Ray, Movie's Magician


Starring- Tapen Chatterjee, Rabi Ghosh, Santosh Dutta

I've been wanting to see this movie since I was a kid, and it was worth the wait. An awesome, Awesome movie, directed by Ray at the prime of his career; a movie I totally loved.

Goopy is an awful singer, kicked out of his village for annoying the king with his singing. On his travels, he meets Bagha, an equally bad drummer. Both of them take shelter in a bamboo forest, which, incidentally is home to a group of ghosts. The King of ghosts is fascinated by their music and grants them three boons: they can eat what they like and get the clothes they want with a clap of their hands, they can go anywhere while wearing the magic slippers he gives them, and they can mesmerise people with their music. They hear of a music contest organised by the king of Shundi, and their adventures begin.

This movie has a bunch of lovely songs, penned by Ray himself. The movie is a fantasy which kids adore and adults enjoy, but is also a thinly-veiled allegory of today's world. The lyrics reflect modern concerns, Ore Baba Koto Sena (Oh, how many soldiers) saying how futile war is. When this movie was released, many said it would tank, as it did not fit into either the action or the romance genre, which were the only two kinds of movies popular in those days (and even now). But Ray proved all his detractors wrong, scripting one of the most popular Bengali movies of all time, and scooping up a host of national and international awards in the process. I'll leave you with my translation of my favorite song from the movie, a song with deep meaning and beautiful melody (and some humour from Bagha, which I'm not including, but which adds to the song).

Ek Je Chilo Raja (There was a King)

There was a King,
He had many sorrows.
Look at the King, he weeps,
Poor King, he has many sorrows.

How does sorrow arise?
It is not the sole domain of the unfortunate,
Whose home is lined with gold and silver, he also suffers,
Know that he is also not happy.

Will the sorrow go?
In solitary silence, the King wonders.
How will the King get peace after punishing the innocent,
How will the sorrow go?

How does sorrow go?
Confinement in his prison of a palace doesn't help,
If the King leaves his golden throne and breathes in the fresh air of the field,
Only then the King will have peace.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW Eragon: Christopher Paolini


I am a little conflicted about this book. I love fantasy and this story about a dragon and her Rider appealed to me, but the narration bored me quite a few times.

Eragon is a farm boy, whose life changes when he comes across a bright blue stone while hunting. Within days, the "stone" hatches into a baby dragon, whom he names Saphira. Soon, the evil King Galbatorix's servants, the deadly Ra'zac, come hunting for the egg, and destroy Eragon's home and kill his uncle. Eragon and Saphira, along with the mysterious storyteller Brom, pursue them across Alagaesia, in a journey that will decide his future as the last free Dragon Rider.

The story was creative, but got a little boring, especially during Eragon's journey with Brom. Murtagh's arrival kicked up the pace, but the plot is too Star War-ish; there was a lot of deja-vu. Paolini wrote Eragon when he was fifteen, so I'm not being too critical (I remember the stuff I wrote at fifteen), but still, I had hoped for better editing. I loved Saphira though, I thought her voice was fleshed out well. She is wise, funny, and the best friend you can have. But somehow the story didn't grip me that much. Maybe it's because I read it a second time, but I don't remember being that into the story the first time either. I felt the writing was a little stilted, as if the author was trying too hard to pull a Tolkien. The movie is downright terrible, so bad I wondered if the makers had even read the book. I'd say the book is definitely worth a read, but it's one I'd borrow, not buy for a permanent place on my shelf.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW How Opal Mehta got Kissed, got Wild and got a Life: Kaavya Viswanathan


The title takes longer to read than the story, so I'll just be calling it HOWGAL, the policy that Opal's parents adopt for her. It was a brisk, entertaining read, a nice chick-litty way to pass the time.

HOWGAL is the story of a nerdy Indian teenager, Opal Mehta, whose life revolves around getting into Harvard. When Opal has no answer to the interviewer's seemingly innocuous question " What do you like to do for fun?", Opal's parents decide that HOWGIH (How Opal Will Get Into Harvard) will give way for HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get A Life). So that includes a complete makeover so that she can be part of the Haute Bitchez, party like a rockstar and get her first kiss from her longtime crush.

You might remember that Kaavya Viswanathan was embroiled in a huge plagiarism row regarding this book. With the greatest respect to the original author, I thought that the parts Ms. Viswanathan copied were actually an improvement on the original passages. I liked her style of writing and her heroine too, who doesn't whine all the time. This book makes the point "Nerd is Cool" in a very unassuming way, and also asks a very pertinent question- Would you risk losing everything to win your dream back? But the book has several flaws, major among them being the parents. Trust me on this, Indian parents are not the way they are depicted in the book. They may be loud and controlling, but they definitely do not gatecrash their daughter's party and start clicking pictures. But it is a loss to the writing community that Viswanathan went out the way she did, because I thought she had some potential. In a way, the author's life mirrors her heroine's, as both walked down paths they normally wouldn't have chosen (I'm assuming plagiarism wasn't Viswanathan's motto) to get something they desperately want. Sadly for Viswanathan, her story didn't have Opal's happy ending.

Read another review at: Ramya's Bookshelf

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

My First Blog Award

Yippee!! My first blog award!! After just about three months of blogging!! A big thanks to Jeane over at Dog Ear Diary for this award. This one is to be passed on to blogs newly discovered. For me, that would mean all the blogs I've read, but I'll try and pick a few.

And, my exams are finally over! Three months of holidays, free time to laze around and, of course, READ!!! I've got a pile of books just waiting to be read, a reading challenge to be completed, new ones to join, so it's time to get cracking.

And, by the way, I changed the layout of my blog. Do you like it? Tell me, I'd love to hear what changes I can incorporate.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW Casino Royale: Ian Fleming


After reading my first Bond novel, I thought that Daniel Craig was quite close to Fleming's notion of Bond- tough, cynical and stylish. I haven't read much spy fiction, so I can't compare it with anything else, but I came away liking the book.

Casino Royale opens with Bond at the baccarat tables, playing against the ruthless and desperate Le Chiffre. A loss could ruin Le Chiffre, treasurer for a Soviet-backed union, so MI6 sends in its best agent. The Service also has a surprise for Bond in the form of Vesper Lynd, a beautiful Treasury official. The CIA also has its hands in the till, with Felix Leiter aiding Bond. It's a dangerous game, with assassins lurking in all corners, but then, that's why 007 is on the job.

I loved Fleming's comprehensive explanation of the game of baccarat, which made even a novice like me confident enough to reckon trying my hands at the game. The gambling sequence was thrilling, to say the least, and the movies' signature tune kept playing in my head. Though not a page-turner, the book has its requisite doses of action, which happens at a reasonable pace. There weren't any high-tech gadgets like in the Brosnan movies, but I thought that helped establish Bond's credentials as a good agent. A softer side to Bond is visible during his romantic getaway with Vesper, but only for a while, as circumstances bring back the cold, distrusting person. We also see glimpses of a future nemesis in SMERSH, the lethal Soviet espionage agency. I have the next book on next month's TBR pile, so Bond will be back.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

Shubho Naboborsho 1416

It is the Poila Boishakh, the Bengali New Year today- a time of celebration, of giving hugs and getting sweets. To everyone who celebrates it,
May the year bring joy, success and lots of mishti doi!

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW If Tomorrow Comes: Sidney Sheldon


I read The Naked Face sometime back, but didn't like it, so that put me off Sidney Sheldon for quite some time. But at the insistence of my friends, I decided to give Sheldon another try. If Tomorrow Comes was highly recommended by all my Sheldon-reading friends, and after a taxing exam yesterday, I read it before burying myself in my textbooks again. I am glad I did, because this book was a really fun read.

Everything was going well for Tracy Whitney, until her mother committed suicide. A rash decision found her in prison framed for theft and attempted murder, abandoned by the man she was going to marry, and facing hostile prison conditions for fifteen years. She vows to get revenge on the people responsible for her situation and does so, when a stroke of luck sees her walk out of the prison gates. But life outside the bars is as difficult as life inside, so Tracy turns to a life of dangerous adventure, living by her wits. On the way, she meets a roguishly charming con-artist, Jeff Stevens, and the competition heats up.

The book starts off a little shakily, but picks up tempo as it goes along. The heists are pretty ingenuous, though impractical, but then, that applies for most robber stories (earthquake simulation, anybody?). I especially liked the idea behind the chess game, and also the Prado heist. Tracy starts off as a naive, slightly weak character, but matures into a smart, savvy heroine whose exploits I enjoyed. Sheldon's TV influences are noticeable, as the novel races from one situation to another. If you're a fan of heist capers like I am, you'll enjoy this book.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW The Catcher in the Rye: J.D.Salinger


Finally, the first of my Guardian challenge list done. I found Catcher in the Rye a very intriguing book, though I took some time to plough through it. One thing I figured is that nothing has changed in the 50 years since the book was published; we all have felt what Caulfield feels, at some time or the other.

The protagonist of the book is Holden Caulfield, who has just been kicked out of prep school. We see various students through his eyes, and follow him after he leaves the dorm in the dead of the night. Instead of returning home, he checks into a hotel, gets drunk and meets a prostitute, before sneaking into his house to meet his kid sister, Phoebe, who is the only one he seems to connect with.

One thing that struck me was the sense of loneliness throughout the book. Caulfield thinks everyone around him is phony, so he has no friends to speak of. In all his drunken ramblings, we sense how alone he is, and how much he misses his dead brother Allie. The talk about "phonies" permeates the book, and I sort of identified with it, remembering the countless times I have felt the same. Holden talks and thinks like an adult, but there is a part of him which wants to remain a kid forever. The book is realistic in its capturing of teenage rebellion and thought processes. Holden usually starts talking about something and ends up at a completely different point, much like the late-night discussions we had, where we started talking about what to study for the exams and ended up discussing the media's reaction after the Mumbai terror attacks. But there was something about the book I didn't quite like, something I can't really pinpoint. Maybe it was all the cussing, maybe it was Holden's adult experiences, I don't know. Sometimes I felt Holden himself was a big phony, for all his bluster.

Holden is like a lost soul, who has imbibed the jaded cynicism of the adult world without really knowing where he fits in. I am a little ambiguous about this book: it is accurate in its descriptions, but sometimes it seems so fake. Or maybe this is just the Holden Caulfield in me speaking.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW Inkheart: Cornelia Funke


I finished Brisingr, but I thought I'd put off reviewing it until I re-read Eragon and Eldest (I've forgotten most of the backstory). Instead, I decided to review Inkheart, a book I've heard a lot about and have been wanting to read for a really long time.

Inkheart tells the tale of twelve-year old Meggie Folchart, whose father is a skilled book-binder. Meggie loves books and rues the fact that her father has never read aloud to her. One dark night, when a stranger called Dustfinger knocks at their door, she finds out why. Meggie's father, Mo, has a special gift, he can make characters from books come alive with the magic of his voice. One evening, when he was reading aloud to Meggie's mother from a book called Inkheart, he read Dustfinger, along with the black-hearted Capricorn and Basta, out, while Meggie's mother accidentally went in. Capricorn is now after Mo's talent, and Mo, Meggie and her irritable bibliophile grand-aunt Elinor have to figure out how to destroy him.

I loved this book for several reasons. One, all the characters love books. How can I not love a book about books and reading?Also, the names of the characters-Dustfinger, Capricorn, Fenoglio, are really cool, and give that enchanting touch. And the quotes from various books that open each chapter give a hint as to what lies ahead, and I discovered books I hadn't heard of at all. Ms Funke's writing style is clear; her words build visual images and appeal to young and old alike. But I found a couple of loopholes in the plot: How come Darius was able to read Resa out of the book even though she wasn't written in the original story? And how could Mo suddenly read the right way at the right time with the Shadow, though he tried unsuccessfully for so many years with Meggie's mother and Dustfinger? Hopefully she'll explain how the power works in the next book. Anyway, I think the best thing about this book is that it brought on a flurry of reading, though my choice of books weren't that...never mind. I think the main purpose of the book was served: to share the love of reading.

I'll leave you with this totally awesome quote from the book.

Some books should be tasted
some devoured
but only a few
should be chewed and digested thoroughly

Update: I watched the movie too. I liked it and I thought Brendan Fraser was really cool as Mo. But the movie suffers the problem all book-turned-into-movies suffer: condensation of 500-odd pages into 90 minutes of screentime. Watch the movie for the cast, but don't expect it to rival Lord of the Rings.

Read another review at: things mean a lot
Becky's Book Reviews
A Striped Armchair
The Written World

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

Indexed By Title

Please leave a comment (with link) if you have reviewed a book on the list or on the main review, and I'll link to your review.
Year 1

Year 2 (ongoing)

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

Year 1 in Reading

This is a list of all the books I have read and reviewed in my first year of blogging. Please leave a comment (with link) if you have reviewed a book on the list or on the main review, and I'll link to your review.

1984-George Orwell
2 States: The Story of my Marriage- Chetan Bhagat
A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens
Animal Farm- George Orwell
Anne of Green Gables- L.M. Montgomery
Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident- Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code- Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony- Eoin Colfer
Breaking Dawn- Stephenie Meyer
Brida- Paolo Coelho
The Broker- John Grisham
The Catcher in the Rye-J.D. Salinger
Casino Royale-Ian Fleming
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl
Charmed Thirds- Megan McCafferty
City of Ashes- Cassandra Clare
City of Bones- Cassandra Clare
City of Glass- Cassandra Clare
The Colour of Magic-Terry Pratchett
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime- Mark Haddon
Darkfever- Karen Marie Moning
Dead Until Dark- Charlaine Harris
The Devil Wears Prada- Lauren Weisberger
Eclipse- Stephenie Meyer
The English Teacher- R.K. Narayan
Eragon-Chrishtopher Paolini
Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy
The Godfather- Mario Puzo
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets- J.K.Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling
The Heretic Queen- Michelle Moran
The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien
Hot Water- P.G. Wodehouse
How Opal Mehta got Kissed, got Wild and got a Life-Kaavya Viswanathan
The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins
Ice Station- Matthew Reilly
If Tomorrow Comes-Sidney Sheldon
India After Gandhi- Ramachandra Guha
Inkheart-Cornelia Funke
Inkspell-Cornelia Funke
The Kite Runner-Khaled Hosseini
Life After 187- Wade J. Halverson
Living Dead in Dallas- Charlaine Harris
The Lost Symbol- Dan Brown
My Family and Other Animals-Gerald Durrell
New Moon-Stephenie Meyer
Paths of Glory- Jeffrey Archer
The Princess Diaries- Meg Cabot
The Remains of the Day- Kazuo Ishiguro
Rich Dad Poor Dad-Robert Kiyosaki
Second Helpings- Megan McCafferty
The Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shonar Kella (The Golden Fort)- Satyajit Ray
Slaughterhouse Five- Kurt Vonnegut
Sloppy Firsts- Megan McCafferty
Star Trek:The Motion Picture- Gene Roddenberry
The Supernaturalist-Eoin Colfer
The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield
To Kill A Mockingbird-Harper Lee
Twilight-Stephenie Meyer
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening- L.J. Smith
The Vampire Diaries: The Fury- L.J. Smith
The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle- L.J. Smith
Watchmen- Alan Moore

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

REVIEW My Family and Other Animals: Gerald Durrell


Durrell first came into my life as the author of a short story "My Donkey Sally", in our seventh-grade English textbook. That summer, when I went to Kolkata, I found this book lying in a corner of my cousin's bookshelf. I brought it with me when I returned, and since then, this book has been an important part of my life. Most of my train journeys have been with Durrell as company, and when I'm down, Durrell's brother, Larry, never fails to cheer me up.

My Family and Other Animals is a saga of ten-year old (I think) Gerry Durrell's stay in Corfu, with his eclectic family, which includes a gun-mad Leslie and a beauty-conscious Margo. His good friend, Dr. Theo Stephanides guides the nature-loving Durrell in his soujourn through the Greek island, and their fiercely protective, lovable Greek driver Spiro completes the extended family. Durrell studies and brings back many animals to his house: the Magenpies, Quasimodo the pigeon and Ullysses the owl to give company to his dog, Roger, and each pet has a story of its own.

The book provided me hours of pure, unadulterated fun. The conversations of the Durrell family are hilarious, the situations they fall in and out of are laugh-out-loud ones. Some of my favorite situations are when Gerry brings home a family of scorpions, Margo's reaction when her crush (who happens to be Jerry's tutor) is let go unceremoniously, and the final party the family throws. Larry is my favorite character; his reactions to Gerry's pets are hugely entertaining. The book is peppered with eccentric characters, notably Larry's literary friends. Durrell has an endearing style of writing, with an eye for detail and an impeccable comic timing. The book gives the feel of a quaint town by the coast, where life proceeds languidly, and daily occurrences acquire a certain charm. It is this feel which brings me back to this book time and again, which has made it an integral part of my bookshelf.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

Terrorising Times

AAMIR- Starring Rajeev Khandelwal
A WEDNESDAY- Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Aamir Bashir

These two movies released last year were the best to come out of Bollywood in a long, long time. And particularly relevant too, considering the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Lahore and concerns about future ones before or during the elections.

Aamir introduces Rajeev Khandelwal as a UK-returned Muslim whose family is held hostage by a unknown group of people, as he is sent on a journey through the gullies of Bombay, with the kidnapper gives him increasingly dangerous tasks, all the while trying to provoke him into violence in the name of his 'mazhab' and 'kaum'. The script is tight and fast-paced, without as many loopholes as other movies based on terrorism. I liked the music, especially the song 'Mehfuz', which, incidentally, is playing as I write this. The movie doesn't demand extraordinary leaps of faith in terms of the protagonist's choices and the situations he faces. It's not exactly a work of art, but is worth spending a couple of hours over.

A Wednesday is packed with powerhouse performers and deals with the aftermath of a bomb threats made by an unknown caller, which throws the whole system into disarray. The caller demands the release of four terrorists and their delivery to a Juhu airstrip. The Commissioner initially suspects a bluff, but after a bomb at a police station, he is forced to reconsider. I absolutely loved the story and the way it has been handled. The acting was restrained, with Jimmy Shergill, Deepal Shaw and Aamir Bashir holding their own opposite stellar performers like Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Shah's monologue at the end of the movie captured the frustration we all feel, and our sense of desperation as more attacks rip apart the cities we live in.

These two movies are extremely relevant to the times we are living in. It shows a maturity level in Bollywood, earlier seen only in arthouse movies, and its first steps to actually show ground realities. The protagonists are ordinary people we meet everyday, and what defines them is the choices they make. It is also heartening to see these movies being promoted by biggies (UTV distributed A Wednesday), and I really hope to see more of such stuff on screen. Makes a refreshing change from the mindless mess that was Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

If you like this post, you can receive free updates by Subscribing to my RSS Feed or by signing up for Email Updates

Related Posts with Thumbnails