I can’t believe it has been three weeks since I actually wrote anything. The one-hour time restriction in the GB net centre must go. Or better still, net in the rooms. Rumoured to be coming soon. The way things are going, ‘Soon’ can be any day between today and the day Darth Vader meets Jesus Christ.
I then fell back on the old standby-reviews. The only flick I’ve watched in recent times is Salaam Namaste, [with a bunch of friends, the room echoing with shouts of 'wot a' , 'How the heck!'and 'Godot'] but then I found that a review was an impossible task!
Top Reasons Why I couldnt review Salaam Namaste:
1. I watched it on pirated CD, so I missed watching quite a few chunks… like the ending. Sound quality was bad, too. Others tell me it was fine that way, I didn’t hear many dialogues that would’ve had me cringing.
2. The utter lack of a storyline: boy meets girl, they live together, fight, have babies. So what’s new? Anything I can possibly review?
3. I didn’t and don’t ever will get what the director was trying to say: was it just a comedy-of-errors posing as a serious theme?
4. Most other reviews hailed it as ‘pathbreaking’ and ‘epoch-making’. I thought I had the wrong picture in mind. Live-in has been ‘in’ since the ’80s. All you reviewers, ever heard of Anant Nag?
5. It was a more serious contender for the Medical Conditions as depicted in flicks post I’m”>http://thenitknumbskulls.blogspot.com/2005/06/medical-conditions-as-depicted-in.html”>post I’m yet to see another film that so faithfully depicts morning sickness and fetishes. Yeah, there’s a scene where Saif shows Preity how to go through labour, sound effects and all. Metrosexual, huh? We’d rather have Arnold flexing his muscles.
6. I first thought it was a paegent for worst-dressed evver. Designers, please note: Low-rise DON’T look good on Saif; he ain’t got abs like John has.
7. I am passionate about radio [and hope the field grows in India], and can’t stand to watch anything that shows it in a derogatory light. Like, which radiostation you know lets its RJs get away with slander? And which content-manager would allow such sad lines masquerading as PJs [ Nikhil Arora ko unke restaurant ke naam 'Nick of Time' nahin, 'Never on Time' rakhna chahiye tha] get on air? Darius Sunawalla, Rohit Barker, Anjaan, you Gods of Gab, what say?
8. And most of all, Tuhina refused to help me. She’s the more positive of the two of us, and I was hoping to get something that justified the existence of the film other than Arshad Warsi [he carries off his ill-written role with panache, though his exits [all after calls from wifey, which all end with 'love you too'] get cliched after a while.] and Javed Jaafrey [ditto, though his 'Sowie? Eggjacktly' does get boring.].
But nope, Tu too was echoing cries of ‘whaaat ya?’ throughout the three excruciating hours, and after that, refused to have anything to do with anything even remotely connected with the film.
And yeah, after reading what I’ve just written, I don’t blame her.
I’ve seen scores of pieces on what makes good writing. Haven’t yet come across any piece on how to read. Guess it is assumed that you either know how to, or don’t. If you don’t, you are assumed to be the philistine sort to whom reading doesn’t really hold any excitement.
Reading is more of a trial-and-error hobby, it is thought. You devise the best method you’d like to read by. No guidelines as such, as there are for numismatists and philatelists. You read what you like. Nothing like a ‘must have’ on your bookshelf. And if there is, it is more or less dictated by populist literature [Dan Brown, JKR, love ‘em or hate ‘em, you’ve gotta have read them]. There are always those classics everyone swears by [Robinson Crusoe, Marcus Aurelius], but they aren’t really necessary to establish your credentials as a reading enthusiast.
What I’m focusing on here is the most effective method to read a given work. No, I don’t claim to be an expert. Nor have I tried and tested all the methods I am listing here.
How I generally read is, what I feel a philistine method. The first reading is always a haphazard one, finishing the book at one go. I just Have to get to the bottom of the mystery as soon as I can, no matter how shallow it is. The details are not given any attention. But then, I read a book not less than six times, enough to get the whole picture. Why, it took me three readings of The Chamber of Secrets to internalise what Dobby actually looked like. Nuances in writing come to my attention much later. On my [what seemed like] eighteenth reading of The Moor’s Last Sigh, I got the joke about the ‘Cathjew Nut’. [Never paid any attention to it… was too busy trying to figure out what happens next.]
Marginalia comes much later, and only when I own the book.
This way, I always find something new when I read any novel. But then, I discover that I’m not really able to hold fluent discussions about any book I’ve read recently, coz, well, I haven’t internalised the spirit of the book enough to be passionate over it. Leads me to serious doubts about whether my method of reading can sustain me through the mountain of unread books I hope to get through in my lifetime. [Not an improbable dream… Shashi Tharoor challenged himself when he was ten, to finish 365 books before the next New Year… and he reached the deadline well before Christmas!]
So should I slow down? Begin my marginalia on first reading? Dwell on each scene? Appreciate the build-up to the climax on first read? In other words, control my Neanderthal instincts in the hobby I’m most passionate about?
I did try this with Midnight’s Children, coz I had limited time in my hands when I was reading it. It did work, to a certain extent. But then, I have a nagging suspicion that a first read of Rushdie’s work barely scratches the surface, it is so very obvious that Salim’s life mirrors India’s, and Aadam’s, that of post-emergency India. Yeah, I did skip the numerous citations of news headlines, but in effect, I felt I had missed little. Rushdie’s wordplay isn’t all that deep [or so it seems to me, I haven’t read it more than twice] and is pretty obvious to the discerning reader.
But then, I still haven’t figured out Parvati’s and Shiva’s part in the scheme of things, or what Picture Singh alludes to. Maybe it’ll just take me time…
Someone I know goes back and forth over the same few pages, absorbing the essence of the book she’s reading. And it takes her quite a while to read a book like Nancy Drew and The Mystery of the 99 steps. But no second reads.
Someone else spends an hour a day, or so [very disciplined guy] reading the novel. And it takes him not less than a week reading something like The Da Vinci Code.
There are others who read, but rarely. And take each book as a mini-project and research all about it: trivia, expert reviews, guides, author interviews… you get the picture. Found quite a few such enthusiasts of the HP series and Dan Brown’s pseudo-controversy fiction.
Now I’ve already crossed five hundred words, and I know I wouldn’t like to read a blog that’s longer… so, winding up, all I’d say is, for all the hullabaloo I made about guidelines to good reading… I discover their utter unnecessity, for reading isn’t philately… no specific rules. Reading is like the wanderlust journeys I sometimes undertake, no destination in mind, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. I don’t consider reading as a vehicle to a ‘higher goal’, it is the long drive I enjoy more than the joy of reaching the Promised Land.