Simply Put Senti-Flick Karan Johar

Book Title: An Unsuitable Boy

Author: Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

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Movies are great ways to live a dream and believe a lie that stands out like a sore thumb in your logical mind’s eye. When Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai came out I was just out of college going through an identity crisis. But the movie’s song track was the regular loop song that I would listen while working on my writing. Those were the tape recorder days. About a fortnight later, singers sound as if they were crying in my ears because of over listening to the songs. The electronic tape had been abused once too often.

My mother was visiting my brother and sister in the US and I was in charge of the house. Every three days in a week, I would stomp off to my Veena classes at my teacher’s flat. I would be so in the songs from this movie that it was such a fascinating package of lies that I fell for hook, line, and sinkers.

The Karan Johar that I recognized as he was from Koffee with Karan series. I never thought Karan as an effeminate person, but saw him as someone who spoke his mind. Of course, he was hip and fashionable for the moment. But I did feel his K3G was passé. Of course, I understand that bringing together the family that is in disagreement is simple stuff blown beyond.

But heck, I love all the songs from all of Karan’s films. I tell you; just try selling a non-musical to an Indian audience, the seller would be in deep shit. Indian audience wants to be wined, dined, and danced around trees to boot. Honestly how many album sellers make it with just audio?!! Mix the audio with a visual you get the magic in the roundabouts.

Karan was never my favorite, but then there is no favorite in the film industry. I just go to movies for the stories, if I laugh, cry, sigh or just be emotional just a bonus. But of late, I have stopped watching movies in multiplexes. I just do the waiting game, and then, low behold the movie gets screened in one of the movie channels of the satellite television.

Karan sold off India in the crème of crème lifestyles and you don’t go to his movies thinking that you have discovered the deep-seated truth. Maybe you would see the illusion of truth, where you are in mid-heaven for three hours. In that duration, you forget your surroundings and at the end of which you land with a thud on your cushioned multiplex seat. Welcome back to reality!

Karan’s autobiography is also about feeling good, nah! He is an old hand at making you feel comfortable, and then, drop the bombshell of his specific spice of understanding.

Of course, he made the socializing sound like as if it is just drinking tea in the afternoon. Excuse me, let me tell you I am a social freakout case, I have a hard time talking in a team meeting for just four people. I am not risking my butt for anything social.

There was something exceptional when you listen to Karan talk his mind and that magic came through in this book. I read the book non-stop until 174 pages in a day. It was only when the forced break of my life came in that I had a hard time finishing the balance of the book.

Karan was everywhere in the film industry. From picking costumes to lines helping roles to manhandle the camera with sensitivity, I must say I was impressed. He threw titles of movies that smacked of wealth and panache. I wondered if Satyajit Ray is turning in his grave.

Yeah, I’m that brand of viewer who is looking for purpose and deeper meaning to life and other factors. But even they would like to be entertained and have fun. That way Karan’s movies are fun to watch and sometimes overly sentimental. Then get ready to check out that heart-soul-mind mingle in his book too.

A lone cameraman trying to see this world with his color tint glasses in search of the truth and realism interested viewers must once have a watch of those movies that were completely just fam-dram-cram. I was totally taken in by his insecurities and strengthen which is as unique as he himself is. He is not afraid to voice it. Interestingly his entire voyage with the movie industry is exceptional and funky like him.

I would recommend a onetime read which would be fascinating as a Geminian character alone can bring to light. But surely I found a match with my reading as a true undecided Libran. Now I have comfortably boxed him into a stereotype that will revise as I go along. Worth it for once, at least!

Rishi Kapoor Goes Candid

Book Title: Khullam Khulla | Rishi Kapoor Uncensored

Author: Rishi Kapoor with Meena Iyer

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

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Rishi Kapoor has been my childhood hero whose acting used to have a light and frivolous carefree feel to it. There were innumerable of his movie songs that I remember swinging to with no sense of movement. But heck who cares how you danced as long as you were happy with the song.

So this year’s The Hindu Lit for Life 2017 book festival was a welcome invitation to pick some books. So, as usual, I hit the bookstall like I was the bull in the Jallikattu with the right touch of patience. I didn’t wish to be the charging bull in a China shop.

Anyway, I was skimming the shelf for a book to pick. Of late my interest in Creative Non-Fiction has become an obsession. So naturally, Autobiographies comes under Non-Fiction category, my eyes zeroed in on the two prominent celebrities and the book was being charged for on my card.

I was waiting for a workshop to begin, so I just found a nice cozy corner that I could possibly find in the crowded festival venue. Soon everything public just vanished as Rishi’s words captured my imagination.

Words have a way with my mind and I must say that there has been a great effort on the writing team to make it simple and easy to understand. I felt so relaxed as I was reading up the incidence and experience of the actor spoken from the angle of someone finding his way around his profession.

Rishiji didn’t get everything easily though he did have someone to launch which meant that he had to come with the baggage of expectation. With his father being a recognized actor, it is far more intense because the old timer attitude for actor’s sons and daughters make it filmistan as an immediate superstar is rather hard on the child.

Even though Rishiji doesn’t talk a lot about his time trying to manage all those thoughts that became a part of his character set in the industry. He is very careful with his angle towards his emotion. There is a marked restraint of a seasoned actor and yet he does speak of his relationship with such candor that the reader will like him for his plain speaking.

But there was some aspect of his industry based relation that seems to be rather affected. My inference on this point has been based on the way the book flowed from the point of his entry in cinema with the scene of walking in the rain in a raincoat for a song sequence in Raj Kapoor’s movie.

There is much of little of everything that Rishiji speaks about in his work that gives the reader an insight into the actor’s mind. Given that the Kapoor family is known as actor-producers, I am wondering if Rishi Kapoor was a reluctant actor but eventually got interested in his career while being subjected to pampering and heightened expectation.

Though his friends are almost all from the film industry and I didn’t get to know anyone with whom he had created a bond. That reserved part of Rishiji is clearly felt throughout the book.

Seriously, there is no information about having an incident in the set expectations for his multiple angles shot and repeating the scene multiple numbers of time until it is perfect. His gripe about not being able to pull off n-number retakes from different angles seemed so out of sort for his sensitivity.

Eventually, as we encounter the grown-up Rishji it was very interesting. The fan following that one finds in past and in the present and maybe even in the future is that actor is 360 degrees from social media boom day. I fear for the current day actors because they can’t be themselves away from the maddening crowd.

That way Rishiji era hero is given an innumerable view of the past, present, and glimpse of the future trend of an actor. His book brought out that beautifully. Because, after all, Romeo of Shakespeare, is still the young man with his heart beating in synch with the romance in the air.

Rishiji has evolved in his movies and his book might seem like a list of movies that he had done and nothing much. But without his knowledge, the color that he had given his work reflects in the angle of narration.

An enjoyable read if you are a fan of Rishiji if you are more for the old-fashioned restrained hero who couldn’t be wrong. But Rishiji as a person, I would love to have a cuppa with him and talk about his work. If you want that feel, then I suggest that you grab this book and a cup of steaming tea and rock that conversation.

Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan

Book Title: Ponniyin Selvan

Author: Kalki Krishnamurthy

Translator: C V Karthik Narayanan

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

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A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Kalki was the pen name of Ramaswamy Aiyer Krishnamurthy. He ran a Tamizhu magazine in the same name. The Ponniyin Selvan was part of the series which ran in Kalki magazine. It was so popular with the readers that the subscription for the magazine skyrocketed during the time when the series was published between the years 1951 to 1954.

Back then, the popular monthly activity among the reading public was to be engulfed in the vivid imaginative words that brought the past to life in the households of Tamizhu readers. Each plot progress and cliffhanger left the readers craving for more of the story.

Kalki was a prolific writer who wrote strong and passionate pieces in Tamizhu during the late freedom struggle days and the early days of post Independence years. His short stories are much more poignant and revolutionary.

The Story in a Nutshell:

This is the story of the royal Chozha family. The story has a central connecting character who is portrayed as an exemplary hero. The main character Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan keeps the fine net of the story together. The readers root for him because he such a humane person with his specific quirks which adds to the character’s quality.

The story mixes the past history and the poetic licensed imagination of the author together into a composite whole experience. The story ends midway after the Arulmozhivarman’s (Otherwise known as Rajaraja Chola I) coronation.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I absolutely loved the first historical novel in my pitara of novels. This story was such a fascination for me, that I was taken in by the scenic expanses and minute details of the entire event in the life of the Chozha dynasty. The characters were no longer just historical figures but living and breathing human beings.

The way I rooted for the hero to be safe and enjoyed the endless skirmish that he got into during his journey to deliver a letter, is absolutely timeless. I couldn’t stop re-reading the novel three times and each time I couldn’t put the book down.

The one thing that I disliked the most was that the story got over. What happened to the main character Vallavaryan Vandiyathevan? A question that has become a reverberating and a niggling thought in my mind. It is a separate backstoryabout how I got this book and was besotted by the tried horse which had such umph factor in him.

My Opinion

I would suggest to read this book from start to finish or enjoy it in piece-meal fashion in keeping with each lull that happens after each series. I don’t think I had the patience when the story picked warmth in the very first chapter. I almost memorized “The First Floods” (Volume 1).

Image Source: Personal Collection

Gita Couldn’t Get Simpler

Book Title: My Gita

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

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My experience with this book has been one of the best simple reading. Original Gita by Krishna is in Samskritam and it is rather difficult to follow if you are not good in the original language because it is filled with terms, words that shift completely with just a slight change in word-endings.

My journey with Gita began way back in 1998 when I used to read the translated lines from a pocket-size book. Even though I was familiar with most of the terms used in the song, but I still didn’t have a complete sense of the conversational poetry.

For many years, I continued to read the line by line literal translation without understanding the inner import. Reading the pocket-sized Gita was more an act of prayer than an act to understand.

But the most important phase of my journey with Gita happened while I was reading up on how the discourse happens right in the middle of a war. It is strategically placed in the center of the Epic Mahabharata.

That particular fact fascinated me so much that I was frustrated that I couldn’t fully understand the text. I kept religiously reading the text until I was given access to the next level of understanding the text.

I always believed that whatever you learned in your life doesn’t come to you until you are ready for the next level of understanding. Every time I had a question that I’m seeking from inside, the cosmos sends me the answer through books, articles and through sudden understanding or even a person explaining it to me.

So it was not surprised when I meet people at a specific time or place. For that matter, even chance meeting with people would result in me gaining knowledge from the meeting.

In 2011 roundabout, on such chance meeting with one of my professors led me to gain knowledge of Gita at the next level. He suggested that I read an autobiography written by Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. This yogi was renowned at least in the west for propagating Yoga as a healthy life choice.

It was interesting to read about the yogi’s life and influences. This also made me realize that I opened up to the book much to my surprise. In my college days, I had been spending time reading a lot of Jiddu Krishnamurthi’s work.

While working towards staying away from the conditioning of any form, I read with openness to any text of spiritual import. So when in 2013, I invested in a book written by Paramahansa Yogananda titled “God Talks To Arjun”, and found myself totally understanding the Gita differently. But it was still not simple to understand.

Being a yogi, Paramahansa explained the Gita chapters like a hermit; whereas in the case of Devdutt, he was more of a householder and his explanation was that of a householder.

The language used is so simple and easily accessible for a light reading of deep thoughts. Krishna suddenly became easy to understand now that the text was not sequential one but thematic.

This is the first time that I read Gita completely from Chapter 1 to Chapter 18 while getting its main import. Devdutt has a wonderful way of explaining single words with multiple meanings. Because of the fact that Samskritam was very advanced by that time and was scientific too. The images included with the text helped to understand the Gita much more with ease.

Krishna became more of a collected and a scientific person who categorized the world in material and spiritual import. But then at the same time, the fact remains that to be a detached householder may actually be a great way to leave this world.

Devdutt explains the complex part of dharma, varnas, gunas, and the path to moksha is not about renouncing everything and going away to the forest. But to be within the web of delusion of this material world and act like a person who is non-judgmental about what one observes in life on Earth while anchoring faith in Krishna.

One of the best quotes for me were:-

Within infinite myths lies an eternal truth
Who sees it all?
Varuna has but a thousand eyes
Indra, a hundred
You and I, only two.

Great read! Totally enjoyed it and understood too.

Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’

Book Title: The Da Vinci Code

Author: Dan Brown

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

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This particular book I read only after seeing the movie. But thankfully, I had seen the movie a long time back, which basically means, that I forgot the plot. So when I picked this book up a couple of years later, I read the reviews first.

The minute I looked at the review, I began thinking, am I doing the right thing reading this book? But then I had already paid for the borrowed book taken out from the local lending library, which meant I am reading it.

So my choice to read was pretty much made once I paid for it. Sometimes reading a book should not be based on the dust jacket or book reviews; but then, I didn’t follow that rule of mine this time.

This book brought to the forefront the wonderful combination of art and cultural history with a murder mystery. I liked the blend. I’m not much of an academician who could critique the essential story plot. So, I’ll stick to my reader’s view of the plot.

I believe that every story is the vision of the storyteller. It is like getting a window seat on the storyteller’s mind. You can wander around within the framework of the story and gather your surrogate experience.

The book was fast-paced and was surprised it was around a specific timeline space. This took me by surprise, because it is rare, that you come across a book covering the entire action within a day’s time span. Either these stories are out there or I am not aware of it. I believe fewer writers’ experiment with close call time scales.

The main characters are introduced allowing the plot to move forward. One of the most important elements of the characters were, how each of them fills in on the main puzzle or adds more to the elements of suspense.

What surprised me as a writer, was the fact that the author has stayed put within the one day, by starting very early in the morning and almost finishing the story on the next day.

One of my writing prompts was to describe an entire scene by revolving around the central character; while doing a 360 degree inner perspective of the environment, emotion, reaction and valid reason for its presence in the scene.

Now this story plot does two things:

  1. Stays close to the time limit of a day and half
  2. Jumps many centuries on various topics history, artisans and their work

I felt it was a neat ploy to keep the present static and comparatively simple while the backtracked stories are information gathered over the wide span of the timeline.

I totally felt that the story was compelling. At the same time, it was like reading a seemingly true Art History. But then the real world reason for the interpretation given to the artworks could possibly be fictional. Yet the author had tried for an authoritative voice throughout the book.

The interesting aspect of being able to make inferences on how the art loopholes could be given a new twist of interpretations only to make it seemly a true event. I found that kind of creative thinking exceptional.

Since I totally appreciate that the story’s credibility stands on the aspect of creating a web of knowledge that is staged on the scrambled puzzles which the historians are busy putting it together.

There are a few rare books that once it catches my interest then I am reading it non-stop. This book reminded me of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys sleuthing mystery stories that I consumed in large quantity spending quality time with them.

Just like in these young adult mystery novels, I am usually half the time right in guessing who had been the culprit, but then in The Da Vinci Code book, I couldn’t guess who the real culprit could possibly be. So the Gordian knot of the plot became clearer only after the last few scenes.

Yet I somehow felt, that I liked the book for the understanding the dialogue and loved the movie for its visuals with occasional dialogue grips. Both had their own separate spaces in my appreciation of the story.

Bottom line: This book can be read once and watched maybe twice!!! By being a little forgiving about twisting of historical events.

Invoking Passion for Books | First Post

I always felt that when I spent even an hour in the company of a good book; it is actually worth in gold. Books became the main attraction almost since my elementary days.

The progress from picture-based books to Word heavy books was a slow and interesting transition for me. I attribute my love for books to my brother who would share his Amar Chitra Katha collection with his siblings.

He was cautious about handing over his books for a long time. He didn’t give us the book, until we proved to him, that we would care for it as much as he did for them.

We, my siblings and I enjoyed the colorful array of stories set to such beautiful conversation bubbles. Our knowledge of mythology was the gift of Amar Chitra Katha books.

But we were equally interested in other comic books too. Books like Adventures of Asterix and Obelix, Adventures of Tintin, Phantom – the ghost who walks, Mandrake the Magician Comics.

Not to forget that local variety of comics magazines like Champak, Tinkle, Gokulam. Among them, Chandamama magazine came under easy reader list. Later in my adult life, I got an opportunity to intern at Chandamama, which was like a dream come true. The point is that there were so many books to keep the mind busy.

My exposure to so many comics could be the strategy for my brother’s minding us. It was easier to mind us with a book; than with a risky outdoor game. So that way we all remained out of trouble from my mother.

Yet, I was finding it difficult to manage my school works when there was such joy in reading. I actually lived for the summers. In my fourth standard, I was exposed to the abridged version of William Shakespeare’s plays as retold by Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb titled “Tales of Shakespeare“. I was starry-eyed reading those plays.

By the time I was in the fifth standard, I was reading Famous Five and Secret Seven chapter books by Enid Blyton. As a product from a convent education, naturally, my exposure to British Writers happens to be very strong.

Almost all agreeable (as per government rule) British Writers’ works were showcased in the Anglo-Indian syllabus. I had begun spending all my waking time with books. Until I discovered the small library in my school, while I was in my eighth grade.

It is was in this collection, that I read about an Egyptian physician traveling to Greece and back. It was like showing a thirsty person an oasis in a desert of confused curricular testing. I enjoyed being in the oasis, nibbling dates and drinking cool coconut milk, while living a life of royalty.

No subject remained prohibited – attitude towards reading expanded my mind but sadly I couldn’t express it. I read everything from profound to trash once I finished middle school. Any book that made me think for myself, it would be such a wonderful thing, that I would want to read the book again and again.

Almost around the same time, my paternal uncle’s personal collection of books arrived at the family house. Among them, there was an unabridged translation of the Arabian Nights, which became my flop over and read ‘kinda-book’, while the homework stood pending.

I became an eccentric loner in slow progress since the vibrant world of the letters made reality seem so lukewarm. I became friends with books and especially those books, that spoke of strong characters, who kept cheering themselves, despite difficulties in their life.

The pleasure of just reading merely for the pure joy – Nirmal Anand (in Hindi it means ‘unadulterated happiness’) – that was enough for me. My passion for books has become a permanent part of my personality and memories of my childhood.