Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Shadow Lines- Amitav Ghosh
I have been a fan of Amitav Ghosh, since the time my neighbor aunty,6 years back recommended me reading “The Glass Palace” by the author. I realized my love for his writing after a few days of completing the book, and now I can rightly say that his words grow on you, tingle in your mind and leave the impact of powerful writing. I experienced the same with “Hungry Tide” and now with “The Shadow Lines”.

Firstly, I really have to comment on how the book appeals, saying it differently written, will demean the theme and motive, so I’d rather put it as a perfect “unusual” writing, Why I mention unusual is because, the story runs in an indistinct format, scraping stories here and there, but what is perfect about it is that it never loses its sync, and although imprecise it connects beautifully. It never pretends to tell a story. It has a good start and ends well.

The characters are dense, like Ghosh likes it, probably! His characters might look stereotyped but they are always different. As it is a narrative, the book has the appeal of a diary entry displaying a lattice of memories.  I liked the protagonist, Tridib. A likeable character and narrator seems to share a very special repertoire with him apart from being his second cousin, he provides him with knowledge in the form of stories which lures him, and he is always ears to his tales from across the world. Ila, doesn’t create a lasting image and is not in mind unless you are reading her. Then, there is Tha’mma (narrators grandmother), soft like every grand mom would be; but inside, a strong virtued woman who always stood out on her own terms, without any help from her family. A determined female, of living life on her own terms, and her profession does complete justice to her nature, a headmistress. She is strong willed to re-unite her family bonding and fights to connect the last link in the turbulent times of 1963-64 communal riots in Dhaka, which shows that no matter how tough she was on herself with regards to her relatives during her struggle, at last it is her home and love for the family that once again brings her to Dhaka, her childhood place, experiencing a very unfortunate moment. May, daughter of the Price family, and Tridib’s special friend is showcased as a very sensible yet interested person. Interested intriguely in knowing more about India and the people, are they just like what Tridib used to write to her. What happens when she comes to India? Is her sensibility really responsible for the circumstance she pushes Tridib and his family in?
The plot is divided into two parts “Going Away” and “Coming back”, and the book follows the life of a young boy and the various anecdotes of the family patriarchs (Dattachaudhari’s and Price’s) as a result of their long back-dated family friendship. The story gradually unfolds the dark sides of the events like, Swadeshi Movement, Second World War, Partition of India and Communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka and Kolkata (Then Calcutta), in which they lose some of their dear ones with an effort to re-unite the broken links of the family.
I feel that Amitav Ghosh’s writing is captivating, without maintaining a very grave tone all through he knows how to emphasize on the crucial topics, when the story needs satire and the humor, though less. Simplistic writing but very well expressed. He gets hold of me every time I read him.

No wonder it won the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Your dreams are mine now- Ravinder Singh

I read this book because my husband picked it up from a bookstore we dropped in before a movie. He is a light reader and usually picks up novels which are just perfect for a week or so. Unlike me, he is not an investor in reading books, and though Ravinder Singh and his books don’t make up my favorites, yet I decided to pen down this review.

If you have read Ravinder Singh’s work earlier, you will probably know what you are game for this time too: a love story loaded with emotions, some romantic scenes and a sad end to the story. So here’s the catch- this one is no different except for its acknowledgement of some social fiascos. The story portrays two characters: Rupali, who is academically strong and an idealist, and comes to Delhi to join a college for her studies, and Arjun, who is already a DU student and belongs to a Union party. The two get involved while solving a situational problem, in which Rupali catches a college servant in. This gets the higher management involved, and suddenly Rupali’s efforts to take a stand for the lower class lady are appreciated in the college. This short novel surely highlights some of the problems which are ignored because of the fear of higher management or their power, and people not taking a stand because they don’t want to get themselves in a brawl. Rupali’ s courage surely deserves an applause.

Rupali as a character has been described as honest, strong, and one who protests against the wrong doings with a lot of gumption, soft at heart for her friends and family, while Arjun has been described as strong party leader, straight thinker and one who stands up for the right thing. What really bothered me was the equation which suddenly changed when Rupali and Arjun are a couple. Suddenly, Rupali starts sounding politically correct, advises or rather commands Arjun on the path the party must follow to gain power, the crowd starts loving her because of her ideas for the benefit of the party, she is always right! She is a super hero!! And all this time what Arjun does is to blankly listen and think in his mind of how lucky he is to have Rupali in his life. I know, we are different people when we are in love, but does it sound realistic that someone else suddenly takes charge of your responsibilities while you go numb all the time? Not to me.

Jumping on to the romantic part of the novel- as it is claimed to be just that- it shows a very repetitive college romance, which is not new to read and does not even emotionally appeal the reader. I remember tears falling from my eyes while I read Notebook, or for that matter Erich Segal's Love Story. And besides, one who reads Chetan Bhagat will never have dual thoughts about going for this pick.

The tragic part of the story sure takes you in a mode of sadness and anger, an emotional ride but for not more than 5 minutes, because I have been down that journey when I read newspapers covering the 'particular' Delhi events, which females fall prey to. The end was pretty predictable after reading more than half of the book.

According to me, the book lacked creativity, originality, the effort to try something new and realism (except the last part). The regular typecast characters and shades are easy to lure the normal reader, or a new one, but not for someone who has an appetite for worthy reading. The literary content does not appeal at all. There’s a thin line between simplistic writing and plaintive writing and this was the latter, so there’s no take back after finishing the book, just a sigh feeling that it is finally complete. I would really want to see some innovation in the inscription and the plot in Ravinder Singh's next leaflet so I can come back and post a more positive review. As a young writer, Ravinder Singh might have the potential to explore more, but first he needs to come out of his loop to invent a new write-up.

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café   The ceiling-high bookshelves I was in Goa last m...