Aging With The Dame


This is not at conventional book review. It is about how the perspective of a reader changes with passage of time and growing age and experience. True, readers evolve as does the author.

There are certain books which are categorized as timeless. This quality of timelessness gives such books the tag of classics. It has always been my quest, while reading such classics, to identify the factors which lend them this attribute. Today, I shall talk about a genre which is unexpectedly included in this elite club of ageless read. Yet, it has made its niche, for which credit undoubtedly goes to the writer. I, as a reader, usually, am confused when it comes to the writer. More than often, the writer for me is a nebulous persona. His/her presence is explored in what he/she writes – style, perception, narration. It is through his/her writing that I ascertain the writer’s skill and thinking.

As I have mentioned above, the unusualness of the genre which I am talking about rarely has a repeat read value. Yes, I am talking about suspense thrillers, murder mysteries. How can these be read again and again if the reader is already aware of the climax? The whodunnit loses its charm then and there. But no, here I refer to the dame of murder mysteries, my all time favourite, Agatha Christie, who has busted this myth and her whodunnits/ howdunnits expose something fresh each time these are read even decades later.

Recently, binge-watching Christie’s Poirot and Marple Series on SonyLiv rekindled an urge to read her again. In fact, I do clearly remember that I had started re-reading “Murder Is Announced” in a very leisurely fashion when the televised version of the same also came to my notice on the OTT platform. I quickly decided to read the book first and see how it has been dramatized. I was sorely disappointed by the latter but however, the binge-read revealed once again why Christie will always remain a classic.

It was early teens when I was introduced to Christie by my father who himself was as huge a fan of her (but would not admit) as I and my elder sister are till today. I remember he had nicknamed her “Ajotha Srishti” in Bengali jokingly referring to the myriad crime sequences the dame had plotted spanning eighty odd novels. I guess in those formative years I was more drawn towards the narrative than delving in detail into the characters and why they did what they did. Now I realize perhaps I was also subconsciously attracted towards her style of presenting the sequence of events as well which inspired my own writings much later.

When it comes to detective stories, the sleuths are always sketched in a larger than life fashion (Holmes included) They are a unique combo of brain and brawn. Their distinctive idiosyncrasies setting them apart from the rest of the mere mortals. But Christie’s dapper Poirot is no Greek God but his eccentricities bely his mind power. His penchant for symmetry and logic, disdain for the English and fascination for patent boots make him quaint and fastidious. But Christie pulls a trick here. Having settled amongst the English, earning the steadfast loyalty of an English friend and associate in the form of Captain Hastings and admiration of Chief Inspector Japp of the Scotland Yard who swears by his mastery in solving crimes “devastatingly quick” does not make him essentially English. He is a French speaking Belgian often in the eyes of suspicion himself of the British being a foreigner. Is this Christie’s subtle jab on Britain’s innate unacceptance of anything that is not English?

Her other creation, Ms. Marple is polar opposite. She is an elderly spinster retired to a quiet life in the country side. She loves to knit and observe people closely without their knowing and drawing parallels with her neighbours in the obscure village of St. Mary Meade. She is unassuming and gets quite flustered if asked to explain her thought process. But her wooly, muddled ways disguise an uncommon sharpness and shrewd insight into human nature. Her fragile exterior camouflages her real strength. She is nosy to some, unusually clever to others. The local police relies wholeheartedly on her judgment. She is not to be taken by her fluff of grey, clicking needles and innocently enquiring china blue eyes. She is a woman who loves to remain in the background but as Inspector Craddock puts it “is as dangerous as a rattlesnake”. Christie’s Marple is well ahead of her times empowered by an uncanny knack of unearthing the truth from the misleading heap of deceit and falsehood.

Between the two, I found Poirot more intriguing. But with age I see myself in Jane Marple.

The title “Murder Is Announced” indicates that the plot hatched to murder is pre-publicized (in the local Gazette of the village Chipping Cleghorn) and the date, time and venue announced (that of the country house of Ms. Letitia Blacklock, namely, Little Paddocks). The snoopy locals, in thirst of that rarely available excitement in life, dutifully flock in to witness the show so spitefully advertised.

But again, as I said in the very beginning, I am not interested to dwell upon the storyline or the process of deduction.

I always thought Christie was infallible. But this time, I found gaps in her narrative. Certain events forcefully imposed just to keep the readers glued. For example, the murderer arriving at the nick of time and overhearing her neighbours, Amy Murgatroyd and Ms. Hinchcliffe, reconstructing the crime. To the eavesdropper’s utter surprise, Amy had seen something which the others had not leading to her untimely death. A third murder, resulting out of a deliberate and too coincidental set up.

Its customary for the police to dig out the antecedents of the locals who were present at the scene of the crime. Every one of them has a past which they are assiduously hiding but only a few are revealed in the book. But at the same time, it made me conscious of the fact how important the past is for all of us. How we carry our baggage and how the load shapes our present and future. Christie made it more than clear.

Ms. Marple’s remark that earlier we knew our neighbours so well. But now (after post war migration) everyone is a stranger whose background has to be cross checked in order to be sure whether they really are who they say they are. It is an observation which still holds good. We reside amidst strangers. Our own identities are subject to speculation and documentation.

I have always marveled at Christie’s in depth understanding of human psychology. How she creates her characters – a bundle of contrasts and contradictions, conditioned by their half truths, vulnerable and at the same time vindictive. Ms. Marple’s remark that a weak and kindhearted person can also be very dangerous has left me thinking. How can these two very opposite traits reside in one single person?

Christie’s plots set against rural backdrops play with the basic alphabets of a language whose grammar is complex and not easily decipherable till the final closure when the face of the criminal is uncovered. In this process of unraveling the complicated matrix of crime, how the mind of the sleuth works is as systematically laid down as that of the culprit. Nothing is black and white -the shades of grey standing out in the misdeeds of the flawed characters.

During the course of deduction, many a times, the self-styled detectives have suspected the wrong ‘un and admitted their folly while explaining how they arrived at the truth. Many a times, funnily enough, Poirot has openly castigated himself for his mistakes. Ms. Marple, on the other hand, has a number of times confessed that the turn and complexity of events have left her confused and uncomprehending. Both are super-sleuths yet both are human, prone to be fallible.

In some of Christie’s novels, a quaint sense of personal justice has prevailed (e.g. Ten Little Niggers, Murder On The Orient Express). In the Murder Is Announced, it is how greed overtakes integrity and feeling of deprivation leads to moral degradation. In showing how the universal values that have sustained human civilization through eons get compromised by perceived injustice Christie has transcended time.

Christie has immortalized the villainous and the virtuous, both alike, by making them seem so real…so human. It is difficult to even hate the perpetrator of crime because Christie makes you understand why he/she did what he/she did. Christie’s elegance is understated. The violence that is weaved into the narration is so subtly presented that the reader is not overwhelmed by its magnitude. Yet, in a contemplative mood, going through the narration in one’s mind’s eye, the heinousness of the acts stands out. Christie underscores the degradation of humanity so gently and yet so powerfully, that even decades later, the impact is startlingly fresh.

Christie’s artistry lies in how a handful of complex characters serenade with an unusual grace through the maze of crooked narrative till the finale is reached when the ruthless wrongdoer is unmasked. Step by step the process of deduction bares the evil and as systematically the confounding layers of falsehood and deceit are peeled off, the ultimate revelation leaves the readers stupefied. However, on hindsight the built-up of the plot always seems simplistic and very basic. But it is only the dame who knows how to clothe the complex in simplicity.

And that is why Christie is timeless, ageless and enjoyable

Random


inked memories seeping through the pores of the page grieving these moments of denied truth

An Alternate Narrative of Lust Lies And Power


Generally I have the habit of tapping away my thoughts on the keyboard as soon as I finish watching an impactful movie or reading a thought provoking book. But this time it is different. Having watched Sujoy Ghosh’s highly recommended suspense thriller “Badla”, I am still collecting my thoughts on how I have received the […]

To Be Or Not To Be …Hum Hai Ke Hum Nahin


I saw “Haider”. Of course four year later! Does it make a difference ? 

No. In relevance “Haider” is still alive. In contemporaneity “Haider” is still present.

Backdrop : Turmoil ridden Kashmir.

A doctor decides to treat a militant of his aliment who requires urgent surgery. He brings him home to avoid being seen. He operates on him and keeps him in hiding.

The question here is : should a man, who by profession is a saviour of life, be daunted by the ism his patient goes by?

As it happens, the cruciality of the situation is overlooked. The Army takes away the doctor in the name of interrogation. He never returns.

Sometime later his son, who was sent away to Aligarh Muslim University to “be exposed to the other side of Hindusthan” returns home and finds his uncle (father’s brother), Khurram,  courting his mother, Ghazala.

Haider’s mother, by the local parlance, is a ‘half widow’ – a woman who is unsure whether her husband is dead or alive.

Her fidelity is questioned by her son. She says she was never a part of her husband’s life the way a wife should have been. She accuses her husband of being self-centred. Had he really cared about his son’s future,  he would not have taken the risk of  harbouring a militant.

Should she still mourn his absence and spend the rest of her life in eternal wait for  a serendipitous come-back?

Son’s verdict is that she is two-faced and deceitful. Yet he loves her. A love which almost borders on the Oedipal attraction.

The son, along with his beloved, embarks on a quest to find his missing father.  Not knowing that her father, a police officer, is using her to keep a tab on her boy friend, Arshia lets out the secrets of Haider’s whereabouts.

In the meanwhile,  Khurram decides to join politics. To dig out the truth about his brother’s disappearance, is one of his election mandates. By profession he is a lawyer who has the most number of captives or disappeared militants’ or non-militants’ cases on his hands. He mints money by giving false hopes to their family members.

Khurram is the face of the opportunist survivors of political upheavals who sustain themselves by latching on to the existing power groups. He is hand-in-gloves with the Police and the Army. At the same time, he has always been passionately in love with his sister-in-law.

In comes Roohdaar, a ghost from the past ,who tells Haider how Khurram conspired to kill his father. From then on its Haider’s mission to avenge the murder of his father.

Its  in the midst of this personal battle versus political conflicts, that Kashmir, the heaven on earth, is seen to be tarnished with grit, gore and foul vengeance.

The Hamlet-ian indecisiveness in Haider is interweaved in the fabric of the scarred valley – to be or not to be….hum hai ke hum nahin!!

Haider poses questions which have been asked time and again whenever humanity has come under the threat of extinction, its age-old values have been challenged and the boundaries of its established social norms have buckled under the pressure of survivalism.

However, Haider does not seek answers. It does not tell but shows. In that sense, it has an odd haiku-ian contour which is unique in terms of cinematic narrative.

And then there is that old school of thought which still believes that revenge perpetrates  endless and vicious cycle of counter-revenge – a fruitless and deceptive means to attain freedom – which may rather be alternated with peaceful negotiations that once a “lathi-wallah” adopted to unshackle the sub-continent from colonial slavery.

The debate continues…

The dilemma continues…

The dichotomy of to be and not to be persists…

Haider epitomises the misguided youth, ruthlessly butchered by the oppressive machinery of law enforcers, limping on its axis, indeterminate whether to forgive or to fight back. 

Does Haider loose hope?

As he staggers towards a seemingly serene horizon leaving behind the carcasses of  a  macabre past, a change of heart is what appears to be the driver.

But in his universe forgiveness is a bigger punishment, a more fitting verdict than wrath can mete out.

Haider lives on … on a tilted fulcrum….. bruised and battered…… in search of a better world.     

Random


inked memories

seeping through

the pores of the page

grieving

these moments of

denied truth

An Alternate Narrative of Lust Lies And Power


BADLA MOVIE REVIEW

Generally I have the habit of tapping away my thoughts on the keyboard as soon as I finish watching an impactful movie or reading a thought provoking book. But this time it is different. Having watched Sujoy Ghosh’s highly recommended suspense thriller “Badla”, I am still collecting my thoughts on how I have received the thrills. Not that I am averse to the genre. On the contrary, its my favourite. But coming out of the PVR I was more disturbed than entertained. As a matter of fact, it is this bothersome reaction that prevented me from vocalising my views on the film.

Undoubtedly, it is an edge-of-the-seat-narrative. But knowing Sujoy Ghosh (Kahaani Part I and Part II), the direction the plot would take was pretty predictable. More so, because the gentleman who sat next to next to my seat was quite loud about his conjectures on what must be the plausible conclusions (mind it he had quite a few) of the twisty tale. Frankly, I was neither irritated nor amused because to my surprise I rather agreed on certain points that he so casually dropped. Also, certain theories that he propounded at deducing the mystery incidentally matched mine. Interestingly, this is the first time it has so happened that one of the spectators has given in to loud thinking ( a national trait?) as to what would be the possible ending of a murder mystery.

Notwithstanding the exception, Badla opens the door to an alternate narrative which is so far removed from reality that in a contrarian perspective it becomes relatable. Confusing? May be. So let’s begin from the very beginning. Celebrated business woman, Neha Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) is charged of murder in a closed room wherein only she is present with the victim (Arjun – Tony Luke). Obviously, she pleads innocence. But suspicion thickens on her as it is gradually revealed that the murdered person is none other than the one with whom she was having an illicit affair. Naina’s husband does not believe in her innocence. By the way nor does the audience. She is abandoned by her family (husband and baby daughter). However, Naina’s lawyer, Jimmy Punjabi (Manav Kaul), who is also her friend from college days, goes all out of his way to defend her. Seeing the complexity of the case, he hires a senior advocate, Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), to fight for Naina.

The entire movie revolves round the dialogu-ic interaction between Naina and Badal Gupta in an endeavour to rake out the delicate details so that Naina’s innocence can be proved beyond doubt. Undoubtedly, both excel in hiding as well as exposing the truth and this cat and mouse game between Naina and Badal Gupta becomes the pivotal theme of the narrative. Needless to say, this mind game is heightened by the towering performance by the one and only Big B and the understated execution by Taapsee Pannu who is at the same time the protagonist as well as the antagonist of the narrative. Knowingly or unknowingly, Sujoy Ghosh has deftly engaged the audience as the third party in this crossword-puzzle-like-truth-seeking-game. And it is here that the magic of a tightly scripted whodunnit has hobbled.

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When cinema poignantly portrays reality, the narrative becomes relatable because the audience finds an experiential one-ness with the drama enfolding on the silver screen. In case of Badla, it is just the opposite. The implausibility of the proposition that the plot offers is so stark and so sharply swerves from what we actually experience in our day to day dealings that it loses popular sympathy. Here a stage is elaborately set to catch the culprit based on the premise that once truth pops out of the bag justice would be done. But does that really happen in real life? Seldom. We know our administrative system is so labyrinthine in protocol that truth gets lost somewhere in the draconian slushpile of fat files.

But as it may be rightly pointed out that there is always a parallel narrative between cinema and reality. It is this parallel narration which invokes faith, hope and optimism. And as my sister so sagely puts it a story should be seen as a story only. But does that mean “Badla” has nothing to offer? No. That’s not true. It offers excellent grip on the storyline. Though translated into celluloid it has the mesmeric of a riveting stage play. The characters are well-etched. The direction is tight and you can hardly find a lose end in the screenplay. Above all, the splendid chemistry between the two pivotal characters of the story, Mr. Bachhan and Ms. Pannu works wonders for the script.

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But above all these, what Badla underscores is the ruthlessness of the crime. It is not whodunnit but howdunnit which takes the centre stage. The appalling savagery involved in the whole act, in this instance, not a single but a double murder, is made home in an understated yet graphic lucidity which is the USP of this movie. And mind. you, here the viciousness of the crime is more cerebral than physical. How it is hatched on the spur of the moment indicates a barbarism which is inborn and not an impulsive act of self defence.

More discomforting is the culprit’s extreme methods to evade the law proving once more that be it any part of the world its the perpetrator of heinous crimes who roams at large with collars up while the ones victimised run in vain from pillar to post in search of justice. Given this sorry state of affairs, in the movie, the victim, Rani Kaur’s (Amrita Singh) gritty statement that the one sloshed with power does not know his fall is imminent seems like a heavy-weight utopian proclammation.

Last but not the least, while the pivotal characters straddle one continent to the other, in the backdrop of an international set up, apart from the cops, the characters only look up their Indian counterparts to solve a macabre mystery of lust, lies and power. Do I call that a jarring note or the sudden blaze of patriotism?

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All Pics from Google

Homecoming


Every evening, while going back home from office, I pass this cemetery underneath the fly over. Not very visible from the road but if you pull over your vehicle on the left side and look down you can see rows after rows of graves with crosses neatly arranged  sparkling white even by the dimming light of the downing sun.

Going by the colour, it seems comparatively new. But my driver tells me its an old one. “It was always there,” says he. I wonder why I never noticed it earlier. And now they have put up a signage too in the midst of the road with an arrow indicating to the left. I again wonder why. Perhaps we should be aware of the dead resting in peace beneath the busy thoroughfare. Respect the calmness of the place away from the clutter of everyday life.

The flyover is actually part of a speeding highway. The traffic is never slow here. No-one waits for anybody. No-one stops by. In the mornings while going to work I take a different route through the city. There is a cemetery along that route too. But its broad daylight. Though the place is rumoured to be haunted it does not give me the creeps.

Yet it is different in the evenings. Every time I pass by the cemetery I have this queer thought what will happen if my car breaks down here. Its almost dusk when I pass by in the summers and its dark during winters. You can feel the change in the seasons as you go by this route. The altering hues of the sky. As I move away from the Office Complexes and Commercial Areas, habitation thins. The road becomes broader flanked alternately by fallow lands or deep vegetation. You can see dimly lit villages further away. The traffic is heavy in patches intercepted by passages where you can accelerate your car happily till you reach the next oasis of vehicular congestion.

As my car cuts through the labyrinth of two and three and four wheelers, I ponder once again on what would happen if I am stranded on this speeding highway with no-one to help as night stealthily stalks the city-scape. It is more than a decade now that I have been rushing home by this road. Thankfully no such untoward event has ever happened till now. Yet, each time I see the signage the quirky thought presses upon my mind like a stone stuck in a ditch leaving me a little restless, a little uncomfortable, a little uncertain.

Silhouettes


Shadows melt into shadows as dusk deepens into night. The stillness embalms old wounds. The rustle of leaves in the garden is a known song. Birds have downed their chirps in deep slumber. I am alone in my flat.

Preparing dinner in the kitchen I have an uncanny feeling of someone watching over me. I turn around to just witness a swish of something white passing by. In the dimly lit hall quietude resides.

Coming back to the kitchen my ears catch the softness of a footfall. My heart misses a beat. Is the front door tightly bolted ? I check it out.

Dinner is a hurried affair. The clatter of cutlery echoes through the emptiness.Time to retire to bed. As I move towards the bedroom the curtain separating the washroom from the hall waves a little as though invisible fingers have  run over it in a quaint, playful rhythm. I shiver a little. A cold draught must have crept in from an unlatched window.

I take a stroll down the hall checking, re-checking every  door and window. Again an odd feeling of someone watching, someone just stepping back into the dark recesses   of the kitchen, no, the bathroom as I pass by. Aah! I pinch myself. Am I dreaming ? No. Then ?

Receding under the quilt I make a last effort at reasoning.  I dial my sister’s number from my mobile. “Di…there’s someone in my flat…” I rush on. As I pause to inhale in the midst of my strange narrative she laughs it out, “Must be the effect of the horror movie you saw in the afternoon…” Yes, I was at the PVR with her, watching this comic horror film in which both horror and comedy were in equal proportions.

I try to laugh it out with her. Time to say good nigh to my imaginary fears…yet. Creaking of the door just then and I am wide awake. Tossing and turning in bed waiting for the night to give way to dawn. Tearing the silence of the night, floats in the tinkle of melodious notes. Someone’s playing the piano, not very far away, but from the room next.

Who?

 

Pic: From Google

A Ceramic Evening


One of the recent events I attended was way different from the ones I am used to visiting. This was my co-haikuist Nandita Jain Mahajan’s ceramic art exhibition in India Habitat Centre (IHC). I like going to IHC because of its ambience and open space.

The exhibition was held somewhere in mid October in the evening in Visual Arts Gallery and Palm Court Gallery consecutively. It was not her solo exhibition but with other artists of equal talent. I had once expressed my desire to visit her studio where she turned out these objets di art from mere clay. That visit never happened but she was kind enough to invite me to her exhibition which I readily attended with my sister.

Honestly speaking I do not much understand ceramic art. But am very much interested in all creative arts including sculpting and painting and would like to attend a course some day to understand and appreciate these two art forms better.

I was fascinated by  Nandita’s handiworks and I clicked frantically to try and capture the beauty and aesthetics of her and other’s creations. Here are some of the pictures with one liners about why I liked these.

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The Inauguation

 

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Here is Nandita with the tray of flowers in hand

The first thing that caught my eyes were the tiles and I wondered how they would look on the floor or wall of my flat.

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Next were the cluster of artefacts.

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And then there were the portraits and how they held captive the delicate emotions and expressions.

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I also took a round of the gallery and found the Kettle Junction and a few other pieces interesting and eye catching.

 

 

 

 

Last but not the least, I found this one the most enchanting.  How the delicate curl and tender feel of the leaves were brought alive in a medium which is hard and exact opposite in texture  of the soft crumbling leaves. I could almost feel the leaves crunch under my feet. And what with the added charm of the unique haiku by Kala Ramesh. Absolutely delightful – a stunning treat to the eyes! Here, I must once again underscore my lack of knowledge of this art form. And any subtle nuance  that I may be missing in. these intricate and hard-to-mould-creations may please be excused.

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Thanks to Nandita for this visually engaging journey through one portrayal to the other. Of course, the evening ended in Eatopia gorging on mouth melting pastries.

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When GPS Goofs Up


TRAFFIC JAM IN DELHI

Pic from Google

I had this odd notion that getting a new passport made was a cumbersome process requiring innumerable documentations. However, on the contrary, it took lesser time than usual applying online. And to my and everyone’s, whosoever knew that I was applying for passport, surprise the appointment date for physical submission of relevant documents, happened to be the very next date I applied online. My solicitous colleague told me to get the formality done and over with at the PSK (Passport Seva Kendra) branch  near my office because the services extended there were fast.

Having taken the appointment at the suggested Service Centre, my prime concern was how to get there as I was not very conversant with the place. But GPS was very helpful and within twenty minutes I was right in front of the building with a sheaf of papers in hand. As expected, within an hour and a half I was out having met with all the compliances. Now, the problem was how to get back to office. My driver suggested we take the same route back. But somehow I thought of depending upon GPS once again.

As usual, GPS took a circuitous but purportedly the fastest route to the destination. In no time, we were going round and round the circular avenues and reached the famous spot – Bengali Market – which is loaded with kiosks of junk foods. Deviating from the subject a little I must tell you, in India even the junk foods have their own local brands ! And this place housed them all. At this juncture, GPS stately announced that we have arrived. I was stumped and did not know how to reach my office. It was almost lunch time and the kiosks were teeming with crowds of office goers, street mongers, shoppers et al.

GPS IThe only reasonable thing to do at that point of time was to  put the destination once again into the system. This time Google Auntie was more focussed and got us to the desired destination. Having reached a little late to office, I recounted the fiasco to my colleagues. They were most kind and understanding,”Take pity on Google Di,” they said, “Just imagine the load on her. How over pressurised she might be giving directions to all and sundry on the over congested roads of NCR (National Capital Region). It is no wonder she gets confused at times. You must excuse her.” Point. I was left with no argument.

But secretly, I wondered whether Google Auntie could guess my salivation over street food and that I was ravenous  having successfully completed a task  which had worried and bothered me for quite sometime. I wonder…have satellites acquired the artificial intelligence to know our man ki baat?? Though I did not give in to my gluttony in this case. Yet…

BENGALI MARKET

 

All Pics from Google

Wizadry Of Theories


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One look at the Reference at the back of the book detailing the Reading List of the author and the reader gets a clear view from where the confounded theory, around which the entire novel pivots, germinates. Undoubtedly the list is elaborate and impressive. So is the theory complex and far- fetched. It appears that the author has mashed up all the information available with him and made out a postulate which becomes less and less palatable as the book progresses.

Notwithstanding the convoluted premise, Keepers Of The Kaalchakra, the fifth in Bharat Series, penned by the Dan Brown of India, one and only Ashwin Sanghi is racy, edge-of-the-seat, gripping, in short, unputdownable.

Vijay Sundaram, an erudite IIT Professor, is compelled by an elite intelligence group. SG4, to join a strictly guarded research outfit called the Milesian Lab for reasons unknown. Within the cordoned premises of Milesian Lab, Sundaram comes in as much close proximity as possible with his mysteriously cagey colleague named Mikhailov who has the key to the Lab’s secret mission. But before he can confide in Vijay, Mikhailov is caught trespassing beyond the boundaries of the Lab. Vijay, on the other hand, egged by SG4, takes up the dangerous assignment of breaking into the office of the detestable Lab honcho, Schmidt. But by the time he could lay hands on what exactly is going on inside the Lab the trap closes in on him. Had Vijay known that the entire game plan is to remove him from the face of this earth would he have joined Milesian Lab?

Based on the theory of quantum twin particle, Sanghi extends the thesis to human species. As is his habit to brew a zealous concoction out of zillion spices, Sanghi touches upon complex issues pertaining to the blurry intersecting zones of Science and Religion. From Supreme Consciousness to Self-Healing, from Tantric Buddhism to Vedantic wisdom, from Machiavellian politics to extra sensory spiritual realization, from Islamic fundamentalism to moderation in Muslim extremism, Sanghi struggles copiously to prove his self-proclaimed doctrine of interconnectedness of everything.

It is difficult to review Sanghi as he brings in a myriad of hypotheses to assert what readers would well-nigh like to believe in not without outreaching the bounds of plausible explanations. Yet, Sanghi presents an alternate arena wherein till his entry laid a vacuum of incalculable depth. He has actually, with his Bharat Series, embarked upon a crusade which is nothing less than extortion of imagination by his expostulations which are so adorably fantastic, so impossibly believable and so confoundedly beyond the bounds of credulity. I suppose therein lies his overdriving skill which has given India its first taste of mythological thrillers. However, with the Keepers Of The Kaalchakra, one is doubtful whether the author is now gravitating into the deepening grey realm of scientific spiritualism or making a more pointed statement in the formidable sphere of today’s chaotic world politics.

With the 5th in the series, there is definite improvement in so far as the goriness of the plot is concerned. The violence quotient is toned down. The information overload is much in the nature of discourses between characters at the most improbable juncture where the readers would have expected page turning action. While the women of substance take a back seat in this novel, I wonder why the author always paints them in the palette of grisly shades.

Nonetheless, all said and done, Sanhgi is a Sanghi is a Sanghi. Here is a book which is, unlike the present trend, not written for the whole and sole purpose of celluloid adaptation. Here is  a book for readers. Highly incredulous yet incorrigibly tempting.

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All Pics from Google

 

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Narratives Of Deception


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Recently I saw two movies, not exactly back to back, but in close intervals. Interestingly, both had quite a number of comparable factors/ common denominators.

Firstly, both were suspense thrillers. Both were premised on deception. And last but not the least, both had Tabu in them who played her age with a chilling grace.

Andhadhun, translated literally means Blind Tune, pivots around a character who pretends to be blind. Unexpectedly he becomes the prime witness to consecutive murders. Thereafter, it is simply a life and death chase for him as the partners in crime (yes, there are two) make it their mission to oust him from the face of this earth.

Missing, is again a one night story in a resort where a couple with their baby girl comes to stay. The husband has a roving eye and the wife is too taken up with her child who is sick. Sadly, that very night the baby goes missing. The hapless mother is so berserk with grief that the hotel authority has to call the police. The Investigating Officer is too sharp and experienced to let the manipulating husband with his cock and bull stories befool him. But as he delves deeper into the case alarming facts keep coming to light.

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While Andhadhun is a twisty tale, Missing is predictably linear. One does not know what is going to happen next in Andhadhun whereas in Missing one can almost visualise the end. While the former intrigues the latter leaves a pall of negativity which is hard to dissipate.

However, the biggest leap for Hindi Cinema is the narrative based films which are now being released than those which pivoted around either the angry-young-man-type of larger-than-life or the mushy-running-around-the-trees kind of heroes. Both these films are burning examples of the first category. It is a pleasure to watch that all is not simply black and white but the shades of grey, hitherto overlooked, taking centre stage.

In both these films Tabu is on the wrong side of thirty and not at all wary of vices. In Andhadhun she is ruthlessly ambitious, cruel and desperate to the point of no return. In Missing she is a hyper emotional mother extremely concerned about her baby. She essays both the characters with inbred elan. Paired with heroes much younger to her (Ayushman Khurana and Manoj Bajpai, respectively) she rules the roost.

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On the flip side, both the movies, seen with practical eyes, border on implausibility. In Andhadhun, a young boy who leads a life of a blind musician just because he feels his blindness can make him more creative is in itself a concept difficult to convince the audience with. In Missing, how can two strangers come together for one night pretending to be as close as married couple is beyond comprehension. More so, when there is no compulsion leading to such an arrangement.

However, both the movies throw up the issue of reality under guise. When we talk of deception reference is drawn towards a situation wherein actuality is under cover. What the protagonist perceives as conscious reality is ‘created circumstances’ to entrap him or her. The falsification comes to light in the climax.

However, Andhadhun’s climactic construct deliberately retains a pall of doubt in the minds of the audience leaving a wide scope for imaginative interpretation. Missing’s end, as I said earlier, is predictable yet draws the curtain on a disturbing unease which does not augur good for the narrative’s construct. A narration which impels the viewer to introspect and tickle the fertile gray cells, I call dynamic.

MISSING 2The audience is compelled to ruminate over the thematic build of the film Andhadhun which circulates in the mind even after the story has drawn to a close. Missing disappoints on this account. In fact, much before the end of the movie, one hopes for it to come to a close soon. More so because any narration which deals with cruelty towards children or animal I am grossly allergic to.

Another thought that strikes me while I write this post concerns the make-up of the films – Missing does not invoke hope while Andhadhun, though founded on whole-sale deception, still provides inklings of something good in the offing. Just a wishful thought yet it is there and that is very important. To raise positivity even if its just a probability makes for a healthy conclusion. After all what viewers need is entertainment which in the long run rests on a magical canvas of hopeful illusions.

To conclude, I dump Missing as pessimistic though Andhadhun, wherein the protagonist falls prey to mishaps, one after the other, is not my cup of tea either. I like slow build-ups which has the capacity to stimulate the intellect. Whereas it is very very debatable to arrive at an inference that the knack to wed misfortune all the time is a reflection of one’s own carmic undoing, the tortuous narrative of Andhadhun seems to indicate quite a number of times that it is. Yet, we, in our eternal folly, resume a connect with ill-fate more out of habit than mere preordainment. It is futile to believe that the film dishes out this powerful message. It does not. It is a one-time watch – a mainstream endeavour to cajole the gullible audience to believe that you can get away with your pretensions and find a way to lead a life of your own choice. A blunder of the first order! If I may say so. Yet, having said that both the stories begin from where they end.

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All pics from Google