Me Before You: A must read for those who like intense love stories

Jojo Moye’s novel shares more than one similarity with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish but it is hard to say who was influenced by whom given that the movie came first.

July 19, 2024

The central subject of Jojo Moyes novel for those who haven’t read is Euthanasia, a person deliberately wanting to end his life with the permission of the law. This happens when an individual is no longer able to bear the suffering from a disease that cannot be cured. What makes the book more than just a love story is how the writer has given an insight into the condition of Quadriplegia (a form of paralysis that affects all four limbs) Yes, the ending of the book is definitely debatable much like the movie Guzaarish. Both the book and movie do seem to suggest that those suffering from Quadriplegia have no other alternative than ending their own life. However, there is no denying that Me Before You is an emotional roller coaster

The storyline of Me Before You is about the journey of two polar opposites. On one hand you have Lousia Clark a common girl leading a normal life. She hasn’t seen much of a life beyond her tiny village. On the other hand, there is Will Traynor a rich guy who once led a very active life. He had travelled worldwide and participated in extreme sports. An accident leads to him being wheelchair bound for life. In a twist of events Lousia becomes a caretaker of Will Traynor and from here begins a roller coaster of a journey.

A strong aspect of the book for me was the gradual progress in the relationship between Lousia and Will. In the beginning Will is mostly cranky with Lousia which isn’t surprising given that his once active life has gone for a toss, however as the story progresses the readers get to see a different side of Will too. The light repartee and the way he teases her are fun to read. Both of them have an influence on each other with Lousia learning self-love, Will meanwhile learns to enjoy life’s little moments. While entertaining the readers Jojo Moyes has also a done good in addressing some heavy topics, for instance the discrimination faced by disabled individuals and quality of life among others.

Cuckhold: A gripping novel that makes the viewers empathize with Bhoj Raj

Bhojraj Singh Sisodia is best known for being the husband of a reputed poet saint Meerabai, not much information is there about him other than being Meerabai’s husband. Kiran Nagarkar’s cuckhold is a biography of this man set against the backdrop of India in 1600’s.

It is hard to say how much of Kiran Nagarkar’s writing is fiction and how much reality is there. Keeping aside this aspect there is no denying that the writer has given a wholesome perspective of the ruler. The readers come to know about the different qualities of Bhojraj Singh Sisodia. For example, a courageous warrior and also someone who came up with distinctive schemes.

Kiran Nagarkar is successful in transporting the viewers to those times. The description of the war strategies and the ways of gathering information about the enemies’ position is very engaging. What also adds to the book are the numerous philosophical talks which represent the king’s thought process.

The internal battles of Bhojraj and his feeling of bewilderment with lord Krishna being his rival has also been written well. The readers can feel the various emotions that he goes through. Cuckhold is a long book, over 600 pages but for those who like elongated historical fiction it is a must read.

James by Percival Everett: A terrific reimaging of the novel Huckelberry fin that examines the inhumanness of slavery

The adventures of Huckelberry Fin is one of the most read books in literature. Mark Twain’s creation of both Tam Sawyer and Huckelberry Fin is still remembered fondly for how he showed the evolution of two young lads and their friendship. In the Adventures of Huckelberry Fin there is a peripheral character of an enslaved black man called Jim. Just like Huckelberry Fin he is also someone who is on run albeit for a different reason. Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans and as a result get separated from his wife and daughter forever.

In this action-packed reimaging Percival Everett has put Jim at the center and has done a wonderful job in fleshing out what is originally a supporting character. The novel James is not an easy read, terrible things happen to noble people just because of them having a certain skin. There are characters who degrade and take advantage of Jim.

Writer Percival Everett brings out the inhumanness of slavery in a heart touching way. The novel has also got good doses of suspense, this aspect also makes it a very engrossing read. To put it simply James by Percival Everett is a must read particularly for those who like action packed stories with some social consciousness.

Kafeel Khan autobiography: A gripping real-life story that gives a deep insight into the medical crisis

Recently I have read a heart touching autobiography of a doctor who was suspended on the charges of medical negligence and corruption among other things. Dr Kafeel Khan went great lengths in order to procure oxygen cylinders in the year of 2017. He rallied the staff and did an incredible job in controlling the health care crisis. After being hailed as a hero the situation took a drastically different turn for both Kafeel Khan and nine more individuals.

As mentioned above Kafeel Khan’s autobiography is a deep dive into the various problems concerning the health care sector. He has given as many details as possible from his personal experiences, as a result the book comes across as authentic making the readers think and worry about the future of health care. A particular mention must be made of how he describes the shortage of Oxygen. The readers feel that they are watching the situation firsthand.

Through his writings Kafeel Khan has also touched upon the dangers of hate campaigns, how this hate campaigns can destroy both families and communities. How the media social and mainstream play a major role in escalating hatred has been elucidated in great detail.

The book also makes you salute the moral strength of Kafeel Khan. In spite of suffering so much his major concern is about the lives that have been lost and how more lives can be saved. He never gets into a communal debate regarding that incident.

Kafeel Khan’s autobiography leaves the readers with many thoughts not just about what Kafeel Khan had to go through, but the system of health care in general which is such an important part of our daily lives.

Alia Poem: March 15th 2024

A very happy 31st birthday to you Alia

Alia you are like a shining star forever sparkling

You have proved to be a smart cookie in adapting to different on-screen characters

You have made the roles of Gangubai, Veera Tripathi, Safeena, Bauria and more your own

In spite of not being a natural dancer there is so much joy in seeing you dance

I can never forget your Kathak dance in the film Kalank, the grace and those expressions were too good

Similarly, the scene in Gangubai where your character goes into a trance like state while dancing was so well enacted

In Rocky Aur Rani ki Prem Kahani you pulled off both What Jumka and Dhindora Bajare Re in an excellent manner

The first song had undertones of mischievousness and the second was a high energy one which required absolute lack of inhibitions

In both the songs Alia your movements were as smooth as butter without a single false step

Both the songs can be watched any number of times particularly for your expressions

As a producer of course it is early days but the subjects you have backed in both Darlings and Poacher are very commendable

Thank you so much for replying to my comment on your Instagram page regarding Poacher

It felt so good when you replied back with emojis and also took my name Prabhatha

Honestly it felt like I had climbed Mount Everest that day

In my mind I was flying with unadulterated happiness. Wish I had wings really like birds

It is a day that I can never forget and will forever cherish

Keep shining like the star you are

All the very best for your new chapter in professional life starting with Jigra where you will do some hardcore action

You have always proved the sceptics wrong by successfully portraying different characters

I am sure that both Jigra and the solo YRF spy film will showcase a vastly different facet of you

Once again wishing you a very happy 31st birthday from one of your biggest fans, you are truly a queen of hearts and absolute Rani

May you continue to flourish as an actor, producer and businesswomen along with other roles in your personal life

‘The Black Orphan’ by Hussain Zaidi

I have recently read Hussain Zaidi’s latest The Black Orphan. The novel goes along two tracks. On one hand you have a serial killer who is after India’s most famous nuclear scientists. Running simultaneously to this is a love story between a DIG Ajay Raj Vardhan who falls head over heels in love with a human rights lawyer Asiya Khan. Ajay Vardhan specializes in catching terrorists. She on the other hand constantly challenges the authorities by fighting for those who have been wrongfully arrested. As the story progresses writer Hussain Zaidi spins a gripping concoction of crime and duplicity with enough intrigue that holds the reader’s interest.

The Black Orphan does not have the depth of a Black Friday or the Mafia Queens of Mumbai, nevertheless it makes for an engaging read particularly for those who like action thrillers. An aspect of the book which I liked the most was it showcased a set of women who are both seductive and cold blooded. They use their charm to lure men and get their work done. The book has some unexpected twists particularly in relation to Asiya Khan. The book also works as a race against time with Ajay Vardhan almost losing his life in order to stop the villains. The book is apparently based on real life incidents and would definitely make for an engaging masala potboiler.

8 AM Metro

Saw the movie 8:AM Metro on Zee 5. The plot revolves around a homemaker Iravati (Saiyami Kher). She suffers from severe panic attacks; a traumatic incident is the reason. Iravati has a massive phobia of trains. All this changes when she has to make a trip to Hyderabad. Her younger sister is about to deliver a baby. Iravati has no other option other than to navigate the new city while dealing with anxiety attacks. She is also a closeted poet. Gulshan Deviah’s Pritam is a banker who bumps into Iravati at the Metro station.

The beginning portions of 8 AM Metro give the feeling that this is going to be another story of a married woman who will find a companion outside marriage. However as the story progresses the movie moves into an altogether different zone. Director Raj Rachakonda raises some relevant points on the society’s attitude towards mental health along with how they are just asked to be strong. There is a brilliantly executed scene of role reversal where Iravati becomes society and Pritam her. The movie also effectively uses the medium of poetry and literature to give life lessons. An important twist regarding the personal life of Pritam also catches the viewers by suprise. It is one of those twists that the viewers definitely don’t see coming.

Although the movie is engrossing for most part, there are a few logical loopholes which the director should have taken care of. One of them is Iravati spending more time with Pritam than her younger sister who is on the verge of delivering a baby. Also Iravati living in a place which is some distance from the hospital comes across as absurd. Performances wise both Saiyami Kher and Gulshan Devaih are stellar, they also share a wonderful chemistry.

Priyanka Chopra Autobiography Unfinished

Recently I have read Priyanka Chopra’s autobiography Unfinished, it is a collection of stories that cover the many aspects of her life both professional and personal. However Unfinished is not just the story of Priyanka Chopra, it is as much about her parents who were a big pillar of support in the process of Priyanka achieving global stardom.

This autobiography works best when Priyanka shares anecdotes about her parents. Oftentimes she paints them as superheroes. Her daddy was a doctor in the army. There is an instance where Priyanka talks about him dislodging a bullet from a dying soldier. Similarly the mother rescuing a girl child outside a hospital on a rainy night. Her father’s battle with cancer and how it took her a long time to cope with his death feels heartfelt.

But when it comes to the professional part the book needed more insight into how she brings her characters to life. For example Priyanka’s act in Barfi is hugely acclaimed. She expressed her sadness on her performance being overlooked at major award functions that year however there is no insight into how she became the character. After a point the novel becomes more of a Wikipedia entry with how she has emerged victorious overcoming obstacles. The only portion regarding the professional chapter that works is when she goes in detail about the failure of her musical career in America. Unfinished is no by means unreadable there is a crispness in the narration but the book could have done with more description of her acting process.

Slumdog Millionaire

Recently I have read the book Slumdog Millionaire written by Vikas Swarup. I do not have many memories of the movie based on the book except for the Anil Kapoor portions, however I personally feel that the book is more superior in terms of how it juggles between the past and present of Ram Mohammad Thomas a boy from slums who goes on to create history by winning a game show.

Vikas Swarup does a lot of back and forth, at times it does become hard to follow the storyline given that the character of Ram Mohammad Thomas goes through many stages. But still the story holds your interest. Through the central character Vikas Swarup has touched upon the deep-rooted issue of the illegal child labor which destroys the lives of our future generation. There are disturbing scenes in the book where we see children being blinded.

The other societal evils touched upon are domestic violence, police torture etc. The final chapter though ends with a lot of hope for our protagonist in a truly filmy manner. The novel hasn’t got much romance unlike the movie where the love story played a key role however it has to be said that the readers don’t feel the need for romance. The life experiences of Ram Mohammad Thomas and how it helps him in winning the quiz is more than sufficient to keep the audiences engaged.

My Short Take on Bramayugam

Yesterday watched a Malayalam movie Bramayugam on Sonyliv directed by Rahul Sadhasivan. Without giving much away Bramayugam is set in 17th century of Kerala. A Dalit singer Thevan (Arjun Ashokan) loses his way in the forest and ends up finding a dilapidated mansion where only two men stay Kodumon Poti (Mammootty) and the cook played by Sidharth Bharathan. Keeping in the tradition of the horror movie genre this is a mansion with many secrets. Initially Thevan’s stay is pleasant but things start going tipsy turvy soon.

One of the aspects that I liked about Bramayugam was how Rahul Sadhasivan mixed elements of folklore and religion. The movie also gets into a political zone about dialogues regarding oppression of lower caste and how the desire for power corrupts anyone whether you are rich or poor.

Technically Bramayugam is a solid product. The cinematography and sound design in particular deserve praise. Shehnad Jalal’s black and white cinematography is a treat to watch and the sound design enhances the horror.

Lastly the performances are also fine. Mammootty has shown the passion to constantly reinvent himself and Bramayugam is another fine example of that. The actor chews the scenery and terrifies the viewers with just his body language. Arjun Ashokan and Siddharth Bharatan are also fine in their respective parts.

A major problem with the movie are its post interval portions after the big reveal. The screenplay starts stagnating without much to look forward to. Rahul Sadhasivan’s Bhoothakaalam kept the viewers thoroughly engaged till the end but this doesn’t. Another issue with the film are the logical loopholes particularly regarding the character of the cook. This cook uses Thevan for his own purpose. Why he waits for such a long time is not clear.

Also we are shown that Kodumon Poti is someone who knows everything but when it comes to the cook’s background Kodumon Poti is shown to be surprised when his lineage is revealed. At the beginning of the film we have a Yakshi played by Amalda Liz but her purpose of seducing and killing men is an absolute blur

To sum it up Bramayugam has some strong points but it leaves it with you more questions than answers.