Adventures with Amma

Taking a break from the A-to-Z Challenge.

First Saturdays are working days for me.

Last Saturday on returning from office, I found the door locked and Amma not responding to my calls. There was no light emanating from the rooms as well. After a bit of banging and the door and yelling, I heard a moan and immediately I realized that Amma had fallen down. Fearing the worst, ran down and got the ladder, requested the electrical staff to climb into the verandah, the verandah door was open. He climbed up and opened the front door. As I had feared Amma had fallen down in the kitchen and dragged herself along the floor hoping she would be able to rise.

As I lifted her up and comforted her, I could immediately spot the swelling in her left wrist and right foot. She said she did not know how she fell down but she had hurt herself. Long story short, her left wrist has fractured again – six years more or less, the left wrist has fractured again.

Took her to the hospital, the x-rays showed proof of the injury. The ortho said, we need to put her off Clopilet and get the cardiologist’s approval for a K-wire procedure. With a plaster cast, we are back home. We need to return in a week for the surgical procedure. Again and again she is being put through so much pain and misery. All the Gods and Goddesses that exist, why is she being made to undergo this strain and stress at this age?

Bathing amma, cleaning her up, feeding her takes up my time. Work also has to happen, channeling all my energy, give me strength my Lord, give me patience, for I am losing my trust in you.

 

 

 

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B for Byomkesh Bakshi

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay is one of Bengal’s most famous writers, He was a multi-faceted genius and also spent time in Bombay writing scripts for movies. Though he wrote several books on different topics, his most popular creation continues to be Satyanveshi – Byomkesh Bakshi.

Fans of Doordarshan would remember the television serial that made more people aware of the genius of the creator and his detective. The books were originally written in Bangla and some English translations of the most popular short stories are available. Movies have also been made featuring Byomkesh Bakshi and especially the last decade has seen several movies being released in Bangla. Even the great Satyajit Ray could not resist the charm and made “Chiriyakhana” (Zoo/Menagerie) starring Mahanayak Uttam Kumar. Though the movie is considered by critics as Ray’s weakest, it was quite successful at the box office and continues to have a cult following among mystery-lovers.

The TV series that aired on Doordarshan had Rajit Kapoor play Byomkesh and KK Raina play Ajit his friend and chronicler of the mysteries. Among the many short stories that made it to the mini-screen the one that interested me a lot is a story that involves the ‘Rokthomukhi Neela’ / “the Deadly Diamond” – a precious blue gem that causes only problems to anyone who covets it.

The episodes are available on YouTube. Older movies have also found a presence and the newer ones can be viewed on streaming services.

To view the TV series that aired on Doordarshan in Hindi

 

A for Agatha Raisin

So here we are with the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Starting with a character and a series of books that I discovered just this year. We had a book sale that allowed us to choose a box and stuff it with pre-loved books for a specific amount. This particular book was part of that collection – “Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death” by M.C. Beaton. I picked the book up on a hunch and my intuition did not go wrong. This is the first book in a series of humourous mysteries set in a charming old English village. The key protagonist of the series is Agatha Raisin whom we believe is in her late forties or perhaps early fifties and has retired by selling her successful PR firm to a larger agency. She was once married, but left the good for nothing husband for her own sanity.

quiche

In this book that initiates the series, Agatha tries to fit into the village of Carsely. She buys a quaint little cottage and tries to merge into the social structure of the village. There’s a baking competition and she decides to buy a quiche and enter it into the competition. What follows is utter chaos? A person who eats the quiche dies and Agatha finds herself as suspect number one in the crime investigation. Who killed the person who dies after eating the quiche? The villagers are not as innocent as they seem. Agatha carries out her own investigations to prove herself innocent.

Do read the novel to find out the identity of the murderer. The book is a mix of Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse’s writing style and draws laughs at regular intervals alongside building the suspense.

There is also a television series based on this series.

 

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

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Going to keep it very simple.

Investigators in fiction and cinema that I have loved.

So expect some known and unknown names spanning different languages and eras.

Not sure if will cover the usual suspects like Holmes and Poirot as already pages upon pages have been written about them.

Wish me luck and hope you are participating this year as well.

 

 

“Super Deluxe” –The Butterfly Effect Meets Crash in a Heady Cocktail of Emotions

 

When Thiagarajan Kumararaja made Aranya Kandam about decade back he struggled to get the censors clear it. Acclaimed in cine-fests abroad, it was a struggle to release it theatrically and the audience could not comprehend it; though the treatment got the critics raving. Over the next few years the movie achieved cult-classic fame and is one of the most torrented Tamil films. Consider it as a badge of honour!

In this intervening period of eight years, we have heard several rumours but nothing was confirmed. TK had a story/screenplay credit for GVM’s “Yennai Arindhal”. Roughly a year ago there was confirmed news that he was working on a multi-starrer and we kept getting some bits and pieces of information about the project. But when the actual trailer arrived, we were shocked to see Vijay Sethupathi playing a transgender character, in his avatar he looks surprisingly like Sharath Kumar from the first or was it the second movie in the Kanchana franchise.

The movie grabs your attention from the first frame. It seems to have been shot in the narrow lanes of the Mint area of Madras and the highway stretching towards Ennore. We see a motley collection of characters, a bunch of teens looking to watch a porn movie at home, a kid and his extended family waiting for the man of the house to return from Mumbai, a beautiful young woman preparing for a romantic rendezvous with her ex-lover. How these individual tales merge is the cinematic experience that’s ‘Super Deluxe’.

The movie has a lot of darkness or rather a yellow-hued shot treatment throughout, even the scees in daylight, do not seem to be filled with warmth and light. One kid seems to spot his mother going by the mole on the shoulder of the lady in the porn movie and shatters the screen of the LCD TV and runs out in anger to stab his mother but instead stabs himself as he slips and falls. There are a bunch of people waiting for a prayer-healer/faith-healer ‘Arputham’ who was saved in the Tsunami disaster that took a lakh of people to their death, though he alone survived a miracle-man! The young woman Vembu’s sexual escapade ends in the death of her ex-lover and she is forced to hide the body in the refrigerator. Her husband Mughilan/Mughil returns and is gob-smacked by the calm confession of his wife and they plan to dispose the body. The kids who have lost the TV need to replace it with another TV and seek to find a way to make a quick buck to finance their project. The family waiting for the long-missing man from Mumbai gets the shock of their lives when he returns as a woman. He has undergone a gender-change operation.

The kid who accidentally stabs himself is rushed to the hospital and money is needed for the surgery. The kid’s mother is forced to contact Arputham whose real name is Dhanashekar and is the boy’s father. Arputham/DS is confused and terrified as he prays to his Andavar to save his boy and takes the boy to his rundown flat and smears water on the wound and prays for deliverance. The local area counselor is brought in to take the boy back to the hospital for treatment. Money, money is the key and everyone is helpless in trying to find money.

The little boy is fascinated by his father who has returned as a woman and takes him along to school to prove to everyone that he is not a ‘test-tube baby’.  A constable spots them and considers that a transgender has kidnapped a boy and they are taken to the police station. The duty inspector a depraved and villainous chap forces himself on Shilpa the’ new woman’.

I have already revealed a fair bit of the story. No more spoilers. Does the boy manage to survive the stabbing? How does the young couple dispose the corpse? What happens to Shilpa and the kid? DO the teens find a way to make money to buy a new TV? Does Arputham/DS get money to save his son? Or does Andavar bless and cure his son without surgery?

Plus there is an interesting closing credits sequence that involves an acclaimed novelist spouting out philosophy, life, and all about creation and desire then the disco gem from the eighties plays.

For answers to all your questions and an ‘extraordinary twist’ that is out of this world, please do go watch Super Deluxe in the theatre. This is a cinematic experience that needs to be celebrated and will go down in the annals of Indian cinema as a modern classic.

 

A Second Chance

alcoholic-beverage-beverage-drink-1724090

I looked at the glass,
It was half-full,
Or was it half-empty?
The amber-coloured liquid,
Ambrosia when taken in moderation,
A killer when it turns into an addiction.

I looked at the notepad,
A last message,
A final letter to the world,
When they found my corpse,
Another failure in this big city,
That makes a milion dreams come true.
But failed me?

The scripts that had been rejected,
The manuscripts that the publishers,
Had sent with a rejection notice,
The reminders from the banks,
Asking me to repay the loan,
Some letters from home,
Asking me to remit money,
They all lay in stacks, one atop the other.

The paper packet of rat poison,
The vendor outside the railway station,
Had promised – would be potent,
Enough to kill ten rats sir,
Very strong poison sir,
Five rupees that’s all it cost me,
What do you get for five rupees today?
Even a cutting-chai costs a tenner.
Would the packet suffice?

Would I be put out of my misery?
Would this help me?
Would this help my family?
Was suicide the answer to all questions?
This was how it was all going to end?
One more failure, one more statistic,
That the municipal records would close.
No – no – it cannot end this way.
Let me give it one more shot,
A second chance at life,
I am destined for greater things,
If not greater, at least for a life of mediocrity,
That lets me pay the bills,
And keep everyone happy.

I flushed the rat-poison down the toilet,
Put my head into a bucket of cold water,
Rinsed out all the frustration from every pore,
The newspaper from Sunday,
Had a list of vacancies,
They were hiring chowkidars,
The agency was offering Rs 10,000 a month,
Plus food and money for over time,
The star scholar from college,
The darling of the professors,
Was going to give life a second chance.

****************

Image courtesy –

“The Heist Artist” by Vish Dhamija Book Review

I received a review copy of “The Heist Artist” by Vish Dhamija; courtesy – Writersmelon. This is the first time I am reading a book written by Vish Dhamija and he has been touted as India’s answer to John Grisham for some of his earlier books which were legal thrillers.

book-cover

In ‘The Heist Artist’ – the action starts fast and the book is a quick page-turner that leaves you asking for more. The story narrates the adventures of a con-artist, his attempts to retrieve a missing Van Gogh painting, a cop pursuing the con-artist, a political goon who hired the con-artist in the first place, and some other assorted colourful characters. Our hero or anti-hero; however you choose to describe the primary character goes by the name ‘Captain’. He is a skilled con-artist who abhors violence and after an attempt to smuggle weapons goes wrong; he shifts to Banaras and is disguised as a sadhu. We are also given a brief flashback of sorts that tells us why the Captain has to take up a life of crime and it is quite convincing, akin to a thousand other stories in a similar vein, wherein a person has to take up to a life of crime to make ends meet.

The Captain is called upon by Udham Singh a politician/goon from Uttar Pradesh. He hands a task to the Captain telling him that a Van Gogh painting “Poppy Flowers” is in India and he gives him a list of four potential people who may have the painting with them. The Captain’s task is to identify the owner, steal the painting, and bring it safely to Udham. With a rich reward on offer, the Captain believes it is a one-time opportunity to make a massive pay-out and retire. With a generous advance from Udham, the Captain judiciously gets ready to find the painting. He disguises himself as a Professor of Art from France called Albert Reuben and teaches art in a leading institute in Delhi.

Here’s a bit of history about the painting, courtesy the “Museum of Stolen Art”:

“Poppy Flowers (also known as Vase and Flowers and Vase with Viscaria) is a painting by Vincent van Gogh with an estimated value of $50 million The painting, which is of a vase of yellow and red poppies, contrasted against a dark background is a reflection of Van Gogh’s deep admiration for Adolphe Monticelli, an older painter whose work influenced him when first he saw it in Paris in 1886. Egyptian officials erroneously believed they had recovered the painting only hours after its theft when two Italian suspects attempted to board a plane to Italy at Cairo International Airport. The same painting had been stolen from the same museum on June 4, 1977, and was recovered ten years later in Kuwait. The painting is small, measuring 65 x 54 cm, and depicts yellow and red poppy flowers. It is believed that van Gogh painted it in 1887, three years before his suicide.”

Van_Gogh_-_Vase_mit_Pechnelken

In this chaos, there is an incorruptible policeman who is on the hunt of the Captain and aims to bring him to justice. He tries to figure out where the Captain vanished after the botched attempt in smuggling weapons. The Professor/Captain manages to figure out the identity of the person who now holds the painting and by a weird twist of fate gets to see it and vouch its genuineness. Now that he knows where the painting is stored; it is owned by a millionaire/businessman Bipin; he plans the theft. When Udham is informed about this he plans to get the painting from the Captain and kill him. He assigns Sonia a former escort who now works for a detective agency to track the Captain’s activities; he also sends his henchman Damodar to ensure that the painting is stolen and brought to him perfectly.

What happens next? Is the painting stolen by the Captain, Sonia, and Damodar? Is the Captain killed by Udham and Damodar? What is Sonia’s role in the entire chain of events? Does the cop track down the Captain before the theft happens? If you want to find answers to all these questions; then you must pick up “The Heist Artist” by Vish Dhamija. It has all the ingredients for a blockbuster movie. Go for it, you won’t be disappointed.

You can buy the book from Amazon – https://www.amazon.in/Heist-Artist-Vish-Dhamija/dp/9353026024

Happy reading!