Cut-like Wound

17 05 2013

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Cut-like Wound by Anita Nair is a psychological crime thriller. Even though I absolutely loved her Ladies Coupe and Mistress, I was skeptical about this book as this genre is a deviation from her usual stuff. Having no prior experience with desi-crime thrillers also contributed to my apprehension. But I was to have a pleasant surprise. The book is an absolute page-turner. The story is well-crafted and narrated beautifully. She set her story in and around the world of transgenders, which presented a very refreshing and new backdrop. It actually adds to the appeal of the book.

Her portrayal of Gowda as an intelligent, middle-aged, not-so-successful in his career Inspector makes him not too intimidating and the readers won’t feel compelled to be in awe of him right away.

Color enters his drab life in the form of Urmila, his college-love.  Gowda gets carried away but not without initial resistance. If Anita comes up with more crime thrillers featuring Inspector Gowda, I’ll watch out for what happens to his affair with Urmila. 🙂 My guess is that the family man in Gowda will take over sooner or later and put an end to it. Because I believe that all affairs come to an end. An “affair” is temporary by definition. 😛

The way she unveils the psyche of the criminal and explores its dark corners is commendable. This book is going to be made into movie soon and I’m curious to see how it turns out. It is easy to maintain suspense about the identity of the criminal with the readers, because they have only the author’s description to go by. I wonder how the filmmakers will manage to keep the viewers in the dark.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge

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Mumbaistan

28 03 2013

Mediocre and amateurish. I can think of no other words to aptly describe this collection of three Mumbai-based crime thrillers by Piyush Jha. I purchased it almost on a whim from the bestseller’s list on Flipkart against my prudent self warning me otherwise. Even as I was hesitating before hitting the magic button, I remembered that the book was featured in The Hindu with a moderately positive review. That did the trick and I went ahead with the purchase. (Regret!)

mumbaistan-3-explosive-crime-thrillers-Just into a few pages of the first story, I was stuck by the crude way the story was being told,  I cringed at the dull and familiar scenes unfolding , and I distinctly sensed the ‘filmy” style. Indeed I wondered aloud – “outright filmy”. Only then I bothered to check out the author’s bio on the first page. And not surprisingly, I discovered him to be a film director. Ha! This piece of information only made me more weary than before as I went back to the story and embarked on the reluctant journey of treading through the pages. Leaving a book unfinished is something I would do rarely, and that too only after I exerted my utmost will to complete it somehow. My principle is simple -“finish what you start”. It has both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, in many occasions I ended up having a better opinion of the book than I started with. On the downside, I had to endure some very stupid books. But usually, I take great care in picking up my reads so, the latter percentage is rather small.

Coming back to Mumbaistan, as I mentioned earlier, it has 3 stories in it. The titles of the three stories shout lack of creativity and/or intelligence and added to my horror:

  1. Bomb Day
  2. Injectionwalla (What!!!)
  3. Coma Man

The first one is about terrorists, police informers infiltrating the enemy gang and busting their plan to blow up BSE. I gagged and almost puked at certain scenes. Above all, the ending. 🙂

Injectionwalla (God save me!) murders his victims by injecting a poisonous drug into them. Actually, he is a hero of sorts as his targets are members of an organ racket, who exploited ,and thereby caused the death of, many innocent people. Initially, he meant only to take the life of a renowned doctor as an act of personal vengeance for his father’s death. But his lover persuades the reluctant protagonist  to go on a killing spree and finish the other members of the racket as well. And can you guess the bait? – sex and blowjobs!! (Speechless! 🙄 😯 )

The last one seems slightly better only because by that time one gets somewhat used to the lousy , unimaginative and bland style. Sigh! It is about a man who gets out of coma after 19 years and ventures out in search of his beloved wife.  In the course of which, he recollects the details of the incident that caused his condition.

Warning! Spoiler below.

Even though the three stories deal with completely different types of crime, there is a common thread that connects all of them. It is this: In all the three stories, it is a woman who masterminds the crime involved. The typical twist/surprise element in the climax!

The contrived stories failed miserably to impress me. 😉

When I say “filmy”, I refer to commercial film stuff. I don’t mean to undermine films in any way (whatever kind they are of). I enjoy them a lot myself. However, I believe that commercial movie stories don’t make good literature. To comment on Piyush Jha – I don’t know about his movies, but I feel that this book is a disaster despite it being a bestseller.

Considering that I’m judging this work a bit too harshly, let’s look at it from a different point of view. May be the book never aimed to become a piece of literary art. May be it only aims to appease a certain section of readers, in case of which it is a success of sort. May be it all comes down to just a terrible mismatch – between the reader and the book. 🙂

Oh, last but not the least. I almost forgot to mention Ekta Kapoor’s review on the book cover. It says –  “A potboiling page-turner packed with three main ingredients: Entertainment, entertainment and entertainment.”

I was almost ROFL upon reading it. I’m sure she didn’t even glance through the book before coming up with it. So cliched! Entertainment????  😆 I don’t see how “crime thrillers” and “entertainment” go together. 😕 (unless they are movies, of course! 😉 )





Last note of 2012

31 12 2012

This new year eve does not fill me with the usual anticipation, hope, and excitement as always. It makes me much more retrospective and reflective on serious issues and life in general. It makes me feel vulnerable and helpless. The Delhi rape incident has affected me deeply as is the case with the rest of the country. I can’t gather up my courage to read through the victim’s narration of the ghastly incident. My heart goes out to the girl as I try to take a look at her picture circulated around on social networks. I can’t bear to see it for more than a few seconds. An enormous amount of sadness overtakes me. Tears well up in my eyes whenever I recall what the girl had to go through.

I’m glad about the nation’s (as in “public”, not as in “government”) fury and also about the fact that people have finally acknowledged the degree of dangerous and unsafe surroundings our women are living in. It’s commendable that people are mulling over what needs to be done to amend the scenario, to bring about a sustainable change. It’s truly laudable that in addition to demands for quick and severe punishment for the perpetrators, people seem to realize that the real problem lies in the cornerstones of our culture and society. Awareness and sensitization is the key. I’ve also observed that ever since the event and the resultant uproar, more and more of crimes against women are being reported in the media. Of course, there had never been a day without at least one news item about sexual violence on women and minors, but now they are being given more space and limelight. And people are taking note without brushing them off as stray incidents. With grim, shocked, and terrified faces.

All these and more thoughts have been whirling around my mind for days and a particular thought stuck me: What if I had a daughter! I would be more than paranoid. I would be terrified for her safety. I realized with a rude jolt that more than the cultural factors which  make many prefer boys to girls, this utterly unsafe world for girls/women would be the lone reason for my uneasiness (if any) to have a girl child. Of course, I appreciate the fact that being the mother of a son, I have greater responsibility on me – to shape him into a person who will treat a woman as a “person”: with respect and dignity.





Rape culture

27 12 2012

Almost everyone in the country is perhaps brainstorming now about what should be done to deter rape and violence on women and help create a safer country for them. In the process, they are forced to reflect on the society as a whole. Even as people are demanding stricter laws and more policing to curb the crimes, many recognized the problem as having deeper roots concerning the prevailing norms and attitudes of the society. Debates are going on about where does the key lie. They say it’s an outcome of patriarchy. The ingrained  preference for boys to girls is the sure way to instill the dominance of men over women in the minds of the people. One obvious suggestion, which works in long-term, is that parents should bring up their children more responsibly. I’m sure those who don’t entertain such base opinions owe it to their superior upbringing.  But how is it possible on a large scale when one is surrounded by  media/literature that voluntarily or involuntarily brandishes chauvinistic content?  It probably is like chicken and egg question. Should change in society lead to change in media or should media try to change and lead society?

Another logical deduction is that people should be educated. Indian Homemaker has put it in the most unambiguous, and straight-forward manner here (this is a must-read). The need itself proves the point that we , as a society, are in a pathetic state. Does anyone need to be educated that murder is a crime? Why isn’t there a commandment that rape is a sin? Wikiislam says:

There is no equivalent term for ‘rape’ in the Qur’an. Likewise, there is not a single verse in the Qur’an which even remotely discourages forced sex. In contrast, there are several verses in this book which give the green light to rape and other sexual crimes against women.

And there is no evidence that Hinduism forbids rape. In fact, it makes allowances for it.

The Brhadārankyaka Upanishad, for instance, condones rape:

Surely, a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore, one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her. If she still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying: “I take away the splendor from you with my virility and splendor” (6.4.9,21).

Source: Apologetics Press

Disgusting, I know. But that’s how it is. All the scriptures were written by men and so may be one can’t expect anything different. 😐 It’s not that religion alone can curb the evil but it sure has the potential. But of course, like everything else, even it is biased. Alas!

It’s unfortunate and appalling that at least a sizeable portion of the population opines that “women” ask for it by getting dressed and/or behaving in a certain way. The prevailing notion is that “it’s ok to rape”. It’s not treated as severe a crime as it actually is, at least by the perpetrators.  The past incidents/cases mentioned on Indian Homemaker’s blog only make one to gape in horror. Acquitting a rapist just because there were no injuries on his penis, while the girl is bruised all over her body?? Hats off to the judge and hats off to our law.

The way the blame is usually put on the victim (people, including those in authority, scrutinize for any indication of violation of “code of conduct” that everyone decides for a woman in India), and more and more guidelines are framed upon the occurrence of each shocking incident for how a woman should conduct herself,  makes it appear as if women are not dealing with normal human beings but with a monster at large, with whom of course one cannot reason and one cannot expect for it to behave in any humane way. But the only problem is that this monster has innumerable manifestations, which makes its appearance at countless places at the same time.

I feel that one reason why the Delhi case has gained so much uproar is the associated brutality involved. And the fact that the girl didn’t seem to invite it. (I’m so glad none is mulling over what the girl could possibly have done to “drive” the men to the ghastly act.) There are countless such incidents happening everywhere and I believe they all need as much outrage. No matter whether the details are gory or not, rape is an abominable crime.

I don’t have any solutions to offer as of now but I agree with the opinion that the issue needs no quick fix but an elaborate long-term approach addressing the roots of our culture and society.





God, please save the world

20 12 2012

May be it’s a wrong idea to read newspapers. At least, first thing in the morning. It is depressing to an unfathomable level to read about the various heinous crimes on women. I am shocked, terrified and deeply disturbed by reading about the Delhi rape case. I’m not able to envisage how anyone can perform such gruesome acts. What makes them behave in such a violent, perverse manner? She is a human being for god’s sake and not a machine that you could play and prod with as you like. What kind of pleasure and satisfaction do such men derive, I’m unable to comprehend.  It’s obvious that desire for sex alone doesn’t drive rape. How do such incidents be different from the mass shootings that happen in USA? There is something seriously wrong with the whole system and culture. Ratna Kapur raised a very valid point when she said that men are not able to accept the progress of women, which is being manifested as deep-rooted frustration and anger in them against women. She suggests that violence against women is a much bigger issue and needs more than stricter laws. It’s more about educating people.

Of course, laws are important and in fact implementation is even more important. Given the ingrained corruption and  ineffective judicial system, it’s no wonder that criminals don’t fear punishment as much as required. I’m digressing here a little bit to say a few more words on this issue:  I can see no hope for a country which takes 2 years to hang a hard-core terrorist who is responsible for killing  so many people. I didn’t quite follow the intricacies of Kasab’s case but I personally believe that India has become a laughing stock by its characteristic relaxed behavior.  I feel that “I don’t mess with anyone, but if anyone messes with me, they will pay badly” should be the right attitude. It’s all very lofty when one says – “everyone should have equal rights” and “no matter how many criminals escape, none of the innocents should get convicted”, but I think there are certain cases where the country and law should take a firm stand and give out prompt judgments. And make a clear statement to one and all.  Justice delayed is justice denied.

Even as I am trying hard to come out of the shock and horror of the Delhi rape case, I’m coming across more and more reports of similar incidents in the inner pages of the newspapers  – tribal girl students sexually molested by the principal and the teacher, a woman gang-raped and set afire (?? What the ****), a five-year old raped (?? )and in critical condition…  I’m sure those men are not “human beings” and I believe that they are not fit to live. It’s hard not to be affected by such incidents.

I don’t want to read newspapers. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Why so much perversion and violence? Lot of literature and media out there, in the name of entertainment and awareness, is dishing out explicit and perverse content and ideas. To get attention. Sure they are getting what they want. But at what cost to society? I don’t mean that everyone who reads or watches such content absorbs them but don’t you agree that it’s causing a lot of strain on the society as a whole? Different people get affected in different ways but there sure is an effect. Real crime shows on TV, extreme violence in movies, explicit and perverse content in literature (I myself am appalled by the gross details in Millennium trilogy [I think the first part] and heard from friends that The Fifty Shades series has unprecedented explicit content.) and of course porn. All these are detrimental to the society. I believe that man’s (man as in human) growing restlessness is making him vulnerable to such exposure. Increasing materialism and individualism perhaps contribute to the rampant savageness.

God, please save the world from itself. If you can’t, then ruin it.  Am no longer questioning the doomsday.