I saw this documentary movie in the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival. It was a boring documentary about a film-maker who seemed interesting. The only good thing that the documentary did for me was introduce me to Jia ZhangKe. There was no reason for me to watch it till the very end. A typical mistake that many documentary movie makers do when making a documentary on celebrities, is, they throw out the ‘story’ part. And that makes it a painful stuff to watch for long. No sense of end, just one insight after another. Bad editing in every way.
I saw this movie in the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival. The acting, comedy, pace, plot, the way the movie was shot, use of music – everything worked (though I think the sound quality of dialogues was somehow not upto the mark). Absolutely recommended. Also, you don’t often get to see transgenders in lead roles in a movie that has nothing to do with stereotyping transgenders. By the way, did I tell you this full length feature was shot on iPhones only?
PS: you have to be a very modern parent to be able to feel comfortable watching this one with your children – there are full frontal nude scenes (no – don’t imagine hot babes; imagine old men).
PS2: I don’t think the plot matters and therefore have not written about it – it’s a comedy at the end of the day and makes you laugh till the very end. 🙂
I saw this movie in the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival. I have this feeling most viewers just tolerated this movie. After the movie got over, I was definitely not in any mood to wait for the Q&A with the producer (who is also a writer and the editor of Parabellum).
A movie that doesn’t offer any reason for one to watch it, becomes a drag. I can’t recommend this movie to anyone. The story, whatever little there was, and whatever little I could get, was not worthy of a feature film. The actors all looked genuine. The visuals were good. But one simply can’t wait so long for nothing to start and nothing to get over. I was emotionless after the movie, never cared about any characters and almost slept off several times.
PS: If you really want to know what the movie is about, in spite of my depressing review – it is about a bunch of guys preparing for some sort of dooms day.
When I went to watch Haider with Tota yesterday, I was clear that I wanted to view it from a story telling perspective. Any story, fiction or non fiction has one basic plot structure. You raise one big question, through or by a character (or few characters) and then try answering the question. For example the big question in Sholay was, would Thakur and his team be able to defeat Gabbar? The big question in DDLJ (by first half) was, how would Shahrukh get Kajol? Everything else that you show after the question has been raised, is a journey towards the answer. The importance of the question getting answered is also typically clarified. In other words, the audience should be clear about what is at stake. What will happen if the question is not answered? If Gabbar is not defeated, the village will suffer. Why should you care about the village? Because you start liking the nice people that live in the village. Also because you have been told how bad Gabbar is. And so you relate to Thakur’s cause. You want Thakur to succeed. Just like Jai & Veeru. If you remember, when they first came, they were just planning to loot and run away. But there is a scene where the ‘stake’ of Gabbar not being defeated is made clear by Jaya (at an emotional level). In DDLJ, it is clear that if SRK does not get Kajol, he is going to be unhappy for the rest of his life. His happiness is at stake. Why does the audience care about his happiness. Because the audience spent the entire first half loving SRK as a person. He is nice, romantic, funny and respects women. See how the story was built up to make sure you do care about the big question getting answered. Unless the importance of the question is highlighted, no one would care about the answer in the first place.
Another thing – the answer should not be obvious. The journey to find the answer should have challenges, confusions, fights, anything. I don’t have to give examples. Just think of the journey in both Sholay and DDLJ and you would see that for yourself. In some stories, you also might have one big question getting answered mid-way and another big question popping up right then, and then the second half of the story focuses on this second question. Ever remember seeing a movie where you thought only the first half was good (or only the second half)? Those would be good examples of movies where two different questions were raised, with stakes clearly highlighted, and then two journeys were portrayed. But for several reasons, you only liked one of those.
The above theory explains the plot for any story. But let me also share this – another element that differentiates good story-telling from a poor one, is the pace at which the story is told. If pacing gets fucked up, the audience will get bored and will simply doze off (even if it’s good story). It is extremely difficult to get the pacing right and in my opinion, the amazing movie-makers and book writers are absolutely brilliant at that. Bottomline – it’s not just the story that matters – it’s also the story-telling.
Coming back to Haider, it raised two questions, one in each half. The first half asked – will Haider be able to find his dad? Is his dad even alive? This question was resolved around intermission. And then the movie asked, ok, so now that Haider knows the fate of his father, what would he do about it? The answer to this second question was resolved only in the last scene of the movie. Sounds like a fairly well though out plot. But I didn’t like the movie on several story / story-telling counts.
Let me begin with what I liked. I liked the DOP’s work (very similar to my own) and the music and sound (brilliant I would say). I also loved the Salmans. And the entire Salman Khan reference. Also, the acting may be (not the best, but fair enough). And now the two main things which didn’t work for me:
- The stake for the first question (will Haider be able to find his dad) was not too high. As an audience, I did not care about this question very badly. May be a little more time to establish a dad son relationship could have evoked me to genuinely wish and hope that Haider gets an answer to his question? The journey itself was fair enough. There was struggle, few emotional moments and some comedy as well. The unnecessary element of the journey, IMHO, was the time given to establish the nuances of the son-mother relationship. Or the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Those parts simply never added any motive to the journey. Nor were great sub-plots. I don’t know why those scenes where there. Just because Vishal wanted to adapt Hamlet?
- The journey to answer the second question (now that Haider knows the fate of his father, what would he do about it) was very nautanki types. It was neither clever or smart. It almost felt like Haider became a theatre artist in the second half. And for some reasons, the end, were the question was finally resolved, was unnecessarily dramatic. Though I must say, in this second journey, the stake was really high because after having seen Haider for over an hour, the curiosity to wait and watch what he finally does, did exist. But at several places, the pacing was screwed. When you raise a question that everyone wants an answer to, you can’t afford to bore your audience. This movie did not do a great job at this! It wasn’t bad either. Or may be I should have had more sleep before I went to watch Haider!
So that’s my technical review of Haider as a story and story-telling, more than as a cinematic movie. I know I did not much write about the mother-son sub-plot or the mother-uncle relationship plot, because though they existed and were shown, they simply never were part of, or effectively supported, the main story.
Lux had sent me many a books in Feb this year. From amongst them (seven), I had read 2 States and Zero Percentile when I went home during Holi. I finished reading the third book – Love in the Time of Cholera, only today – just some time ago in fact.
2 States: was very filmy but had loved reading it. I know people have this habit of labeling Bhagat as a lowbrow writer and all that but there is no way you wouldn’t enjoy reading 2 States.
Zero percentile: the ‘story’ was interesting; story-telling very mediocre.
Love in the Time of Cholera: Now this one was a classic. Even when I read the translation (book was originally written in Spanish)and even when I thought Florentino Ariza was kinda crazy you know, when I was finally done reading the book, I had to confess to myself that the whole affair spread across decades was kinda cute and sweet and mushy and awwwish. Here are some quotes from the book:
But if they had learned anything together, it was that wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.
…old age was an indecent state that had to be ended before it was too late.
She reminded him that the weak would never enter the kingdom of love, which is a harsh and ungenerous kingdom, and that women give themselves only to men of resolute spirit, who provide the security they need in order to face life.
The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast.
The problem in public life is learning to overcome terror; the problem in married life is learning to overcome boredom.
…and nothing in this world was more difficult than love.
Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability.
I do not believe in God, but I am afraid of Him.
It is incredible how one can be happy for so many years in the midst of so many squabbles, so many problems, damn it, and not really know if it was love or not.
But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about.
Love becomes greater and nobler in calamity.
For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.
…it is life, more than death, that has no limits.
Picking up ‘The World of Psmith’ Omnibus by Wodehouse as the next read.
- It’s not about the Bike – my journey back to life by Lance Armstrong (non-fiction): fucking awesome – I loved the way Lance wrote and while reading this one, I got a lot senti a lot of times – may be because I realized Lance was kinda like I am – may be
- The Story of my Assassins by Tarun Tezpal (Fiction): this was one of those stories that highlight how things work in India – the government, the goons, the poor, the lawyers, the journalists, the businessmen – the English seemed forced and the humor not so natural for the first 200 pages but later I got used to the style
- Short Stories of Himachal Pradesh by Meenakshi (fiction): in the first page itself the writer had mentioned that those who know how to read Hindi should read the story in the original language than in English – well, that pretty much killed the fun but I read the book anyway – ten local folk tales from Himachal Pradesh – I read it before leaving for Himachal and as I am writing this post, I can recall only one story – so well either my memory is bad or the stories weren’t all that grasping – I leave that on you to decide 🙂
- Recent Research of Ladakh 2009 (collection of recent essays): need I write any more? 😛
- Ladakh Adventures – the snow leopard by Deepak Dalal (fiction): this was like an English version of an extended crappy story from Suman Saurabh (don’t tell me you never read it in school) – so yeah, I could have liked this book ten years back – I had loads of time in Leh and I didn’t mind reading some local story, however crappy it could be
- Into Thin Air by John Krakaeur (non-Fiction): this book talked about an Everest expedition that went horribly and tragically wrong – the author was one of the lucky few survivors – after reading it I realized how much I want to do the Everest (will insh-allah do it some day) – I loved the way this book was written, kept me hooked till the book was done
- Many Lives Many Masters by Dr. Brian L. Weiss (non-fiction): if this was non-fiction, this was scary – this doc who wrote the book was a psychiatrist who found a patient who could talk about past-lives when hypnotized – this book made me go crazy and I still wonder if what the doc wrote really happened, because if it did, then shit man, shit!
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (fiction): I liked it because the entire book was so cutely narrated in first person by an eight year old kid – the kid was a stud in maths and logic but had some wiring problem in his brain because of which his emotions were all screwed up
- Phantoms in the Brain by V.S. Ramachandran (non-fiction): I can safely proclaim that this book is a must read – one of those few non-fictions that really fascinate and educate you at the same time – read it to know how neurologists are trying to figure out how exactly does the brain work
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (fiction): have read only 1/3rd of this 900+ pages bestseller written in first person and have so far, loved both the style of writing, and the story – and omg, this book has just so many quotable quotes – I have collected 34 quotes already, so you can imagine
And now here’s a request – please be nice and recommend books to me. Please please please.
Before I begin, July-August was pathetically slow in terms of reading. And now zikra of the books that I did manage to read:
1. Sea of Poppies (Fiction) by Amitav Ghosh
I liked the booked. The story was about a couple of characters and how all of them came aboard an old Schooner to start their journey from India to Marich (Mauritius). If this sounds like an incomplete story then please recall that this book is just the first part of a Trilogy – the other two are yet to come out. The characters were interesting. There was Deeti, a poor bihari lady whose ganza-addicted good for nothing husband died in the middle of the novel and who was then rescued from sati that could have taken away her life, by a lower cast chamar – Kalua – with whom she finally fled. Then there was this French dame Paulette aka Putli who had grown up in Calcutta and who later ran away from her care-takers who had adopted her because they were planning to get her married to some old moral preaching British judge. There was Zachary – the bhola bhaala American carpenter who was promoted to the rank of second mate, there was Serang Ali – the head lascar whose English (or the lack of it) killed me, there was Mr. Burnham – the mighty rich British businessman based in Calcutta who owned the schooner that I mentioned earlier (he was also the one who had adopted Putli and from whom Putli had ran away), there was Bobu Nob Kison – Mr. Burnham’s sagacious manager who was so sure that Zachary was lord Krishna in disguise and he himself the lover – Radha. In fact, there were several more – each one nicely sketched, but let me not get into each character here. The entire novel was set during the period when Britishers had recently started ruling India, evil of the caste system was widespread, kings still existed and the opium-trade was legal and flourishing.
Amitav Ghosh has this grand-fatherly style of writing which makes you feel like a small kid and the stories sound fantastical. This is my opinion of this author based on Sea of Poppies – his only book that I have read so far. I really loved the way he used various dialects, lingos, accents in his writing (though I must admit that at times this made it difficult to read and understand). My final verdict is this: very ordinary story but excellent use of English language and a certain charm inherent in the writing style.
2. With Cyclists Around the World (Non-fiction) – by Adi B. Hakim, Jal P. Bapasola & Rustom B. Bhumgara
In early 1920’s six Parsi dudes decided to globe-trot on bicycles. They started their journey from Bombay, cycled to Baluchistan, Persia (today’s Iran), Iraq, Palestine, Italy, Switzerland, Vienna, Germany, France, UK, America, Japan, Korea, China, French Indo-China (yes this was a separate country back then!), Burma and finally back to India (with a detour to Ceylon – today’s Sri Lanka – thrown in). Phew! Only three could complete this trip. It took them more than four fucking years and there were several occasions when they almost died. Fuck, fuck fuck! I bow to them! Seriously! And now – let me move to the book.
It was earlier this month when I was contemplating on a solo mountain-bike (read cycling) trip in the Himalayas myself (btw – the plan is more or less frozen now). So imagine my awe when I spotted this book on one of the shelves in Oxford. I had to read it! I read it. The English was good in vocabulary but boring in style. The authors lacked the ability to create suspense, thrill or drama. An extraordinary venture like theirs sounded more ordinary than it should have had save few exceptions now and then. The following is how most of the book was written: we cycled for A miles, the road was like B (good / bad / ugly / non-existent / etc.), the weather was like C (boiling hot / hot / pleasing /cold / freezing / raining / stand storm inflicted / etc.), then we reached D, people in D were like E (E = good / bad / ugly / poor / rich / hospitable / indifferent / etc.), the place D had E,F,G,H things to see which we saw after which we ate I & J and then slept (or depending on the circumstance – could not sleep), got up the next day and cycled A1 miles and on and on. I am glad that the authors managed to wrap up the book in less than 400 pages. My final verdict: 1/10th of the book is interesting, rest is boring (but definitely puts up a brave account). More than the book itself, what truly touches you is the guts of these dudes who made something so stunning sound so cool and peacemax!
3. The Talking Guns – North East India (Non-fiction) by Niendra Dev
I picked up this book in Shillong. Bad English. Poor structure. Passionate author. When you are done reading this book, you do realize how serious the terrorism problem in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland & Tripura is. You also realize how cut off the central government’s thinking really is from these states. By the time this book ends, you only wish that the bloody conflict and violence prevailing in these four states that I just mentioned dies down gradually instead of leaking out to Mizoram, Meghalaya & Arunachal Pradesh – the comparatively stable north-eastern neighbours.
4. Under a Cloud: Life in Cherrapunji (Non-fiction) by Binoo K. John.
In a way it was funny to read a book on Cherrapunji immediately after visiting the place. There was nothing too special about this little over 150 pages travelogue though I must admit that the author did have a way with words and could flaunt his little sense of humour now and then.
5. Khasi Folk Tales by Mrs. Rafi
This was some old piece of good shit that I picked up – once again from Shillong. The first edition was published in 1920 while the edition that I picked up belonged to 1985. All the pages had turned grayish yellow and within few days – the hard-bound cover came off!
Now to the content. Folk tales are always enchanting, aren’t they? They are the simplest of stories and yet capture in them the most complex flavours of an entire culture. Khasis are one of the most predominant tribes of Meghalaya. This book helped me connect better with the state. Reading this book was like reading Nandan or Nanhe Samrat or Balhans or one of those kiddy mags – except that here, the cute, short stories that I read were all deep rooted in the local Meghalaya culture.
6. India and the Global Financial Crisis: managing money and finance (Non-fiction) by Y. V. Reddy
It was obviously the title of the book that tempted me to read it. Who wouldn’t have liked to read about the captioned title from none other than the ex RBI chief himself? But what a misnomer this title was! One does not get any gyaan on the global financial crisis till one reaches the blessed Epilogue which is like less than 10% of this 350+ paged compilation of intellectual but highly boring essays. I could read about 70% of the book but I doubt if I remember even 1% of all that I read.
The only way you can read and remember this book is if you have a quiz – based on this book – to write the next day and your life depends on cracking that quiz. There’s another thing that I would like to tell you about this book – Y. V. Reddy truly teaches you how to write the drab bureaucratic english (not too different from the way consultants write formal letters / notes / reports : P ). So you would find repeated usage of sleep-inducing words like – effectiveness, paradigm, framework, priority, permanency, objectivity, quintessence, resolve, conjunction, appropriate, seek, advocate, foster, strength, restructure and phrases like “flagged the issue”, “enduring nature”, “at this stage” and blah! If you picked up this book because of the same reason as mine, then all the best mate! Final verdict – not for non-bankers. Period.
7. Teilnag – a novel (Fiction) by Yona M. Nonglang
Don’t laugh at the author’s name – ok? The very fact that this novel was typeset in comic sans font should have been a good enough reason to keep me away from it. But then, sometimes I act as irrational as most human beings do. A book published by an unknown author himself and printed in a local printing press in Shillong wouldn’t be read by many – so in a way I am one of the lucky few who read it. 😛
Average English. Pointless story. I only wanted to see how the local Meghalaya talent was. I didn’t expect to be impressed much. When I was done reading it, I wasn’t impressed much. Anyway, the book did give me a glimpse into the way of thinking of a local Meghalaya youth, how he views his matrilineal society, how he wants to serve his hilly state and what kind of live he leads in general. That’s the more and less of this book. Enough said.
8. Meghalaya – Issues and Legacies of its Early Years by Dhiren Bhagwati
LOL – if you are thinking by now that I have been doing a PhD on Meghalaya, I won’t blame you for that. I might not be doing a PhD but when in Shillong, I was really really desirous to discover more about the state than what a regular tourist usually cares to find about. This state came into existence only in 1970 when Indira Gandhi finally agreed to the demand for a new state and carved it off from Assam. The book – albeit boring like most text books are – gave a fair account of developmental issues and the early days of Meghalaya.
Phew – that’s about it. I am off to Hyd tomorrow where I shall be running my first half marathon on Sunday morning (30th August). I shall be in Hyd till Monday afternoon, so if any of you are there and want to catch up, have beer with me, etc. – give me a call on 0 9 1 7 8 7 4 2 2 0 1 or 0 9 8 8 4 2 7 0 0 9 4 – whichever works.
See you in September! 🙂
1. The Britannica Guide to The Islamic World (Non-Fiction)
Alright I never finished this book ( though I had picked it up in May itself, remember?). My bad. This book was not just a book after all. It was a fucking encyclopedia – as expected. It was non-juicy – again, as expected. I did read three of the five parts though. No, I don’t remember much of what I read. I seriously think that I need to re-read the book to remember even a quarter of the history stuff that it has.
2. Graphic Design – a concise history by Richard Hollis (Non-fiction)
All I can say is that you don’t need to read it till you really really care about the history of Graphic Art. This book was full of names – Russian, Americans, Germans, Brits, French and Swiss. Like that book on Islam , I don’t remember much of what I read but I do appreciate this whole deal about the evolution of Graphic Designing better now. I do know what Dada means or for that matter Avante Garde. I also know that Lissitzky played an important role. The bottomline is that now, if I am thrown amidst a bunch of fanatic graphic designers and they start speaking shit about the early days of photomontage, I won’t freak out and kill them. I might actually ask them what their opinion on ‘The Constructor’ is. 😛
3. TheÂ Collected Short Storis of Roald Dahl (Fiction)
Two collections – a) Kiss Kiss & b) Swith Bitch were kickass. The other’s weren’t. In any case, not even a single story was so bad that you could skip it. So I read the entire book – 760 pages. My recommendation to those who haven’t read Roald Dahl would be to read at least the four stories in Switch Bitch. They are hilariously ironic and exemplify black humor. Thereafter, if you like the guy, you can pick up Kiss Kiss. But don’t venture beyond that.
4. Indian Identity by Sudhir Kakar (Non-Fiction)
This one was once again a collection where you got to read 3 books in one. All of them were psychoanalysis of Indians. The first book (Intimate Relations) analyzed the psychology of sexual behaviour of Indians. The second one (Analyst and the Mystic) tried to explain what goes inside the minds of the Indians who choose to become mystics. The last in the series (The Colours of Violence) was a psychoanalyst’s effort to deconstruct the minds of those who participate in riots.
I recommend this book to everyone. A novice could have written boring shitty crap but Kakar has kept all the three parts interesting. His funda to sustain a reader’s interest is simple – talk about stories – real and mythological and talk about personal experiences of junta in their own words. So you get to read a lot of interesting stuff – interviews of lower class women about their sexual experiences and their married life styles, extracts of Gandhi’s letters and his autobiography, mythological stories about Ganesha and Shiva and Vishnu, opinions of pahalwans on riots in Hyderabad etc. Of course all these stories and interviews and opinions are followed by his explanation of varied behaviours – but the balance is such that you really do absorb most of what he has to say. Thumbs up.
5. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (fiction)
Picked it up this Sunday itself and have read only 1/5th so far. This is my first Amitav Ghosh. This one is the first in the series of a trilogy (the other two books haven’t come out yet). I don’t want to comment any further on this book till I have finished it. All I can say is, I am hopeful of it being a rather good story. By the way, Neelabh, if you are reading this post – some characters speak Bhojpuri in this book, so you might as well pick it up and read. 😛
Happy reading everbody!
Ladakh – Crossroads of High Asia
– Zanet Rizvi
It was more like a text-book. I am not complaining. I knew it was going to be like a text-book even when I bought it. I bought it in Leh on my very first day because I wanted to read facts about Ladakh, its people, its customs, its art and its history – something more than I had already read on Wikipedia. Sometimes I get crazy about knowing as much as I can about certain things – Ladakh happened to be one of them. And what better joy than to read about Ladakh, while there?
The book was dry and the author lacked humor but the purpose was served. I skipped some sections – mainly the dope on all the ancient rulers and the separate descriptions of each Gonpa. At the end of it, I got to know more about Ladakh than what just looking around would have made possible.
Indian Memsahib – the untold story of a bureaucrat’s wife
– Suchita Malik
After returning from Leh, I picked up this small less-than-200-pages novel from the newly extended (and charming) terminal 1D of the Delhi airport while waiting there for my Bhubaneswar flight (it was a six hours long wait btw). The novel sucked big time. This is Suchita’s first novel. I hope she never writes again.
The worst part was that I thought it was a fiction when I picked it up. As I was reading it, I had this obvious feeling that the main protagonist – the wife of an honest and all that IAS officer – was loosely based on the writer herself. It was only when I read the last holy line of the book that I realized that the entire dry impassive novel was simply a non-inspiring and pointless autobiography.
Frankly speaking this book doesn’t deserve a review at all. The only good take-away I would say is that I have learnt how not to write a book – if I ever write one.
A journy in Ladakh
I had picked it up along with the text-book on Ladakh from the same book-shop in Leh. While I bored myself with facts, it was Neelabh who enjoyed reading it all the time that we were there in Ladakh. I started it off only some time last week I guess and I finished reading it today evening itself. Now this book was good. It didn’t have as many facts as that text-book but who needed more facts anyway? 😛
This one was like a compilation of diary entries – and it made for a good cheerful reading. It started off as a pure travelogue. I enjoyed seeing Ladakh from the author’s eyes. The beginning was very readable – his first experience of this high-altitude glistening desert – of the silence that the place bestows upon one and all and similar such new experiences. After about a hundred and fifty pages, his writing shifted towards the Tibetan Buddhism philosophy and that continued till the end. This made me feel heavy and brought down my reading speed. Many a times I give up on philosophy and teachings and preachings and all of that. I could have almost given up on this one too (and some of you might) but I think somewhere the author never crossed the line of killing his readers with jaroorat-se-jyaada gyan.
Now that I have finished reading it, I know something about Buddhism – a lot more than I had known before. I am happy that I gotÂ to learn all this with Ladakh as a consistent background. I suddenly feel more attached to Ladakh.
The Britannica Guide to The Islamic World – Religion, history, and the future
-introduction by Ziauddin Sardar
This is the book that I picked up from Oxford on Saturday (where I also found a blogger in Bhubaneswar for the first time). From Buddhism to Islam – the world of readers is ever-flowing, fresh and wide, isn’t it? This sudden liking towards reading appears to be a chronic ailment. I want to read and read and read some more – till I am dead. I have only read the introduction by Ziauddin Sardar so far. Given my slow speed of reading, this book shall keep me busy at least till I return from Chennai next Tuesday. Let’s see what I learn about the Islamic World given that I don’t know much about this world for sure.
Happy reading everyone. Gee, I sound like an idiot at times. 😛
Ah so I am done with this 400 pages autobiography of Dev Anand (DA). There are some books that are full of words and there are others that aren’t. Catch 22 for example was full of words. It was small in size, the size of a pocket guide-book and had little less than 500 pages but it took me ages to finish it off. Reading every page was an effort and following the plot was a challenge in itself. DA’s ‘Romancing with Life’ however was as light as the The Safed Bagh by Adiga and I could devour it much faster than I had intended to. So I am bookless all of a sudden and it’s not a good feeling.
Few months back I was reading a book called the Penguin Non-Fiction Collection (Vol 1 to be precise – there are three volumes of this book). This collection had several chapters (I think about 30), each chapter being taken from a different non-fiction. One of them was from DA’s autobiography – the chapter talked about how he and Suraiya had fallen in love with each other once upon a time, only to later witness a rather sad end to the short lived affair. His spirit, captured in that one chapter touched my heart totally. I think it made my eyes moist as well. So when I happened to find his ever green smiling face adorning the thick cover of the hard-bound autobiography, I picked it up with delight. And now after having read it completely, I am happy that I did. People like me who relish it when reading or watching something moves them occasionally, moistening their eyes, will like the book. They shall like to read how full of life this dude is. The first 200 pages are cutest – you feel like watching a movie with DA as a hero, liking him more with every passing scene.
Verdict: not necessarily a must-read but you shall certainly feel good and light-hearted when you will follow DA romancing with his life.