All those moments in life that leave an impression, leave you in deep thought,and contemplation.
Find book reviews for reading that feeds the soul. Personal experiences, travel stories- for spirituality is a daily pursuit. Movie and art, as what works better therapy than these.
Sharing my inspirations, write-ups and artsy creations.
Book and film reviews and random abstruse musings.
“Satyajit Ray was a master of science fiction writing.
Through his Professor Shonku stories and other fiction and non-fiction pieces,
he explored the genre from various angles. In the 1960s, Ray wrote a screenplay
for what would have been the first-of-its-kind sci-fi film to be made in India.
It was called The Alien and was based on his own short story “Bonkubabur Bandhu”.
On being prompted by Arthur C. Clarke, who found the screenplay promising, Ray
sent the script to Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, who agreed to back it, and
Peter Sellers was approached to play a prominent role. Then started the “Ordeals
of the Alien” as Ray calls it, as even after a series of trips to the US, UK
and France, the film was never made, and more shockingly, some fifteen years
later, Ray watched Steven Spielberg’s film Close
Encounters of the Third Kind and later
E.T.:The Extra- Terrestrial, and realized these bore uncanny resemblances
to his script The Alien, including the way the ET was designed!
A slice of hitherto undocumented cinema history, Travails with the Alien includes Ray’s
detailed essay on the project with the full script of The Alien, as well as the
original short story on which the screenplay was based. These, presented
alongside correspondence between Ray and Peter Sellers, Arthur C. Clarke,
Marlon Brando, Hollywood producers who showed interest, and a fascinating essay
by the young student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism who
broke the Spielberg story, make this book a rare and compelling read on science
fiction, cinema and art of adaptation.”
The cover illustration of the book is done by Satyajit Ray
himself, which first appeared for “Bonkubabur Bandhu” in his family magazine Sandesh, a quite renowned periodical in
the then West Bengal, in February 1962. The book is published by HarperCollins
India in association with Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray
The book reads like a
newspaper column you look forward to every weekend, fragments from the director’s
life chronicled coherently through his essays, interview pieces, newspaper
cuttings from the 1960s to 1980s, and several letters exchanged with personalities
from Hollywood. It was interesting to note the science fiction enthusiast’s
passion for stories.
Satyajit Ray, along with a friend of his had revived
the children’s magazine Sandesh,
after years of it going out of print. His grandfather had started the magazine,
which he published again with fresh ideas, sci-fi stories and facts suitable for
teens, complete with his own illustrations. He was also actively involved with
the Bengali science fiction magazine Aschorjo
as its chief patron, and became the president of the Science Fiction Cine Club,
which showed movies of the genre from around the world every week for members- one
of the first of its kind in India and abroad.
The book is divided into four parts- thoughts on science
fiction, the springboard Bonkubabur
Bandhu, The Alien, and other notable essays by Satyajit Ray. The very first
chapter is an essay that first appeared in Now magazine, on 21st
October 1966, and is curiously titled ‘SF’. “Heaven knows the initials are not
as widely familiar as one would wish.” begins Ray going on to discuss his personal
inspirations, and the woks and contributions of two pioneers of science fiction
writing- Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. More interesting essays follow which
discuss works of Conan Doyle, films like A Trip To Moon, Fahrenheit 451, 2001:
A Space Odyssey, Forbidden Planet, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and
Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde.
I have loved sci-fi movies as long as I can remember, but
this book has presented an entire new world, which dates back to decades before
my birth! So, I had reason to gush over the contents and search for more
snippets of interviews online. My favorite among the essays was the All
India Radio Interview with Satyajit Ray. The essence of the conversations
has been maintained throughout the translated piece. I laughed till it hurt
reading about Professor Shonku’s first invention, Nasyastra, a snuff gun, that
makes one sneeze 56 times non-stop. I was awed by how science lags behind
imagination- Leonardo Da Vinci had sketched the helicopter, gramophone and many
more devices which were invented much later. It was one of the most enjoyable
interviews I have read.
the short story has a very passionate Geography teacher, Bonkubabu, who is
always with interesting stories to narrate to his students. “He would talk of
life in Africa; of the discovery of the North Pole; of human-flesh-eating fish
in Brazil; and about Atlantis, the continent submerged under the sea.” But the
naughty kids always played pranks on him, tried to irritate and annoy him. When
he joined his friends and neighbors gathered for tea and conversations in the
village councilor’s house, he could neither understand the head and tail of the
meaningless conversations nor could he tolerate the ridicule he was subjected
to there. Once when ghosts were being discussed he was left with a torn kurta, missing shoes and soil in his
paan. One day when he was returning home from his routine life, he met an alien
near the bamboo grove which had come from the pink glowing upturned bowl like
spaceship in the lotus pond. When the initial fear subsided they argued about
the superiority of their race, and went about discussing all the interesting
things the alien had up its sleeve. The story ended on a hilarious scene where
Bonkubabu mustered up the courage to speak up for himself against those who
ridiculed him delivering an elaborate monologue quite grandly.
debate on matters they know nothing about.” - Bonkubabu
The Alien was planned to be a bilingual film in a purely Bengali setting, the Bengali version was to be named Avatar. The story is interesting it focuses more on the social problems and philosophical thoughts. A spaceship lands into a lotus pond in a remote village in Bengal, in the dead of the night, with a single alien inside it who has come to collect samples from the Earth- a frog, a snake, some flowers and plants. It has x-ray, telescopic and microscopic vision and supernatural powers to bring the dead to life. Miracles happen around its vicinity when the spherical ship lands- lotus stalks straighten and the petals open. Besides the illiterate villagers who think it to be a temple of gold emerging out of the pond, there is a journalist doing a village population survey, his wife who is doing research on the family planning of village women, a Marwari businessman and an American engineer working together searching waterbeds for drilling tubewells since there is a drought in the area. The Marwari plans to draw out water from the pond to restore the temple, but the journalist senses something weird. There are some more twists and turns to the story as they discover what the thing really is. The climax comes when the Alien decides to take a human as a sample.
I haven't read many screenplays or dramas, except for Shakespeare. This one was interesting.
Another favorite piece which read almost like a thriller was
the column by the journalism graduate Aseem Chhabra which detailed the
controversies around the similarities between ET and The Alien. A very
interesting article documenting the happenings around those times.
And if I may say so, “Heshoram Hoshiarer Diary” translated by
Satyajit Ray, written by his father Sukumar Ray, read like a desi Bengali version of the Fantastic
Beasts, of course there was no magic involved.
I recommend this book to all cinephiles, and all those who wait for their favorite newspaper columns every morning with their chai or coffee.
I received the book from Writer's Melon in exchange of an honest review.
Empress Ki is the most elaborate, gripping, and thrilling series I have watched this year. And at 51 episodes, it is the longest Korean drama series I have ever watched. Even though the number seems daunting and too much, it’s worth it all. If you like period dramas, you won’t want to give this one a miss.
It was in 2016 that I first read about Empress Ki, the historical drama that had garnered much praise and accolades from the audience and critics alike. Most Korean dramas are just 16 or 20 episodes long. So 51 seemed never-ending to me then. It wasn’t until 2017 that I decided to at least try the first episode. And I was hooked. But owing to the various circumstances I didn’t continue watching it. It was just last month that I remembered this epic story and watched it to completion within just a few days. Believe it or not, midway through it, I was almost literally pulling my hair out, in anticipation of what would happen next.
I would have given this magnum opus 10/10 had it stopp…
I have always been the one to leave first. Be it luck or circumstance, it has always been this way. Some of the times it has been my decision to venture out of my comfort zone first before all my peers decide to do the same and I am left behind, alone in the old world. The decisions are out of fear of being left alone, most of the times. Or is it self-preservation instead?
I am a person who takes time to adapt, make new friends, get accustomed to new surroundings- an unlikely one to leave first- yet I do. You might think me selfish, but I am just afraid, and I decide to take care of myself first. Some might see this as a major risk-taking attitude, but I mostly see it as fleeing before the 'desertion' hits me instead. Now that's a strong word indeed. I am always in search of safe ground, always so insecure and calculating my moves lest I end up being alone on the island.
Paranoiac. Several things bother me at once. What if my peers get on with their lives leaving me behi…
"When the ego dies, the soul awakes." - Mahatma Gandhi
Why do you have such a huge ego? You cannot wear your family's name on your sleeve as an identity forever. The world wouldn't see you through the eyes of your parents who have pampered you so much for the better part of your life. Here in the real world, you will get what you give. Respect begets respect. Selfishness begets selfishness. Hate begets hate. And your 'i don't care', 'i don't give a damn', 'i am paying money for that', 'i will do as I please' attitude will give you the same.
Respect is earned. Agreed. But you should give it first to earn it back. The other person should and must be respected by default despite his class, caste, job and family background, until and unless he proves unworthy of it with time. I stand strongly by this belief.
There can be no excuse for disregard. The way you speak to me about people tells me the way you might be speaking about me t…
One Friday evening, as I was feeling a bit lonely and homesick with nothing much to do, not even strolling on the terrace viewing the ever so beautiful mountains since it was raining hard- thus it also contributing to my gloomy mood, I decided to watch Before Sunrise. Yes, once again. A first for me. I rarely re-watch a movie. Yearning for a light-hearted yet meaningful conversation this was the best choice I had. My hostel mates were out in the city and all the people I called up were busy. Luck by chance. Thanks to the superb uninterrupted internet connection I had a great 1 hour 40 minutes that evening.
"Experiencing the otherworldly. When morning comes, we would all turn into pumpkins."
Even though it sounds like a cliche today, unplanned trips, adventures in life, serendipity and providence are romantic. Before Sunrise has all of these, when strangers indulge in light conversations, grow intrigued about each other's lives, and spend time in each other's company …
It is human nature to dwell in the past, worry about the future
and forget all about the present. I still miss the days spent in Hyderabad. I
miss the study schedules, eating out, street shopping, and the city tours. I
miss the roads, the townships and the metros. But I clearly remember that I
just wanted the days to pass quickly so that I could return home, while I was
there. And today I miss the view from the terrace of the ladies hostel we
stayed in, the floral decorations with chalk, colors and flowers, the flower
market, the abundance of curd during lunch hours, the constant ‘amma’ recitals
by our wardens and so much more.
One of the highlights of the hostel life in Hyderabad at Sri
Kamali was queuing up for tea, puri and dosa during breakfast time, and then
hurrying to secure a chair the very next moment. And conversations and
complaints flowed unhindered during these hours in many languages at once- the
most prominent ones being Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and English.…
July has been a special month for me. Not just because it is my birthday month, but because many new beginnings, many fresh starts, and many turning points of my life have happened in July. It's mid of the year when I have looked back at what the year was like for the first six months and have anticipated and dreamt about the coming six months. Goals and resolutions are reviewed in July.
These initial days of college are all about fun, making interactions, creating friendships and increasing your network. It's less on course works and assignments. So we are trying to take full advantage of it. I have made a few friends at the hostel too, most of them are my juniors, with a huge age gap. But the good news is none of us can feel this gap. We visited the Forest Research Institute this weekend. It was a good trip. I stopped at almost every tree to take a snap and posed at every corner of the museum clicking selfies. Too much beauty in a single place. Beauty overloaded. The view of t…
Horse riding was no cake walk for me.
I feigned ignorance for months about the rule for Princesses to learn to tackle a beast like that. For weeks I would hide somewhere innocently when it was time for the lessons. The experts appointed for this task left their posts within weeks. Hah! I would make each one leave. It’s a war now, between my father - The King and me.
One morning I spotted a rather young man near the stables. The maids were gossiping how handsome he was. Some whispered he was a year or two senior to me. Huh! He must have just graduated then. Father is appointing amateurs now, I see. Had I not been home-schooled, I would have known school life for myself.
I chose the haystacks in the courtyard of the servants’ quarters to hide that day, much pleased with my choice. The sky was beautiful and so were the house-sparrows. Just as I admired my surroundings, a head popped in front of me from nowhere.
“So here you are. You’re late for your classes. Let’s go now,” he pulled …