Till the clouds roll by – A delightful memoir by Ruskin Bond

Book Title: Till the clouds roll by – Beginning again
Author – Ruskin Bond
Publishers – Puffin Books (Penguin Publications)

‘Most of us grow in our teens or twenties. I think I grew up when I was ten’ – Ruskin Bond

The visual of a puffing train running in the midst of mountains is such a delightful treat to the eyes. Memoirs with scenic descriptions of mountain trains, lichee trees, birds, tigers and hill side life can be found only in Ruskin Bond’s books. In his new memoir – ‘Till the clouds roll by’ Ruskin takes readers backwards in yester years Dehradun. In this latest memoir, Ruskin recounts the holidays he spent with his mother, stepfather, siblings and new friends in Dehra.

The opening scene of this memoir begins with a puffing train heading to Dehra. Seated in this train is little Ruskin reminiscing his departed father, the stamp collection and the joyful days spent in Delhi. After reaching Dehra, Ruskin has to adjust with his estranged mother, a new Punjabi father and step siblings. Here little Ruskin discovers books of P.G. Wodehouse, Louisa May Alcott and many new authors who would inspire him to become a celebrated writer in later years. In this short holiday to Dehra, little Ruskin goes on hunting expeditions, encounters a leopard, makes new acquaintances, watches cinema and explores the sleepy town of Dehra which would be described later in several of his memoirs, novels and short stories.

This short illustrated memoir by Ruskin Bond is a must read book for those who cherish nostalgia. Illustrator Mihir Joglekar has breathed life in storytelling with the lively pictures which makes the book an engrossing read for kids. ‘Till the clouds roll by’ is the sequel to Ruskin Bond’s book – Looking for the rainbow which was a tribute to his late father – Aubrey Bond.

If you love memoirs, ‘Till the clouds roll by’ by Ruskin Bond is definitely a treat.


New theme on my WordPress Blog!!

How truly said – variety is the spice of life. Nothing stays constant in nature. After summer, there is monsoon, autumn and winter. Each season brings with it a new ambience. So when I was reworking on a new story, somewhere I was feeling that my imagination is not taking the flight as I had expected. Something was missing in my efforts. What was it? After brainstorming I realized that it was the look and feel of my blog that was old and needed some new colors, layouts, visuals and texture. It took me a few minutes to decide on my theme. I zeroed on the theme: 2017. It appealed my creative aesthetics.

After a long span of 3 years, my wordpress blog is ready to tell you a story in a new avatar. I had been facing a slack in my story-telling for a while. Hopefully, my friends and readers will like this new look on Prashant’s Blogworld. Along with the theme, I have also changed the tagline of my blog which says ‘And when the war is over, a butterfly will still be beautiful’. I picked this quote from Ruskin Bond’s book.

Along with writing an engrossing article, it is equally challenging to hold your audience and keep them treating with new, refreshing stories backed by a capturing blog theme. What captures the reader first is the look and feel of the blog. So, the storytelling will be more interesting, unique on my newly decorated blog.

Welcome again to my blog!! World’s best stories are here!!

The Motorcycle Diaries – A Che Guevera Memoir

‘A revolutionary Bestseller’ – Guardian

Frankly speaking I am not a travel freak. After reading 80 pages of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ by Ernesto Guevera, I can’t wait to travel the world on my bike. This is the impact I had while going through the travel diaries of Cuban Revolutionary Che Guevera.

A rare pic of Che Guevera in his travelogue book – The Motorcycle Diaries

‘The Motorcycle diaries’ is not a fast-paced, high-octane adventure trip where you will witness car chases, fight sequences, damsels in distress type stuff you see in a Hollywood movie. If you are expecting such stuff, better switch to some action packed novel. ‘The Motorcycle diaries’ is a travel journal that later became a sensation in world of literature. During his trip to Latin America, Guevera recorded his events in a diary that became an inspiration for every youngster to follow his heart.

What distinguishes these diaries is that they reveal a human side to El Che which historians have successfully managed to suppress….a joy to read from start to finish’ – Financial times

The iconic pic of Che Guevera

The photographs of Che Guevera on casual T-shirts are a craze. Youngsters love to wear the T-shirts with the image of Guevera printed on it. It is a sad irony that youngsters love his pic on their casual attires, but hardly know about him. It was this curiosity that took me to research on the man behind the iconic pic. Ernesto Che Guevera’s personal diary records his observations, feelings, joy, sympathy he felt while traveling through the bike. The sufferings, misery, political corruption, tyranny all changed Guevera during his trip and what came back from the trip was a revolutionary in making. Despite facing so much road side skids, falls on their bike, Ernesto and Alberto witness a life changing journey during their trip. Even hunger, thirst and fatigue can’t break their resolve to roam Latin America.

‘A Latin American James Dean or Jack Kerouac’ – Washington Post

The motorcycle trip that begins from Buenos Aires takes them to Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Miami and finally to Argentina. Accompanying Guevera on his trip was his friend Alberto Grenado, a medical practitioner. Even Ernesto Guevera was a medical student specializing in ‘Leprology’ (curing Leprosy) before he embarked on the path of revolution. Guevera’s transition from a medical student to a revolutionary is really surprising. Hadn’t Guevera gone on a road trip, he wouldn’t have become ‘Che’ the Cuban patriot.

The 2004 movie adaptation – The Spanish 2004 movie based on the book captured the spirit of Che Guevera’s lyrical observations during his motorcycle trip to Latin America. Directed by Walter Salles, the movie featured Gael Garcia Bernal as the young Ernesto Guevera. The movie is equally enjoyable as the book.

Scene from the 2004 movie – The Motorcycle Diaries

There is not a single reader in the world who hasn’t read Guevera’s ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’. It is not just a travelogue of two youngsters; it is a trip of self-discovery that changed their perception towards life.

You don’t need to be a travel lover to enjoy this book. This book is a trip to the one moment that gives one the joy of a lifetime. Go, take this trip!!

Rusty comes home – A nostalgic masterpiece by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond’s alter ego – Rusty makes his final appearance in the nostalgic classic – Rusty comes home. This book brings an end to the Rusty series which has a big fan following among kids and adults. Perhaps Ruskin Bond is the only author whose books connect with every reader right from 8 years old kid to 88 year old grandpa. The stories happening in Rusty’s books are inspired by the events happened in Ruskin Bond’s life. ‘Rusty comes home’ gives you a glimpse of Rusty’s life after his return to London.

A homesick Rusty returns to his roots, his hometown – Dehradun which he fondly calls Dehra. In search of accommodation, Rusty travels to various cities – Delhi, Shahganj, Dehra and Mussoorie. Especially the Delhi chapters in this book will remind you of Bollywood movie – Delhi: 6. Delhi’s life is different from Mumbai. Here Rusty finds accommodation in one of his friend’s house. The eccentric Bhabhiji, a character created by Ruskin Bond is reflection of a typical orthodox north Indian granny who rules the house. Here the readers get a glimpse of the Delhi life in more detailed way. This book will also remind you of Shahrukh Khan’s movie – Swades. No matter how far you are from your hometown, you are bound to return to your roots one day. Rusty also describes about his stay in Shahganj. In Shahganj, he makes new acquaintances with Ketan and Suresh. In one of the chapters, he also shares his paranormal experiences of meeting ghost children in Shahganj. Among all chapters, the most endearing episode was ‘Night train at Deoli story’. Deoli is a small, isolated station 30 miles from Dehra. In this romantic episode, Rusty bonds with a basket selling girl at the station. Though he tries to strike an affectionate bond with the estranged girl at Deoli station, he is unsuccessful. He also bonds with a village belle named Binya but only to realize that she is an apparition. At the end of the novel, Rusty settles down sitting on a wall, reminiscing the beautiful moments of his life and discovering that love is part of life, not the heart of life.

Filled with heartwarming episodes of love, friendship, humor, separation, this book takes you on an unforgettable journey of emotions. If you love reading coming of age novels, then Rusty comes home is a nostalgic masterpiece that will bring a smile on your face long after you have completed reading this book.

Little Women (2017) – A new TV series on Louisa May Alcott’s Classic

‘Some books are so familiar, reading them is like being home again’ – lines from 1994 movie – Little Women

These lines spoken by actress Winona Ryder in 1994 motion picture on Louisa May Alcott’s classic – Little Women stands so true for those who love reading their favorite classics. Even after several years, the novel Little Women is as refreshing as it was the day it was published. For generations, the characters from Little Women have immortalized in world of literature. The female characters from the novel are so real that every girl of her generation relates to it. Little Women has adapted into movies several times and now it has got a fresh adaptation that boasts of fresh new faces in role of March Sisters. This new TV series aired on channel BBC ONE on Christmas Eve 2017 features renowned Hollywood actress Emily Watson as Mrs March and Maya Hawke as Jo March (Maya Hawke is daughter of Hollywood actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman).

Scene from 2017’s new adaptation of Little Women. This new series is being aired on BBC One

Set against the backdrop of Civil War, Little Women is story of March Sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The inspiring characters and memorable scenes are etched in minds of every reader. It will be a treat to see the literary characters on the television screen. I had brought Little Women from a book shop without hardly any expectations. Initially I found it similar to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Little Women book was way ahead of it times and very different from Pride and Prejudice.

Whether it is the Tomboyish Jo March or the shy Beth, all the March Sisters connect with the readers in one go. I was very glad to read that Little Women is been adapted for a mini TV series on BBC one in 2017. The new episodes of season 1 of Little Women have been aired on BBC one. The upcoming episodes will be soon aired in 2018.

A pic of Author Louisa May Alcott who wrote Little Women

The role of Jo March was immortalized by Winona Ryder in 94’ version of Little Women which fetched her Oscar nomination. It will be a challenge for Maya Hawke to portray Jo March in the new series on Little Women. A new movie adaptation is also on the way in 2018.

The best thing about a classic is that it is not only nostalgic but also inspiring.

Why historical movies are a subject of debate?

When you make a biopic on historical figures and take creative independence to tamper with the history, you are sure to become a victim of controversy. Padmavati, a historical movie based on Chittor’s Queen Padmini has raised more debate, heated arguments even before its release.

Making a historical movie is a risky business. K. Asif’s movie – Mughal-E-Azam took 15 years to complete. Based on the love story of Salim & Anarkali, every moment of the movie was lavish, memorable and larger than life. Whether Anarkali really existed or was a fictional character is a subject of research. The audience loved and applauded the movie. The earlier audiences just wanted to enjoy movies. Now the dynamics of movie making has changed. Movie makers want to take creative liberties and make movie as per their vision. In pursuit of achieving cinematic excellence, they end up hurting the sentiments of their target audience. When a film maker is making a movie on a historical figure, he has to take care that the incidents and events happened in the history are factual and not borrowed from secondary sources like ballads or plays.

When a biopic on freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was announced, many filmmakers chose to make biopic on the legendary freedom fighter. Out of 5 biopics on Bhagat Singh, only 3 movies saw the light of day. It was Ajay Devgan’s movie on Bhagat Singh that was applauded and got critically acclaimed. For the movie makers, biopics on freedom fighters are just a new formula to succeed in industry.

Even Bajirao-Mastani was a subject of debate when it was criticized for the wrong facts shown in the movie. It had shown Bajirao’s wife – Kashibai dancing in the movie. The true fact is that the historical character was suffering from arthritis. Creative liberties sometimes hurt the sentiments of those people attached to that subject.

Oliver Stone’s biopic on Alexander was criticized a lot for its complicated and uninspiring storytelling. The movie showcased on Alexander’s emotional relationship with his general Hephaestion. There were some scenes which questioned Alexander’s morality. Despite the negative criticism, Alexander’s movie stood unique for its story telling. Regardless of what personal life Alexander had, who can question his bravery and zeal to conquer the world?

Even the 2006 Zack Snyder’s movie – 300 was based on a historical event. The war of King Leonidas and his 300 brave Spartan soldiers against King Xerxes was shown very stylishly by director Zack. It looked more of a fantasy movie and less of historical flick. Making movies is a creative art. It should be seen and appreciated as an art. Irrelevant of their inaccuracies, Hollywood historical flicks are thoroughly viewed.

In Hollywood, there are biopics on historical figures like William Wallace, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Lincoln etc. Prior to making a biopic on a specific personality, a huge amount of research is gone behind the subject. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a result of intensive research, discussions and historical studies. Can anyone forget the academy award winning movie – Gandhi made by Richard Attenborough!!

Making historical movies is not everyone’s cup of tea. Whether it is Braveheart or Elizabeth, Hollywood directors have definitely paid attention to present the movie as per the facts. The Hollywood historical dramas are a blend of cinematic excellence and extensive research. Result!! The movies sweep the Oscars.

A well-researched biopic on a historical figure receives attention, critical acclaim and awards. Bollywood needs to learn a lot from Hollywood when it comes to making historical biopics. It is not that Bollywood doesn’t have talented directors. They make movies only to gain 100 crores profit. In earlier times, movies were made with passion. Today only few movies with a good content manage to click while rest is just forgettable. Historical movies like Razia Sultana, Taj Mahal, Jodha Akbar, Jahanara and Mughal-E-Azam are considered a landmark in genre of epic movies.

There is a faint hope that viewers will get to see a good historical movie without any controversy.

Remembering Shashi Kapoor (1938-2017)

By coincidence if you visit Kashmir and take a boat ride, don’t expect the boatman to be charming, chirping and flamboyant as Shashi Kapoor in the old classic – Jab Jab Phool Khile. Such was the ever charming Shashi Kapoor who breathed his last on 4th Dec 2017. His portrayal as the Kashmiri boatman in Jab Jab Phool Khile is etched in the minds of movie viewers. He never needed the dashing angry young man image to win the hearts of his fans. His flamboyant charm was enough to woo his audience. Amitabh’s entry as the angry young man changed the image of hero in Indian cinema. His role in Zanjeer was a game changer. Though many leading actors of his time went into oblivion, it was Shashi Kapoor who paired up with Amitabh in several movies. The toughness of Amitabh and flamboyance of Shashi Kapoor was a super hit combo in the 70’s flicks. It was Deewar that gave them the memorable roles of their career. ‘Mere paas maa hai’ was one of the epic dialogues in ‘Deewar where Shashi Kapoor stole the thunder from Amitabh. Nevertheless apart from being co-stars they were best buddies off screen.

Born in the prestigious Kapoor family, Shashi was the younger in the Kapoor trio – Raj, Shammi & Shashi. All the three brothers were successful in their own genres. If Shammi was a dancing star in Junglee, Shashi won hearts with his flamboyant & ever smiling presence in Sharmilee, Haseena Maan Jaayegi, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Waqt. In terms of acting and movie making, Shashi was way ahead of times. He teamed with Shyam Benegal to produce and act in movies like Vijeta and Junoon. Junoon was one of the ambitious works of Shashi Kapoor which was based on Ruskin Bond’s novel – The flight of pigeons. Though the movie was not a commercial success, he produced movies like ‘Utsav’ which were critically acclaimed. ‘Fakira’ was one of the movies where I thoroughly liked his performance as Robinhood styled thief.

He never stuck to ‘Super star’ or ‘Mega star’ image and that’s why he sustained in 70’s and 80’s industry which was ruled by dashing biggies like Vinod Khanna, Dharmendra, Shatrughan Sinha and the angry young man Amitabh. Shashi Kapoor later switched to character roles that suited his age. Unfortunately Rajesh Khanna was so much attached to his superstar image that he couldn’t accept the changing dynamics in the movie industry. Had Rajesh Khanna molded himself according to changing times he would have survived even in the stiff competition.

Shashi Kapoor’s pairing with actress Nanda was very successful. They were a hit pair of their time. Apart from sharing a good rapport with Amitabh, Shashi Kapoor worked with Manoj Kumar in several movies like Roti , Kapda aur Makaan, Kranti & Clerk.

Post the demise of his wife Jennifer, Shashi Kapoor devastated on personal front. In later years, his health deteriorated and he stayed away from the limelight. He made his last public appearance when he was honored with Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2011. His demise on 4th Dec 2017 marked the end of a great legacy. I was heartbroken when I saw his recent pictures on his last journey. The prolonged illness, fatigue and stress had robbed off him flamboyance. He was unrecognizable in his last journey.

‘Khilte hain gul yahaan, khil ke bhikarne ko, milte hain dil yahaan mil ke bichadne ko’ – song from Shashi Kapoor’s movie ‘Sharmilee’

Writing a tribute in someone’s remembrance is painful, emotional and heartbreaking. I always believe that if we write a tribute in someone’s memory that someday there will be someone writing a tribute in our memory.

Artists never die. They live through their works.