Views, Reviews

There are many good things about vacations, specially vacations involving long train journeys, but one of the nicest is that I actually get a chance to read.

On the train to Delhi en route to Binsar, I read Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone.

I don’t actually read a lot of Indian authors in English, and now I know why. This book was shockingly bad. The language was trying to be young and hip without being very successful in the attempt; there was a feeble excuse for a plot; and the characters were at best two-dimensional. It was probably one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time.

From Delhi to Binsar and back to Delhi, I read a book that was highly recommended by my mother: Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood. This was a really good book. Although it is about a murder, I wouldn’t call it a murder mystery. It is about a historical crime (not entirely fictional, I mean) which took place in the mid-1800s. The story is told from the perspective of the accused, Grace, which is, in itself, unusual. I liked the way the whole plot unfolds and resolves itself, and the way characters are drawn from the perspective mainly of this one person. And I enjoyed all the little details of everyday life which are not relevant to the plot, but which, in this book, add a lot of richness.

In Delhi, at my father-in-law’s house, a book called Every Night Josephine caught my eye. Well, with a title like that, it could hardly miss. However, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s about a TV star couple who have a love affair with a dog -a French Poodle called Josephine. It was probably written 50 years ago, and has several references to people I’ve never heard of, but it’s very entertaining and light reading. The author is someone called Jacqueline Susann, is famously the author of a book called Valley of the Dolls, which I’d never heard of before.

I also got to watch two movies on this holiday. One was, of course Slumdog Millionaire. My reaction to it is similar to my reaction to Five Point Someone. An excuse for a plot, two dimensional characters, ham acting. I don’t watch a lot of Hindi movies, so I don’ have much to compare it with, but if I think of Black, or Taare Zameen Par, both of which have their share of ham acting, but much more convincingly done, I can only scratch my head in wonder that this should be the movie everyone’s making such a fuss about.

The other movie I saw, on the other hand was just fantastic. Mamma Mia. What a fun flick! It has a lot of Abba songs and it has Pierce Brosnan! I would never have imagined such a combination in a Hollywood film, but now that I’ve seen it, really, what could be better?


11 Responses to Views, Reviews

  1. hi says:

    written like a true pseudo..well done.

  2. Supriya says:

    In fact, I am shocked that you picked five point someone for your train journey. It is such a never-been has been, apart from being bad.

  3. Lubi :) says:

    i luv’d mamma mia 2!!

  4. Andaleeb says:

    I read only One night at a call center and was immensely irritated with it. Haven’t felt like reading any of Chetan Bhagat’s novels after that. There are very few Indian authors who write novels which are not boring, sanctimonious or tackle that whole American immigrant drama…but there are some which are really commendable. I had mentioned a book on my blog recently. No onions nor garlic….that’s a really good one…do pick it up!

  5. entisar says:

    Ayoo about the power cuts with re to the post below. I haven’t watched Slumdog Millionaire yet but I do want to know what it was that helped it get an Oscar…Hmmm. Haven’t watched Mamma Mia either but the Brosnan factor helps. You know the sad part? British Airways had this movie on their play list when we flew to India but I was too hyper about the turbulence to watch.

  6. poupee97 says:

    hi – who are you and why are you insulting me on my own blog?

    Supriya – well, it was a gift from someone and I thought I had read it and then realised I hadn’t… and you shouldn’t let gift go to waste… though it’s a moot point whether leaving this particular book unread is the greater waster or not.

    Andy – will look out for it the next time I visit a bookshop

    entisar – Mamma Mia would probably have helped you forget about the turbulence, it is a really fun movie

  7. Sowmya says:

    πŸ™‚ Thankfully didnt ever read Chetan Bhagat as I heard some horrid reviews about it from people I trust with books! But I did see Slumdog millionaire mika…and liked it. I do think of it as an ordinary story, but loved the some parts of the movie, especially the kids and the direction, I feel, is pretty good.

    I definitely don’t think it deserves an Oscar, but then on the other hand i’ve a very low opinion of the Oscars off late, I guess, it doesn’t matter really. Overall I could watch and like it once, but not probably go gaga over it. I also don’t think it portrays Mumbai and India badly, or that it is gross or difficult to watch as it shows the filth and terrible conditions, which are some of the comments I hear here from ppl and I don’t think films should always be an escape from reality, which seems to be some people’s excuse for controversy or not watching it!

    And I cant help feeling it was chosen coz somehow it was part of the Oscar committee’s very own economic bailout and stimulus plan… with such a crappy economy, they probably thot they needed a feel good winner, even if it was just clutching at straws i suppose. Or is it the ‘audacity of hope’ theme of the movie that was appealing? πŸ˜€

    Phew, this comment is getting so long, I might have blogged it instead!

  8. poupee97 says:

    Hey, Sowmya!

    Well, I agree with you on the portrayal of Mumbai, the filth etc – it’s not that bad. For me, the only “bad” part was where they make that kid blind. The rest of it wasn’t bad or filthy at all, really. I also agree with you on the escape from reality perspective – I think it’s ok to show reality in all its glory.

    What I didn’t like was the ham acting. The cop. The evil chap who maimed the kids. Even the inexplicable way the older kid (forgot his name already) who was such a blood brother suddenly does a volte face and becomes the bad guy. That could have been done in a more believable way, but it’s like they never even tried to make it credible. And the whole love angle sucked big time.

    Anyway, that’s my take, and like I said, I don’t watch a lot of Bollywood, so I don’t have much to compare it with.

  9. 101dreams says:

    Well… The ironies of life… A long time ago, a friend recommended Five Point Someone to me… I bought two copies – one for me & the other for you (your birthday was around the corner)… Fortunately, I read the book before your birthday and so never bothered to give you your copy… And then someone else gifts you the same book… Maybe you were destined to read it πŸ™‚

    On SM, Sowm pretty much summed up my response when I read your blog…And I guess I’ve blogged my views too…

  10. doug H says:

    Hmmm. Why do I think you would have enjoyed “slumdog” more if it had featured Pierce Brosnan?

    (insert raised eyebrow here> <).

  11. poupee97 says:

    Doug: That’s an excellent deduction! πŸ˜€

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