Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Guide - R K Narayan (Book)

The Guide - R K Narayan.

Unfortunately I had't read none of R K Narayan books for some unknown reason (call it availability as they are still not available in stores - not talking about online stores). Which better book to start but with "The Guide", on which a timeless cult classic movie was made which I believe was a super success. I have already seen it multiple times and the visuals are pretty much intact in my brain with those lavish locations where Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) dances to the tunes of the official "Guide" Raju, terrific Dev Anand at his best and Rehman as Marco (in my imagination), Rosie's Husband whose only interest or reason to live is Archaeology. Because I too loved the book I thought to pick up the book which turns out to be way better narrated than the Movie for sure and I realized they did change the movie ending (Of-course for better) in this case too. The best part of reading this book was the faces behind the characters, it was fortunately so good, the story, the characterization, location (Malgudi), locales, people and their own stories, the book was totaly fun to an extent and then it all derails and derails big time. Flow is terrific as it keeps moving from first person account to third person flawlessly that after a certain time I actually stopped noticing.

The very first unfortunate part of reading a classic in todays time is the "Foreword" and "Introduction", trust me on this, YOU DON'T WANT TO READ THEM. Now onward, I am never going to read them ever before reading the book, rather I would love to read them after I am done with the book. In this case too, they have given out everything about the story, its analysis, critical is still fine or explaining the way R K Narayan handled his stories too is alright to an extent but it made me biased towards so many things before even I started the book, that was such a bad start. I so much wished I hadn't read the Introduction, don't even care now whoever wrote it in this particular edition.

R K Narayan's story is simply brilliant, I mean who can forget "Swami" and "Malgudi Days" at least from our part of the world (India) we loved them so much. The simplicity and the real life characters, situations and what not. Totally had me in splits and a permanent smile plastered on face almost throughout the book. Although its a very short book hardly 200 pages but once the story is set, the mood is made unfortunately it just drags mid ways onward and simply refuses to reach the abrupt ending. Totally unbelievable. Like a friend of mine commented "Murakami looks like a cake walk" as RK Narayan has left so much to be interpreted by the reader in the book that it totally made me not like it all (I hate to call hated it). All the love and affection I had for Raju the guide who falls in love with someone's else's wife just because he wasn't giving her her due (as per him) and later on becomes exactly like her own husband in the first place. It all becomes predictable at some point of time to no end. Didn't expect this from R K Narayan. But then the Introduction and Foreword got me thinking, those guys were actually right about him in calling him merciless. Although this was my first book from him, so I will be very keen on starting my journey with the very start and get the earlier books to know how right these guys actually are about the man.

On his prose, writing, story, characters, locations and almost every other thing the stuff is top notch. But it fails to connect with the reader (or may its me only) and refuses to give me a closure which unfortunately movies gives in a very convincing way. If you have read this and liked it, do tell me how you liked it and if you haven't read it, I don't know what to say :) go ahead take a peek, who knows it may work for you. But if you do read, do come back and tell me your interpretation of the ending. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Complete Adventures of FeluDa (Part 2) - Satyajit Ray (Book)

The Complete Adventures of FeluDa (Part 2) - Satyajit Ray.

I have read a lot of books from a lot of writers from all over the world but no one comes any closer to the way Satyajit Ray writes. Yes, call me a biased Indian, I am one but my love for the man and his art just keeps growing by the day and by every book that I come across by him and even "on him" too. There are books, there are writers and then there is "The Legend called Ray". Hats off to him and the way he wrote. Every-time I come across a book by him I get totally excited but by the time it comes to an end it starts making me sad to have finished the fantastic book and will have to wait till the next one come in my kitty. But the journey is simply amazing, never fails to keep a permanent smile plastered on my face and at times his anecdotes, jokes and comments on his own team by him make me laugh out loud totally. He is almost as good as PG Wodehouse, If I may say that in making me laugh while reading a book, no other author other than these two have that magic on me so far. And this one was special as it actually made my dream come true of seeing FeluDa go to Holmes land and pay a tribute. Just imagine how amazing it is when you see one of your fictional character visit his own fictional character's birth place and pay a tribute. The scene as written by Ray in the story "FeluDa in London" brought tears of joy to my eyes and made me totally breathless as he steps At 220 Baker Street and says "Guru, you showed us the way. If I am an Investigator today, it is only because of you. Now I can say coming to London was truly worthwhile". Very few writers, books and stories have that impact on a reader what this one did to me.

This is the second book of the FeluDa series which he started writing in 1965 and wrote a story each till 1992 (34 in total). Later all these stories got printed in form of two books called "The Complete Adventures of Feluda" Part 1 and 2. He was a huge fan of Sir Doyle and had read all Sherlock Holmes stories before leaving school :). The best part about the success of his stories and his characters was that they were all normal human beings like you and me and no superman. But look at the impact it had on his fans especially children for whom he initially wrote and later realized that even parents too weren't untouched with the stories. I totally loved the way almost all the stories are told in a simple way, no way they made me feel that it was actually Ray who has written them and no Topshe his teenage cousin (to start) was writing them. FeluDa the detective is such a nice warm character that one just couldn't help but fall in love with him. Loved his lopsided smile, the way he will get up in the morning before everyone and finished off with his yoga, shave and dress up, almost in all the stories is simply unbelievable. His acute power of observation and a razor sharp brain on top of that the plethora of knowledge that he had on all the subjects under the sun from history to hypnotism is simply outstanding. Imagine he was not only good in sports, he could actually write with both hands, he could even write in Greek too as its mentioned all over the stories about his "Blue Diaries" that he kept his secrets written so no one could read them.

What I love almost equally well the way I loved FeluDa was his side kicks. Topshe (his Watson) and Jatayu (Lalmohan Ganguli) the ever so comical cheap thrillers writer, always at his service with his green Ambassador. Hilarious I tell you. Just thinking of his name makes me grin from ear to ear, what a man, what a character, he was actually as good as Jeeves (PGW Character) at the service of his master FeluDa :), if you ask me. This part gives him some much deserved footage where FeluDa actually let him fill in his shoes a couple of times to a hilarious outcome. But Ray's love and affection to his other characters was simply superb. Not only these two there is another third character, the Google of then era for FeluDa, Uncle Sidhu, who knows anything and everything about everything but to know more about his character you've got to read the book. The knowledge that Uncle Sidhu possessed is simply out of this world, just one word and he will open up the details without batting an eyelid. Terrific it is. I just fail to understand one thing though that I had so much fun reading the "Translation", I just cant imagine how much fun the original will be only if I knew "Bangla" to really enjoy it. Still I fell I haven't missed much (hope so) and have no idea as what to look forward to now since I am done with this.

One question I have especially from the people from that part of India who have read the FeluDa stories. Is this character "Jatayu" Lalmohan Ganguli actually based on some real life Author? If yes, I would seriously loved to read one of his translated works too. Do let me know if you know anything about that. I will be on the lookout for Ray's other works now, any recommendations will be very highly appreciated. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

On Writing - Stephen King (Book)

On Writing - Stephen King.

Can I call him one of my all time favorite writer even if I have read only two of his books? Now make it three including this one. Stephen King is no doubt a terrific terrific writer (It needs two terrifics for me to make it clear) and I am ashamed to say that I have so far gathered that many guts only to be able to read two of his acclaimed works so far (The Green Mile and The Shining). Former is just an amazing story (Kill yourself if you haven't read it) and the latter is one heck of a book which gave a week of sleepless nights, had to call security to save me from the happenings as things started misbehaving with me like elevators, cordless phones, lights, mirrors and what not. Also, I refused to go to basement parking and had to take a cab to office during that week. Now, that is what Mr. King is capable of doing and when he writes a book "On Writing", you better read it as it actually not only gives you some serious tips as what to do and what not to do if you plan to become a writer but also gives you damn good insights on what went around when he was writing some of your own favorite books and stories from him. Guy has a superb sense of humor and the way he has opened up in the course of this book is totally unbelievable. I thought it will be too business like and preachy but it isn't one bit like that. Rather it actually is his own little biography of sorts with so much personal stuff thrown in that I couldn't believe how he has opened up with his fans. The most important point that he makes very clear to become a good writer is to be first a voracious reader :) So you see we are going in the right direction as per Mr. King.

I read this as I had to prepare myself to write a short story for my daughter. She's behind me for quite a while now to tell her a big about my own childhood in the form of a story. Hence I read this one to prepare myself but unfortunately the kick that his book and words have given me, I feel like I can actually write a book of sorts too :D. Not exaggerating, if you have read this, I am sure you will agree the magic his words have on the audience is simply superb. Being an Author is no easy thing for sure but he makes it look so simple as if its a walk in the park. Not only that but his words and praises are so encouraging even the pointers that he has given, made me wonder why I couldn't think like that earlier (of-course he is the master of the craft). On top of that how he started his own journey, his struggle, no success to little success and finally the making of the "Stephen King" is totally a terrific story. Also, I was expecting he will definitely talk about other writers (his counterparts) as well as Classics too and the way he talks, comments, shoots them as well praises them is simply awesome. I loved the way he is in Awe with John Grisham, that was super good. Also, another thing that I totally loved about him was the way he admires JK Rowling and Harry Potter series that was totally a "Yayy Yayy" moment for me as I didn't expect it at all but you've got to read his reference list that is precious.

Stephen King's personal touch makes this book a very good read. Although hardly 200 pages but is totally enlightening on the subject. I would love to know the thoughts of Author's what they feel about the book if they have read it. And for those who are dreaming to become writers some day, this one is a must must read as its an institute of sorts teaching you how to become a good writer. Another thing I am certainly going to try after reading this book is my own hand on a short story and King himself has mentioned in the book that "If you end up writing a story or a book yourself, do send it to me (and his web address)". Now that is something which is pretty motivating isn't it? Do tell me if you have read this, how you like it and if you haven't, you know what to do :). Go ahead grab it as it tells you so much about the man he is and consider the rest as bonus of sorts.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Keep Calm and Mommy On - Dr. Tanu Shree Singh (Book)

Keep Calm and Mommy On - Dr. Tanu Shree Singh.
I still remember 12 years back one December morning when my wife gave me the breaking news "I think I am pregnant", my first reaction was "WHAT??", "Why, I mean how? Are you sure? We don't even have a car yet?". "You think we are ready for a baby?". Seriously, no jokes. But as the news sank in, I started my research, got loads of book on what to do and what not to, during those days, which was the easy part. As there were so many books and information available that by the time she delivered my darling daughter, I was actually ready to stand near the delivering doctor as if I could assist her too :D. Imagine what good books can do to you. But the real struggle started once the baby grew up to 3+ years. Till the time they don't walk, run, talk and go to school, life is simply great but the havoc starts when they go out and mingle with outside world then the trouble starts and starts a new education for us parents as what and how to do the right thing. It got me thinking what actually is the right thing to do? Unfortunately there were no books available at that time on the subject (hardly any) but now after reading this one I can very well vouch that this is the perfect book helping parents while their kids reach and cross that challenging teenage and enter into the adults world. As I read this one through, kept thinking why something like this wasn't available then :) it would have made our life so easy.
Keep Calm and Mommy On (you can replace the mommy with the daddy very well), was a terrific joyride. Fortunately may be the Author's background or thinking or the way she perceives things was a terrific match with my own thinking or my background and the way my parents has brought me up (they still take my class) - it did feel "been there done that" thing. As my Mom always (read ALWAYS) had the same attitude as Tanu Shree has in her narrative and the way she handles the issues before they blow out of proportions. In today's challenging and competitive environment where our children are taking more brunt than us parents, this is an eye opener of sorts especially for those parents who are still a part of the rate race and the one's who are living in the future and messing with their kids present which can be so beautiful. I am glad to have come across this and it gives me a superb confident feeling that I am doing a lot of things perfectly right as she guides. When it comes to choosing Arts over Science, or No TV and Gadget (limited may be), understanding your children's requirements, Needs VS Wants, the most important aspect of parenting - Communication, when to say "No" and that too with total confidence and frankly. Superbly analysed and served in the most interesting (Hilarious) way for its readers. This is one of those very few "Self Help" books which indeed put a big wide smile on my face throughout its course and every-time I finished one topic or chapter, I will close the book, think of the same episode in our own household and have a grin on my face from ear to ear to know that we are not alone, almost all of us parents are travelling in the same boats (directions may be different).
When I bought this book and while it wasn't delivered I was thinking. Can parenting really be taught by a book? And I realized three decades back I had come across a plethora of books on English Speaking, Boxing, Judo, Karate and what not. Although none of them helped me become any better. But this is one book that I would love to share with all my friends who have young kids, heading for that teenage we all dread (parents) and take the journey as Dr. is advising with the right dose of humor. It may not make you any smarter but will surely give you some real good pointers and responses when you are going to get asked those questions which you have no responses to so far. Also, it has loads and loads of book references as expected :). So if you want to know what more to read, even that is pretty much very well covered and addressed in here. On top of that its such a breeze, light read and short, that it gets over in no time. Makes me wonder can there be a sequel ;) who knows, she may come out with some like "Keep Calm Here Come's The Daddy". If you have read this, do share your thoughts but if you haven't, you've got to read it.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Bladerunner 2049.

Bladerunner 2049.
I seriously fail to understand what direction the world is moving. What I expected and imagined to what this movie turns out to be are so poles apart, Wow! totally unbelievable, the crap of the first order. That too in 3D. Guess the makers have started making movies with only one purpose in mind, confuse the audience properly and impress Mr. Christopher Nolan one way or other. Period.
Year is 2049 so of-course world has ended, the blackout that happens in 2020 is nothing but a Nuclear blast ending everything for a week and then again we start evolving. If not humanly, genetically enhanced life, Bingo that was the last thing which no one tried yet so there you go, this guy did that too. Practically no explanation given as the audience which is keen will go on Google and read about it and satisfy themselves before talking to anyone else about the movie who may see it or not, again just to impress that they actually got what the maker wanted to tell. My Foot! May be I am too old school whose idea of excitement watching a movie is a sweating spitting McKenna on a horseback looking for gold in an African desert. And the current generation of Directors want to impress me and my likes my pulling them inside a Computer System with every second movie. Call it Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and tons of CGI with an earth shattering background score. Use an old superb movies name to pull the crowd in, throw back Harrison Ford in a sort of a little more then a guest appearance. And Voila! you have made a crappy movie lasting 2 hours 45 minutes with almost nothing going on, wait a minute, its just a start, they are now going to come out with a sequel and five more parts following that to satisfy the more imaginative crowd. With population growing at a breakneck pace, everything has millions of takers.
If you have seen this, you have my sympathy(s) and if you have not, skip it as its total crap. Still if you plan to see and actually end up seeing it. Do let me know if it makes any sense to you. Oh and for people watching it in India, full sympathies as censor board has done total justice to whatever little sensuality the movie had, if you know what I mean.