Monday, September 22, 2008

flowing silver, sea of sponge

For months, I have been thinking of this particular post. Four of us escaped from the newsroom to landmark. Amitav's reading session of his latest poppy. I have heard of him but never read him. The other three have enjoyed his prose thoroughly. I was promised a book to read by two.

We found him at the doorway. Dressed in white kurta, he stood there slantingly talking. His spongy, silvery hair stood out. I have never seen anything more spongy or silvery.

The man was as soft as the sponge with hair steely as silver. He read passages from his new book and took questions from a sea of admirers. The last time, I heard about him was at the time of launch of Hungry Tide. It was sunderbans that attracted me to read the reviews, mostly favourable. I did not get a chance to read the book. On hearing him read, it was evident that this man was reading from the forgotten, rather unknown, pages of the subcontinental history. Here is one writer working to enlighten the socio-cultural history the historians have not focussed on. Of course, his is a work of fiction. The canvas being history. Like him, I was more interested in knowing the history of those brave men and women who sailed as far as the west indies than the works of naipaul.

His reading was not impressive. It was a session to make people meet him. His readings will not sell even a single book. His writings will. In several thousands. I learnt it after reading the glass palace. It was one of those books which you finish without bothering to do anything else. I took three days to finish the book. From the time, Rajkumar said the British are bombing to toothless octagenarians' naked-hugging at the end of it all, it was time worth well spent.

Irawady river, Mandalay palace, the fort, beach and cemetry of Ratnagiri, the floating Rangoon, Morningside jungles, Calcutta culture, the chilling war, the flight of refugees, the siege, all written evocatively and the unsaid anninhilation of an egalitarian culture by crooked colonialism. The characters too remain deep inside. The King's distant eyes, the uncompromising Queen, the making of a feminist from a collector's wife, a little girl's thirst for the supreme state, a producer husband and a loving wife, all chronicled through the life of a poor boy rising to be a prince.

It was after a long time a book rekindled my passion for filming. The last time was while reading the city of joy. The story is tailor made. Only, one has to visualise. The creeking teashop on a treetop, a young boy presenting a jewellery to a bright eyed girl, the king with a binocular on top of a crumbling fort, the coach rider with his pregnant princess, two young men recruiting in andhra for work in burma, the capsized boat and the death of collector, a young liberal woman sailing in the pacific, the wooded house at morningside estate, the first photograph of a naked lover, the first officers in the army, a young producer hugging a wannabe actor in a cal studio, the bombings, the killings, the cruel images of the war, the interluding delight in wine and woman, the trampling of elephants, the mother sinking into the river, the fight for faith, the photograhper and his wife within walls, that peaceful face from being the prison gates, the train to ratnagiri, not to forget the naked-hugging and kissing of two old people, who hated each other for six decades, at the end.

The images are countless and the canvas breathtaking. Well, will me ever get to make a film?

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.