Literary Grand Rounds

Books, graphic novels, movies and television

Movie that makes me happy – Sleepless In Seattle

A couple of days back Flavorwire did a story on Nora Ephron, which reminded me that it’s been a while since I had my Ephron movie marathon. You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Julie and Julia and Sleepless In Seattle – I watch them back to back on my laptop with headphones on and a box of tissues by my side, to see me through the trials and tribulations in the lives of the characters that Ephron created.

Of the many, many movies that I like for various reasons, Sleepless in Seattle is one movie that makes it way to the top on all of my best movie lists. There is something about the story. Ironically for a romantic movie, the lead pair ( Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) hardly spend about 10 minutes together on the screen, in the same frame, but it ends up lighting your heart like thousand light bulbs. That is my dear friends is movie magic. Absolutely optimistic approach to love and all its friends.

Sleepless in Seattle

Performances were stellar while being very understated. Music was perfect, which is a rare affair in movies these days. There are scenes in it that are so freakingly amazing that you’ll laugh and cry at the same time. Yes, that’s possible. Like this one where Annie (Meg Ryan) & her friend Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) are watching An Affair To Remember with lots of pop corn and tissues. Annie goes on and on about love in olden days all while watching Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant fall in love and Becky very matter of factly says this

Also Sleepless In Seattle had THE MOST PERFECT movie ending of all time. Don’t trust me then go have a look at the Buzzfeed article that might convince you a little more.


If I Stay – Movie Trailer

The only 2014 movie I want to watch, first day first show. Because ‘If I Stay’.

Sunday Book Market – Delhi Diaries

Graphic Novel – Comic Books Update #2

When I first began collecting comic books it wasn’t easy. I was a student then, with a meagre allowance. As a med student and later as a grad student, I searched for used and second hand book stores for my bookish needs. Most of the times the comics and graphic novels I found, weren’t in the best condition. Some had stuff written on them, some torn on the edges and some didn’t have jacket flaps. Yet, I bought them. I didn’t have the luxury to choose. Also as any Indian reader of graphic novel knows, it makes a huge dent in your pocket to buy comic books and graphic novels first hand in India. That is if you are ever able to source the ones you want for your collection.

Delhi’s Sunday Book Market was the only place I could afford during that time. From the Delite Cinema to the Jama Masjid, this book market was and still is a regular haunt of book lovers. Sunday morning hoards of book people descend from various corners of the city to dig through the piles of books. They haggle they plead and they fill their bags with their purchases until exhaustion gets better of them. You have to experience it to understand it. I have spent hours looking for certain books and ended up finding hidden treasures in those haphazardly piled stacks of books.

I have bought some old MAD Magazines in pristine condition and they have had the plastic wrappers still on them. Older prints of the beloved childhood reads Amar Chitra Katha are available, so are Illustrated Classics. I have a copy of Watchmen (pages come off if not handled carefully) which I bought at a price that is just 10 percent of what it is priced in stores. Also my set of Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color Trilogy is an accidental find from this book market. More often then not the books you find here are in surprisingly good condition and sometimes priceless because of their history.

If you live in and around Delhi and haven’t yet been to Sunday Book Market, I suggest you hop on the Metro this weekend and pay a visit. It will well worth your time and more. Come back and thank me later!

The Vigil by Sarah Joseph

Always on a look out for good mythological retelling, I was delighted when a review request for The The Vigil landed in my inbox. I read a modern take on the epic last year which was just amazing. For an epic mythology that partially epitomises the principles of Hinduism, I was curious to see how The Vigilwhich was from the point of view of Angad, the son of Vali, would fare. Here we refer to him as Angadan. Translated from a hugely successful Malayalam original Ooru Kaval, this book falls into the category somewhere midway between good and could have been better. I believe in the struggle to stay true to the original and stand on its own, some things were lost in translation. Even with those issues and my minor qualms with the style of narration, this book is among the finer retellings of Ramayana.

Angadan has grown up in a household where dharma has been twisted to suit the needs of those in want of power. After announcing Vali’s death to the kingdom at the hands of asura Mayavi, Surgrivan, Angadan’s uncle, took over the throne as well as Vali’s harem. Tara, Vali’s wife became Sugrivan’s queen. When Vali returned, Sugrivan had to face humiliation. When Sugrivan chose to seek Raman’s help in regaining the kingdom, rules of dharma were redefined once again. Angadan’s anger, frustration and confusion couldn’t have been better expressed. As an onlooker of the events that turned his childhood topsy-turvy, Angadan seeks revenge. The only way he knows he’ll get justice, is by killing the wrong-doer.

Of the many familiar and unfamiliar characters we meet in The Vigil, Angadan is the one who makes an impact. In the other versions of Ramayana, Angad’s role isn’t highlighted much. He is present but his thoughts and motivations aren’t spared a second glance. If you were to look closely, in the original there is no room for doubt or for second guessing, unless it’s coming from the titular hero. Using Angadan’s POV , Sarah Joseph puts the epic’s main characters to a closer scrutiny by the reader. In some places The Vigil succeeds in making these larger than life characters human, with flaws and insecurities.

There were times when I felt that the translator was trying too hard to emulate the original but eventually the story won. My qualms blended into an admiration for the story tellers both the author and the translator for giving this book its present form. It is written with a lot of passion and that shows. In one of the  most powerful scenes of the book when Raman asks Sita to prove her chastity, the book shines. It makes you feel helpless. It makes you sad. It also makes you feel proud of the woman who speaks up.

In short, this book deserves to be read by every lover of mythology. It might take some time to get used to the style of narration but trust me, it’s a neat translation and a story well told.

On a separate note, I must say that these mythological retellings have such stunning cover art. The last three books I read for Project Mythology have been blessed with great covers and that somehow adds to the appeal.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins India


Graphic Novel – Comic Books Update #1

In my corner of the world, I got a chance to catch up on reading some graphic novels and comic book series. Here’s the update.

It’s so much easier to unwind after a busy day with a comic book especially if it is an intergalactic soap opera. Yes, I am talking about Saga. That series everybody seems to be raving about these days. It just keeps getting better with every issue. Seriously, I have trouble even getting my thoughts together on this one because it is totally made up of awesome. If you haven’t yet started reading Saga, then please do. It has something in it for every kind of reader.

I also discovered Rat Queens last week. Another fantasy comic book series from Image Comics with a kick ass team of adventurers in all sizes and forms. These women are an epitome of badassery and that should be enough to make you pick up the first volume. I need the second volume stat!

I re read the first and second volumes of A Bride’s Story  by Kaoru Mori when I was asked to take rest because of a bad bout of upper respiratory infection. Such a relief those gorgeous illustrations give a medicine addled head. I know not many appreciate Manga, but if you some day decide to give it a try, begin with Mori’s books. Every single one is mind blowing in its intricacy and detail.


I have a few graphic novel galleys lined up for this week. Let’s see how that goes.

Happy reading !

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