Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sentinel House - A critique by senior jounalist Mrinal Pande

If you thought there were strange events with amazing twists and eccentric, power-drunk characters in our politics, wait till you read Allen Mendonca’s searing novel about the intrigues within the Indian media. The novel cuts close to the bone as it dives into the depths of Cromwell, Kirby & Jackson, the biggest media and publishing house in India. Despite the usual disclaimer by the author and publishers, the events and character that people the novel, are bound to remind knowledgeable readers of actual life and blood characters.

The charismatic and vile Chairman of the company, Harry aka Harivanshrai, is one of them. He has inherited the business from his father Romesh who had died a broken man after being indicted for fraud. Harry’s estranged wife Pinky is also dead in a car crash and his severely handicapped son Siddharth, the only human being Harry adores, faces one major health crisis after another. Angered by his misfortunes: his son’s illness, his father’s indictment, his wife’s betrayal Harry becomes more and more nasty, manipulative and cynical. With his deep seated hatred for editors and the System driving him, Harry hurtles ahead of all competitors while climacteric events of the late Twentieth Century unfold all over the world. Harry will stop at nothing to gain his desired objects. He bullies, bribes and literally orders the killing of all who stand in the way. The end, when it comes for this Prince of Darkness, seems preordained.

The world of the media, as Mendonca’s novel presents it, is a world of Byzantine intrigues, sleazy affairs and violent deaths carrying within it a veritable hornet’s nest of preening egos and cut throat career moves. Innocence and tender love can make only a rather unconvincing guest appearance here. Harry’s son, who makes a miraculous recovery with the help of a nun, has all the humane sensitivity and honesty his father and grandfather lacked, but comes out as a pale shadow. We’d like to believe that after his father he and Sister Agnes will make a difference in the Board room, but alas we can not. Despite his dark and evil mind it is Harry who catches the readers’ fancy.

All said and done, this is an honest novel driven by the moral outrage of one who truly cared about the time honoured journalistic values. But those who are not familiar with the atmosphere of intrigue and animal fear that Harry’s kind have instilled India’s editorial rooms with, may have difficulty understanding Mendonca’s rage. Allen Mendonca certainly did not go gently into the night.

- Mrinal Pande, Senior Journalist

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sentinel House launch in Kochi, December 20th

Sentinel House is having a phenomenal road trip, with another city falling to the irresistible pull of the book. The last leg of Reliance TimeOut’s roadshow took us and the book to Kochi, and this time too, it was just perfect.

Resident Editor of Asianet News, Mr. Manoj Das, made the audience see the tumultuous life of the protagonist with his reading of a few excerpts. He was so enamoured with the book that he said, “Sentinel House should be made prescribed reading for media studies.”

Mr. T. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Government of Kerala, released the book and confessed that he had “fallen in love with Allen Mendonca’s writing.”

Mr. M. D. Nalapat, Senior Journalist and UNESCO chair, Manipal University was also there, and he too professed his love for the book and its author by saying, “Allen exemplified the true value of journalism.”

Those who attended this launch included Commander John Phillipose, Commander CT Kuruvilla, Commander Vijayan, leading architect S Gopakumar, businessman RM Nair and many other book lovers.

Sentinel House launch in Gurgaon, Dec 19, 2009

On a chilly December evening in Gurgaon, eminent personalities, journalists and book lovers came together to celebrate the launch of Sentinel House.

As renowned classical dancer Prathibha Prahlad released the book, a hush fell over the crowd. She regaled those listening with tales of how she met Allen, his journalistic prowess and infectious affability.

Sunit Tandon, well known TV personality and current Director of IIMC, read a few excerpts from the book in his baritone voice. He left the audience in suspense, compelling them to buy a copy of the book.

The launch was well attended by book lovers, including Jiggs Kalra, gourmet chef and food writer, senior journalists Krishna Prasad, Suryaprakash, Pushpa Girimaji, Girish Nikam and BS Arun.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sentinel House launch at Reliance TimeOut, Bangalore, 17.12.09

Excerpts from Harish Bijoor’s critique:


“Allen lived an extremely eventful life, travelling, writing, puncturing modern myths with his incisive commentary, loving, and having a blast. He reveals several facets of himself in this book and it can be a surprise to the ones who think they know him. There is the secular Allen, at ease with all the religions and customs. Allen was equally adept at dissecting the Upanishads as he was with explaining the nuances in the Bible. The book is a testament to his secular views, with several references to both the good and ugly face of religion.

Allen’s sense of branding is amazing. With his Karl Lagerfeld sunglasses, Dom Perignon champagne, Rolex watches and Tourmaline Green Toyota Land Cruisers, he has built a rich world full of very precise and specific references to the ambience.

History, seen through Allen’s words, takes on a new dimension. The story of the founders of the newspaper is surely one of the better structured pieces in contemporary fiction. This is not merely one man’s history, but the history of the world that seamlessly blends with the main storyline. Every segment of narration in this book is a little battle, a small but important part of the bigger war.

Allen deals with death in several ways in his book. There is the sad death, drawn out and painful. There is the sudden death, with no more than one line to describe it. And then there is the gruesome death, the flesh and blood creeping on to the pages of the book with disturbing clarity.

The book is populated with several women, lusty, passionate, emotional, strong, weak – and the world of media has always been fuelled by adrenaline and libido. But the search for true love forms the core of the book, and elevates it from mere fiction to a work of heart and soul.”


Reliance Time Out was the perfect place to sit down and talk about a good book. On the 17th of December, with the sounds of the city muted to a distant buzz, surrounded by thousands of books at the Reliance TimeOut building, Allen Mendonca’s Sentinel House was given another red carpet welcome by the book lovers of Bangalore.

Journalists, editors, aspiring writers and ardent fans got a sneak peek into Allen’s novel as the doyens of theatre, Jagdish and Arundhati Raja, read out three passages from the book, bringing to life the ruthless media baron and the other colourful characters that populate Sentinel House. One could picture the fictitious media scion’s swanky penthouse as the duo unleashed the rage and the passion.

The copies of Sentinel House were once again flying out of the counter. The head of Reliance TimeOut, Mr. Deepinder Kapany, was also seen holding a signed copy up to the camera delightedly. With such a warm reception, Sentinel House is sure to find many more ardent fans.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sentinel House launch

A warm glow seemed to light up Ranga Shankara on the balmy December evening of the 16th as literati, technorati, colleagues, fans, family and friends gathered for the launch of  the Sentinel House.

As Arundhati Nag, actor, read out excerpts after unwrapping the first copy, the gathering that was sprinkled with stardust heard her with rapt attention. Her theatric voice resounded as she gave wings to Allen's words. Launching the book as part of the Bengaluru habba festivities was a fitting tribute to 'Bangalore's boy' as Arundhati Nag referred to Allen. 

Prakash Belawadi, actor and journalist, enlivened the audience with anecdotes about Allen. An old friend of Allen, Belawadi spoke about the world of journalism then and now, and how Allen's words would remain indelible footprints.
It was heartwarming to see Allen's friends and fans crowding around the book sales counter, each coming out clutching a fresh copy of the Sentinel House. Actor, writer, and playwright Girish Karnad was also seen leafing through the first few pages of the book while Yasmeen Premji, director of the Azim Premji Foundation, had her book autographed by Sandhya Mendonca.

With such distinguished guests as Mr. Subroto Bagchi, the co-founder of Mindtree, former IT secretary Mr. Vivek Kulkarni, the ubiquitous fashion guru of Bangalore, Prasad Bidappa, Mr. Prem Koshy of Koshys, the evening was a splendid one, as good as the book that was being launched.

To read an excerpt from the book and a review, visit this link.
To buy Sentinel House online, visit Indiaplaza.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Join us for the launch of Sentinel House

Bangalore, Dec 16, Wednesday, 06.30 at Ranga Shankara
Book release by Arundhati Nag as a part of ‘Bengaluru Habba’

Bangalore, Dec 17, Thursday, 6.30 pm at Reliance Time Out
Dramatized reading by Jagdish and Arundhati Raja of Artists Repertory Theatre
Critique of the book by brand consultant, Mr. Harish Bijoor

Gurgaon, Dec 19, Saturday, 6.30 pm at Reliance Time Out, Ambience Mall
Book release by Ms. Pratibha Prahlad, renowned Classical dancer
Reading by Mr. Sunit Tandon, Director, Indian Institute of Mass Communication

Cochin, Dec 20, Sunday, 6.30 pm at Reliance Time Out, Oberon Mall
Book release by Mr. T. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Government of Kerala
Introduction and Reading by Mr. Manoj Das, Resident Editor, Asianet News, Kerala

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the winner is....

Soumya Jain!!

Congratulations Soumya, for your well thought out and brilliant design.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Design Competition - Were you shortlisted?

Having received over 30 brilliant entries for our design competition, our panel needs a little more time to come to a final decision.

The shortlisted entries (in no particular order):

1. Prateek Singh
2. Rohit Lonkar
3. Soumya Jain
4. Jash

Stay tuned, the winner will be announced on Wednesday, 18 November 2009.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Join Us

Are you bright, young and energetic?

We are looking for interns and trainees with common sense and who can take the initiative.

Work will involve fact-checking and co-ordination.

Apply with your resume and references to raintreemedia@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Design the cover for Allen’s novel!

Calling all creative minds…

Want to see your work on the cover of the first novel written by one of India’s most acclaimed journalists? Raintree Media is publishing a dramatic novel by Allen Mendonca and is inviting all creative minds to send in cover design entries.

Set against a century of the triumph and turmoil of India’s political and economical struggle, this book chronicles the internecine drama of India’s most powerful media house. Spurred on by ruthless ambition, media baron Harivanshrai Kumar spins a web of betrayal and deceit that slowly embroils his family, friends and colleagues in an intriguing twist of events. Packed with a cutting-edge journalistic view of historical events and palpable emotions ranging from lust to piety, this book is a must-read!

The working title of the book is 'Sentinel House'

Book Specifications:

5 inches (w) x 7.5 inches (h)

Must-have:

Title of book and the author’s name

Format:

Send your entries in PDF, JPEG or TIFF format. But hold on to your working design file and we will contact you if you are chosen.

What you get:

A cash prize of Rupees ten thousand, credit in the book, an invitation to the launch and hopefully many more assignments :)

Deadline:

Send your entries in to raintreemedia@gmail.com by November 10, 2009

Some tips to help you get started:

•A web of interconnecting stories involving romance, politics, corporate rivalry and the new economy is spun around the central theme of a media house that has grown to dominate the print media industry in India.

•The book incorporates four generations of the Kumars, their wives and lovers.

•The book spans a timeline from an India pre-independence to the contemporary India of today.

Keywords that may help with the design: Mumbai, India, Newspapers, Journalism, Independence, Murder, Betrayal, Anger, Lust, Deceit, Love and Hope.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Allen Mendonca


With deep sorrow, we note the demise of Allen Mendonca, Founder- Director, Raintree Media. He passed away in his sleep on Sept 28, 2009. He was 49.

In a career spanning over 25 years, he had written on diverse subjects – crime, political commentary, theatre, music and film reviews and travel features. He was most famous for his hard-hitting style of taking on errant powers-that-be in public life.

He started his career while in college, working for Southern Speaker, then moved to City Tab and Evening Herald, before joining Indian Express. This publication’s crusading zeal was right up his alley and he soon gained a reputation for gutsy reporting.

He next joined the Times of India, Bangalore as Head of the Business Bureau before taking over as the Head of the Metro Bureau. His pithy column 'Metro Matters’ took up cudgels for the travails of the city. His Sunday columns where he interviewed writers, artists and their ilk brought to splendid life his felicity with words.

He was the Editor of Bangalore Times and was responsible for its remarkable growth in a short period.

In 2005, he co-founded Raintree Media and continued to be Director. He was simultaneously Editorial Director of Explocity group of multi-city publications. He continued to write for several national and international magazines and books.

He had just commenced a final revision of his first novel which Raintree Media will soon be publishing.

Team Raintree derived great strength from his wealth of knowledge, his ability to focus on the basics, his keen eye for detail and his inimitable writing. His genial smile did not mean that we could ever do anything that was less than excellent. We miss him sorely; and are determined to forge ahead and achieve our fullest potential as our tribute to his life.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Celebrating The Glory Years

125 years is a glorious run for an institution and fittingly for erudite Chennai, the Madras Gymkhana Club chose to commemorate the grand achievement with a coffee table book. Time was short, but once they commissioned us, we did the near- impossible: researched, photographed, wrote, edited, designed, printed and delivered in 125 days.

‘The Glory Years', an insight into the Club’s culture, society and the journey of its members, was launched at a crisply conducted event by Governor Surjit Singh Barnala with Andrew P Simkin, Consul General, US on September 5, 2009 at the Madras Gymkhana Club.

The coffee table book delves into the history of the Club since it’s inception in 1884 and tells the story of the Club’s formation and growth from the days of the British Raj and post-independence to the present. Interspersed with colourful anecdotes are eye-catching illustrations. The book chronicles the challenges and triumphs of like-minded and successful individuals that are a part of the Madras Gymkhana Club.

Speaking at the event, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala said "Books are a piece of priceless treasure. That too coffee table books are a class by themselves. They are referred to as illustrative or pictorial books. Coffee table books are usually visual oriented. They are for a light read and the analysis is often more basic. I congratulate Sandhya Mendonca and the Rain Tree Media for bringing a master piece “The Glory Years” on the Madras Gymkhana Club."



Governor Surjit Singh Barnala with Andrew P Simkin, Consul General, US launching ‘The Glory Years’.


US Consul General, Andrew P Simkin, autographing a copy of Madras Gymkhana Club’s ‘The Glory Years’ for chef extraordinaire Sanjay Matta.


Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Chennai, Axel Saurer and his wife at the launch of Madras Gymkhana Club’s ‘The Glory Years’.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Best of Chennai - A scintillating amalgam

On a snug Chennai evening, amidst mounting anticipation, the third book in the ‘Best of…’ series in India, ‘Best of Chennai’, was launched at a dazzling event on June 6, 2009, at the Taj Coromandel. With the Consul General of Australia for South India, Aminur Rahman and eminent author Sivasankari presiding as chief guests, the elegant book was revealed to a select section of Chennai that justly represented the city’s cultural and business elite. Mrs. Sandhya Mendonca, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Global Village Publications India, handed over one of the first copies of the book to The Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin.



The guests at the event candidly exemplified the character of the city. In attendance were a wide range of business heads like Nalli’s Nalli Kuppusami Chetty, Sri Krishna Sweets’ M Murali, Akshaya Homes’ Chitti Babu, Ramesh Reddy from Chaitanya Shantiniketan, Sangeeta Prasad, COO, Mahindra World City Developers Ltd, Hemu Ramaiah founder of landmark, and Tan Ngaronga, COO of Sathya Cinemas.

The city’s cultural scene was represented by dancer Chitra Visweswaran and Sivasankari, while designer Chaitanya Rao, socialites Jules Idi Amin and Minnie Menon added glamour to the party that followed the launch.

As wine glasses clinked and spirits soared well into the night, the launch drew to a close on a high note; a befitting beginning for a new journey that the book is all set to embark on.

‘Best of Chennai’ is now available at all top bookstores, ready to be employed as a definitive guide to the best that Chennai has to offer.



'Best of Chennai' Media Coverage


Times of India
Chennai Times
Deccan Chronicle
The Hindu