Thursday, July 24, 2008

Book your movie, now!

Finally, I'm done.

Surprisingly, it took me just about 3 weeks to finish reading the 'Lord of The Rings'. And incredibly, my biggest complaint, like the author himself mentions in the preceding notes, is that the book was too short. I conveniently finished it on a Friday, so that I could put the LOTR movie marathon over the weekend, which brings me to the question that I have been unable to answer for a while now. So, I'm asking you the same… Based on the many books that have been adapted into cinema, which do you prefer? The book or the movie?

I'm neither a compulsive reader nor an avid movie watcher, even though I'm working towards both and hence, my opinion would really not have any meat in it. There are very few stories that I've read and watched as well. My favourite movie of all time is 'The Shawshank Redemption' and inspired by it, I picked up its source 'Different Seasons' that includes the novella. Stephen King is a fantastic writer, but I still prefer the movie. The prison, the escape, the main protagonist.. Everything appealed to me a lot more in the movie. On the other hand, the movie versions of the Harry Potter series have been a terrible disappointment. The movies seemingly limited my imagination and made the books far less enjoyable. Voldemort was way scarier in my head, Hermione was much less hotter. I feel that books and stories about school are best read, because you tend to imagine them in your old campus and classrooms. As much as I love the books, the Harry Potter movies are at the least avoidable.

A very rare case, where I like both the book and the movie immensely was ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. Easily, one of the best books I have ever read, the book was inspiring and thoughtful. But the movie was brilliant too. Atticus Fitch seemed to have been created to be played by Gregory Peck. This is the only case, where I have been unable to choose one over the other. The movie and the book, brilliant! The Godfather has been a queer case for me. More than one friend has advised me against reading the book since I have already watched the movie. I have read other books by Mario Puzo, but I haven't got to The Godfather yet. The reason? Quite frankly, I didn't like the movie. I like the genre, but something about the movie turned me off. So on one hand, there are several brilliant movies that I don't want to read the book versions of - Jurassic Park, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Sorry, but chocolate has to be seen). And books that I don't want to watch movies of - 1984, Apt Pupil, et al. And horror stories? I try to keep away from both the books as well as the movies.

And I'm not yet done thinking up questions. Just in case a story is good enough to be experienced in both formats, what should one do? Read the book or watch the movie first? Or should one skip either? And is it ok for movie directors to skip some parts of the story or tweak with the plot for their convenience? Characters being left out, new ones introduced... What about all that?

Coming back to the Lord of the Rings - I loved the movies, they are simply brilliant. Yet, I was very apprehensive about reading the book. But enough and more free time at my office motivated me to attempt reading it and frankly I am glad I did so. For the past 3 weeks, Frodo, Sam and the others have been in my head constantly. Yes, I knew how the story went, but the book was a great pleasure to read. And one has to appreciate J.R.R Tolkien for the level of detailing that this epic tale encompasses. And more so, Peter Jackson deserves applause for staying (almost) true to the book.

(Whew! For all the hyperlinking!)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Management of Brutal Aunties

Years of attending numerous weddings, betrothals, naming ceremonies, anniversaries and other such random traditional occasions have taught me little. And I felt least qualified in the area of managing the ‘nosey aunties’. This particular area needs special talent, because there are multiple dynamics affecting the situation. One needs to be polite, quick, smart, diplomatic and highly slimy to get out of the situation untouched. I have countered such challenges on so many occasions that I can describe a typical scene effortlessly.

Usually this happens when the festive mood in a big bright function hall is at its peak. I'd generally be sulking in the corner, cursing the day, having had to get up early and get involved in the decked-upness. I'd be looking forward to lunch, but waiting for all the oldies to finish first. Just when I'd consider calling a friend/playing the snake game, a small group of aunties (referred to as 'The Aunties', from now on) turn up out of nowhere. Typically, The Aunties are middle-aged, slightly rotund (being very polite here), jobless and gossipy. And all they want is to have a conversation with an innocent youngster, like me. I'd try a quick getaway after shooting a fake 100-watt smile. But one can never underestimate The Aunties. They'll always get a firm grip on my hand/shoulder and say, “Oho! You are (My mom)’s daughter no!”. After confirming my lineage, The Aunties would proceed to ask a set of highly irritating questions. Of course, these questions have changed in proportion to my age.

“How did you grow so tall without anyone noticing? Why don’t you ever come home? What sorts of clothes are you wearing? Why didn’t you do engineering? Why don't you ever wear a bindi?” and such others. More recently it has been, “Ah! Marriageable age, huh? So.. so.. when are you planning to… eh?” I have always reacted to such interviews by giving ridiculously unthought-of answers, bordering on being rude and offensive. When enough and more is-this-how-you-raise-your-daughter complaints reached my mom, she forbade me from attending any more functions with her, which worked to my benefit too.

But The Aunties still get a way to reach you and desperate to save face, Mom finally let me in on her secret of managing The Aunties. It is simple and effective – "Smile, be irrelevant and smile again”.

And today I tried it out for the first time. I came out on the balcony this morning and neighbour aunty was waiting for me.

“Ey! Waiting for office cab?”
“Yes, Aunty.”
“You never gave me sweets after you got a job? Forgot about me, heh?”
(Smile) “What is this Aunty? So many people have diabetes now.” (Smile)
(Awkward pause)
“So, when are you getting married, eh? Ready to settle down now?”
(Smile) “Everybody reaches this age someday. It all depends. Am I not right?” (Smile)
“Errm. Yes, yes! So, where is this office?”
“Airport Road”
“Ah! Very far.. You can’t possibly work for very long there. Family life is more important. Have you started cooking?”
(Smile) “But the Airport shifted and anyway, the weather is so nice nowadays. It will rain today, no?” (Big-ass smile)
“Yes, yes. Ok, you go to office. Bye.”

And, that’s that. I got rid of the Aunty. Mission accomplished, I can now be called a champ in Aunty-handling. The art has been mastered. Throw me bunch of Aunties, I say!