Thursday, July 22, 2010
I am both annoyed and excited when an author leaves the conclusion of the story to the reader i.e., me..
Being annoyed is an obvious reaction. The act of going through an entire book (no matter what the length) and not being rewarded with a closure leaves me with an incomplete sort of feeling. On the other hand, it is exciting in a way also because the author has provided me the privilege to steer the story any which way (in my mind) and bring it to an end. And I exercised this right when I finished reading ‘Juliet, Naked’ by Nick Hornby.
I stumbled upon Hornby’s books in the amazing book store tucked in the basement of Hot Spot (yes, the ice cream parlour!) and what caught my eyes (besides the blurb) were the covers. Yes, I must admit (and quite sheepishly) that it was the cover of his books which caught my attention, first, and made me note down the titles in my diary. To cut a long story short; I Googled him, discovered what an interesting writer he was and at the first opportunity bought his book.
To say the book was a great read would be an understatement. It was a terrific read but I might not have harboured such emotions had I not been reading H. G. Wells simultaneously. But to say it wasn’t a good, fun book would be doing it a great injustice.
The book revolved around Tucker Crowe, a famous rock band artist who suddenly pulls a disappearing act from the music scene, leaving his fans in shock and wonder. Some of these fans make it their life’s mission to keep his memory alive and after 20 years from the day he disappeared they still talk, write and think about him. One such fan is Duncan, who seems like a living encyclopaedia on Crowe. The book opens on his trip to America with his girlfriend, Annie, which the couple took to learn more about the mystery behind Crowe’s sudden disappearance. (Duncan took it for Crowe and Annie just wanted a nice vacation).
The book is mostly about Crowe and his impact on people’s life; both family and otherwise. His personal life is screwed (and so is his professional life) and somehow, he manages to (totally unintentionally on his part) screw the lives of Duncan and Annie. Or does he?
During the course of the book Duncan and Annie split and part ways. Annie ends up writing and finally meeting Tucker and his son (quite the Bollywood twist!) among other things. Not only that, she introduces Duncan to him also and thus the latter’s life dream is fulfilled. And then the author leaves the end to me. Does Annie patch up with Duncan (as Tucker had advised?) or does she leave her sleepy town, Gooleness (what a name!) and flies to America and Tucker Crowe? Does Tucker treat her in a similar way as he treated the other women (impregnate, baby sit, and then leave) or does he turn over a new leaf and decide to stick to Annie as a support for his old age (he’s fifty plus when he meets her and has suffered a heart attack)?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
What do you get when you combine a whining son, a nostalgic mother, a crippled sister and a prospective suitor? No, not a soap on Star Plus (although I’m sure there must be something like this going on in one of the dramas) but a theatre play. With the wedding festivities over, hubby dear and myself managed to catch the play, ‘Dil ka kya Rang karoon’ by the NAPA repertory company.
The play was an adaptation of William Tennessee’s, ‘The Glass Menagerie’. It revolves around four characters (five actually if you count the father who is omnipresent in the form of a portrait) set in the 1930s. It portrays the life of an American household during the Great Depression. The Urdu adaptation was set in Karachi during the 1960s.
As the curtain lifted and the lights came on, the set came to life and I was blown away. I have seen many NAPA plays but this set was breath taking. The attention to detail was so true to life that it actually seemed like the interior of a house in Karachi. It was not just the set which was impressive but the lighting was perfect also. The transition from day to night was flawless!
The play had a tragic theme. The protagonist, Salman, is the bread earner of the house but his meagre salary is not enough to make ends meet. His heart is not in his work but he must carry on his job in order to feed his mother and sister. To escape from the constant nagging of his mother and the depressive atmosphere of the house, he goes off to get drunk and watch cinema at all hours of the night. The crippled sister, Nafisa, suffers from an inferiority complex on account of her disability. She seeks solace and lives in her own world of porcelain dolls and glass figures. She tries to keep peace between the mother and son. The mother is a central character of sorts. She loves and loathes her children at the same time. There are moments when she adopts a very positive attitude and strongly believes that her daughter will get married off. At other times she loses all hope and starts blaming Salman for their destitute living and Nafisa’s spinsterhood.
It might seem frustrating for someone watching the play (especially someone who hasn’t read it) to accept the fact that this family can be so helpless and unable to improve their lifestyle. But in a society like ours where there are few jobs, yet rising inflation; many people live frustrating lives. Salman, at the end of the play, walks out on his mother and sister but not every frustrated young man can do that. There are many girls, like Nafisa, who keep waiting for the right proposal because they are monetarily, not physically, crippled.
Even though the play was adapted decently well and there was a stellar cast (with actors from both outside and NAPA), the acting fell short. Saqib Khan, as Salman, seemed quite similar to Constantine (a character from Seagull, a NAPA play in which he performed last year) and seemed to stress more on his diction than his emotions. Ali Rizvi, another NAPA graduate, acted the role of Amir (Salman’s friend). His makeup was done so bad he looked like a doll and his acting lacked the dandy attitude of the character as written by Williams. Hina Dilpazir, a popular TV actress, played the role of the mother admirably. There were fumbles by her also but she managed to keep the entire play together. Jamila Muhammad, who played the role of Nafisa was quite good also. It is not easy to keep a limp consistently on stage and, considering that this was her first play, she did an amazing job. Her emotions were stirring and even though there were mistakes in her diction, her overall performance rendered them meaningless.