting to be something like the movie ‘Prahar’ enacted by Nana Patekar.

Overall I will give the author full marks for selecting the subject, it is good subject to wite on and also good subject to market the book for publisher too. But if I have to rate this book I can give it 6/10.


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