Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Leave Poirot—And Christie—Alone!

Writing a Continuation Novel is never easy. Few authors get it right the first time. Kingsley Amis and John Gardner got their Bond novels bang on the spot; Raymond Benson barely scraped through, while the less said about Sebastian Faulks-Jeffrey Deaver-William Boyd, the better. Similarly, Sam Llewellyn did a much-more-than-decent job with his continuation of the Navarone Saga.

However, Sophie Hannah, in her first—and hopefully last—Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, messes it up horribly. Sacre tonnerre, but this is not Poirot at all!!! The backstory, told in flashback mode, is mildly interesting and might have turned out finely in Dame Commander Christie's hands, but here it falls utterly flat. A convoluted plot, cardboard characters who act out of character for the most part, half-baked motives, underdeveloped plot points, an unsatisfactory ending: in short, this one is an almost unmitigated disaster fans of Poirot and Christie in particular and the world in general could well have done without. What's more appalling is an irritating douchebag of a secondary hero, who renders the proceedings even more tedious.

Eh bien, give it a shot only when you have nothing else to read. And then go back to the originals to rinse your mouth thoroughly of the aftertaste.

P.S.: I wonder what kind of a travesty Sebastian Faulks has turned out in the latest Jeeves-Bertie Wooster novel Jeeves And The Wedding Bells. If the reviews so far are anything to go by, Faulks deserves a very unpleasant and long-drawn-out death.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Jitna Bada Kalaakaar Utna Bada Naam

To say that "he strode over the Hindi Film scenario like a colossus" would be inaccurate, considering he came in at the time of Amjad Khan, Amrish Puri, Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor, and (slightly later) Anupam Kher. But his "unconventional" looks and heavily accented dialogue delivery, coupled with his versatility, won several admirers of his craft.

The post-1982 period in Hindi Film History has been one of mostly individual brilliance (unlike the Golden Era that was famous for collaborations between like-minded titans). And Sadashiv Amrapurkar definitely shone. If the cold menace he exuded as Rama Shetty (Ardh Satya, the spiritual sequel to ZANJEER), Chaturvedi (AAKHREE RAASTA), and most of all Maharani (Sadak) ran cold fingers down the audience's spine, the shayeri-spouting cop of Lashkar, the forgetful inspector of Aankhen, and the reluctant and bemused commissioner of Mohra regaled them to no end. And that's where he scored: deft touches of the brush that made ordinary characters stand out and be remembered after decades.

But it is probably the stage that will miss him the most. Even though I did not understand a single word of Marathi 10 years ago, he kept me on the edge of my seat with his riveting performance on that cold November night in Pune. Cinephiles and admirers of good actors, please try and get hold of a DVD/VCD copy of the Marathi play "Jyacha Tyacha Vithoba", a strong commentary on the socio-religious scenario in present-day India.

Rest in peace, Mr. Amrapurkar. You were so much a part of our growing-up years. As a character in one of your films said: "Jitna bada naam, utna bada kalaakaar (the longer the name, the greater the artiste)." We will vouch for it.