Second Thoughts

4 05 2014


Second Thoughts by Shobhaa De is about a young woman Maya of Kolkata who has just married Ranjan and moved to Mumbai, the city which alluded her. It is about Maya and her insipid marriage.

I wonder about Maya. How she kept her sanity for long with her insensitive and reserved husband. I wonder how she even tolerated him in the first place. Grr… What an MCP! She is treated as little more than a piece of furniture, and this without any, not even a slight inkling of, sense of being wrong or at least inadequate. She can’t make calls without his knowledge and permission, she can’t even use the air conditioner in his absence. God!

May be having fewer expectations and general acceptance of the terms helped. But of course, not so much. Because despite being the typical conservative girl, she found him and the marriage suffocating. She is trapped and vulnerable.

As I think about it, Maya’s life is not an uncommon one. It’s actually the contrary, I guess. None of the events or experiences are extraordinary. Shobhaa De took such a simple and common story and turned it into something beyond entertainment. It provides not just the voyeuristic pleasure of peeking into someone else’s life but also puts forth the injustice of such a life as a matter of fact.

I can say that Maya’s life definitely makes many of us to feel better about our own lives (at least at the outset).

The attacks of 26/11

8 04 2013


Ram Gopal Varma’s brilliant portrayal of real incidents surrounding Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11/2008 leaves everyone deeply disturbed. Even though no amount of imagination, empathy, or even a true depiction of terror/horror in the form of art/media can truly emulate the experience of it, Varma’s film provides the closest glimpse of the tragedy.

It is very difficult not to gasp at the sheer horror of the incident; the ruthlessness, the hatred, and  the audacity of the perpetrators. It is impossible not to shed tears at the lost lives of many innocent people, including little children. How would one react to being in the midst of  a massacre’s aftermath – with dead bodies spewed all around? May be by letting out a loud heart-wrenching wail – just like that policeman at CS Terminal.

Salute to the brave policemen who ventured forward and got killed for that. Salute to people amidst the tragedy who tried to save others despite the risk. Salute to that receptionist of Taj who reached for a wailing child and got instantly killed for her efforts. Salute to that doctor in CAMA hospital who saved so many people, who could respond to the killing of an elderly patient despite the guns aimed at him.

Above all, salute to the Joint Commissioner of Police, who handled the situation well. He expressed exactly my thoughts when he said: “What kind of hatred is this? Can you understand it?” The kind of pleasure the terrorists take in killing people is just unbelievable. Kasab’s explanation on why they do it (I think I need not reiterate here, it’s anybody’s guess) are outright stupid, if not for the countless lives they took and the terror they created all over the world.  I believe that the commissioner’s reply to Kasab in the mortuary reflect the feelings of every true Indian.

People do inconceivable things when they are drunk, are under certain influence which numbs their senses, emotions and conscience. And these people are drunk on distorted religion. Misguided fanaticism is what makes them do extreme things. These particular terrorists are dogs, just as the Joint Commissioner remarked. I say, mad dogs set loose with weapons.

I seriously fail to understand when and where has it all started. What do their leaders really want to accomplish? Do they want to kill everybody who they “think” oppose their religion? Do they want to make a graveyard of this world?   I fail to make sense of their ultimate goal. Does the top person, really believes that what he/she is doing is sacred/justified? Isn’t it madness? Is terrorism the consequence of one man’s madness?

I really hope that the real Kasab has gone through the same horror at the anticipation and face of death as shown in the movie; that he has not gone to the gallows with pride feeling himself as a martyr.

Nana Patekar was brilliant and so were each of the other actors. Once again, Varma – great movie.


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! 😉 )

My Friend Sancho

27 05 2011

I picked up this book by Amit Varma impressed by his immensely popular blog India Uncut. It’s an amazing blog which features his take on various things and happenings around us. His wisecracks and satires hit the bull’s eye and are often thought-provoking.

I was curious to discover how his fiction work would turn out. I didn’t have high expectations of this novel to begin with and so it didn’t disappoint me. But it could have been better. My Friend Sancho is a simple, straightforward story of a young journalist and the moral dilemma he faces as his professional and personal lives intersect.

The protagonist “Abir Ganguly” is possibly a lot like the author. But I have no way to be sure. I can only guess. 🙂 The only problem with him (Abir) is that he stretches his sense of humor a bit too much, perhaps to  mask his nervousness  or whatever. But he is honest enough even to admit that to the reader. So much goes on inside his head and a significant portion of it includes sexual fantasies/remarks , cursing and the like. While it was amusing in the beginning and offered insight into the psyche of that guy, the intended humor felt like a distraction and bore not long after. A lot of what goes on inside his mind is irrelevant to the reader/story that after a while one gets tired of his inner voice.

I couldn’t help a smile when I noticed that the author referred to his own blog in the novel 3 to 4 times. This got me wondering about “vanity”. Is it a virtue or a vice? Or rather how much of it is considered a virtue and how much of it vice? Is it something that everyone has, at least to some degree, but which is disapproved when exhibited by others? I really wonder!

Everything considered, the novel isn’t bad. The subtle love story intermingled with the main theme makes it endearing. It makes for a humorous, light read.

By the way, have you wondered about the title? Who is this Sancho? It’s the nickname of the lady lead. Before this revelation urges you to consider this as an out-and-out love story, let me clarify. It’s not. It definitely has more to offer, but not on a too serious level.