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Simple, to the point, interesting and entertaining – Shweta Ganesh Kumar’s Between The Headlines talks about the travails of a TV reporter.
Review by Rashi Goel
A candid account of a year in the life of a budding journalist, this 174-page novella takes us whirring through Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka along with the central character, news reporter Satyabhama Menon who has just transferred in from Delhi to Bangalore.
Replete with all the elements of a corporate drama – a company head who is idolized, a pain in the neck boss who is despised, an office head who is respected and colleagues who are loved and hated depending on the day – Between The Headlines does effectively what any media should – it educates, informs and entertains.
Satyabhama Menon walks in as ‘Satya’, a nervous yet enthused news trainee ready to step into the shoes of a reporter. The book traces Satya’s journey over a year of many stories, some meaningful and most fillers, until a disillusioned Satya chooses a different path to follow – one which she realizes, is bound to give her a lot more happiness.
I would say that the characters of a book fulfil their purpose when they make you put a face to them or think of someone who fits that bill. I like the fact that Shweta has infused the idea of love into the book but this does not in any way seem disconnected from the central theme of the book. Satya’s long distance relationship with her childhood friend Pranav, and her colleague Kanika’s hidden love affair with an office cameraperson, lend realistic qualities to the characters and help the reader identify with them better.
Shweta is clearly an avid reader and knows just how to start the book in order to make it a remarkable page-turner. The book opens with “Her metaphorical rehab would start after this live”. At this point, you want to devour the book page by page to know what exactly triggers the above mentioned ‘metaphorical rehab’. Brevity is Shweta’s forte as she uses crisp phrases and short sentences to really make us feel what her protagonist Satya is feeling.
Shweta’s writing style is narrative and it is commendable how she avoids unnecessary drama and exaggerations in the book and yet manages to keep the reader hooked. While not overtly funny, there are certain points in the book that are sure to make you smile if not let out a chuckle. Due to her writing style not being descriptive and picturesque, the setting of Bangalore city will only truly reveal itself to someone who has been around the city or lived there like I have. Having said that, this book makes for an amazing read on a rainy weekend afternoon.
When starting this read, all I knew was that the author had been my senior in college and that she had previously written a national best seller. While these facts should have made me anticipate a good book, I continued to be sceptical. Was this going to be yet another ‘published personal diary’? But Shweta proves sceptics like me completely wrong. A little poking and prodding into the author’s life shows that the book does more or less trace the trajectory of her life – two years at CNN IBN followed by a job at Green Peace – but from well-masked public controversies and scams to cleverly disguised personas for well known politicians, Shweta knows how to tell a story.
Publishers: Good Times Books
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