Movie Review: Dangal – A Must Watch!

Aamir Khan is like Santa Claus every Christmas he comes with a nice gift for all of us in the form of a wonderful movie. This Christmas is special because of his latest release – Dangal. Based on the real-life story of wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita. Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, Dangal is a great story told on screen.

dangal

Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is an amateur wrestler who was forced to give up wrestling due to financial difficulties. He was unable to win a gold medal for India and vows that his son will. He is disappointed when his wife gives birth to four daughters. He gives up his dream thinking that girls cannot wrestle and should only be taught household chores. But when his older daughters, Geeta (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita (Sanya Malhotra) come home after beating up two boys, Mahavir realizes his daughters have the potential to become wrestlers and start coaching them.

In a society where women are traditionally not into wrestling Mahavir Phogat encouraged and fought against all societal norms to take his daughters to international wrestling competition and they also come back victorious. The story is quite moving and shows the dedication and passion towards this rustic game.

Nitesh Tiwari and his writers have done a great job in the writing department, however, the editing could have been crispier. There are few scenes in the first and second half where you feel it could have been edited out to make it gripping. The real bout scenes in the second half are so engrossing that you feel as if you are watching a live bout.

Performances by every artist are very good and commendable especially Aamir, Sakshi, Fatima, Sana and the two young girls and Aparshakti who are the main characters. The supporting cast is well chosen by Mukesh Chabbra and the entire movie experience is quite engrossing.

Music by Pritam is not up to the mark but goes with the tone and content of the movie. Cinematography by Sethu Sriram is very good. The Indian heartland is well-captured.

On the whole, Dangal is a movie with a heart. Go for it and surprisingly find yourself cheering for these girls as if you are watching a real game of wrestling.

My Verdict: ****/5

Let’s Make A Child’s Dream Come True Today!

Alfie The Elf’s story begins all the way back in 2012, while I was in the middle of writing my most ambitious book; “A Pocketful of Sunshine.” (Fingers crossed, one day it will be released.) It was around Christmas and my brother and his family were visiting and my nephew – Nathan (four, then) had a head full of questions about Christmas. Santa Claus, how he got his gifts.

Alfie The Elf Shaiju Mathew
Meet the gang of Alfie

As I answered his curiosity, a story spun in my head about the magic of Christmas. I wanted to tell a story about hope, about spreading joy, about magic, about wishes coming true, a story that was set in a magical land, a story that would bring all the magical creatures to life and then suddenly I had a character coming to life and that was Alfie.

To me, Christmas has always been special, it was all about waiting for gifts and spending time with family, eating yummy Christmas goodies and going to church to sing carols and this time felt magical to me and I wanted this feeling to be translated into my book.

As impossible as it may sound, I wrote about Alfie in nine days straight and like Alfie and the other characters in the story, I went through an emotional roller coaster; mainly to get this story out to the world. Almost all the publishers I approached had the same response about this book: “It’s too Enid Blyton-ish, we are looking for something that is more J K Rowling.” Some publishers who showed interest asked me to don a western penname. And by the end, my literary agent, too, gave up hope, raised her hands up in surrender and wished me luck with Alfie.

Alfie The Elf, Shaiju Mathew
Book Cover

Determined to bring Alfie and his friends to the world, I reached out to the public and asked for their opinion, I shared a few of the chapters with about a hundred people of varying age group (8 years to 65 years) and the response I got was overwhelming; they loved the story, they loved the spirit of Christmas and innocence Alfie and his friends brought with the story.

This motivated me to self-publish my book that was so dear to me and now you hold in your hands.

During all those self-doubting days, there were a few wonderful people who were my support system and stood by me through thick and thin. This book would be incomplete if I go on without mentioning them.

The two people without whom Alfie would not have been possible and to whom I am indebted for life: Anusha Jha Rohom, my book editor who after reading Alfie The Elf, was kind enough to come on board with zero expectations and molded my story beautifully. Secondly, Vikram Nandwani, my childhood friend, and illustrator who brought every character to life and came up with the beautiful book cover.

Apart from that, I would love to thank my friends and family especially my parents who always taught my brother and me to never lose hope and to always pursue our dreams how much ever they seem to be impossible.

And last, but never the least, my nephews and niece – Nathan, Jeremiah, and Kiara – the little kids with big ideas; I hope I made you proud.

Dream A Dream, Shaiju Mathew, Alfie The Elf
Inside Cover of Alfie

Now coming to the question of ‘How Can You Make A Child’s Dream Come True?’ By buying a copy of Alfie The Elf, you will be able to do that, how? I have tied up with Dream A Dream Organization who is backing Alfie to fulfill the dreams of many less privileged kids. Every book sold will help a child’s dream come true as 40% of the profits are going to this cause. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and order your copy from any of the leading online bookstores where you can find the paperback as well as an E-Book version. Also, don’t forget to send me your feedback on mattshai@gmail.com

Please order your copies from the following links;

Paperback edition in India: Amazon.in,Flipkart, PayTM, Shopclues, Infibeam, Notion Press etc.

Paperback edition abroad: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, BarnesandNoble,

Ebook Edition: Kindle, Google Play, KoBo, Dailyhunt, iBooks, Rockstand

Alfie The Elf – My New Novel!

Source: blog.celoxis.com
Source: blog.celoxis.com

It’s been a while since Knocked Up my debut novel released and I have been getting a lot of inquiries from my fans and readers asking about my next book. So finally after 6 years my next novel is going to release this ‘Children’s Day’ i.e. 14th November, titled Alfie The Elf.

Alfie is one of my favorite characters I have created and I am proud to say that I finished the manuscript in 7 days flat. Alfie is cute, he is brave, he is magical and he believes in making this world a beautiful place to live for each and every kind of being. He goes through a lot of hardships in life but he never gives up on hope and faith which leads him to become a real life HERO!

I approached a lot of publishers in India who discouraged me from releasing this book saying Christmas and Santa Claus themed books will never do well in India, as readers will not accept a local author writing about the same. They also told me that because of this reason, there are no Indian books based on these themes. I was also advised by few literary agents to change my name to a foreign sounding name so that publishers and readers will accept my book. However, when I did a small research group study involving 100 individuals of different age groups, where I handed over chapters of Alfie they all came back saying that it is a wonderful story and they want to read the full book, in turn giving me the confidence to release my book independently.  Sorry if I sound pompous and trying to pull up your expectations for the book, but wait until it is released, I am sure you will love Alfie :).

Now you might ask who is my target audience. Then the answer is anybody and everybody who has a child hidden within him/her will love this book :). Now, here is the synopsis of Alfie The Elf for you all. Also, I will be posting a few sample chapters along with the original cover for the book in a couple of days. I hope you love the book and Alfie the way I loved creating him 🙂

Synopsis: Alfie is a 14-year-old orphaned midget. He has just one wish – to grow tall. He believes that would help him gain lots of adoring friends and even impress Charlene, the girl of his dreams. He tries all tricks and tips to increase his height, but to no avail. Finally, he pins all his hopes on a miracle by writing to Santa and stays ‘good’ through the year. Christmas arrives, but Alfie’s wish doesn’t get fulfilled. Hurt, and deeply disappointed, Alfie runs away from his orphanage to look for Santa. That is only the beginning of a fantastical journey that takes him across mythical lands where he meets creatures straight out of fairy tales. With a wicked wizard out to dominate the universe and a worried Santa with his share of woes, Alfie has his hands full. Will he be able to achieve his dream? With the help of his best friend, Bullet, a pug and Pedro, an owl, he just might!

To grab a copy of Alfie The Elf please visit any of the leading bookstores eg; Amazon.com, Amazon.in, Flipkart, Branes&Noble, Infibeam, Shopclues etc. or just click here

Alfie The Elf Shaiju Mathew
Meet the gang of Alfie

You can reach out to me on authorshaiju@gmail.com or on my twitter – @shaijumathew profile 🙂