Friday, November 25, 2016

Forgotten Book: Satyanveshi Vyomkesh by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay

Despite my love for mysteries, I haven't read much of our Indian detectives. But this month, I was determined to read the exploits of Byomkesh Bakshi, a detective created by Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, in 1932 and to whom I was first introduced to by an eponymous TV serial that was telecast in 1993.




Though, I call him a detective, Byomkesh himself prefers the term Satyanveshi (Seeker of Truth) and in fact, Satyanveshi, is the title of his first adventure when not only did he get introduced to the reading public but also to Ajit Bandyopadhyay, who became his friend and chronicler of adventures.



The volume that I read contains the first fourteen stories of Byomkesh's career, from Satyanveshi to Aadim Dushman. The last story though published in 1955, is set in 1947, with India not only gaining independence but also being partitioned. Set in Calcutta, the last story describes  the horror of those days with riots breaking out, killings becoming common, and the communalisation of the law-enforcing agencies.


The other stories describing a haunted fort, a ghostly seance, a disappearing diamond, a poisonous spider, a deadly gramophone pin are all pretty gripping and I am keen to read the second volume of his adventures.

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Those who cannot read Bangla or Hindi, needn't worry, Byomkesh Bakshi has been translated into English too.



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Submitted for Friday's Forgotten Books, today @Sweet Freedom

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First Line: Satyanveshi Vyomkesh Bakshi se mera pehla parichay samvat 1331 mein hua tha.

Original Language: Bengali
Trans. Sushil Gupta
Pub. Details: Delhi: Vani Prakashan, 2012.
Pages: 599
Source: CL

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TUESDAY'S OVERLOOKED FILM: DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)

DEAD OF NIGHT is a British horror film that was released in 1945. It is what is called an anthology film with different sections of the film being directed by different directors.






The film begins with the arrival of architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns)  at the house of Elliot Foley (Ronald Culver) for some renovations needed in the house.



 From the beginning, Craig looks a little bewildered



 and his bewilderment seems to increase as he is introduced to the other people assembled in the house: Mrs Foley, the mother of Elliot; Racing car driver Hugh Grainger (Anthony Baird); pretty young-miss Sally O' Hara (Sally Ann Howes); self-possessed Joan Cortland (Googie Withers); and famous psycho-analyst Dr. van Straaten (Frederick Valk).






It is a strange gathering and we are never quite told their relation to one another except that they are acquaintances and puff out smoke like engines (the amount of smoking that goes on caused a fug in Delhi.I kid you not. :)

Stranger still is Craig's behaviour for he suddenly bursts out saying:"Still there. So it isn't a dream this time." It seems he has met all these people before in his dreams. The guests try to analyze how this could be as he is a stranger to them all. Meanwhile Craig wants to leave the house as he is sure that something awful will occur if he stays in it. To put him at ease, the others start recounting their own paranormal experiences. Thus, Grainger tells them of his dream of a hearse driver who later materialized as a bus-conductor; Sally tells of her encounter with a ghostly child; Joan reveals the possession of her husband by a haunted mirror.






 As the guests demand a rational explanation from Dr. van Straaten and Criag tries once again to leave the house, Elliot defuses the tension by constructing a story of two men obsessed by golf but tension soars up once again as Dr. van Stratten narrates the case of a Ventriloquist and his dummy.



Based on stories by E.F. Benson, John Baines, H.G. Wells, and Angus MacPhail, this movie has all the necessary chills needed to keep you on the edge. From the surreal images as the credits roll in to Dr. van Straaten's habit of continuously removing and putting on his glasses to the smell of fear that seems to emanate from Craig to the different reflection seen or not seen in the mirror to the  loopy grin of the ventriloquist's dummy, everything foreshadows an ominous end.




Also adding to the uneasiness is a feeling that whether it is all only a big gag. The doctor remarks that it seems to him as though all of them had concocted all this to destroy his most cherished beliefs. Another person wonders that as they are just characters in Mr. Craig's dream, they will as a consequence all vanish once he wakes up (which incidentally echoes the Indian philosophy of everything being 'maya' or illusion. This entire world, all the people and their actions are just being dreamt by Brahma and once he wakes up the world will disappear)

I enjoyed the movie tremendously. The stories of the haunted mirror and the Ventriloquist dummy


(always something creepy for me) make you want to scream while the Twiddledee-Twiddledum action of Potter and Pitter as the two golfers was real fun.



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Recommended strongly.


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Submitted for Tuesday's Overlooked A/V @ Todd Mason's Blog Sweet Freedom. Plz head over there for the other entries.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

German Literature Month VI

What with the rush associated with Diwali (hope you all had a nice one & wishing you the best in the new year), I completely forgot to write a sign-up post for the VI edition of the German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline @Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy  @lizzy's liiterary life.




I will start the event with a reading of E.T.A Hoffman's The Golden Pot and Other Tales




 and then pick up the books as the month advances. One book that I am really keen on reading is the one that I picked up from Delhi Book Fair, this year: My Father's Keeper.



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Details of the reading event can be found here.