My Days in the Underworld – Agni Sreedhar – Book Review


Title: My Days In The Underworld

Author: Agni Sreedhar

Book Blurb: Agni Sreedhar is an underworld don turned writer turned journalist turned filmmaker.

He studied law in Bangalore and was intent on entering the Indian Civil Service when circumstances forced him to turn to crime. Starting from the early 1980s, Sreedhar found himself entrenched in the bitter gang wars that shaped the contours of modern Bangalore. This book is an intimate, first-person account of the two decades he spent in the world of crime. But My Days in the Underworld isn’t just a tale of murder and blood. It is a study of a system that runs parallel to the world ordinary people inhabit; a lateral universe, one with its own police force and laws, one where the criminal justice system has all but failed.

This is a story of a city as seen through the personal histories of politicians who ruled Karnataka, men like Gundu Rao, Ramakrishna Hegde, Bangarappa and Deve Gowda, as well as those who were responsible for shaping Bangalore’s underworld: Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan, Sharad Shetty, Kotwal Ramchandra, Jayaraj and Muthappa Rai.


I read this book on the rave reviews and recommendations from a couple of friends, one of whom I borrowed the book from and another who had seen a movie based on a few incidents from this book. And to be very honest, I found it a tad disappointing.

The book itself reads more like a memoir into how the author gradually makes inroads into the Bangalore underworld without really knowing what he was getting into and gradually metamorphosing into one of the city’s most influential underworld figures of the 1980s and 1990s. Starting off with Sreedhar’s brushes with Kotwal Ramachandra and Jayaraj, the story goes into great detail about his friendship with the latter and how Jayaraj proves to be his mentor in the underworld and someone who teaches him quite a few tricks of the trade. In fact it is as Jayaraj’s protégé that Sreedhar makes a name for himself in Bangalore.

The story then moves on to Muthappa Rai’s entry into Bangalore and how Sreedhar gradually gets pulled into his gang and his activities, and his ultimate fall out with the don from Mangalore due ideological differences. While Sreedhar favored more unity among all the warring gangs of Bangalore, Muthappa Rai didn’t seem to care as long as he was not targeted by any of them.

The last few chapters of the book deals with how Sreedhar finally gets in touch with Ravi Belagere, the reporter and journalist, and how he ultimately gets around to starting a weekly of his own, Agni.

While there is nothing new in terms of content and Sreedhar’s story is pretty much in line with what gangster movies like Satya have already told us, what struck me as a little unusual was the fact that Sreedhar seems to have become a big name in the Bangalore underworld without necessarily being one of the most cut-throat or ruthless among his peers, or at least, that’s the impression I was left with after reading the book. He also makes an attempt to uncover a little bit of the police-politician-underworld nexus in this book by naming politicians, policemen and how they dealt with members from the underworld. He was especially scathing on a couple of policemen who apparently had made it a mission to make his life miserable in the 80s and 90s.

Would I recommend this book for a casual read? No. Read it if and only if you are really interested in knowing about the Bangalore underworld of the 80s and 90s. Sadly, this book doesn’t really provide too much insight into a gangster’s psyche and his methods of operation, etc which is why I read this book in the first place.

Related information

Name My days in the underworld : The rise of the Bangalore mafia
Author/s Agni Sreedhar
Publisher Tranquebar Press
Year published 2013
ISBN 13 9789383260348
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Amazon link Link


Verses for Introspection: 7

न चक्षुषा पश्यतॆ नापि वाचा

नान्यैर्दॆवैस्तपसा कर्मणा वा।


स्ततस्तु तं पश्यतॆ निष्कलं ध्यायमानः।।

Na chakshushaa pashyathe naapi vaachaa

Naanyairdevaistapasaa karmanaa vaa


Statasthu tam pashyathe nishkalam dhyaayamaanaha

Mundakopanishad – 3.1.8


The self cannot be perceived by the eyes and the senses, described by words, nor revealed by penances and rituals. When the understanding becomes calm and refined, one’s whole being is purified and then engaged in meditation, one realizes Him, the Absolute.

Inspired by Swami Bhoomananda TirthaJi’s talks and satsangs. 

Baramulla Bomber – Clark Prasad – Book Review


Book: Baramulla Bomber

Author: Clark Prasad

Book Blurb:

An Ancient Weapon from the Vedas & Bible

Once Hunted by the Nazis

Powered by the Sound of the Universe

Reborn with the Help of Quantum Physics

Going to be Unleashed onto the World

And Kashmir Holds its Secret

Multiple intelligence agencies are tracking Mansur Haider, a god-fearing aspiring cricketer from Kashmir. His girlfriend, Aahana Yajurvedi, is trying to locate her missing mountaineering team, which vanished after a mysterious earthquake struck Shaksgam Valley. Investigating Mansur and the Shaksgam Valley incident is Swedish intelligence officer, Adolf Silfverskiold, whose only relationship to God consists of escorting his girlfriend to Church.

A dual China-Pakistan battlefront scenario facing the Indian Home Minister, Agastya Rathore, whose ancestors carry a prehistoric secret linked to the stars. He is faced with the challenge of finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis.

Which biblical weapon was tested in Shaksgam valley? Why is Mansur Haider important? Is there a solution to the Kashmir crisis? Can destiny be controlled? Does a cosmic religion exist?




I had been applying to read and review this book through various forums and when finally The Tales Pensieve decided to accommodate my request through their Book Reviews program, I was glad. And believe me when I say this, it turned out to be probably one of the best decisions in recent times. Clark Prasad took me on a ride like never before and it was hard to believe that such a masterful thriller of a book can be written by a debutant author.

The book deals with multiple threads which are woven into one beautiful tapestry by wonderfully interconnected threads. At the heart of it, this is a story of an ancient divine weapon which has the potential to change the world as we know it. The lives of Mansur Haider, an up and coming cricketer from Kashmir, his girlfriend Aahana Yajurvedi, Swedish intelligence officer Adolg Silfverskiold are inexplicably changed when they get involved with each other and with the weapon due to entirely different circumstances. And when the Indian Home Minister Agastya Rathore also gets involved with the happenings, more spice is added to the already spicy dish that the plot really is.

Hopping from Pakistan occupied Kashmir to Sweden, the book deals with hardcore cloak and dagger stuff being dealt in by intelligence agencies around the world with players such as politicians and intelligence chiefs getting involved. This is the stuff that we usually read about in Frederick Forsyth thrillers and coming from an Indian debutant, it truly does herald a new wave in Indian literature.

Given that this is the first part of a trilogy which unusually need not necessarily be read in sequential order according to the author, I am surely going to pick up the remaining two books. Am not giving away anything more of the plot here due to a specific request by the author not to do so and allow all readers of the book to enjoy it to its fullest by themselves.

Suffice to say that the author dabbles with fields such as politics, espionage, archeo-astronomy and human relationships with such ease that you would be forgiven to think that he is a veteran of many books of one or more of these genres. The amount of research that he has done on the various fields that this book deals with is all listed out in the appendix and is truly commendable. For anybody who thought writing a spy-thriller book was cake walk, think again, as Clark Prasad truly has set the benchmark, at least for Indian authors in this genre.


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.



Related information

Name Baramulla Bomber
Author/s Clark Prasad
Publisher Niyogi Books India
Year published 2013
ISBN 13 9789381523971
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Link
Amazon link Link

The Krishna Key – Book Review

Conspiracy Fiction, as a genre of books were always popular with voracious readers of books and Dan Brown with his (in)famous Da Vinci Code ensured that this genre received a crazy boost in terms of the interest generated and readership volumes. In recent times, some good books in this genre set in an Indian context have made their way to bookstores and “The Krishna Key” by Ashwin Sanghi is one of them. Regular readers of this blog would have surely read my review of “Chanakya’s Chant” and would have realized that I have somewhat become a fan of this particular author and his style of story-telling. To put it mildly, Ashwin Sanghi reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton where solid research backed by a wonderful reimagining of known facts and theories ensured awesome books. And The Krishna Key does not disappoint readers, at least for most part…

The book deals with how Prof. Ravi Mohan Saini, an avid historian gets embroiled in a series of murders and in the process of uncovering the truth ends up in digging more than just the truth about the murders. His travels take him in search of the legendary buried city of Dwaraka, to the demolished temples of Somnathpur, to the archaeological digs of Kalibangan, to the historic site of the Mahabharatha war at Kurukshetra, to Mount Kailas and also to the Taj Mahal. And if just the mention of these places doesn’t make you want to read the book, the author goes on to describe the history of all of these places and associated characters in history in such great detail that anybody who is interested in the history of India, the Mahabharatha, and various other associated people and events simply have no choice but to pick up this book and read it as soon as they possibly can.

Coupled with the Professor’s obsession with Krishna’s history and his genuine belief that there was more to this particular mythological god than we already know, ensure that almost the entire Mahabharatha is retold as part of this book. The author cleverly inserts his own abridged version of the Mahabharatha as a couple of paragraphs at the beginning of every new chapter in the contemporary tale of how Prof. Saini is on the run from the police.

A very quick paced book, this is just like Ashwin Sanghi’s other books, an unputdownable one which all regular readers will strive and complete in one sitting itself, if possible 🙂

A good read, and I won’t be too surprised if it is made into a movie or a TV series sometime in my lifetime.

One small disclaimer though, the author does take quite a few liberties with historical facts and personalities. Readers are advised not take the book too seriously and start questioning their basic beliefs and things like that as that might just lead to too much of anxiety about all the knowledge that we have of these topics. This book is from the conspiracy fiction genre and should be treated as such.


This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!


Name The Krishna Key
Author/s Ashwin Sanghi
Publisher Westland India
Year published 2012
ISBN 13 9789381626689
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Link
Amazon link Link

Chanakya’s Chant – Book Review

I first heard of (or saw his name, to be more accurate) Ashwin Sanghi ( when I was browsing the new releases section of an online book retailing website. The site provided a free excerpt to Ashwin Sanghi’s upcoming novel “The Krishna Key“. The few pages that were provided there were compelling enough for me to go ahead and read his previous novel “Chanakya’s Chant“.

The novel took me down memory lane as more than half the book deals with the story of Chanakya, Chandragupta and how the two of them due to their efforts managed to unify most of India under one king back in the day. It was a walk down memory lane to me as it brought back memories of watching Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s teleserial “Chanakya” on TV when I was in my teens. I remember loving that serial back then, and coming back to this story after all these years felt good.

The novel itself deals with the story of Chanakya for one part while drawing parallels with another story from modern Indian politics, that of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra and his protege Chandini Gupta. The narrative keeps alternating between Chanakya’s efforts to make Chandragupta the emperor of India and Pandit Mishra’s efforts to make Chandini the Prime Minister of India. Just as Chanakya used guile, deceit, circumstances, politics and pretty much everything at his disposal to succeed in his efforts, so does Pandit Mishra in his endeavors. The author manages to draw wonderful parallels between historical and contemporary Indian politics to bring out the fact that as far as this particular field is concerned, not too much has changed and well, the fact that the players involved will pretty much do anything to achieve their goals.

The beauty of this book is the fact that the author manages to keep the narrative extremely pacy. In fact, he never lets the readers off the hook even for a single page. Voracious readers will find it hard to put down the book even for a 5 minute break without thinking about what will happen next. I would go so far to state the Ashwin Sanghi has written this book with the intention of converting it into the screenplay of a movie or a teleserial (evidenced by the news that UTV Software Communications has indeed acquired the movie rights for this book. That should surely be an interesting movie to watch.

In any case, this book is well worth the time spent in reading it as it leaves you pondering about modern day politics, more so due to all the newspaper headlines that one reads regarding CoalGate, 2G auction scam and all the various other hobbies that our current crop of politicians engage in.

Related information

Name Chanakya’s Chant
Author/s Ashwin Sanghi
Publisher Westland India
Year published 2010
ISBN 13 9789380658674
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Link
Amazon link Link

The Edge of Reason – Book Review

For some funny reason I really don’t remember what prompted me to decide to read this book and order it online. Having said that I personally believe that buying this book and actually ending up reading it and finishing it in one go (ie, without putting down the book to pick up another book to read) has benefited me in multiple ways.

(1) This book has rekindled the interest in reading books by the dozen yet again and I have started making a list of the next 5-6 books that I want to read

(2) This book has rekindled the spark of curiosity in me which I believe had died down over the course of the last few years

(3) This book not only makes me want to read more, but also write more which I am hoping will end up in generating more blog posts such as this one and make me more of a regular writer / blogger.

To get to the book itself, it deals with Cosmology which Wikipedia defines as the academic discipline that seeks to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order. Wow, while I know that is a heavy definition with big words, big concepts, suffice to say that most of my understanding of the origin of our Universe began and ended with The Big Bang Theory (not the TV series, but the actual cosmological concept). And guess what it turns out that most modern cosmology is indeed dominated by The Big Bang Theory.

This book, The Edge of Reason (called “The Edge of Physics: A Journey to Earth’s Extremes to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe” outside of India) is part travelogue, part documentary-style writing which takes the author Anil Ananthaswamy from the tip of Mount Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii to deep mines in Minnesota, from Lake Baikal in Siberia to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, from the underground Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland to Mount Saraswathi in Ladakh. The author goes to these places to talk to the scientists, physicists, cosmologists and astronomers regarding to get more details regarding some of the experiments that they are conducting to answer questions regarding the origins of the universe.

While documenting his travels, the author describes in great detail the locations of these experiments, the rationale behind the choice of these varied locations, basic tenets of the experiments being conducted, descriptions of the questions that these experiments are trying to answer, as well as the history behind some of these questions themselves. This book manages to give us an insight into the brilliant minds of the physicists and cosmologists who asked these questions in the first place. In many ways, this book is a tribute to all those pioneer cosmologists who dared to ask the questions which nobody else asked, who dared to question the status-quo of existing theories regarding the origins of the universe, and some of the answers to the questions asked have the potential to radically change our existing knowledge regarding the cosmos itself.

It has to be agreed that this book requires a certain degree of knowledge of and interest in basic physics to be read. Also, the reader has to have the patience of actually slowing down, re-reading paragraphs and pages to put together complicated theories and concepts of cosmology. That being said, Anil Ananthaswamy manages to take the reader on a wonderful joyride around the world and also manages to paint quite a vivid picture of modern day cosmology. In fact, I would bet that more interest would be generated in this field if schools and colleges around the world made this book a part of their libraries and if possible, a part of their list of suggested readings in Physics.

A wonderful book which is a travelogue, cosmology reference guide (at a very basic level), introductory guide to some of the most profound ideas of cosmology and its propounders. A really good read.

Related links

Indiaplaza link to purchase the book in India

Flipkart link to purchase the book in India

Amazon link to purchase the book in the US

Name The edge of reason : Dispatches from the frontiers of cosmology
Author/s Anil Ananthaswamy
Publisher Penguin India
Year published 2010
ISBN 13 9780143066705
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Link
Amazon link Link