Donga Tallidandruluntaru Jagratta

10 03 2016

DongaTallidandruluntaruJagratta600This latest book by Ranganayakamma is about abusive, selfish, and unloving parents. As I read the first few pages, I was so shocked and disturbed by the way the protagonist is treated by her parents. It took me some time to recover and compose myself. Even though such parents do exist and may not be rare, it’s harder to accept the fact at the outset. Male chauvinism, the author’s primary forte, on the other hand, is not so shocking. I think it’s because the former is less prevalent than the latter. It is common knowledge that many fathers can be abusive, but abusive mothers are far uncommon. This novel portrays two such mothers and how they damaged their children.

This is the story of “Parvathi”, who has the misfortune to be born to cruel parents, who consistently abused her physically, and emotionally. The only saving grace is her grandmother, who is the epitome of love. She grew up under her influence to be a matured, loving, and righteous person. However, the same cannot be said about her sister. She became as self-centered, cunning, and hateful as her parents. Parvathi’s mentally unstable husband also suffered a lot by his mother. In fact, she was the one who caused his illness and led him to pitiful death. All for money.

In the preface, the author claimed that the ultimate takeaway from this book should be that children should beware of such abusive parents and try to protect themselves from being exploited. In many cases it so happens that people who were abused in turn abuse others. A daughter-in-law abused by her tyrant mother-in-law in turn becomes a tyrant when she becomes a mother-in-law. Likewise, people who were abused by their parents in turn abuse their children. It doesn’t make logical sense, but that’s how psychology works in many cases. In this book, the author calls for people to break that vicious cycle, and become better parents instead.

Like in many of her other novels, the author adds some communist stuff in this book towards the end for good measure. She is a great believer of the communist philosophy and I always wonder. For me capitalism makes sense. I agree that it’s not perfect and lends itself to misuse resulting in an unbalanced society. But I’m skeptical about communism being the solution. Maybe I should read the books suggested by her -Srama Dopidi and  Capital – and then decide which one I prefer – communism or capitalism.

One thing I want to point out is that the novel depicts almost all characters as white or black; they are either good or bad. The bad – abusive parents in this case, can be always counted on behaving like the most disgusting people. And the good – the protagonist and her friends – always act in the most virtuous manner. I understand such people do exist and also that it is important to depict the characters as such in order to drive the point home. However, I believe that most people fall in between the white-black spectrum. The goodness/badness may vary with time, circumstances, or situations. How should one deal with such people, who are bad in only a few aspects? I know that technically speaking, even a minuscule of bad makes someone bad. But all such people may not be beyond salvation. I hope the author writes about such people, which a large number of readers can relate to and thereby benefit from their stories.

Nijaniki Feminijaniki Madhya

25 04 2013

Nidadhavolu Malathi

This collection of 45 stories by Nidadhavolu Malathi was a random pick from the library. I never heard about either the book or the author before and hence started reading it with certain skepticism. Soon, I got absorbed into the varied themes the stories touched upon and realized that I like the collection. The author dealt with subtle emotions and portrayed the prevalent societal norms and values in the most non-dramatic manner. Some of them depicted NRI lives in USA. This is the first time I encountered that theme in Telugu literature and I found it refreshing.

Also, one important thing that struck me as I read through the stories was that the protagonists were not idealistic; they were normal with their own shortcomings and insecurities. They didn’t do great things and didn’t often solve their own problems. I felt that the author didn’t try to convey any message or tried to solve the characters’ issues, which makes these stories an artistic record of the author’s astute and fine observations of human behavior. Essentially this characteristic leaves a lot for the readers to think about and reflect on.

Barring a few stories, which didn’t appeal to me, the collection makes a decent read.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge

Manasuko Daaham

20 04 2013

Manasuko Daaham

This is a collection of stories by Kuppili Padma. I’ve read her before and so knew what to expect and I was not disappointed. Her stories always feature a strong, independent woman who lives and leads her life on her own terms not bowing down to the oppressing, discriminating, and hypocritical society. She  –  the protagonist – thinks clearly, is sure of herself, seeks love, and exhibits high individuality. And she embraces the consequences, displaying commendable courage. She holds respect for people with similar traits. Most of the stories in this collection deal about and question the ingrained beliefs and norms of the patriarchial society. The stories tug at your heart and it’s very difficult to pick up a favorite from the collection.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge


6 10 2011

Been to Dookudu last night for the third time. Loved it more each time I saw it. Finally thought that my blog deserves some space for it. While I admit that I don’t have anything different or new to say about the movie, I feel the urge to express a few of my thoughts on it at this juncture.

Dookudu is a wholesome entertainer with action, comedy, sentiment, and of course romance/love. Mahesh Babu fills the movie and he is never been more handsome or more charming. Despite his smile being a bit awkward – just shrinking the eyes and extending the mouth – he manages to look cute.  I felt like there has never been a Tollywood hero who has as killing looks as Mahesh. It’s not fair. 🙂 I’m no fan of him, but still I couldn’t take my eyes off him during the whole movie.

Samantha looked beautiful, lot better than in her earlier movies. But one gets tired of the peculiar  husky voice of the dubbing artist. Been good in the first movie – Em maaya Chesaave.It was refreshing at that time. But using it every time, gives the heroine an unnecessary attitude. I hated to listen to her voice even for Trisha in Teenmaar.

The music is awesome. Can’t get enough of it. Thaman just rocks! The songs are picturesque. Very appealing. Must mention the superb costumes, especially Mahesh’s.  The story is crafted well. Mahesh is absolutely bewitching as a bold and efficient IPS officer. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I look forward to watch it again and again. In fact my first thought as soon as I was into the movie (the first time) for only about half-an-hour had been – “I must own the DVD as soon as it comes out.” 😀


25 08 2011

Been to this historical fantasy movie last weekend. Liked it very much. It was so picturesque and beautiful. Of course, what else can we expect from the acclaimed cinematographer cum filmmaker Santosh Sivan?

This is the story of a little known hero from Kerala (Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar  – Prithvi Raj)whose mission is to kill Vasco De Gama, who did atrocious things to its citizens and had been a threat to its wealth and future. The way Santosh drew analogies between the history and the present was good. At the time of watching the movie, I thought it depicted the history accurately but a superficial search on Net revealed that much of it is fiction.

The narration in the first half, especially the first 45 minutes or so, had been so fast, as the director tried to acquaint the historic backdrop and significance of the story/events to come, that the audience were really kept on toes. But the pace dropped down alarmingly to match that of snail’s in the second half and it’s only the chemistry between Genelia and Prithvi , which attempted to hold the audience’s attention at that point – with marginal success.

The performances were good. Prithvi was awesome – elegant and macho. He is such a looker. I was practically drooling over him. Nitya, Prabhu Deva and Arya did well. Arakkal Ayesha is a very remarkable character and Genelia was adequate in it.

The backdrop chosen by Santosh Sivan was so novel and fresh that the movie acquired a unique appeal.

By the way, to those who are wondering what Urumi means – it’s a long sword made of flexible steel. It’s the hero’s weapon in the movie. Innovative, isn’t it?

Teen Maar

27 04 2011

Teen Maar is a decent attempt at remaking a Bollywood flick. But there surely are certain glitches. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, is that it failed to recreate the magic of the original Love Aaj Kal.

I personally feel that the kind of hip-hop, modern, metro lifestyle shown in the movie hasn’t really gotten itself infiltrated  into the Telugu society. While it was easy to watch Deepika and Saif do all sorts of things, I can’t say the same about their counterparts in Teen Maar. Both Michael (hero) and Meera (heroine) are so unconventional with respect to Tollywood that I feel there had been a certain mental block to accept them right away.

I am still baffled by the inconsistency between my own reactions to the two versions. The reason might be that by Bollywood standards, the lead characters aren’t atypical at all. Surely, I loved Love Aaj Kal and was awed by the characters. I enjoyed myself a lot. I don’t remember contemplating on the virtues or otherwise of the characters at that time, as I’m doing now in the case of Teen Maar. I don’t say that Teen Maar has been a complete shocker for me but I felt that it somehow seemed unreal, close to fantasy.

At some point in the movie, Michael wonders before Paresh Rawal/Sirji (any idea why Pavan choses to address him as “Sirji” instead of just “Sir” or something else? [Updated much later: “Sir Ji is a colloquial word used in North India. It is ascribed to a person who is enterprising, resourceful, seminal, approachable, respected and above all a Realist. ” Source: E-PAO. So it was just my ignorance. 😛 ]) on the relevancy of the marriage in current times. According to him, marriage is just a fad which appears to be out of fashion these days.

This monologue struck me as odd and absurd. Nothing can be farther from truth than his statement. Marriage is still very much relevant, at least in my society.  Attitudes like these were what gave the characters the fictitious touch and made everything seem far-fetching.

Coming to the other drawback which spoiled the show was the first half hour (I missed the credits and hence anything that came before them). The chemistry between Pavan and Trisha wasn’t established well and the scenes looked like something badly put together in a hurry. (I’m not sure, but I might be talking about Editing too). The whole episode until their breakup was so pale and bland. The sizzling chemistry and the comfort levels between Saif and Deepika couldn’t be replicated for Pavan and Trisha. What a let down!

However, the movie on the whole gets better in the second-half. I noticed that Trisha’s character has been changed minutely in that she seemed reluctant towards the break-up and the director projected as if the whole thing happened only because of Michael’s confusion. I don’t know whether I can trust my memory, but I remember that Deepika too was keen on the break-up and in fact it was she who blurts out the words. If I’m right in my observation, I can only attribute this discrepancy to the distinct Tollywood touch.

I really liked the performances of the lead characters. Trisha looked very pretty and stylish. She carried herself very well. Pavan Kalyan was too good. As Arjun Palvai, he was mind-blowing. I liked the whole flashback episode. I liked it better than that of Love Aaj Kal’s. Kirti looked well as Vasumathi though I must admit that she wasn’t any special. I didn’t like her close-up shots.

The background music was lovely, especially during the flashback. I liked only two songs – Aley Baley (which has been inspired by LAK’s Chor Baazari) and the love song that comes in the flashback (I forgot the lyrics).

While the whole episode of the street fight, rescuing the girl and throwing curse words at the boss by the hero seemed a bit absurd to me, I (as a devout follower of Telugu movies) would rather ignore the illogicality of it all and prefer to just grasp the underlying message the director is trying to convey out of it. Consequently, I’m not so appalled by the failure of the NYPD to appear at the crime scene in time (as some of my friends living in US reacted). Things like this are happening since time immemorial in Telugu cinema. Aren’t they?

The movie is undoubtedly a visual feast and what it’s missing is just the “oooh” factor, which LAK successfully managed to generate. The strongest plus point is Pavan Kalyan. It’s his show all through the movie. On a side note, I certainly think that Teen Maar is a lot better than Pavan’s previous hit Jalsa.

My reading in 2010

26 12 2010

The count this year is a modest 60. Not much change in the statistics. The same <20% still holds good for non-fiction. But, to my satisfaction, I’ve tried various subjects – from self-help (Nine Rooms of Happiness) to travelogues (The Lost Continent); memoirs (Angela’s Ashes) to pure technical stuff (Business Intelligence) and more.

I read more number of Telugu books this year compared to the previous one. I tried a few authors for the first time this year – Mohammad Khadeerbabu (Poleramma Banda Kathalu), Chilikamarti Lakshminarasimham (Ganapathi) and Bhanumathi Ramakrishna (Athagari Kathalu). I loved them all.

If I have to name a book from this year’s list, which I’ve liked the most, it would undoubtedly be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It touched me, surprised me, and above all shook me. I read only a few mysteries (by James Hadley Chase) but more than a few  thrillers, which include The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson and techno-thrillers (Timeline, The Terminal Man, Pirate Latitudes) by my favorite Michael Crichton. I felt that the Millennium trilogy was ok – new and interesting.

I also covered a few family dramas and those, which I guess cannot be called pure chick-lit – Amy and Isabelle by Olive Kitteridge fame Elizabeth Strout, Letter from Peking by Pearl S Buck, Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan and a few by Maile Meloy. Each and every one of them left me thinking more about the lively characters.

I tried horror (Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein) for the first time and I have to admit that the experience was far from being pleasant. I deliberately avoided reading it during the nights and had to gather my courage many a times in order to continue with the book. 😀

Another heart-felt book I was fortunate to read this year is The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. It was simply amazing. The author had left me awestruck. Looking forward to read more of him. In fact, I just started his My Name is Red.

Coming to the Short Stories, I had better luck in Telugu compared to English. While Alice Munro’s (Too Much Happiness) and Maile Meloy’s (Both Ways is the Only Way I want) were just fine, it was Tagore’s collection of stories, which cast a deep impression on me. They were just brilliant.

Other books, which I cherished this year include – The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, The Secret of Laughter by Susha Guppy (Magical Tales from Classical Persia), Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt (Non-fiction), and Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer.

I feel blessed and I hope to read better, if not more, books next year.