Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ashok Banker's Ramanaya - Well Worth a Miss

After writing about something I loved in my last post, I think I am back to what I like most - cribbing :-)

First if this book, Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok Banker. It is supposed to be a retelling of the Ramayana. It had some very good reviews and had a bunch of people raving about it in the comments too. I should have known that every well read blog has its own bunch of Yes-men. I went through a lot of trouble to get this book, since it wasn't available in US and all that and S had to literally beg his colleague to bring this back when he went back to India. I was ecstatic when I finally got it and was devising means to smuggling the other parts from India. Now, I think I will pass. The book is just short of a trivialization of the Ramayana. It's a sort of Harry Potter meets India kinda book, the sort of one that will make good selling.

Given the rise of popularity of fantasy books these days, he has just made use of a good story and written in a racy manner. If it is one thing I hate, it is written Hinglish or Tanglish. Why Banker chose to intersperse dialogues with colloquial Hindi is something I don't understand. It isn't as if all dialogues are in Hindi, why choose to write just a few in Hindi? I can understand use of some sanskrit words like brahman, but why Hindi?? And he's added a lot of cheese to his book. For example, Lakshmanan is called Luck and Shatrugnan is called Shot! These reminded me of those Danish Prophet cartoons. I wonder if anyone in the Shiv Sena has read this book. Another thing that rankled me was the use of the phrase "brahman sorcery" very freely. What does Banker want to convey with this? I have not read the original Ramayana by Valmiki or Kamban and my source is mainly grandma stories and the TV. I don't want him to conceal facts about Dasaratha's wives or Lord Rama's follies. I just wish he would choose a language to write in (Hindi/English/Assamese or whatever) and stick to it.

If you think of it as just another book, leaving the religious part aside, I would say the book is well written. The narration is fast and descriptive. But another irritating thing that Banker does is to switch between scenes in the same chapter without warning. It is misleading and quite annoying especially towards the end. I suggest he read The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud to see how it should be handled. Also the review I read, gave an impression that Banker's works contained soft porn - it talked of orgasms and fondling of breasts. I've read the whole book and there is no mention of those anywhere! You can buy these books for kids - the ones who loved Harry Potter would love these too.

Final verdict: Read if you want to reread the Ramayana and don't have the patience to read lengthy Sanskrit translations

P.S. Coming up next post, a list of characters I absolutely hate from famous sitcoms. Any ideas?

Friday, June 13, 2008


First day first show! Even earlier than that - 8:00 p.m CST on 12th June. :-) And did I love the movie!

The reviews have not been too kind. But the best one was the one by Hindu. This is not a Hey Ram. It's director's movie through and through and it has to be taken with a grain of salt. People's stupidity on saying that the Afghan character is silly makes me laugh. Do they mean to say that they've never met anyone like that? And honestly I loved the comedy scenes. Its an out and out action entertainer. People watch Indiana Jones and rave about it and yet can't seem to like Dasavatharam which I feel is much much better. Maybe its acceptable for Speilberg to churn out masala but not Kamal Hasan. Or perhaps they had already made up their mind to hate the movie even before it was released. But then I am just another Kamal fan with a blog that no-one reads :-) Please do go to the theatre and watch this movie. Or don't watch it all but do NOT watch it on a pirated CD/DVD.

I am not going to do a review 'coz I don't want to give away spoilers. I loved the movie through and through. It had me laughing in some parts, crying in others and spellbound in most parts. I think Appa can now be a little relieved that his girl has some amount of Iyengar ness in her, 'coz the scenes of Govindarajar moved me to tears that my Lord had faced all this in the past. I am thankful to this movie for a near perfect portrayal of brahmins, especially Iyengars after the mockery that was Anniyan. The diction, pronunciation, costume was authentic.

The few people who still read my blog, do go and watch the movie as soon as you can!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


With another tag, thanks to Sasi. So let me start the tag (without the usual cracks about how I am back and the usual promises of being regular)

The tag asks us to state 5 previously unknown quirks/facts about yourself

1) I love watching movies in theatres, but can't stand watching them on TV/laptop. I guess I am a movie theater buff rather than a movie buff. I can watch the worst of movies onscreen and come back with the satisfaction of a $8 well spent. And you could show me the best movie on the laptop and I would still walk away after a half hour. I think my brain is wired to have an attention span of just 30 mins (which would explain why my netflix queue is full of sitcoms)

2) I've had my 30GB ipod for 2 years now, but it still has just 2GB of songs and videos on them. And the only ones I listen to are about 500MB (S.Ve Shekar and Crazy Mohan dramas every night before sleeping) And to think I was soo pumped about getting an ipod. Now I am all gung ho about iphone 3G. But I think I will hold back this time :-)

3) I hate wearing my hair down. It has to up in a pony tail. I mean I have nice hair that would look good if I take some effort every morning (blow drying it upside down etc) (And to all you people waiting to take a crack at my hair, I was told that I had beautiful hair by my hair stylist and she refused to let me straighten it or perm since "it looks so good naturally". So there!:-) ) But somehow I never let it down unless it is dripping wet in which case I had something to tie it back in when it dries.

4) This might come as a shocker to typical Indian mindsets, but I hate yellow gold jewelery. Yup hate it. But since I am girl and all that, and my husband needs to have something to buy me when he wants to make up after a fight, I love thin white gold chains and bracelets (preferably with diamonds on them :-)) I know this is nothing strange by American standards, but if you attend an Indian wedding you would know.

5) This might sound hypocritical, but I don't like many of the Indians in the US. People tell me that they usually feel good to see a familiar brown face in a black and white sea, but not for me. I don't speak for all of them, but a lot behave in a disgraceful manner. Like stealing a bunch of paper bags from bakery aisle of the grocery store (which is meant for taking a donut or a muffin if you are buying one), tipping badly (or not tipping at all), bringing loud and noisy kids to a movie and so on. I understand that most of you are here to make money and I don't mind if you want to skimp and save, but that doesn't give you the right to leave a dollar bill as a tip for a $30 dinner. If you don't want to pay for a babysitter or are squeamish about hiring one, then please take a netflix or blockbuster membership and don't set foot into the theatre. And the America bashers, I really have no words for you all. I miss home too and I've written about it too. But I don't go around saying "Americans don't have family values like Indians" and so forth. Though they might leave home at 18, they are not the ones to leave their family behind and travel half way across the sea to make a few bucks. There is so much more that I can talk about, but I think I will stop with this for now. The usual disclaimer stands - I know I am not talking about ALL the desis in the US. There are sizable exceptions (I like to think myself as one too). And I am not saying that all Americans should be kept on a pedestal too.

So after 4 strange facts and one mini rant, I think I am done with the tag. And since no-one reads this blog I don't feel the need to pass this on.