Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Fisher Queen's Dynasty by Kavita Kane: a review

I've always been hugely fascinated with the Mahabharata and all its retellings. There has been moments where I have had spent days and nights discussing with friends and made a lot of foes regarding conspiracy theories and retelling of the epic. So, when I got to know about Kavita Kané's recent book The Fisher Queen's Dynasty I had to read this book. Here's the book blurb for you to know.

According to the blurb- 'I learnt to love like a man- to love without feeling. And I shall never forget this lesson.' Matsyagandha, Kali, Yojanagandha, Daseyi- the queen of Hastinaoir, Satyavati. Abandoned as a baby, preyed on by a rishi, she hardens herself, determined that the next time she is with a man, she will be the one to win. And win she does: the throne of Hastinapur for herself, and the promise that her sons will be heirs to the kingdom. But at what cost? In a palace where she is disdained and scorned, Satyavati must set aside her own loss and pain if she is to play the game of politics. She learns to be ruthless, unscrupulous- traits that estrange her from everyone around. Everyone, except the man she cheated of his birthright. A piercing, insightful look at the grand matriarch of the Kuru family, the woman who set off the sequence of events that ended in the bloody battle of Kurukshetra, The Fisher Queen's Dynasty will re-align your reading of the Mahabharata.

And yes, it surely does. You know, we always look at the Mahabharata from the point of view of Krishna. Of the battle that ensued. But have we actually ever given a thought, "why?" This book questions the why's and the how's. It answers both these questions in a beautiful way. Specifically from the point of view of the woman behind everything: Satyavati. The cover of the book speaks a thousand words as it engages every reader from the first look of it. Then, starts the journey.

The book starts with her birth, carries on to how she became what she is. It explores every bit of her so much so that you, as a reader, might feel like loving her and slapping her all at the same time. Her twisted mind and mental strength connects to the readers. At least that's what I felt. There's nothing new to the characters (I mean, there's nothing to sit and explain about them) so I would directly head on to the representation of them.

Majorly a book focused on Satyavati, Bheeshm and the clan, this book surely does enough justice. Bheeshm, undoubtedly is my FAVORITE character from the original script and in this book too, my heart goes out to him. I don't know what to write for the book for every single page in the book is a vision in itself. You can almost picturize every moment and that makes the book all the more worthwhile. A new perspective, yes. The book ensures that you have a new way of reading and knowing the whole story.

What happened with me after reading the book? I felt sad. Not for the characters but because the book ended and I couldn't stop the writer from not writing any more. I wanted it to not end. Having said that, I'll go to the cons of the book. For me, one of the cons was that the book, towards its end seems rushed. Some more details, a bit more, could've done the trick. Yes, the Kurukshetra battle we all know about wasn't that of the Kuru dynasty, it was of the Fisher Queen's: Satyavati's and that surely had made all the difference. For me, expecting a tad too much from the book it would be a 4.25 out of 5. I'll be looking forward to much more books from the author.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Alauddin Khilji, Ranveer, Jim and Padmavat!

I have no clue how do I start writing this. So, I'll start with the basics. Disclaimer: I had no intention of writing this but I HAD to. First day first show. It had to be so. Padmavat! The first glimpse of Alauddin Khilji (his intense eyes) and I had goosebumps. As I write this, I still do. "Har nayaab cheez pe sirf Alauddin ka haq Hai" and I couldn't agree more. I guess I won't be the only person who would easily compare the movie to Bajirao Mastani because of its premise, SLB, cast, but I also guess I won't be the only person who would say that this movie is way different than that. As the movie went on, I thought I'll write a review for it but then my mind shifted- this is me writing on the one and only Ranveer Singh.

Wallah Habibi! God! I couldn't take my eyes off the S&S (Savage and Seductive: Thank you my dear friend Prarthana for the abbreviation) Khilji. As a child I have grown up learning more about Khilji and his dynasty than any other 'villian' and as a dialogue and a scene in the movie goes something like, "Jis itihaas ke panno mein Alauddin Khilji ka naam na ho, wo itihaas hi nahi padha jaayga" , with Khilji burning the pages of such a history, he succeeded and how!

As I close my eyes right now (almost 7 hours after coming back from the hall and going through a busy day post movie), all I can see is Khilji's madness, his passion, his dance, his restlessness from the songs Khalibali and Binte Dil. His role of being bi-sexual and portraying it with such elegance. Kudos to Bhansali for the execution. Here, let me take a moment to clap for the one and only person without whom the portrayal wouldn't have been possible: Jim Saarbh. Man, you have a fan in me for the second time now. From accent to body language. From talking with the eyes to the acting. I can actually watch Jim and Singh together for a whole film and still not have enough of their chemistry.

Coming back. This movie is Khilji's. It is Ranveer Singh's. I wonder why the movie wasn't named Khilji. It would've spared the film all the cuts, controversies, VFX's and re-shoots. A tad too long on the viewing side because the film didn't have much material to show barring the main story, Khilji had a much more screen time than Padmavati herself. Shahid, I am a bit disappointed with. So I am with Deepika. Aditi Rao Hydari, not surprisingly, did extremely well in the time she had.

I can name scenes after scenes where Khilji owned. But that would give in a lot about the movie. There were rumours (or was it true?) about Singh having to visit a psychiatrist to make him come out of character. After watching the film, I would love to believe it was the truth. No one, in their sane self, can act so brutally realistic as this man. There were rumours that Singh saw Khilji's ghost on set. I would love to believe, Khilji's ghost possessed Singh. Or else, it wouldn't have been possible. Khilji's eyes would haunt me. Or, being the sadist I am, comfort me.

The scars, the hair flip, the beard, the hunger, the rawness, the meatiness (you would know what I mean once you watch the movie) are oh so seductive. Yes, I'm crushing on a villian. No, he wasn't a villian. Yes, he would always remain Sultan-e-Hind. No, he isn't a hero. He is so much. He is so much more. Singh brings the character so much life.

"Ek Jung Husn Ke Naam..."

So be it. At the end of the movie if you see his eyes, reflecting on which is the fire of the Jauhar committed by Padmavati, you would easily feel his reaction... All this, for nothing? But then life goes on. According to historical facts, Khilji wasn't so barbarian as portrayed. According to historical facts, Khilji went to depression while the cries of the women commiting Jauhar in front of his eyes haunted him. But he lived. And that's all that matters.

Khilji would be one of those characters portrayed by Ranveer that would remain with me (along with Malik Kafur by Jim Saarbh) while I might just forget the movie completely.

Ranveer baba, I can write so much about you in this but I would end... End with the lines...

"Aatish kada adaaon se, Jal uthega aap ke, Deeda ae tarr ka hijaab..."