Book Review- The Grapes of Wrath 

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck

pp 464

There are books that make you laugh, cry, romantic, some makes you end up being an erudite, but then there are books that propel you- make you angry, sympathetic and compassionate and predominantly make you contemplate what the world is all about, how it works and how it has been working since ages.
This, John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Grapes of Wrath, belongs to the second category.

Focused on the family of Joads, tenant farmers in Oklahoma and having a backdrop of “the great depression”, it’s the story of the family driven from their homeland and set out for California. The expedition makes them come across many “Okies” of their genus, withstanding same situation, sometimes worse.
Their hope to get work in California keeps them traveling regardless of ups and downs such as demise of Grampa and Granma, separation from Noah Joad-eldest son of family, Tom-the protagonist,  Connie-son in law of Joad family &c.
At last they reach California- where their hope lied- to work, to earn livelihood, to have their home, food and an easy life away from agricultural crisis, economic hardships, bank foreclosures and of course “Dust Bowl”. But what they realise at the end is the devastated hope and shattered dream they had seen before setting out.

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The Grapes of Wrath is a realist novel which carves out the helplessness, fears and apprehensions of the tenants at the time of the great depression in the 1930’s. It talks about human emotions in the most realistic and lively way without losing the creativity and beauty of the writing.
The on going changes in the behaviour of the people with changing circumstances of life, vulnerability of humans with the determination to live without succumbing to the situation has been depicted in this timeless classic in such a way that it never becomes obsolete in context to human nature.
The struggle to live, to earn bread and to see the family together and happy is the soul of this book.
But the economy of a country and its affects on the working class is something that can’t be neglected while talking about this book. Load of economic disturbances on the farmers and their unpredictable future is not only the part of this book but is a problem rampant worldwide since ages.

Book like The Grapes of Wrath offers not just a thought provoking writing piece but also brings to the notice the economic hardships of different classes and in particular the farmers especially when a situation like economic disturbance breaks out.

John Steinbeck definitely touches the nerves of the readers and tells exactly what might happen to the working class and how upheavals come in their lives suddenly.
This book is definitely one of those books you must read before you die. If you wish to read about a perfect portrayal of human apprehensions and will to survive, you must read this classic and have one of the best and most unforgettable reading experiences.

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Movie review- “Bhumika-The Role”

Bhumika-The Role(color)

Date of release: November 11, 1977

Starring: Smita Patil

Amol Palekar

Anant Nag

Naseeruddin Shah

Amrish Puri

Kiran Virale

Sulabha Deshpande

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Written by: Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad, Satyadev Dubey

Story: Hansa Wadkar

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Running time: 142 minutes

Language: Hindi

Produced by: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava

Directed by: Shyam Benegal

Bhumika is one of my all time favorite movies or let me rephrase myself, my all time favorite Benegal movie. Bhumika was based on the autobiography of Marathi actress Hansa Wadkar who was active on Marathi screen and stage in the 1940’s and 1950’s.The movie is about searching one’s own identity which Bhumika made alive on big screen. Its about frustration of an actor and search for an inner peace by the female protagonist who in the world ruled by men tries to live with them(by making compromises sometimes)but tragically, fails all the time. It efficaciously makes us realize that the society which we live in has made rules which should not be used to judge a person on moral grounds as these rules are made just to live with ease and convenience without much mental or social disturbance in life by shunning them.

Usha(Smita Patil) is an actress who is successful on screen but a failure in her personal life and relationships.(In flashback) Usha is from a family where her grandmother was a singer from famous Devdasi  tradition from konkani background and her family(Hansa Wadkar’s family) has preserved priceless classical music throughout the years.

Since her childhood, Keshav Dalvi(Amol Palekar),who is much older than her and has done many favors to her family,behaves clumsily with her and as soon as she steps into her teenage, he convinces her to marry him. Soon after her marriage with Keshav, she realises that her husband still behave as her manager and wants her to act in movies. This is the turning point and here starts the frustration of Usha. (Coming to the present)Being a chauvinistic man, Keshav abuses Usha  verbally as well as physically even in front of their daughter Sushma(Kiran Virale), as he is under the impression that Usha and the actor Rajan(Anant Nag) are having an affair. Meanwhile, she comes across narcissistic film director, Suneel Verma(Naseeruddin Shah) with whom she plans a double suicide, but it never happens. Usha leaves the house and stays in a hotel where she meets Vinayak Kale(Amrish Puri) who takes her to his palatial mansion only to keep her as a mollycoddled mistress which the distressed Usha happily accepts to behave as. With affable relation with Kale’s wife who is confined to bed by paralysis,she enjoys her new life until she realizes that she has been confined unknowingly to this mansion and not even allowed to step outside the house. She somehow manages to call Keshav for rescue and leaves Kale’s estate only to leave even Keshav after reaching Bombay all over again. This is the end where Usha is standing in her house alone and still unsuccessful in relationships.

The story of Bhumika is inspired by the autobiography of Hansa Wadkar called “Sangtye Aika” which would publish in a Marathi magazine as a series.

This piece of writing was certainly a very candid and intrepid one by any actor.

The movie came when the feminism movements were very much active in the western countries but was looked down upon by the Indian society. The struggle of a woman for self-recognition and respect has been depicted in the movie in the era in which feminists in India were not active(movies like “Heroine”(2012) and “Fashion”(2008) came decades after this marvellous piece of work). Bhumika, interestingly raises the topic very well that a man in the society(patriarchal one) is recognized and known by his work, but on the contrary, women are always judged on the success and failures of the relationships they have been involved in. This parameter for judging both men and women has been carved out in the movie so subtly and at the same time so clearly that it makes Bhumika the one movie of its own kind and probably the first of its kind. The movie also shows how a women should be ready to be left alone if she is willing to gain her independence which is not the case in the independence of a man.

Smita Patil, with the intensity and pitch that she has used in this movie has made it one of the best and most brilliantly played role by her in her lifetime. Her transformation from a vivacious teenager to a middle aged nonchalant woman left viewers speechless when it came on silver screen but what really is magnificent is the conviction with which she has played the role of a women screaming loudly deep inside her weeping heart for the recognition and love that she has always wished for but has never got.

And it is this conviction that makes Bhumika a benchmark or anthem for feminism in Indian cinema. Bhumika no doubt is one of her best works or as many believes, her best work till date and Bhumika could never be the way it is without this beautiful and flair actress named Smita Patil.

Amol Palekar as Keshav Dalvi will make you hate him in this movie. Now you can understand how convincingly he must have played the role of a man who cannot live without the monetary support of her wife and brazenly abuse and torture her mentally as well as physically. He gets into the skin of Keshav’s character as a man who lusted after Usha since her childhood and the husband who asks his wife to abort their unborn child. It is impossible to believe that he is the same actor who has played the role of a meek gentleman in so many other movies. It is the one movie which is totally different from the filmography of Palekar. Keshav’s shameless attitude has been portrayed very well by him and this prolific actor will always be remembered for this benchmark.

Anant Nag, who previously did a remarkable collaboration with Benegal in movies like Ankur(1974) and Nishant(1975), did a masterly portrayal of a heartthrob Rajan who is in love with Usha but never gets success in getting the same response from her for some unknown reasons not shown in the movie.

Naseeruddin Shah, as usual did a remarkable job as a filmmaker who is excessively interested in the admiration of his own abilities and leaves us impressed.

Amrish Puri, has done a great job as an understated Vinayak Kale. His cold and stern dialogues which leaves Usha dumbstruck are worth mentioning here. He has a small role to play but he can surely impress everyone with his role in the movie.

Summing up my views on this masterpiece by Benegal, I can say that there is a parallel cinema and then there is a cinema which redefines the parallel cinema with a movie like Bhumika-The Role. Feminism which was an indolent thing in the 1970’s has been discussed in it, decades before the makers started discussing it in their movies. Every aspect of Bhumika-The Role is great whether it is the music of maestro Vanraj Bhatia or cinematography by Govind Nihalani and writing by Girish Karnad and Satyadev Dubey.


Baaju re mondar baaju re-Saraswati Rane, Meena Fatharpekar

Ghat ghat mein ram ramaiya-Firoz Dastur

Mera ziskila balam na aya-Preeti Sagar

Meri zindagi ki kashti tere-Chandru Aatma

Saawan ke din aaye sajanwa aan milo-Bhupinder Singh, Preeti Sagar

Tumhare bina jee na lage ghar mein-Preeti Sagar

Review by: Shekhar Srivastava


India is a land of tales, myths and not to forget, LOVE STORIES! But taking a break from regular love stories that we have come across so many times at so many places and in so many books, let’s have a glance at some intriguing unknown fascinating love stories of India which I bet many of us won’t know about.

Rabindranath Tagore-Victoria Ocampo

Who doesn’t know the national anthem of India but very few people know that there was a chapter in the life of its creator, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, which is unknown to many of us. He too had a story-a romantic one- that never witnessed a happy ending. Yes , you read that right.

Victoria Ocampo was a talented beautiful woman who later became the publisher of a literary magazine Sur. Victoria met Rabindranath much later in his life. Besides the admiration for Tagore, she was in love with him and it is quite clear that he too had a romantic interest in her. Their correspondence, though continued for years, Tagore, it seems never reciprocated her the way she wanted-’romantically’- and always confined the relationship into an intellectual one. Whatever were the reasons behind shunning such feelings, it is evident that they never had a love life together and Tagore couldn’t even see his Vijaya(that’s what he called her) in his last moments of life.

A year before his death in the year 1940, one of the poems in his Sesh Lekha(Last writings) is believed to be about her-

How I wish I could once again find my way to that foreign land where waits for me the message of love!….Her language I knew not, but what her eyes said will forever remain eloquent in its anguish.’

Rabindranath Tagore with Victoria Ocampo

Baz Bahadur-Rani Roopmati

If you ever visit Madhya Pradesh, do not forget to visit Rewa Kund reservoir of Mandu which still recites the passionate love story of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.

It was the time of medieval India when Roopmati’s captivating voice completely mesmerized the Sultan of Mandu, Baz Bahadur one day and after beholding her face he got completely charmed by her beauty and proposed her to marry him. She agreed. But like many timeless classic tales of love, this too had an ugly twist. When knowledge of Roopmati’s beauty reached ears of Adham Khan, general of emperor Akbar, he tried to capture Mandu and when Baz Bahadur realized he couldn’t defeat Adham Khan, fled.  

Now the sorrow of Roopmati knew no bounds and instead of surrendering herself to the lust of Adham Khan she swallowed poison and left the world.

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In due course, Baz Bahadur also ended up joining Akbar as his loyal servant as a mansabdar.

This is an unfortunate story of a woman who sacrificed her life because she couldn’t let any other man touch her but at the same time it is a story of a helpless man who fled, leaving his love, to save himself. We can question Baz Bahadur’s actions but we don’t know what was in his mind when he left his wife and fled.

Baz Bahadur & Rani Roopmati in a painting

It was Baz Bahadur’s last wish to be buried abreast his beloved Rani Roopmati, and the death which separated them once, at last commingled their love.

It is believed that if one shouts “Roopmati” at their tomb, the voice reverberates as “Baz Bahadur”.

Tomb of Rani Roopmati & Bazbahadur,Sarangpur, Rajgarh.jpg
Tomb of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati -Sarangpur, Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh

“When Baz Bahadur proposed Roopmati for marriage she agreed with a condition that he would construct a palace for her from which she could see river Narmada. It was this place from where she would sing everyday after their marriage, facing Narmada and her love Baz Bahadur would hear her enthralling voice and see her bewitching beauty. That place is Rewa Kund of Mandu!”

Rewa Kund-Mandu, Madhya Pradesh

Jahan Ara- Nicholas Ballantyne

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal’s love story is known to the world in the form of Taj Mahal but do you know the unknown love chapter in the life of their eldest daughter Jahan Ara?

Nicholas Ballantyne was a squire to sir Thomas Roe, former ambassador in the court of emperor Jahangir, father of Shah Jahan.

In contemporary records, it has been stated that there was a strange bonding between Nicholas Ballantyne and Jahan Ara, the first lady of the empire. Though it was forbidden for a royal woman to meet a stranger and that too a non-royal foreigner, it is believed that Jahan Ara and Nicholas Ballantyne would meet and talk at length and there were also some occurrences of exchange of letters between them. It is also recorded that there were rumors about their brewing bond but at last, knowing his fate, it is said that Nicholas left for London forever, never to see Jahan Ara again.

Jahan Ara

Whatever truth is there in the story of these two entities bound by their duties, it will always be a mystery as to what was their bond and whatever it was, they apparently faced the separation and a miserable end of their beautiful relationship.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay- Dheeru- Kalidasi

If you think that it was Shahrukh Khan or Dilip Kumar who immortalised the portrayal of a doomed lover in Bollywood adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devdas, take a halt and read the real story.

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It was in the streets of bhagalpur, where the story of Devdas was scripted long back. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who penned the immortal love story of Devdas, it is said, had written his own tragic love tale in the book Devdas. Sarat’s childhood girlfriend Dheeru was his love interest but eventually married someone else. It is said that Sarat spent three nights in a stable outside her sasural just to have a glimpse of her. Like his great book, Chandramukhi also came in his life. Kalidasi of Jogsar area was the real life Chandramukhi who found her love in him.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Unlike Devdas of the book, Sarat did not succumbed to tragic death but his own story of love was indeed incomplete yet beautiful and is one of the most fascinating love stories which mesmerised the world when came in the form of fictitious Devdas.

Rani Roopba-Rana Veer Singh

Adalaj stepwell near Ahmedabad is an extremely beautiful stepwell which can enthrall the visitors but what is more beautiful is the extraordinary tale of sacrifice and true love behind this magnificent edifice.

Rana Veer Singh of Vaghela dynasty, in the medieval period, ruled this territory then known as Dandai Desh. His wife Rani Roopba was an extremely beautiful woman and loved her husband more than anyone in the world.

On a hapless day, his kingdom was attacked by Mohammad Begada, a ruler of neighbouring territory. Rana was killed in the battle, leaving his beloved wife forlorn. When Begada saw Rani Roopba’s irresistible beauty, he proposed to marry her. She agreed but only time and Rani Roopba knew what was in her mind. She expressed to Begada that she would marry him only on a condition that he would first complete the construction of adalaj which her husband had commenced. He agreed.

The day came when adalaj was there in front of the people of Dandai for their benefit and Begada was getting ready for the wedding ceremony. But Rani Roopba was missing from her palace. Begada sent all his troops to find Rani but it was too late.

The queen circumambulated the stepwell and jumped into the well. She ended her life because her love Rana Veer Singh was not with her. She exemplified the true love by not allowing anyone else to come near her after her husband. Now it was open that she had agreed just to make sure that the dream of her husband comes true and the people of the territory get water facilities.

Adalaj Stepwell

Mohammad Begada on the other hand, it seems truly loved Roopba and hence did not order to vandalize the stepwell.

The story of Rani Roopba and her immense sacrifice is not just a tragic love story but also restores our faith in true love.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick- Khair-Un-Nissa

Who would have thought that one day, one of the britishers-whom we always think looked down upon us-will fall in love with a girl of Hyderabad in the 18th century. But it did happen.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick, a british resident was a young man who was a resident in the palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Khair-Un-Nissa, on the other hand, was a cousin of Mir Ali, disciple of Aristu Jah who was the prime minister of the Nizam and also a close associate of the Nizam.

After facing much resistance initially by both British power and Nizam, they eventually married but it was not a happy end. Kirkpatrick’s early demise completely devastated Khair. Her kids were already sent to their grandfather in London. She had no one as a stalwart. But as if it was not an end to her agony. Henry Russel, another britisher tried and came close to her and after some time betrayed her and married someone else. However she breathed her last in Hyderabad residency, as a stranger in her home where she once lived with her husband and kids with full glory and extreme happiness. This story not just tells about the tragic end it has but also about how helpless one can be in love.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick and Khair-Un-Nissa

Kach- Devayani

Kacha was the son of sage Brihaspati, sage of demigods. Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, sage of demons. Then how did it all happen?

It all started with a mission that Kach was sent on to. The mission was to become the disciple of Shukracharya to get the secret knowledge of resurrecting the dead. But in the process, an innocent love story brewed. It is said that Devayani loved Kacha and Kacha also would spend all his time with her in the hermitage. Other demons did not like it and after many attempts to kill him, finally burnt his body and mixed his ashes in liquor and made Shukracharya drink the liquor. Now, on Devayani’s request, Shukracharya started the rituals to bring Kach back from death and in the process, Kacha tore the body of Shukracharya and came out of his body. Kach’s mission was accomplished as he had imbibed the knowledge of resurrecting the dead(by listening to the process from stomach of Shukracharya) and first thing that he did was to bring Shukracharya back from death who died in the process as he came out of his body.

After few days when Devayani proposed him to marry, Kacha refused as he believed that they were more like siblings as the source of their birth had become one-Shukracharya(as Kach had come to life from Shukracharya’s body only).

Weeping Devayani finally cursed him but her sorrow did not lessen. Kach did not say anything but left for heaven again. He left, may be because he was not allowed to make relationships on the mission but he was to imbibe the knowledge which was his task.

Nobody knows what was in his mind but this was indeed an end of a beautiful love story. This story from the epic Mahabharat is definitely a tragic love story which left the lovers lonely and dejected.


Sage Chyavan-Sukanya

Every girl wants a prince charming right? But this story is about a girl who rejected even the proposal of demigods just to be with her husband who was very much older, blind and unsightly.

Sukanya was a princess who once mistakenly poked in sage Chyavan’s eyes mistaking them to be a part of anthill and to pacify him, Sukanya’s father king Sharyati gave him his daughter in marriage.

Now one day when Ashwini Kumaras(twin demigods) saw Sukanya bathing, mesmerised by her beauty, they asked her to marry one of them and to leave her ugly, old and blind husband. When she refused, they also promised to restore the youth and sight of Chyavan so that she could identify and choose either him or one of them. Sukanya, being a faithful wife rejected their proposal. When she told everything to her husband, Chyavan asked her to request Ashwini Kumaras to do what they had told her.

As promised, on request of Sukanya, Ashwini Kumaras restored the sight and youth of Chyavan. Now-when all three men came in front of Sukanya after taking a bath in the river and asked her to identify Chyavan, Sukanya identified Chyavan-as only his footprints were there on the ground and not those of Ashwin Kumaras as they were demigods-and chose him only.

Ashwin Kumaras with Chyavan in front of Sukanya

Her rejection of heaven for hermitage and that of demigods for an old, blind and ugly husband does not only make her an epitome of womanhood but also shows her unconditional love for her husband. It proves that love has got nothing to do with physical appearance as many of us believe.

The Chyavan-Sukanya love story is one forgotten love story but definitely one of the sweetest and fascinating love stories we have in our mythology.

AND YES, if you think you have heard name of Chyavan before-He is the same genius of ancient India who is responsible for the Chyavanprash that we eat today to boost immune system and for longevity.

So this was a sneak peek at some forgotten yet fascinating love stories from the land of our country which I hope you all enjoyed and would remember as many of them definitely restores our faith in true love and true relationship.

Hey friends, I have written my debut novel, “The Monsoon Marigolds”! read it and show me some love! 🙂 It will be very special for me!