Arzee The Dwarf

arzee_the_dwarfArzee The Dwarf

by Chandrahas Choudhury | 184 Pages | Genre: Fiction| Publisher: HarperCollins India| Year: 2009 | My Rating: 8/10

“I am myself in my thoughts too much,
I seek recourse to myself too soon,
My days don’t stand up without a crutch,
I sing my own song out of tune.
I stand before the mirror too long,
Stare big at the eyes that return my gaze,
My shadow seems to me more strong
Than my shrunken heart, that lonely place.
My worries hang about me like clouds,
And my creditors they come calling,
My being is riven by spooks and doubts,
The walls of my house are falling.
In mine own alleys I traipse and turn,
Dreamlike I float through nights and days,
I watch the hours slowly burn,
And do not leave on time my trace.
I myself speak and myself hear,
And myself act and myself see,
My own self extends far and near,
And so I cannot myself be.”

– Chandrahas Choudhury, Arzee The Dwarf

In his debut novel, Chandrahas Choudhury has skillfully captured the nuances of intimate life and dreams of Arzee, who’s a midget, working at an old cinema hall in Mumbai as a deputy projectionist. Even though all the thirteen chapters revolve around him and he’s the protagonist of this novel, Choudhury has not projected him as a larger-than-life hero, which makes his world as interesting as that of a common man, yet one cannot stop feeling sympathy for that man whose all troubles stem from him being a midget or a dwarf. So much so that the characters around him forget his last name Gandhi, and instead address him as ‘Arzee the dwarf’. The beauty of this books lies in its prolific prose and colloquial dialogues portraying time and space, old world charm portrayed through the dying Noor cinema and modern day problems of love, money, and self-image, the memorable characters that even ‘The Babur’ the projection machine, which is Indian mutation of its German name Bauer seems to breath life. The novel ends without a definite ending as if Choudhury was overcautious to continue, leaving the readers to decipher it themselves about the new turns Arzee’s life is to take.

This novel full of pathos and pragmatism is my Read of the Week.

The Photographer

9781596433755The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders

by Emmanuel Guibert, Frederic Lemercier and Didier Lefevre
267 Pages | Genre: Graphic Novel | Publisher: First Second | Year: 2009 | Rating: 8.5/10

In 1986, French photojournalist Didier Lefèvre documented the efforts of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Afghanistan, which was torn apart by a war with USSR. This graphic novel is a record of his arduous journey along with the Doctors across Afghanistan and presents a powerful story of a mission dedicated to mending the wounds of war. I like the presentation style of using real B/W photographs and comic book illustrations & dialogues by Emmanuel Guibert based on the notes taken during the journey.

This incredibly brilliant graphic novel is my “Read of the Week”.

The Ninth Gate

ninthGenre: Thriller/Occult| Year: 1999 | Duration: 133 mins | Director: Roman Polanski| Medium: VCD (Eagle Home Video) | Trailer: HERE | My rating:4*/5*

 Fav Dialogue: “Liana : Don’t fuck with me!
Corso: I thought I already did.”

Perennial provocateur Roman Polanski directed this occult movie based on a part of the book El Club Dumas, and in the process made a very clever story. I loved the part of all the books and book fanatics in this film. The film is about this demonical book, The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows, chased by Dean Corso(Johnny Depp), an unscruplous & infamous dealer of rare books, to find the authenticity of the book owned by his client Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) and compare it with two other copies that exists with two other book fanatcis & collectors. The book seems to have been written in collaboration of the Devil himself with instructions on how to invoke satan and enter his realm.

Most of the characters in the film seems to be seduced by the evil, are on an unending search for the devil (which never appears throughout the movie, which is good direction and story telling). Balkan’s quest ended in death for him and Corso crossing the ninth gate, having witnessed the entire process during his detective work for the book, and helped by the succubus girl (Emmanuel Seigner) against all perils (and remains a mystery till the end in the movie). The movie is full of riddles being unfolded, and the last riddle is for the viewers to solve concerning the ninth ritual, which was forged in the book. The succubus girl have sex with Corso amidst the backdrop of flames, thus completing the ninth ritual, and corso returning to the castle to cross over.

Being a bibliophile, I truly enjoyed The Ninth Gate as my ‘Movie of the Day’.

The Sense of an Ending

b3“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but – mainly – to ourselves.”
― Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

This 2011 Booker Prize winning, witty, cynical and ironic novel is my “Read of theWeek”

The Cat’s Table

Cat's TableWe all have an old knot in the heart we wish to untie.”
― Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table


This bittersweet story of memory & place, of three boys who take a journey by sea from one world to another, which florishes in the gaps between fact and fiction is my “Read of the Week”

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