Tag Archives: Salman Rushdie

In Mumbai Again

After almost a year, I am in Mumbai the city in the vicinity of which I have spent more than 20 years of my life. I lived in Panvel where our company had constructed a huge accommodation. But most of the offices are in Mumbai and employees who live in Panvel have to spend at least 4 hours travelling to the work. There is though a trade off. In Panvel colony you have big area for walking and also lesser pollution. It is a gateway to Beautiful Konkan region as well as to Pune. There are a number of good natural spots nearby Panvel. We landed at Santacruz airport from Delhi. Temperature was 29C and as usual humidity was very high. The same stuffy weather which we have become attuned to during our long stay here. In fact, I loved this city for its oddities. But like Saleem and his sister in the Salman Rushdie‘s Midnights Children, I did not shouted back to Bom. We hired a taxi and soon we were lost in the sea of  people on the roads and vehicles. The familiar Udipi hotels, vegetable vendors on the roadside selling their vegetables and ubiquitous Coconut sellers and Koli women selling the sea fish, prawns were before eyes. There were same black and yellow taxis. Many new flyovers have come up in the city’s struggle to ease the traffic pressure. It seemed as if we have not got left the place for good and have been out of station.


Moors Last Sigh

Last of the Moors to rule Granada was Boabdil (Arab. Abu-Abdallah or Ez-Zogoiby, the Unlucky). In 1491 the Moorish capital fell to Ferdinand, though Boabdil fought with a courage strangely at variance with his infirmity of purpose. As he rode away to the coast he halted on a ridge at Padul, still called El Ultimo Sospiro del Mora (The Moor’s last sigh), to take a farewell look at the Alhambra, and burst into tears at the sight. Whereupon his mother is said to have thus reproached him: “You may well weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.” He died shortly afterwards on the field of battle in Africa.

Salman Rushdie‘s famous novel “Moors Last Sigh” is based on the story of a Moorish family from Kerala. Kerala is a state in extreme south of India. It has a natural beauty which earned for it the epithet “God’s own country“.  Moors like Europeans also came and settled in Kerala, fabled for spices which lured the Europeans. Who can forget the Vasco da Gama‘s expedition to India in search of spices. Even Columbus set out to discover India. It is another matter that he discovered the New World, the US.
The family in the novel moves to Bombay to expand their business but gets enmeshed into local politics. One of the main female characters is based loosely on Amrita Shergil, the famous painter of old days India due to her bold personality. After this book, Rushdie was threatened and asked to refrain from entering Bombay or face the ire of a political party.

A tale of two movies

Two movies based on the Booker award winning books: Salman Rushdie‘s Booker of the Bookers novel “Midnights Children” & Yann Martel‘s  book “Life of PI” shall soon be released. There is no need to emphasize about the caliber of the books. Midnights Children is a book written by Rushdie at his creative best. It draws inspiration from his own family life. The main protagonists are born on the night when India becomes an independent nation once again notwithstanding some pieces being cut and carved into Pakistan. Both the protagonists grow up with the nation.

The story begins from the grandfather’s home in Kashmir, travels to Agra with his newly wedded wife via Amritsar where Jalianwala  tragedy in which thousand innocent people are killed by the army under the orders from Brigadier-General Reginald E.H. Dyer. In Agra many developments take place and the family home becomes a hub for freedom fighters. Some marriages take place. Ultimately, one of the daughters of the doctor after marriage with a businessman moves to Bombay where they purchase a house in the now most posh locality of the city from a Britisher. Here the protagonists are born in a nursing home to two different women but are exchanged by the maid who for all of her life live under the burden of this guilt.The life of the Bombay is described so graphically that the reader feels he is living in the city himself.

The family except their father moves to Karachi Pakistan where many of their relative occupy very high status in the army. After this the protagonist joins the Army and is sent to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh where a war for independence is underway and Pakistan army is perpetrating most heinous crimes against the women and children. Then he returns with the tamasha walas to Delhi.
Whether the movies shall be able to do justice to the book, only time will tell. Many a times movies based on the cult books have miserably failed to impressed. But this time, it seems that movies shall be as successful as the books itself. Both have the renowned persons directing them. Rushdie is personally overseeing making of the movie.

Both the books revolve around Indians. Although the milieu of the Midnights Children is the Indian Subcontinent from India to Pakistan to Bangladesh and Back, the protagonist of the other book is Indian boy whom the destiny makes orphan when the ship carrying his parents, servants and whole circus animals perish in the ship crash and leaves to fend for himself on the deck of a boat with a tiger inside the boat itself. It depicts the bravery, wit and presence of mind to survive the travail and ultimately arrive himself and tiger to the soil to safety.
I for one have read the Midnights Children many times and Life of PI once and hoping that movies will be good. Here is the link to the trailer of midnights children

Sundarbans:Bhatir Desh

Sunderbans, the very name sends the imagination reeling about a amphibian land in the south of Kolkata spread over the maze work of islands created by Ganga, Brahmputra and Meghna rivers. These rivers which seem to abandon their discipline and break up like a fan in this land. It is labyrinth of channels encircling the islands which contain the most fertile soil in their upper crust.

The name seems to be associated with the conspicuous sundari trees which are called Heritiera macrophylla by the botanists. But Mughals, as narrated by Amitav Ghosh in his beautiful novel The Hungry Tide“, called it Bhati  Desh which means Ebb tide country. This became Bhatir Desh over time.

It is the land which is so surreal that there is no line of demarcation between reality and imagination. There are eighteen islands which is why it is also called “Atharo Bhatir Desh”, the land of eighteen lands. There are tigers which can swim miles and miles after their quarries. Crocodiles and dolphins abound here.

There is one chapter in the famous book “Midnights Children” by Salman Rushdie in which three young soldiers of West Pakistan who were sent to East Pakistan and committed heinous crimes like their army, after getting lost, land up in a boat in this Jungle. Rushdie then go on to weave a superb web about the description of the place. He tells that in rainy season, the Jungle seems to grow literally before the eyes. The fruits from the Nipa Palms fall and crack on the ground. In no time the ants swoop on the fruit juice. Since the light never reaches inside many parts, there live snakes which are transparent. Jungle begins to take a complete control of your mind and you forget about the time dimension. Clearly it is the work of great creative imagination of the writer but the author builds these things making base as some real stories.

The Jungle is so dense that if one goes inside, he will forget about the concept of time. The jungle has the power to stop the time. The land is famous for the mangroves which grow copiously and sometimes discard so much dead leaves and wood that they seem to be doing harakiri or suicide, if it were not for the crabs who live there and work as scavengers. They are the janitors who see to it that everything is spic and span or tickety-boo.

The people who live there have adapted themselves to the treacheries of the jungle. They invoke the Goddess “Bonbibi” before going to jungle to gather the honey and wax. The jungle is lorded by Dekkan rai, who stalks in the form of tiger. The legend is that Dekkan rai ruled over the entire Bhatir Desh but he became obsessed with human flesh. According to story, he accosted a convoy of boats which had come there for gathering valuables from jungle, he promised them to give the untold gifts of honey and wax in liu of one human flesh. As planned by the convoy, they left one person behind and when Dekkan rai came to eat him in the garb of tiger, he prayed to Banbibi, who then with the help of her brother fought and defeated Dekkan rai. In the end it was decided that Dekkan rai will rule only the dense jungle.

That is why, whenever inhabitants cross over to jungle, they worship not only Banbibi but also the Dekkan rai, the tiger. It is the place where the womenfolk wear the white saris like widows when there menfolks go to jungle for hunting and gathering honey and wax.

The rivers which have spawned these islands bring with them so much fertile soil from Himalayas that they seem to be playing a game of erecting and erasing the islands at will. Many islands are said to have been buried and no longer exist now. New ones can be born anytime.

There exist so many biomes which harbour myriad kinds of flora and fauna. Storms break where minutes before it was so still that everything looked like a still picture.

It is not far away from Kolkata and yet it is entirely a different world, breathtaking and beautiful and at the same time extremely harsh and unforgiving to the inhabitants.

Prasoon Joshi

He is a multi talented personality. He is a lyricists, dialogue and screenwriter and an ad man. In fact, he is called the “Ad Guru” and had won numerous awards for making ads. He won the filmfare best lyricist award consecutively in 2007 and 2008.

He hails from Almora in Uttranchal, India. He did his MBA, but resolved to become an Ad maker for which he turned down many lucrative offers that came by him due to his MBA qualification. He started his career with Ogilvy & Mather . If you remember, Salman Rushdie also was a copy writer for this firm before he shot into literary world.

Joshi has written lyrics of the following Bollywood films.

His lyrics are very simple but very effective. He can touch your heart with simple words. For example, the following lyrics of Taare Zameen Par:

(Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,,Meri Maa

Bheed Mein Yun Na Chodo Mujhe
Ghar Laut Ke Bhi Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Bhej Na Itna Door Mujkko Tu
Yaad Bhi Tujhko Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Kya Itna Bura Hoon Main Maa
Kya Itna Bura Meri Maa

Jab Bhi Kabhi Papa Mujhe
Jo Zor Se Jhoola Jhulate Hain Maa
Meri Nazar Dhoondhe Tujhe
Sochu Yahi Tu Aa Ke Thaamegi Maa

Unse Main Yeh Kehta Nahin
Par Main Seham Jaata Hoon Maa
Chehre Pe Aana Deta Nahin
Dil Hi Dil Mein Ghabraata Hoon Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Hai Naa Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Meri Maa

Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,,Meri Maa

Very simple, yet will bring tears to your eyes. He has created numerous ads. Some of which are listed below;
  • Coca Cola-`Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’
  • Chlormint
  • Asian paints
  • Cadbury
  • NDTV India
  • CNN-IBN-India Rising
  • Pulse Polio Program
  • Vacao Scooty
  • Ponds
  • Happydent

He is the only ad man to win the prestigious Cannes Lion Award: Cannes Lion International Advertising Festival Award for his Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola campaign

Prasoon Joshi

Prasoon Joshi

Shalimar Clown

I am an avid fan of Rushdie and have read almost all his works. When he writes about India, he is brilliant. This novel is based on the terrorism which has become a worldwide phenomenon. For centuries, Hindus and Muslims have been living in Kashmir in complete harmony. But the terrorism has turned this heaven on the earth into a hell. The story of the novel is about a Muslim Boy named Shalimar the clown who loves and marries a Hindu neighbor called Booniy which is a symbolic of harmonious relations between two communities. Rusdhie tells us about the village Pachigam where the story is set in part. It is famous for Bhand Pather an ancient Kashmiri folk art and Wazas who were famous cooks specializing in 36 course meals called Wazawan served on special occasions like marriages.
The girl is then seduced by Max, American ambassador to India who is all rounder and has a weakness for sex and girls. She ditches her Clown and goes with Max to Delhi where she lives as an whore of Max. Despite the precautions taken by Max, she becomes pregnant and bears a girl child which is taken by Max’s wife and Booniy is sent back to her village. But the village has already declared her dead.
She lives alone on a hilltop hut and becomes mentally sick. She waits for the Clown who has joined terrorist outfit and kills so many innocent folks. But his real targets are his wife and the American ambassador.
The book as usual is very gripping and heavy reading. Somehow I feel that the Rushdie of old times has faded somewhere when he was simply magical, the master of magical realism.
The book is available worldwide and for internet purchasing you can visit the website www.amazon.com