Images of India going to the polls in recent years have invariably tended to underscore the cynical lack of ideology and idealism on the part of leaders and opponents. The very real business of horse-trading and post-poll arithmetic has virtually obscured the possibility of ethico-moral politics—a potential that until the 1950s was a real one.
Chatura Rao’s Meanwhile, Upriver strikes us with its cryptic and yet engaging book cover. An expansive blue backdrop with a suggestive landscape, a monkey man crouching at one end, a fat woman clad in red, floating in the air at the other and both facing each other as if awaiting their meeting, duly summarizes the book.
The movie begins with a regurgitation of not just a half digested Bengali breakfast but also a foreboding of tragedy. Did I just say movie? Indrajit Hazra’s The Bioscope Man may well be a movie, which has been cinematographed in words, for such is the dexterity with which he casts his characters and rolls out his scenes.
I must begin with a double disclaimer: I am not familiar with the entire body of Girish Karnad’s dramatic work, and I have not yet seen a stage performance of Wedding Album, Girish Karnad’s newest play. Having gotten that out of the way, here’s getting down to the business of reviewing a new, unusual offering from one of the best known dramatists in the country. In a word, I was surprised.
When E.M.S. Namboodiripad came to Mumbai in the 1950s as the Chief Minister of Kerala, a large number of people received him at the airport and several government vehicles waited to take him to the government rest house. But he sent them all away saying he was in the city for party work.
Octogenarian Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi is in the news again. This time for being the only Indian besides Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul to be shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize that recognizes the lifetime achievement of a litterateur.