Monday, October 23, 2006

Back With A Bang !

Kiran Desai is in the news again ! Nothing too big ... except she has won the 2006 Man Booker Prize !! I remember reading Kiran's first novel - Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard - while I in my second year in college. In fact, I even remember where I read it. - during a bus ride from Delhi back to school in Chandigarh. I remember saying to myself, "Wow ! She is going to go places". After that, I never heard anything more about her, until now.

Kiran is not the first writer in her family. Far from it ! Her mother, Anita Desai, is more than accomplished writer. She has been shortlisted for the Booker herself 3 times. She was, until recently, a professor at the MIT Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and was one of the two reasons for my *almost* abandoning 4 years of engineering instruction and switching to writing full-time (if you are one of the very few regular readers, you would know that the other reason is Salman Rushdie).

Anyway, I digress. Kiran won the coveted prize for her new novel The Inheritance of Loss (Oh, it's already in the mail !). Guess what Rushdie says about Kiran's latest ? "Kiran Desai is a terrific writer. This book richly fulfills the promise of her first." I am sure that feels good, Kiran ! As one of your earliest fans, I wish you many more of such feelings in the years to come ! Oh, and tell your mom she rocks !

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The thread grows stronger ...

For people who don't know me very well, the title of this post may not seem very significant. However, the subset of my family and close friends who read this blog will certainly be surprised, if not shocked. I am perhaps the most vocal critic of the drudgery that has been churned out in the last 5 years by the Bombay branch of largest movie industry in the world.

However, don't file this story under the tags "man" and "disaffected" yet. Sure, my faith in the venerable film institution only hangs by a very thin thread but it's a thread nonetheless. Each strand in this thread represents a movie that is NOT an aimless blob full of inane songs and dubious entertainment value.

Dor is another such movie, and a brilliant one at that. It has a very decent plot, an excellent assemblage of actors and brilliant direction by one of my favorite directors, Nagesh Kukunoor. And that's not all. It has something that I never thought a hindi movie made after the 1960s could ever have - cinematic metaphors. If you pay attention, you can find that every seemingly unrelated event in the movie has a metaphorical bond to the underlying story. I could talk about the various scenes here (and believe me, I want to !) but I would rather keep this post spoiler-free.

Of course, Dor is going to be a box-office failure. I am pretty much resigned to the fact that almost every movie I find stimulating is rejected outright by the Indian public. I don't want to get too much into the whole "masses vs. classes" debate except to say that all the masses seem to want are unfunny jokes, unhealthy vulgarity and unoriginal scripts. I know I probably come off as an arrogant snob here but I assure you, that is not my intent. There are plenty of movies that lie at the intersection.

With that disclaimer in mind, I wish Dor all the success in the world (I wish it was the official Indian entry to the upcoming Academy Awards, but I am also a big fan of the movie that was ultimately selected).