Book Review- The Fault in Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green

pp 317, Dutton Books

There are some books that leave an eternal impression on the pages of your mind. There are some that you can read time and again. But won’t you agree if I say that there are books which are highly appreciated but somewhere in your mind, you realize that they are good, but not like those creating an everlasting impact on your mind, in your life and sometimes, on your thinking.

‘The Fault in Our Stars’ in one of those books for me. I won’t call it badly written, lacking emotions, or meagerness of realism but it is just a good book for me that I can read and maybe forget forever. Let me clarify I am not criticizing it.

So, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is a book that talks about cancer patients, who are very well cognizant of the fact they are soon going to envisage their impending fates. It talks about two teenagers- Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters- who happen to be cancer patients and the protagonists of the book. What next? They meet, fall in love, and spend lovely time together. They embark on a journey to a foreign land and realize some bitter truths of life- at such young age. Finally, Hazel realizes that Augustus is the one who is going to face the fate first, which eventually happens. At last, she finds a letter which was written by Augustus before his demise. All that she understands is that Augustus came like a breeze and changed her notion of life. She realizes that one becomes happy or sad with the choices one makes in life, something Augustus made her realize. The book reaches its climax with Hazel realizing that she is happy with her choice in life.

This, my friends, is ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ for you all.

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This sixth book by John Green is entertaining, funny, realistic, and makes you like it, if not love. It talks about human emotions along with the vulnerabilities it brings. It clearly and closely depicts the agony of not only cancer patients but their parents and friends, and what they go through every day, every moment. Many of you may love it, cry with it, and read it again and again.

For me, it is a good book, just a good one as I said earlier. But I won’t hesitate to say that it is not one of the best books (romantic or tragic one to be precise) that I have read in life, to date. It doesn’t make you (or me, I should say) as wishful to make a person survive to live with the love of life, as Erich Segal’s ‘Love Story’ makes. It doesn’t make one as determined in love as ‘Wuthering Heights’ does. It doesn’t make a great, hugely powerful impact that ‘The Sun Also Rises’ makes.

But still I would not call it bad. It is a good book and readable. Even if you are not a bookoholic, it is one book that you can read to experience one good, sweet, romantic love story.

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!

Nishant- night’s end

Nishant-Night’s End(color)

Year of release: September 6, 1975

Starring: Shabana Azmi

Smita Patil

Girish Karnad

Naseeruddin Shah

Amrish Puri

Anant Nag

Mohan Aghase

Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Satyadev Dubey

Written by: Vijay Tendulkar, Satyadev Dubey

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Edited by: Bhanudas Divakar

Running time: 143 minutes

Language: Hindi

Producer: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava

Directed by: Shyam Benegal

With Nishant-Night’s End, as his third film, Shyam Benegal raised the issue relevant with the Telangana Movement where the peasants and population revolted against the Nizam of Hyderabad, who tried to suppress the rebellion by them against the feudal lords or landlords.

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Nishant is the story of a village in Andhra Pradesh where an influential and tyrannical landlord(Amrish Puri) rules the village and has three younger brothers played by Mohan Aghase, Anant Nag and Naseeruddin Shah. Vishvam(Naseeruddin Shah) unlike his brothers does not indulge in  alcohol and women and do not create nuisances for the villagers by his dictatorship and uncontrolled rule like his other brothers. He is married to Rukmani(Smita Patil) but is not very much interested in his wife but never shows it overtly. One day, a new schoolmaster arrives in the village with his wife Sushila(Shabana Azmi), and a kid. Vishvam when sees Sushila, becomes unable to take his eyes off Sushila. Sushila notices it but tries to ignore. On a fateful day, Sushila gets abducted by two brothers(played by Mohan Aghase and Anant Nag) of Vishvam. Schoolmaster when initially doesn’t get success in rescuing his wife, tries to forget the whole issue but soon, when he comes across his wife in a temple gets enraged and instigate the villagers for rebellion. As a result, one day, the whole village break into the landlord’s house and they slaughter the whole family of the landlord along with Sushila for whom the whole rebellion was carried out and the the innocent Rukmani.

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!

The story of Nishant is inspired by a real incident that took place in a village in Andhra Pradesh where a despotic landlord’s whole family was slaughtered by the villagers. It is based in an era when the Nizam of Hyderabad was not ready for annexation of Hyderabad. It was at this time when the peasants became rebellious against the feudalism which was being practiced hitherto. The movie has been directed perfectly by Benegal and above all, the writing of Vijay Tendulkar is so compelling here, that the violence shown in the movie doesn’t take away the real gist of the movie.

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The outlook of Nishant looks very composed but it is evident that the subject of it is very depressing and disturbing. The death of both innocent Sushila and Rukmani leaves us blown away when we witness it. It was the innate ability of Benegal that the movie doesn’t go off track for even once. It is one of those movies which redefined the cinema in india.

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Nishant is also a very important film as it marked the debut of many peerless actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Satyadev Dubey(as a priest), who has also written dialogues for Nishant and other Benagal movies. Proper introduction of Amrish Puri to hindi cinema and recognition of Smita Patil could become possible due to this movie. Naseeruddin Shah as a coy and shy Vishvam has done wonders in this very first movie of his career.

Shabana Azmi, with her effortless persona is once again magical in this Benegal flick. Smita Patil is decent in the small role she got to play in Nishant-Night’s End. Girish Karnad, Mohan Aghase, Anant nag, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Amrish Puri and Satyadev Dubey are decent in their roles and have powerfully enacted their roles.

Nishant does not have any song in it but the perfect background score of Vanraj Bhatia doesn’t leave any stone unturned.

In one word, i can call Nishant-Night’s End, perfect!

Review By: Shekhar Srivastava.

Ankur….a movie that changed the meaning of “Cinema”…

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Ankur-The Seedling(color)

Year of release: 1974

Starring: Anant Nag

Shabana Azmi

Sadhu Meher

Priya Tendulkar

Kader Ali Beg

Dalip Tahil

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Written by: Shyam Benegal

Satyadev Dubey

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Kamath Ghanekar

Producers: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava: Blaze Film Enterprises

Director: Shyam Benegal

Running time: 125 minutes

Language: Dakhani

Shyam Benegal is the one filmmaker in India who altogether changed the definition of cinema in this country. Post Satyajit Ray, Gurudutt and Raj Kapoor, he was the one man who made movies on his own conditions, the way he wanted to present the subject he liked. With his debut movie Ankur-the seedling, he brought revolution in the world of Hindi cinema.

Ankur starts with the story of a wealthy landlord’s son Surya(Anant Nag), who has just completed his graduation and is married forcibly to a girl of his father’s choice, named Saru(Priya Tendulkar) and then he is sent to the village nearby to start handling the village farm of his family. Surya’s father has a mistress also named Kaushalya and an illegitimate son as well. Surya heads towards village without his wife and there he meets Lakshmi(Shabana Azmi), a maid servant who is there to look after his house in the village. Lakshmi’s husband Kishtayya(Sadhu Meher) is a deaf and mute alcoholic and they are in extremely destitute condition. Since Surya’s wife Saru is not with him, he starts feeling frustrated(sexually of course) and start getting attracted to Lakshmi. One fateful day, when Kishtayya gets caught stealing toddy, he faces ignominy by Surya and depart secretly as is unable to face the humiliation. Now, Surya who started flirting with Lakshmi many days back gets success in his plan and they sleep together for a night.

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Saru arrives few days later and she detests the presence of Lakshmi in her house because “Lakshmi was a dalit“; but the clear reason was the rumor that she had heard about her husband and Lakshmi. Meanwhile Lakshmi gets pregnant with Surya’s child and one day, Saru exiles Lakshmi from her house eventually in the name of pilfering. Many days later, Kishtayya returns with his alcoholic habit left behind and with money he had made somehow. Lakshmi gets dazed and feels extremely guilty as she thinks that she has betrayed her husband. Kishtayya in order to again start a job of riding bullock cart, approaches Surya and carries a stick in his hand. Surya under false impression thinks that Kishtayya is coming for a revenge and punishes him with a scourge. Lakshmi comes to defend her husband and curses Surya and then returns with her husband.

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In the very last scene a child standing there witnessing all the drama there, throws a stone at the window glass of Surya’s house and movie ends there.

Ankur, basically has a very complex theme to deal with and one thing which enhances the beauty of this complexity is an adept direction of Shyam Benegal. Benegal has dealt with stratified theme here and has emerged victoriously. The basic subject which Ankur deals with is the exploitation of the proletariat by the property-owning parochial class, whether it is in terms of economic or sexual exploitation. But it would be a crime here not to notice the multifaceted subject of the film which has exposed the rampant social evils in the society.

  • Polyamory(of Surya’s father of keeping mistress).
  • Alcoholism, especially in the case of underprivileged section of the society.
  • Marriage at early age.
  • Sexual exploitation of women who belong to backward classes.
  • Uncontrolled behavior of rich towards poor.

Points mentioned above are clearly shown and magnificently woven in the story by Benegal.

Ankur not only marked the debut of Shyam Benegal but it was also the first release of Shabana Azmi and introduced Anant Nag to Hindi cinema.

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Anant Nag played the role of a young son of a landlord brilliantly. The role of Surya who is interested in further studies and not marriage and the frustration of being helpless in front of his father to raise his voice has been portrayed very realistically by him. His sexual urge which makes him approach Lakshmi for physical gratification and then spurning her like a coward has been played so well by Anant Nag that one can never imagine any other actor in that role no matter who that actor is. With his dynamic performances like this one, he is considered as one of the finest actors Kannada cinema has ever produced.

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Shabana Azmi today needs no introduction but this movie came when she was a novice but with this very first movie, she boldly and beautifully made a statement how prolific actor she is. Role of a dalit Lakshmi who sleeps with her landlord and respects her husband a lot at the same time has been played by her very well. Not only her voice and dialogue delivery but the expressions and eye movements she made in this classic leaves the viewer spellbound. No wonder she bagged many national and other award in the later years of her career and still is considered as the first choice for “parallel cinema”.

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Sadhu Meher who had done many movies earlier( a masterpiece and unforgettable classic like Bhuvan Shome) played the role of a deaf and mute alcoholic so well that we can’t ask him more. His role of absent or lost minded Kishtayya who steals toddy and is unafraid of the repercussions and the way he doesn’t pay heed to her wife’s warning of the probable consequences is something too difficult to play for any mediocre but he left no stone unturned and did his utmost to do the justice to his role and shows which league of superlative actors he is from.

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Ankur also marked the debut of actor Priya Tendulkar(best known for her eponymous role in the television series Rajni) who later established herself as a fine and decent actor.

Coming to the direction, Shyam Benegal who taught at Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) for ten years before making his debut in movies shows how great his aesthetic sense is and that he has taught many super talented actors of our country. The sensitive and burning issues prevalent in the society are interwoven in the movie by him in a perfect manner. But one scene which stood out was the very last scene in which a small boy throws a stone at the glass window of the landlord’s house and runs away. This one scene speaks a lot. It symbolically indicates that the time has come to root out the hypocrisy and exploitation caused by the upper class and its a time for rebellion and no one is going to tolerate this tyranny anymore. This scene happens just after Lakshmi curses Surya and raises her voice against his cruelty. Similarly, the baby that she had wished for in the beginning was in her womb and it was the symbol of the new beginning…and hence….Ankur-the seedling.

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!

Ankur is a very important movie and has played a crucial role in changing the scenario of hindi cinema. It came at the time when commercial movies were the only movies that makers would make. With his first few movies like Ankur(1973), Nishant(1975), Bhumika(1977) and Manthan(1976), Benegal introduced a new genre in India called the “middle cinema”. Before Ankur, no one dared making a movie like Ankur which was so bold in nature and treatment alike. Benegal paved the way for the actors or makers who wished to be associated with something more realistic and not only dancing around trees in the name of cinema. He eventually did it and introduced to the world some magnificent actors the world had not seen by then and could probably not see without him, like Naseeruddin Shah,Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and many more.

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!

Review by: Shekhar Srivastava.