Extracted from the Chapter ‘Many Faces’ of Khushwant Singh’s Malicious Gossip

Page 81

“I do not have many friends because I do not set much store by Friendship. I have found that friends, however nice and friendly they may be, demand more time than I am willing to spare. I get easily bored with people and would rather read a book or listen to music than converse with anyone for too long. I’ve had a few very close friends in my time. I am ashamed to admit that when some of them dropped me, instead of being upset, I felt relieved. And when some died, I cherished their memory more than I did their company, when they were alive.

“Hate is my stronger passion – fortunately, there are not many people I hate. I could count them on the tips of fingers of one hand – no more than four or five. And if I tell you why I hate them, you may agree that they deserve contempt and hatred. I hate Name-Droppers. I hate Self-Praisers. I hate Arrogant-Men. I hate Liars. Is there anything wrong in hating them? People ask me, why can’t you ignore their existence? Now, that’s something I cannot do. I cannot resist making fun of name droppers, calling liars liars on their faces. And I love abusing the arrogant. I have been in trouble many times because of inability to resist mocking these types. And since most name-droppers, self-praisers, and arrogant men go from success to success, become Ministers, Governors and win awards they don’t deserve, my anger often explodes in print.”

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Extracted from Translator’s Note: Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Much has been said about cinematic adaptations of novels and short stories. Ever since the dawn of cinema, man has been telling stories in a visual form. Through cinema, a filmmaker can express a story in his own way, in a manner not much different from that of an author’s, who writes such a story. However, there is one quintessential difference between he way an author tells a story and that which a filmmaker employs to tell his story. An author writes words on a paper, and the reader pretty much reads off a paper. The author’s message, his description of a scene, his portrayal of a character, the details of a conversation – all of these are, and quite often, I might add, inadequate, as it were. The author describes some of it, with a certain amount of detail. The rest is a projection of the reader’s own interpretation and imagination. This is not true in case of cinema. An example is in order here. Let’s say an author wants to introduce a character. He will probably write about the character’s age, her appearance, her physical features, her attire, her mood or mental state during the time of the introduction and so on and so forth.

Charulata - a sketch by Satyajit Ray

Charulata – a sketch by Satyajit Ray

The author uses his own imagination to describe the character, but the reader projects his own imagination in creating a mental picture of the character while reading the story. It is quite possible that one reader’s projection is entirely different from that of another, and both their projections are different from how the author imagined the character to be. Why does this happen? Because it is not possible to describe the character to such a level that her portrayal is exactly the same in the minds of all readers. Is this an impediment to storytelling? Of course not, because in any art form (including cinema), it is the interpretation that the receiver enjoys the most.

When a Fimmaker changes, adds, deletes, or in any way modifies certain aspects of a story or text that he chooses to adapt, he does so with an inherent belief that it will make better cinema. He does this, because he is aware that these are totally different media, and they need to be handled in their own ways. I am quite certain that if an author were to adapt an original movie into a short story or a novel, he would do the same.

An example of Book Character vs Cinema Character

Two characters in a short story are having an intense conversation. The focus is on the words they are using and the meaning of those words. The focus is also on their emotions, running high. One says something, the other responds. There’s an argument, or a deep expression of love, or anger. But take a step back and wonder – is the focus on the conversation itself , or on the room where this conversation is taking place? In all likelihood, the room has not even been described. It is not important. What is important is the conversation. And the author pours all his efforts in describing the conversation with his beautiful choice of words. This is not true in a visual medium of storytelling like cinema. No matter how important a conversation is, the filmmaker still has to show the colour of the walls of the room.  He has to show what items are kept on the nearby table. He has to show whether the windows are open or shut. In the previous example, the filmmaker does not have the luxury to leave the character’s description to the imagination of his audience. He has to show a person, her build, her age, her attire, her mental state of mind. His art is, in some sense, that of a more specific projection. And in that sense, telling a story in a cinematic medium  is quite different from telling a story through the pages of a book. Both have their own challenges, both present difficulties of varying nature in front of their creators. And what works in one medium may not work in the other.

Satyajit Ray as Film maker

Satyajit Ray on one of his film sets

About 14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray

14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray covers the stories written by India’s known authors, which Ray adapted into his films. It is an experience that keeps you on seat’s edge while you keep comparing the book story with film story. However, Satyajit Ray was one filmmaker who did invariably good job at capturing these stories.

The Face

Posted: April 18, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Extracted from ‘The Conclusion’ by Rabindranath Tagore Page 194.

14:Stories that Inspired Satyajit Ray

When the village Zamindar’s private boat docked on the riverbank, the women of the village ensured that their heads and faces were covered. But Mrinmoyi was not one to conform to such conventions. She would present herself unabashed, hair blowing in the wind and someone’s naked baby in her arms – a spirited doe that had learnt no fear in a land devoid of hunters. She would then dart back to her playmates, all boys, and mimic the mannerisms of this strange creature that had arrived at the village.

During his earler trips home, Apurva had seen this wayward, carefree girl a couple of times, and had often thought of her. One sees hundreds of faces in this world, but once in a while, a face captures a special place in one’s heart. Interestingly, physical beauty may not be the only reason for this. It is, perhaps, the simplicity of the face that is responsible. In most cases, a person’s true self doesn’t show in his or her visage. But the face in which one could easily see the true nature of the girl – that of a wild, untamed, fearless deer prancing in the woods. No wonder one couldn’t forget a face such her’s.

rabindranath-tagore

About Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali Poet, Artist & Philosopher, who wrote many stories, novels and dramas, as well beautiful musical compositions. His writing were majorly influenced with Bengali culture. He was Asia’s 1st Nobel Prize Winner in Literature. Read the rest of this entry »

The Conclusion

Posted: October 28, 2013 in Karma
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Extracted from Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Chapter 1, The Boy Named Crow, Page 4

ImageSometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing direction. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over, you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before the dawn. Why? Because this storm is not something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside you. So all you can do is, give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the storm doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand, swirling up into the sky like pulverised bones.

Cont. Page 5

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it, it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how many you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.

On my fifteenth birthday I’ll run away from home, journey to a far-off town and live in a corner of a small library.

About Kafka on the Shore:

A classic tale of quest, Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophecy. The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his simple life suddenly turned upside down. A bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricides, of mother-love, of sister-love!

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Extracted from ‘Side Effects’ by Woody Allen

Chapter: By Destiny Denied, Page 25

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Background- Scotland, 1823:

A man has been arrested for stealing a crust of bread. “I only like the crust,” he explains, and he is identified as the thief who has terrorized several chophouses by stealing just the end of roast beef. The culprit, Solomon  Entwhistle, is hauled into the court, and a stern judge sentences him to from five to ten years  (whichever comes first) at hard labor. Entwhistle locked in a dungeon, and in an early act of enlightened penology the key is thrown away. Despondent but determined, Entwhistle begins the arduous task of tunneling to freedom. Meticulously digging with a spoon, he tunnels beneath prison walls, then continues, spoonful by spoonful, under Glasgow to London. He pauses to emerge at Liverpool, but finds that he prefers the tunnel. Once in London, he stows away aboard a freighter bound for the New World, where he dreams of starting life over, this time as a frog.

Arriving at Boston, Entwhistle meets Margaret Figg, a comely New England schoolteacher whose speciality is baking bread and then placing it on her head. Enticed, Entwhistle marries her and the two open a small store, trading pelts and whale blubber for scrimshaw in an ever- increasing cycle of meaningless activity. The store is an instant success, and by 1850 Entwhistle is wealthy, educated, respected, and cheating on his wife with a large possum. He has two sons by Margaret Figg, one normal, the other simple minded, though it is hard to tell the difference unless someone hands them each a yo-yo. His small trading post will go on to become a giant modern department store, and when he dies at eighty five from a combination of small pox and tomahawk in the skull, he is happy!

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Side Effects: Side Effects is a compendium of 17 comical short stories written by Woody Allen: A Comic Genius, between 1975 and 1980, all but one of which were previously published in, variously, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Kenyon Review.

Aside  —  Posted: March 8, 2013 in Mock!, Story
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Where’s Home?

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
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“Whose house is this? Whose night keeps out the light In here? Say, who owns this house? It’s not mine. I dreamed another, sweeter, brighter with a view of lakes crossed in painted boats; Of fields wide as arms open for me. This house is strange. Its shadows lie. Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key?” 
– Toni Morrison, Home

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But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o’clock in the morning.

– Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

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