Translated by Madhavan Narayanan
Published by HarperPerennial (An Imprint of HarperCollins)
MRP: Rs. 399/-
S. Rangarajan , better known by his allonym Sujatha, was an Indian author, novelist and screenwriter who wrote in Tamil. He authored over 100 novels, 250 short stories, ten books on science, ten stage plays, and a slim volume of poems. He was one of the most popular authors in Tamil literature, and a regular contributor to topical columns in Tamil periodicals such as Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam and Kalki. He had a wide readership, and served for a brief period as the editor of Kumudam, and has also written screenplays and dialogues for several Tamil films.
Madhavan Narayanan is a senior journalist who has covered politics, diplomacy, business, technology and other subjects in a long career that has spanned organisations including Reuters, Business Standard and Hindustan Times. He is currently an independent writer , columnist, editor and commentator.
I haven't read the original book, Kanavu Thozhirchilai, written in Tamil, so i cannot comment on how the translation compares with the original work, but i can mention that my reading experience was very pleasant and i did not feel anywhere that i was losing out reading a translation.
Set in the 80s with the Tamil Film industry as the backdrop, the book dwells on the various facets of the business through the perspectives of several characters. The protagonist, Arun Vijay is the hottest thing around, the most in-demand actor of his age at the time and is at the peak of his career. Despite appearances, he is a very arrogant person. He meets his childhood sweetheart, Kalyani, by chance in the studios and goes to ask for her hand from her father. His father rejects him, primarily because of his job, and secondarily (this is my assumption) because of his arrogance. Heartbroken(well…), he decides to marry his co-star Premlatha and Kalyani gets married to a bank clerk. The author also tackles some serious issues such as casting couch and the industry from a middle-class perspective.
The book is written from a third person’s perspective and the fourth wall is broken at times. The book is very well written and the plot is also gripping. But I did have some issues. The storyline shifts very abruptly at places, especially at peak emotional moments between characters, it might be an attempt to hook the reader and can work if done in balance, but here it was overdone. Also, while i read a fictional book, it plays like a movie in my head, i imagine the characters and the world very clearly. But here, in some instances, i felt that the emotions of the characters were not fully written and translated on paper. I became very tough to relate to the character.
The book portrays the bad and ugly side of stardom, the functioning of the censor board at the time and various other aspects of the industry. The book is indeed griping and i had a good time reading it.
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