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Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

8

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I had successfully managed to avoid Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner for a very long time. The book had been silently sitting in my personal library, waiting to be picked up. But Forsyth, Ludlum, Wallace, Archer, Narayan and the lot kept dominating my world. They still continue to do so, and I’m happier that way.

One of the main reasons that kept me away from The Kite Runner is the fact that it is a morose story. Now I’ve always had a problem with such stories. Sometimes in competitions only those stories win that pull the strings of your heart. Whether it’s on the international scene or otherwise, between a tremendously researched thriller and a heart-wrenching story, it’s the latter that always wins. I’ve always hated that trend. It’s the same when it comes to movies. A recently released Kannada movie is a huge hit. It’s a tragic story and it’s pathetic. My friend and I tore our own clothes, and by the time we came out of the theatre, we were looking like beggars. Anyway, let’s not get there.

I’m not complaining about The Kite Runner though. I liked it immensely, all right; but more because of the way of writing rather than the story itself. Surely there are moments that really squeeze your heart, moments that make you stop reading and introspect upon your own life, moments that teach you to take a severe beating instead of running away and feel guilty later on, which by the way is one of the biggest lessons that one should learn. Sooner the better.

All these things are explained, or to be specific, shown so beautifully that it makes the reader relate to the characters, easily. This is the part, which really fascinated me to the core. A perfect example for, “Show, don’t tell” – the golden rule of storytelling. The story drags a bit here and there, and sometimes it gets boring too. But what a superb way of storytelling! The characterization, the voice, the language, the narration – everything is top notch. Every sentence is fantastic. Every paragraph paints a heavenly picture of a hellish world. If I’m to read the book again or pick up his next novel, it will be because of these very reasons. The entire book is like a lesson in creative writing.

Khaled Hosseini is certainly one of the most powerful storytellers that there is now. Wonder why the so-called bestselling authors of India (read Rs. 95/- authors of India) can’t learn from Hosseini! Just like Hosseini, they too use first-person narrative. But all you will read about is the self-obsessed narrator/protagonist yelling at the top of his voice, “Me! Me! Me!” That’s the only thing that constantly rings in your ear. “Me! Me! Me!” It’s too forced, too loud, and too obvious. Can’t they learn from their 3 glorious mistakes? Or is it 4 already?

Robert Ludlum once said, “To me storytelling is first a craft. Then if you are lucky, it becomes an art form. But first it’s got to be a craft. You’ve got to have a beginning, middle and end.”

So if writing is indeed an art, then Khaled Hosseini is a terrific artist. May he write more and enthrall the world!

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Thank You

9

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I was happy in my own world, writing and reading fiction, watching f.r.i.e.n.d.s and laughing my guts out, watching Dexter slice up his victims’ bodies, hanging out with my small circle of friends, dreaming about super important things (and species with x chromosomes), cooking delicious food (maggi, I mean), happily singing super hit songs (read Phoebe Buffay’s songs) in my not-so-soundproof bathroom, jogging, all the while trying to get inspired (the only thing I’ve managed so far as to how to kill ‘9’ people in an innovative way), drinking (wonly coffee, tea, bournvita, horlicks, and nothing else) – all this until two weeks ago. And then tragedy struck when one of my hooligan friends dragged me to a super duper hit movie called “Thank You”, starring Thumbs-down Kumar, Deadly (literally) Jaitley, Wafer Thin Sonam, Extra Fat Rimmi, Irfan ‘Cool’ Khan, Single Expression Deol and finally, one and wonly, five time Oscar winner Suniel Shetty.

And now, after watching it, I’m still suffering from the side effects. Even physical ones, mind you. I’m starting to get pimples on my face. My eyes, due to overexposure of ultra super run and car chases and amazing song sequences, have lost their sparkle. My ears, due to overhearing ultra melodious songs, are itching. Tranquility of mind is a thing of past. Due to over-pulling of hair, I’m literally having bad hair days. I don’t think I need to go to hair cutting saloon for another three months, as I’ve pulled all my hair with my bare hands.

OK, let me cut to the chase and give you a sneak peak. Cool Khan, Soldier Deol and Oscar Shetty are three friends (and maybe business partners) are married to Fatty Sen, Aisha Kapoor and Deadly Jaitley respectively. All are page 3 housewives, with nothing to do except sing and dance occasionally and saying cheesy lines like, ‘Main tumhare bina nahi jee sakti’ way too often. Especially Sonam, who by the way is the main heroine. On the other hand, the three male leads can’t keep their pants on most of their time. Result: ‘Comedy’ Kumar – the private detective, the relationship fixer, the investigator of flings - makes a grand entry. He's creatively named Kisna. Jason Bourne, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes are nothing in front of Kisna’s might.

Deadly Jaitley, who looks no more than a heroine in a horror movie, has already used the services of Kumar and caught her Oscar winning husband in the act. He’s now her dog, more than her husband. When Sweet Sonam (I’m serious) starts having doubts about her ‘Soldier’ husband, she seeks her best friend, (Jai)tley's help.

When the scary eyed Celina introduces her to Khiladi turned Comedy Akshay, he starts flirting with her. Here’s the twist in the tale. It’s not flirting, as we were led to believe in the beginning of the movie. The suspense is revealed in the end. It is called caring, not flirting. He cares for the babe. Now, come on. What’s the difference between him and us (boys, I mean)? We too care for all those pretty girls out there, no?

OK, OK. Let me move on. He takes on the case with full ‘care’ and starts investigating Uncle Bob and Irrfan Khan. He arranges a New Year party and invites all their girlfriends. The wives are present too. Now here comes the Hissss Sherawat to do an item number. As she starts shaking her Snaky Booty, the lead men try to avoid their girlfriends. When the song gets over, Uncle Bob has a tough time avoiding his overweight girlfriend, who repeatedly asks him to kiss him. "Kiss na", she says in Hindi. (Understand the comedy?) Sonam Baby sees this. Bobby tells her that she is Irrfan Khan’s girlfriend, who promptly acts his part. This is again seen by Rimmi Sen (as if we didn’t see it coming). The men are caught, you say? No. You are wrong. See this is a very intelligent movie. Nothing is what it seems. Move over 'Inception', we are dealing with 'Thank You' here. ‘The’ men somehow convince their wives that they have got nothing to do with the ‘kiss me’ girl. And ‘the’ wives believe them. Here, the director has tried to show the loyalty and innocence of Indian wives. These things have to be understood by the audience. This is where our actual intelligence is tested.

Then as the movie unfolds, Kumar brings credible proof against the ‘loyal’ husbands, but the husbands are way too smart. In one scene, Deol Khandan ki Shaan, Bobby, convinces Kapoor Khandan ki Shaan, Sonam, that Irrfan Khan and he are working for CIA (yes, yes, you heard it right. Central Intelligence Agency), and that’s why they had to do what they did – sleeping around. Part of a serious mission, you see.

At a later stage, Kumar, in a fake attack in the name of a mafia don, abducts the two husbands, and brings them to their wives. They are blindfolded and they answer all the questions about their affairs to the fake don with fake voice, as the wives sit there, dumbfounded.

Interval.

Should I go on? I will. So, after the interval, Kumar hatches a mind-blowing plan. Oh, by the way, Sonam tries to commit suicide and he saves her by playing flute. Now, this is the scene to look out for. This is where we get to see the real Sonam Kapoor, with limited makeup and all. Let me not get into detail.

Akshay Kumar is now Sonam’s fake boyfriend. This makes Bobby Uncle jealous. On another parallel plot, Rimmi also seeks the help of Kisna. She cunningly gets the signature of Irrfan Khan on the property papers and throws him out of the house. The three men now come to Akshay Kumar for help. They also get the impression that the reason for their downfall is a single person. They too start investigating.

What happens next? Watch the movie for an excellent climax. Oh, I forgot one thing. There is also a guest appearance by the overweight, over-mature, extra large Vidya Balan aunty in the climax. She is the dead wife of Akshay Kumar. Oops. Sorry, I spoiled the surprise for you.

A note on performances: Every time I saw Deadly Jaitley, I could hear ‘Gumnaam hai koi’ song from the film, Gumnam. She really scared me to death. Rumours are that she is the one who’s been paid the highest for her small role. Reason: for wearing saris throughout the movie. For a change.

Sonam Darling is really sweet and cute sometimes. But it’s really hard to tolerate when she cries. She is getting thinner by the day. One day, she might just vanish into thin air. Literally.

Rimmi Sen, although she has gotten bigger, has a good comic timing.

Irrfan Khan is naturally brilliant.

Bobby Deol still thinks he is acting in ‘Soldier’.

Suniel Shetty is after all Suniel Shetty.

Last but not the least, Akshay Kumar is good. Nothing new in his goofiness.

Please, please don’t miss this movie. It’s really life altering. This morning while having coffee in a cafe, I desperately, unsuccessfully tried to convince a few of my friends that they should definitely watch this movie, explaining that it would refresh their minds. I even gave so many good reasons as to why they shouldn’t miss this. But they just wouldn’t listen to me. People don’t trust me nowadays. Don’t know why.

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On a more serious note, I would like to extend my real ‘Thank You’ to all those who took time and read my novella, ‘9’. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for all those lovely comments, compliments, wishes and reviews. Three months and 34,500 words – it was worth the effort. Love you all.

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Malgudi Days
As The Crow Flies
Swami and Friends
The Devil's Alternative
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Godfather
The Seven Minutes
The Prize
Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead
If Tomorrow Comes
Digital Fortress
The Chancellor Manuscript
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Identity
The Fist of God
The Fourth Protocol
The Odessa File
The Day of the Jackal


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