Saturday, April 14, 2007

Books to Movies

After writing the post on a disappointing celluloid version of an appreciated book ("A plea to the authors"), I tried to classify my books in Library thing (www.librarything.com) based on whether a movie has been made on them. I was surprised to find that out of 172 books in my library, atleast 52 have been made into movies - and I was hardly aware of any of them barring a handful! Almost every classic has been filmed, and a lot of them have poor ratings on IMDB.

That brings me back to the same thought - why do some of the brilliant books end up being unimpressive on screen? Is it a matter of expectation mismatch or are most good books more an interplay of words and thoughts, better expressed in pen than dialogues, and hence unfit for celluloid consumption?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The great axe!


Finally, the axe has fallen - on the already troubled cricketers who had started looking at modelling as an alternative career option after the stressful game.

The BCCI, fed up with the modeling focus, finally decided that the players will have to chose between the two careers. The poor cricketers (and don't our hearts go out in sympathy!) are now limited to endorse only 3 brands, and no brands can sign deals with more than two players. No exclusive contracts or interviews, and every contract to be watched by the big brother aka BCCI!

The latter has suddenly decided to play the strict father, reprimanding his erroneous kids. And as is common, the sympathy has suddenly tilted towards the players who just a few days ago were being criticized indiscriminately by the public, including this humble blogger. Despite the views expressed in my previous blog on cricket, I do feel that the punishment is a little harsh on the poor kids. After all, to come under strict supervision of the big brother and being stripped of a significant income opportunity is hard and demoralizing, especially after feeling the negative sentiment of fellow countrymen following the debacle. The loss of a coach, of course would add to some vows (though may be not for some like Ganguly, who would feel a little better without the forbearing coach!)

The saddest part of the verdict, was of course the notice to the master. I know he has not been playing well for long, and there are hundreds of people around who proudly present stats on how he has failed in times of need. But notwithstanding any of these arguments, Sachin has been a great player, and has countless number of times given Indians a cause to cheer and light up. It does not fit him to be asked to perform. Many think that he should have retired after the last cup, when he was at the pinnacle, and any voice raised against him was too feeble and drowned out amidst the loud cheer of the supporting crowd. I hope he redeems himself and is allowed that graceful exit that he truly deserves. To retire as the master and be remembered only as the great batsman.

Let's hope BCCI's punishments brings the performance of the team back on track. So I can sit with my new tata sky and once again cheer our team.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A plea to the authors

Last week, I went to the theatre to watch a much awaited movie - 'The Namesake'. For it was based on a book which I had much appreciated and liked - for its characters, the story, the thought and a lot of small details.

As the movie began, a hint of dis-satisfaction began to seep in as a lot of finer points of the story remained elusive. I tried to be tolerant and waited for the better parts to arrive. Of course in vain. The movie-maker had decided well in advance that she will keep the levels low. Not only did each character remain on the edge and slightly blurred, the dull lighting and lack of sound ensured that no life was breathed into the plot.

I came out sad and disappointed, and a little annoyed at Jhumpa Lahiri for letting her book come to this. If I as a reader felt so strongly against the pale coloring to the book, as an author she should have been aghast and absolutely forbidden this fate.

But surprisingly, that is a fate that meets a lot of good, well-written books. Enthusiastic readers line up at the theatre to meet a disfigured, paler, misjudged version of their book and go back disappointed. We have as examples 'Memoirs of a Geisha', 'Wuthering Heights', 'Catch 22', 'Chocolat', 'Pride and prejudice', 'Dracula', and an endless list to follow where much appreciated books were brought to a naught by their cinematic version. Why do authors goof up so often in selecting the movie-makers who can do justice to their beloved brainchild? Do they have no say in the way their book is shaped by these buyers and presented to the whole world?

Of course there are some books that have been beautifully pictured. These can perhaps be counted on fingers. How many 'Godfather's, 'LOTR's, and 'To kill a mocking bird's do we come accross? Perhaps the timeless status attained by these movies is what inspires an author to bring his book to screen. If only he would not get carried away and make the selection wisely.

So, this is a plea from all agitated readers, to all the authors whose works are well appreciated by a lot of devoted readers - please do not sell your bookrights to movie makers. And if you do:
1) Please do so only to the most sensitive directors, and
2) Keep a tab of where he is taking your book

Hoping to see an intact version of Shantaram! Mr. Johny Depp, please do have mercy on the huge fan club of the book.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The quintessential tipping...


In the process of shifting to a new home, we have suddenly been exposed to a heavy dose of the tipping culture that has found its way in India. In the last few days, we may have handed out a substantial chunk as tips to the delivery guys, assembling folks, security guards etc. And that after ignoring almost devouring eyes of the liftman, the other guard on duty who merely watched the delivery van park, the yet other guard who created a ruckus about letting the deliveries in the building...

I still remember the first time I was making my first trip to the US and was almost completely ignorant of the concept of universal tipping. My mentor had thought it necessary to tell me as part of orientation that I was expected to pay a tip to almost anyone who moves the slightest limb for my benefit. The thumbrule for restaurants/cabs etc was to pay a 10% tip if the service was average, 15% if I was happy with it and 5-6% if it was bad. He also instructed me to leave a dollar on my bed everyday for the housekeeping woman. I remember telling him how stupid I thought the American culture was. At least in India they had still called it with a gross name (ghoons) and attached amoral perception to it. America had brought the 'under-the-table' business right out on the table.


Today suddenly, even in India I find expectant faces everywhere waiting for that extra bill. Every delivery person, the cleaner, the carpenter, guard, electrician, wants a part of the purse. I do believe that the culture has unmistakably flown here from abroad. That's why the tipping is at its peak at the airports. If you have committed the sin of flying or so much as breathed the airport air, there is a host of people expecting you to draw out the purse strings -the person who handed out a trolley to you, the one who took it from your hands and nudged it to the counter, the scanning guy who pushed your luggae onto the trolley, the auto/cab guy, the taxi usherer etc etc.

I for one have still not found it natural to tip. More than the monetary consideration, I find it awkward to hand that bill. For one, I have never known the right amount to give. I am certainly not thinking of paying the 10% of my furniture bill to the delivery boy, but then what is the acceptable figure? I have only sometimes seen a face light up in smile as the note was handed over. More often than not, the transaction leads to an awkward smile, or a judging look, or in the worst cases an argument about insufficient tipping.

May be its time someone wrote a book on tipping guidelines for India and it became a standard chart to refer to. And it would help if the document was simple and not as archaic and complicated as used by the IT department to collect their tips. After all, the ITD asking Hutch to pay $1.9 bn for the telecomm deal is no different from a guard who is asking for a tip to just stand in a corner and watch a truck unload?