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!!

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Pari: Not a fairy tale – Movie Preview

The tagline of the upcoming 2018 horror flick screams ‘Not a fairy tale’. The poster of Anushka Sharma’s production venture gives you scary goosebumps. Don’t stare it for a long time. The hideous ghostly figure standing behind Anushka Sharma is sure to give you horrifying nightmare. After Phillauri, a light hearted movie on a ghost bride, Anushka Sharma is back with one more ghost flick and it is titled ‘Pari’. ‘Pari’ is a Hindi word for fairy.

Unlike the sweet fairies, this fairy looks scarier, enigmatic and mind disturbing. I am a sucker for Horror flicks and hope this upcoming scary motion picture will give me the scary chills. The eerie atmosphere in the poster and the teaser doesn’t divulge any plot about the movie. Pari reminds me of Hollywood horror flick – Gothika featuring Halle Berry. Movies like Conjuring, Annabelle, Insidious and Paranormal activity have changed the definition of horror genre.

Made under the banner – Clean Slate Films, Pari is the third movie produced by Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma. Hope this dark, scary horror flicks earns rave reviews and good box office collection.

Everything in the universe has a sinister side to it. Fairies are not exception to it.

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.

Rusty – The boy from hills: A heart touching memoir by Ruskin Bond

‘Rusty – the boy from hills’ is one of the most endearing book on boyhood memories and has a personal & emotional connect to it. Ruskin Bond paints an intimate portrait of his childhood through the character Rusty. Through the eyes of Rusty, readers go behind the timeline in 1940’s Dehra. This book traces the origins of Rusty. Originally ‘The Room on the roof’ was the first book by Ruskin which introduced the teenage Rusty to readers. In ‘Rusty – the boy from hills’ we meet the little 9 years old Rusty pampered by his grandparents. Rusty’s parents have already been separated hence his upbringing is done by his paternal grandparents.

In this book, Rusty recounts the best days he spent with his grandparents, the Tonga rides to Dehra’s scenic towns, planting saplings in the forests and witnessing hilarious adventures of grandpa’s pets – python, monkey and a tiger. Rusty’s grandpa was no less than Dr. Do-little because the whole house was filled with animals and birds. Ruskin Bond also has described about the events of breakout of World War 2 and Rusty’s miraculous escape from a bombing. The adventure is set in Java and how Rusty & his father escape to Bombay is described like a fast paced adventure. Rusty returns to Dehra to live with grandma while his father is recruited in RAF (Royal Air Force). One day suddenly Rusty receives the news that his father has expired due to long sickness and now Rusty’s future is uncertain. Will Rusty adjust himself to living with his estranged mother and stepfather or will he stay with his grandma? These questions will only be answered by Rusty in Ruskin Bond’s book.

Blessed with an imaginative mind, Rusty has an infectious curiosity to know about the things. He want to take Tonga rides, plant saplings in forest, visit abandoned cemeteries and relish on road side foods. There is also a supernatural story in this book where Rusty comes across an abandoned grave of a woman who is connected to him. From hilarious comical situations to heart breaking emotions, Ruskin Bond has made this book like a classic Hollywood movie.

Here too Ruskin Bond has recounted the bonding with his late father – Aubrey Bond and the joyful two years he spent in the company of his dad. The chapter ‘Funeral’ in this book is really heart breaking where Rusty sneaks into the cemetery to see the burial of his father. By reading this chapter, one cannot stop shedding his tears for the little child Rusty.

A delightful reading in Rusty series, Rusty – The boy from hills is a refreshing classic to read and treasure in your personal library.

Rusty goes to London – A nostalgic review of Ruskin Bond’s memoirs

‘When Bond describes a destination….it ceases to be a place on the map and becomes a beautiful portrait of life itself’ – DNA Review

Reading Ruskin Bond’s books is a rewarding experience in itself. Whether it is reading his short stories or the full length Rusty adventures, each book has an old world charm to it. Rusty is alter ego of Ruskin Bond and the incidents happening in Rusty’s books are highly inspired by events happened in life of Bond.

This book is one of the best books in the Rusty series which takes you on a nostalgic trip to London, Jersey & Channel Islands and brings you back to Dehra – Rusty’s hometown. This book starts off with Rusty moving to England with an aspiration to become a renowned writer. Here Rusty’s struggle for survival begins in a foreign land where he has to pass his days eating in cheap restaurants of Jersey. He works by day and spends his night writing. Despite being a homesick person, Rusty passes melancholic days in London, remembering his late father and his Dehra friends. He misses the emotional connection of Dehra in London. In one of the chapters, Rusty’s office colleague contributes his money to help Rusty buy a typewriter. Rusty’s zeal to become a writer is reflected in the chapter.

By strange coincidences, Rusty crosses path with Rudyard Kipling and Sherlock Holmes in London. The cameo of Sherlock Holmes in this book is the biggest highlight of the storyline. After a painstaking struggle, Rusty succeeds to find publishers who agree to publish his stories. It was here in London where Ruskin Bond had penned down his debut novel – The Room on the roof. There is a romantic angle in this memoir too. When it comes to penning nostalgic romantic stories, no one writes it better than Ruskin. Rusty even falls in love with a Vietnamese girl named Vu Phuong but the love is not reciprocated. The story of Vu Phuong appears in two chapters – A tribute to a dead friend and the girl from Copenhagen.

‘The girl from Copenhagen’ is a heart tugging chapter in this book where a girl named Ulla seeks shelter in Rusty’s room for two days. Though Rusty spends time with Ulla, he doesn’t emotionally connect with her. After spending days in London, Rusty returns to his hometown – Dehra and here begins his real struggle to find his identity in world of writing. The second half of the book is filled with hilarious episodes, eccentric characters coming in life of Rusty. How Rusty manages to survive in Dehra is best to be read in Ruskin Bond’s refreshing, coming of age book – Rusty goes to London. Every time I read a Ruskin Bond book, I discover a refreshing aspect of life. Rusty goes to London is a delightful read and full of light hearted situations, funny characters and blink & miss cameo by the legendary Dilip Kumar. If you loved reading ‘Rusty goes to London’ do check ‘Rusty Runs away’ and ‘Rusty comes home’.

Have Movie Apps changed the definition of Movie viewing?

Life has become app based. From shopping, paying bills, booking tickets to reserving your restaurant tables, everything is happening comfortably at the comfort of your mobile screen. Movie viewing is not an exception in app based world. Hectic corporate office work and day to day household chores have snatched the space and peace of watching movies in single screens and multiplexes with family. In 80’s people used to watch only one movie on Sunday telecasted by Doordarshan channel. Later the advent of video parlors enabled people to pay 5 Rs and watch newly released movies with friends. During my childhood days, my uncle used to take me and my brother to video parlor where I enjoyed several movies which include Inquilab, Kranti, Pratigya etc. In late 80’s VCR’s and VCP (video cassette recorder and Video cassette player) were in boom. Since everything has become app based then why movie viewing should be left behind?

Latest movie apps like Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Reliance Jio Movies, Voot, Sony Liv etc have made movie viewing more relaxed and comfortable. Now you can watch latest movies like Bahubali 2 on Hotstar easily whenever you want. All you need is to pay a yearly fee to subscribe and enjoy the latest movies wherever you are. Though I love watching movies on these apps, it doesn’t give that same thrill which I enjoyed watching movies in theatres or on DVD players. Movie theatres have a cinematic ambience which adds more fun to movie viewing. I had several DVD’s and VCD’s which boasted of best James Bond movies and Bollywood flicks. Even watching movies on DVD player has its own joy. The growing number of movie channels on TV has squeezed down the interest of watching movies.

Though you can find dozens of movie apps on Google Play Store to download on your mobile and Tablets, it doesn’t guarantee the same thrill you enjoyed while watching in Theatres.

The constant video ads on movie apps spoil the fun of movie viewing. Some of the video ads can’t even be skipped. Majority of the fresh new movies are premium. One has to monetarily subscribe to watch those movies. Every technology has its own pluses and minuses.

Movie apps have definitely made movie seeing comfortable but the hectic work life has robbed off the joy of real movie seeing. Do you prefer watching movies in theatres or on a movie app? Do let me know your views.

In the company of books – A day in the life of a reader

I am not lucky as author Khushwant Singh who wrote about his romantic adventures in his memoir – Company of women. For a loner writer like me, my books are my timeless companions in whom I seek refuge. My school of thought about life is different from people in the world. Sometimes having no goal is the biggest goal of one’s life. There is no competition, conflict, misunderstandings or expectations. One lives life on his own terms. It takes guts to live life on your own ideologies. So here I am the reader who feels that reading and completing a book is an accomplishment in itself. Every weekend I take a challenge to read and complete one book. Ironically I end up leaving the book pending and pile of incomplete books to my credit. The reading bug bit me during my childhood days and there was no cure for it. I had the same feeling as Peter Parker had after getting bitten by a radioactive spider. Rest was a life changing experience for Peter Parker. He became a superhero – Spiderman. I am not a super hero, I am a blog writer.

Reading is not everyone’s cup of tea. You have to be blessed to be fond of books. I thank God for blessing with this reading hobby. It started with comics and then evolved into full length novels. Hadn’t I read ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ I wouldn’t have become a writer. Reading Tom Sawyer was my first stint as a full core literature reader. Then there was no looking back. I must have read over 50 novels till the date. I admit that I am an impatient reader. I read the book where I feel connected. I could never muster up the courage to read Dan Brown’s novel – The Da Vinci Code. There was nothing worth connecting with the book. It is not like that the book was bad. Somewhere I couldn’t relate with it. I do buy 5 to 10 books every month and keep them reserved for future reading. Sometimes the excitement of reading is so high that I end up reading nothing.

Though I don’t travel a lot, I do take a time out to explore the book stores located in the cities – Especially the old book stores, road side book sellers who give you the bestsellers at half the price. I do visit the happening bookstores like Crossword but the books available in the store are too expensive to buy. I love the dusty smell of old books brought from the roadside booksellers. It has a sense of nostalgia to it. Majority of the book shop owners have become familiar with me and know about my favorite genre and authors – especially Ruskin Bond. Whenever I go to Crossword Stores to explore new book releases, the staff knows that I have come to buy the new Ruskin Bond books. Sometimes you don’t choose the books but the books choose you. Often times I had the privilege to buy the books of well-known writers like Shakespeare, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kate Douglas Wiggins, Ruskin Bond, Jane Austen and Mary Shelley.

From visiting the book stores to buying and reading the book, this journey is worth the life. After completing the book, the reader in me is back to explore new books and discover a new aspect of life through the words of a writer.

Do let me know your experience of reading and which book inspired you to become a reader?