Somerset Maugham’s Rain

Rain is probably the best short story written by Somerset Maugham – in its length and characterization it is more like a novella but of course it conforms to Maugham’s formula for a story – it has a beginning, a middle and an end.

The story’s popularity has sustained over the years as it has been made into movies and plays. Sadie’s role of a prostitute out to have a good time has been portrayed on-screen by Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson and Rita Hayworth. The short story has often been selected for anthologies and is prescribed reading material for students attempting to master modern English literature.

The adventure begins off on simple terms. A ship headed to Apia is stranded near Pago Pago as a Cholera epidemic is suspected and a quarantine enforced to prevent an outbreak. Most of the travellers are ordinary folks headed on business and personal trips.

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Review of ‘Sex and the City’

4 gals in New York City looking for love and labels (fashion brands) is the premise of the ‘romcom’ that had a successful run of 6 seasons on HBO. It was a pioneer show that caught on the trend of ‘chick-flick’ early in the game and had a long run of success. It started to fade eventually particularly in its last season. It had a spin-off as a couple of movies that followed. They minted money but ruined its franchise for sure for many viewers

Image Courtesy – Wikipedia

Carrie Bradshaw played famously by Sarah Jessica Parker is a freelance writer who writes a column in the local newspaper that deals with sex, singlehood and fashion. She stays in New York City and is part of a close-knit gang of 4 gals who are real soul mates. Carrie spends her life chasing her passions – shoes, fashion and the romance of finding the ‘right man’. She is in her mid 30s and her friends share similar interest. Continue reading “Review of ‘Sex and the City’”

Review of ‘How I Met Your Mother’

At first glance, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ reminds you a lot about, ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’. I never quite watched the series regularly – an occasional episode meant that I missed a lot of the running jokes but the core of the story was quite steady – a hip set of youngsters hanging around the bar and battling their professional and personal woes with help of the gang.

How I Met Your Mother Lead Cast                                                                    Image Courtesy – US Weekly

I took some more notice when I learnt that the climax episode of the long running series generated a lot of scorn and angst in the internet world. Now having ‘binge-watched’ the series I guess one can see the ‘point-of-view’ of people who felt ripped off by the climax.

The story started as a ‘sitcom’ but veered a lot into drama and melodrama by the end of it. It is set in New York and the five staple characters are quite well-etched to begin with it. Continue reading “Review of ‘How I Met Your Mother’”

‘Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le…’ – the world of Hindi cinema!

Sadma featuring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi was helmed by the ace cinematographer Balu Mahendra. It was not a commercial hindi film – it was primarily an artistic Tamil movie. But it had this lovely number, ‘Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le, Hamne Bhi Tere Har Ek Gam Ko Gale Se Lagaya Hain Na …’ by Gulzar sa’ab set to the music of Isaignani Ilayaraja.

Sridevi Kamal Haasan in Sadma Image Courtesy- Shemaroo

The song was a great example of creative collaboration in Hindi cinema – not quite often reflected in the mainstream movies. Yet another aspect that I admire deeply is the ‘Ganga-Jamuni’ tehzeeb and the unique hindustani lehzaa in some of our movies. To me these syncretic confluences define the essence of Hindi cinema though I have had fun with the typical commercial potboilers as well.

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The romance of trains.

I love trains the best when it comes to do some travelling – buses and planes don’t quite have the romance one associates with the rhythmic movement of the wheels as wondrous vistas get swept by the side.

Rameswaram – South India Railways                                                                                               Image Courtesy – Wikimedia

Trains have a practical side to them as well – the movement is not jerky enough so makes it easy to read stuff or even work on your laptop. A variety of refreshments get served as you are waited ‘hand-and-foot’ by the pantry staff and the various vendors boarding the train. You can meet some interesting people and the conversations can be fun in the languorous environment.

One really enjoys train journeys in the rain – if you happen to be travelling the ghats, it is breezy and nippy.  And you get to see all those lovely views including waterfalls with the waters simply gushing down the mountains. Continue reading “The romance of trains.”

Somerset Maugham’s ‘Christmas Holiday’.

The novel’s context is the key to the theme. Set in the late 1930s it is about a young British man belonging to the ‘upper-middle’ class who plans a week’s holiday in Paris during Christmas. He means to meet his childhood friend, see the ‘pictures’ at Louvre and explore the night-life in Paris. The second world war is imminent and Europe is in chaos facing the challenges of Fascism and Nazism while the British seem to be doing well for themselves and are blissfully aware of the trouble-torn neighbourhood that will bring sad tidings to their world as well.

1944 hit noir movie ‘Christmas Holiday’ based on Maugham’s novel  Image Courtesy – classicflix.com

He ends up spending the holiday with a young Russian lady from an émigré family who is working as a Prostitute at Serail. She lost her childhood and parents during the Russian revolution and to compound her woes made a rather unfortunate marriage with a charming Frenchman who started out as a petty criminal and ended up murdering a British bookie.

Lydia as a prostitute in Paris          Image Courtesy – Flickriver

Maugham returns to his familiar hunting ground – Paris. The book is a bildungsroman for sure but certainly a far happier one than his masterpiece – ‘Of Human Bondage’. Charley Mason is no Philip Carey. He is pragmatic enough to choose a business career instead of wildly chasing his artistic talent in the Paris Quarter. He is backed by a loving family though Maugham dispassionately creates a portrait of superficial bourgeois parents whose appreciation of ‘Art’ too is a ‘pose’ and likely to be motivated by a commercial motive.

Continue reading “Somerset Maugham’s ‘Christmas Holiday’.”

Om Puri – such a long journey !

“I don’t expect anything from anybody When You Grow Old.Your Days Are Gone; It Is Part Of Life.” — Om Puri (@OmRajeshPuri) November 3, 2016 

The tweet possibly expressed the pain Om Puri felt with his situation in life – a bitterness that was a cocktail of disappointment on personal and professional fronts.

Om Puri in City of Joy    Image Courtesy – Life Beyond Numbers

It was also on account of his inability or rather honest arrogance to not be ‘diplomatic’ while expressing his views on social issues. Often he seemed to go out of his way to make ‘politically incorrect’ statements. It reminds you of a popular sher by another stormy petrel, Nida Fazli, –

बात कम कीजे जहानत को छिपाते रहिये

बात कम कीजे जहानत को छिपाते रहिये
अजनबी शहर है ये,  दोस्त बनाते रहिये

दुश्मनी लाख सही, ख़त्म  ना कीजे रिश्ता
दिल मिले ना मिले, हाथ मिलते रहिये

ये तो चेहरे कि शबाहत हुई तस्वीर नहीं
इस पे कुछ रंग अभी और चढ़ाते रहिये

गम हैं आवारा अकेले में भटक जाता हैं
जिस जगह भी रहिये, मिलते मिलाते रहिये

जाने कब चाँद बिखर जाये जंगल में
घर कि चौखट पे कोई दीप जलाते रहिये

निदा फ़ाज़ली 

जहानत – Prathibha i.e. Talent  शबाहत – Sadrishyta i.e. Canniness

It was an unconventional face and it became an unconventional hero. For an introvert and socially insecure person there was no shortcut to success. The relentless pursuit of effort reflected in his work as he started a grand innings in ‘Art’ cinema with Ghashiram Kotwal, Bhumika, Arvind Desai Ki Ajab Dastan, Sparsh, Aakrosh, Sadgati, Arohan, and Ardh Satya.  Continue reading “Om Puri – such a long journey !”

Wodehouse Chronicles feat. Wooster and Jeeves

The ‘millennials’ generation onwards reading books for leisure and entertainment is an anachronism. Reading has gone digital – its beyond Kindle now. So reading is crisper and ‘byte-sized’ as attention spans dwindle. It involves a lot of visuals that make it easy to digest. No one readily talks about reading literature and many wonder how a few Wodehouse novels could keep us regaled for ages and we read them many times over.

The adventures of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves                                        Image Courtesy – Book Bundles

But the Wodehouse legacy is still safe – it just the way it was when I was young. Your appetite needs to be whetted once – then you can never quite go far from the wise world of Jeeves serving his bumbling and good-hearted master, Bertie Wooster.

The lazy and indolent life led by Bertie Wooster – the man born with a silver spoon – and the space he occupied in the British aristocracy is no longer relevant today. Indeed parts of it was already decaying when Wodehouse wrote some of his stories wherein the landed gentry was often short of hard cash and would look towards striking fruitful alliances with the gals from across the Atlantic who still mooned about being regarded royalty.

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