Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"White Nights"

Finally, I am writing something on “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Among the English fictions, I think, it was only my third experience to read something. First one was “Five Point Someone” by Chetan Bhagat and the 2nd one being “The Hound of Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This time it was completely a different experience. “Five…..” was a sort of fictional biography of three IITians who happen to represent the new age guys with the I-don’t-care approach. It was simple and a nice experience, at least for being the first time. “The Hound…..” was a Sherlock Holmes series novel, so don’t need to say much about it. It was more than fantastic. This time, “White Nights” was a completely different type……………a typical drama that we encounter more often in our Bollywood movies.

It is a story that passes on for four nights and end in the morning after the fourth night. The hero meets the heroine in the first night. The hero, as always in his life, was alone and wandering through the streets of Petersberg whereas the heroine was anticipating her lover who had promised her one year ago that he would come one year since and take her away. On the first night the lady had put forth a condition to the narrator that he had to promise that he would not fall in love with her if he wanted to meet her again. The hero agrees to it and they both come closer to each other through the four nights. The hero helps the lady in getting her love back and in the mid-time calming and cooling her. In the midst of all this, he starts to feel about the lady. He falls in love with her but doesn’t say anything to her for her condition that she had put forth the first night. For her love, he was ready to sacrifice his own love.

On the fourth night when the lady’s love was still not there, she thought that the man has refused her and forgotten her. She thought of forgetting her own love and starts to praise the narrator for the support and love that he had shown her all through these nights. She says him that she loves him because he has not fallen in love with her. It all was playing badly on the heart of the narrator who finally tells her that he loves her. She couldn’t believe it at first but then she accepts him. They start fantasizing their future together. They were together then and were happy. She had started to forget her past. Suddenly, alas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,when they were thinking of their bright future together, the man comes to them. The lady realizing her love for him again goes back to him and the narrator is all alone again. The story ends with the morning when the narrator was all alone as he was four days ago.

It’s a simple story that we have seen in many of our bollywood movies. What makes it different from many such stories is the wonderful, exquisite, unparalleled, marvellous, fabulous magic of the words that the author comes up with the whole story. The description of the characters in their history, especially the narrator’s, is a masterpiece. The way the story starts with the description of the narrator’s love for Petersberg and all the inanimate things related to it is just fantastic. The web of words that keeps the story together and compact doesn’t allow leaving the story till you finish it. Sometimes, this same play of words was a bit difficult to understand for a beginner like me but everywhere such parts were the best written parts of the story…………………..a notable mention being of the narrator’s history that comes in the second night. It is so splendidly written that it compels you to think over the extremely complex character of a man. After reading it one inadvertently starts to look for the answers that the narrator asks about his life. It is simply undescribably fantastic.

The emotions that form the part of the story especially in the fourth night are again full of life. It feels quite happy when they are together thinking of their future. But suddenly, one starts to feel sad for the narrator when the lady leaves him for her past love. The whole flow of emotions that the author puts in it, is more than resplendent. Everywhere the author compels you to think like the characters inside the story. One can attach himself or herself with the characters anytime. Read the story for the emotions, the love, and the magic of words that forms the soul of the story. A truly wonderful piece…………………………….

Now, few words for Saawariya……………A Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s bollywood adaptation of this literary work. He made the film as a tribute to the greatest Indian showman ever……….RAJ KAPOOR. Raj Kapoor made Chhaliya years back which was also an adaptation of the same work. I have not yet seen Chhaliya, so, won’t be able to compare or comment on that. Saawariya, for me, was a much awaited film of the year. “Black”, a great work by SLB had made me expect a lot from Saawariya. To my surprise, SLB was not even upto his 10% in this film. At that time, I had not read the story neither I knew about it. Now that I have read the story, I feel really cheated by SLB. There is no comparison between the story and the film. The film is as bad as the story is good. SLB intrudes new characters in the film that have no existence in the original story. The Gulaabji’s character of a prostitute is a similar character that has done no good for the movie. There was no need for such a character and with the complex dialogues that were given to her only takes the movie away from a common people’s reach. The complexity of characters in the story is the best part of it but the same thing becomes the worst part of the movie with SLB making the characters more and more complex.

Ranbir Kapoor as the hero looks good and smart but when comes to acting, it seems that at times he did overacting. Sonam Kapoor was better than Ranbir as a childish, innocent, true-at-heart girl. Salmaan Khan does not suit in a role opposite Sonam. She looks like his daughter, the chemistry is nowhere existent. Rani Mukherji as Gulaabji is just a forced character in the movie with a role that had not to be the part of the film. Probably, SLB created the role only to take Rani in the film for the award for her great (maybe greatest) work in Black. Salmaan also might be in the film only for his old friendship of “Khamoshi- the musical” and “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” with SLB.

The malhandling of the story by an experienced director as SLB is a seriously sad issue. One thing that SLB has maintained about his style of film-making is the fantastic picturisation of the different shots in the movie. The use of the blue filter makes the whole film take a completely new look in the Indian movies. Only the picturisation in the dark of the film is something that looks good about the film. The association of the movie with Hollywood, I don’t think, creates much magic for the film.

So, better don’t watch it rather read the story………………………………………………

1 comment:

Alok said...

I also loved the second chapter where he describes why he lives such a lonely life and life in the cities. It is really marvellous. And although the plot is very melodramatic, there is always an undercurrent of self-consciousness in the story... the narrator seems to aware that what is happening is a bit melodramatic and he himself is acting like a hero in those cheap novels... it is one of the things that marks it separate from those commercial novels.