My Most Anticipated “Book-Movies” of 2014

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2013 was a good year for movie adaptation of books. We had The Wolf of Wall Street, The Great Gatsby, Hunger Games – Catching Fire, The Hobbit – Desolation of Smaug, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (although it is not a book adaptation, it is a based on a short story, I am taking the liberty of adding it here). There were some disappointments too – most notable being Ender’s Game (what a great book and what a mediocre movie).

The trend continues in 2014, we have some really good literary adaptations in the pipeline.

Here is my list of the most anticipated “book-movies” in 2014:

  • Gone Girl (based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn): With a wonderful cast (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) and a superbly talented director who knows how to handle literary adaptations (David FincherFight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network), Gone Girl is one of the most awaited movies of 2014. The beauty of the book was the unexpected twists and turns. Now, that we know the story and the ending, it would be interesting to see how David creates an interesting thriller in the face of “i-know-what-happens-next audiences”. There are talks about substantial changes to the story and even a new/alternate ending. Fingers crossed for this one.

Gone Girl

[My review of Gone Girl]

  • A long way down (based on the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby): A brilliant dark comedy about four strangers who bump into each other at the rooftop of a building on a new year’s eve, each one being there with an intention to commit suicide. This book has some really interesting characters, and I am looking forward to seeing Pierce Brosnan play Martin and Aaron Paul play JJ.
  • The Imitation Game (Based on “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges): It is based on the life of one of the most respected mathematicians of all time and the title role is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Any more reasons needed?

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing

  • The Maze Runner (based on the YA dystopian novel of same name by James Dashner). The book was good, the trailer looks good. Could this be the next Hunger Games?
  • Dark places (based on novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn). Dark Places is probably the darkest of Flynn’s works, which given her body of work, means that it is really dark and gruesome and extremely disturbing. It would be interesting to see the story and characters coming alive on-screen, especially Libby Day being portrayed by Charlize Theron.

And finally, this list cannot be completed without the mention of The Hobbit – There and Back Again (last installment of the Hobbit series by Peter Jackson, based on The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien) and Hunger Games – Mockingjay – Part 1 (the next installment of the The Hunger Games series, based on the novel Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins).

Which “Book-movie” are you looking forward to in 2014?

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2013 – My Year in Books

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I was a voracious reader during my college days at IIT Guwahati. Those were the days when I had ample free time, access to a superb library, and a set of awesome friends who shared my passion for books. After leaving college, due to multiple priorities and other pressures, the amount of time I was able to spend reading books gradually declined. Until this year.

2013 was the year when I rediscovered and reclaimed the book addict in me. In terms of the number and quality of books I was able to read, this year was as good as any of my golden college years. Through my blog and twitter I discovered a new set of friends sharing the same passion and zeal about reading as me, making my reading experience much more enjoyable and satisfying.

Ignoring Kindle Singles and short story collections, I read around 24 awesome books this year.

Some books I read in 2013

PicMonkey Collage

 Some thoughts, facts and trivia about the books I read on 2013:

  • Best Book I read in 2013 (it was very difficult to decide) – ‘The Lowland’ by Jhumpa Lahiri (see my review here). ‘River of Smoke’ by Amitav Ghosh would be a close second (see my review here)
  • Most Innovative book – ‘How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia’ by Mohsin Hamid (see my review here) – I have never read a second person narrative fiction before!
  • Best opening line – “History is the third parent” from ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’ by Nadeem Aslam
  • Crib of the year: Out of the six books shortlisted for the Manbooker prize, I had read five. The one I did not read, actually won the prize.
  • One that was tooooooooo long – ‘NOS4A2’ by Joe Hill (700 + pages – at one point of time, I was literally praying for it to get over)
  • Deeply Philosophical – ‘Narcopolis’ by Jeet Thayil (see my review here)
  • Most anticipated yet really disappointing – ‘Doomed’ by Chuck Palahniuk – This, I think, is the worst Chuck book ever.
  • Made me laugh out loud – ‘The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared’ by Jonas Jonasson (see my review here) and ‘The Competent Authority’ by Shovon Chowdhury
  • Ending totally surprised me – ‘Devotion of Suspect X’ by Keigo Higashino
  • Out of the 24, if I have to select one to be made into a movie – it will be the ‘Devotion of Suspect X’ by Keigo Higashino
  • Most uplifting book (it’s actually a Kindle single) – ‘In the Tunnel’ by Takamichi Okubu (see my review here)
  • “Blast from the past” read of the year – Idle, alone, and completely bored on a weekend, I fished out one of my old favorites and an all time classic – “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by Salman Rushdie. This book is such a delight.
  • Brilliant unreliable narrator book – ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch
  • Notable Misses: There were two brilliant books which came this year, and in-spite of being on top of my “to-read” list, due to one reason or the other, I was not able to lay my hands on them. These are the “Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson and this year’s Manbooker winner – ‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton 

How was your ‘2013 in books’. Do share through comments.

Is Bollywood Finally Waking up to Indian Literature?

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Some of my best and most memorable cinematic experiences in life involve movies based on novels/books. Be it the Lord of the Rings series, the Harry Potter series, Life of Pi, Pursuit of Happyness, Hunger Games, A beautiful Mind, and above all The Godfather – the list of such awesome movies is endless. There are few things in life which can match the joy one gets by seeing one’s favorite novel adapted into a good movie.  It is always exciting to compare the way you visually imagined the book with the way the director of the movie has done, put faces to the characters, see which portions of the book were dropped and what new elements (sub-plots, characters) were added. Watching Ang Lee’s Life of Pi was one of the happiest things I did last year.

The Movie and the Book

The Movie and the Book

Unfortunately  Bollywood, the Hindi film industry, has shown great reluctance in adapting literature, especially Indian literature. This has always surprised me, given the richness of India literature. There are so many great Indian novels which can be made into awesome movies. However, I can count good Hindi movies based on Indian novels on my fingers tips. Notable few are: Dev Anand’s Guide based on the novel of the same name by R. K. Narayan; Dev Benegal’s English August based on the novel English August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee; Devdas, Parinita, Swami and Choti Bahu based on various novels by Sarat Chandra ChattopadhyayShatranj ke khiladai based on a novel of the same name by Munshi Premchandra; and Train to Pakistan based on the novel by Khuswant Singh. (As per Wikipedia there are seventy such movies, including regional language movies – see complete list here)

Well, seems that the trend is changing. These days there is a lot of buzz in Bollywood around adapting Indian fiction to movies. We have Karan Johar planning to make a movie (probably a series) on Amish’s Shiva Trilogy. Another upcoming movie: “Banaras 1918 A love story” is based on Munshi Premchand’s “Baazar-e-Husn/Seva Sadan”. BA Pass (see trailer here) is based on the short story The Railway Aunty by Mohan Sikka (part of the Delhi Noir collection). A couple of Chetan Bhagat’s books have been/are being made into movies (Kai Po Che, Chennai Express, Hello). There were strong talk about Anurag Kashyap making a movie based on the “Doga” the title character from the Doga series of comics by Raj Comics.

The result may be good, bad or even ugly, but it’s really heartening to see that Bollywood is finally waking up to Indian Literature and hopefully in the coming years, we will see many more of our favorite Indian novels on-screen. Looking forward.

Book Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

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100 year old man Cover 1Allan interrupted the two brothers by saying that he had been out and about in the world and if there was one thing he had learned it was that the very biggest and apparently most impossible conflicts on earth were based on the dialogue: “You are stupid, no, it’s you who are stupid, no, it’s you who are stupid.” – Excerpt from The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared is an unusual, and quirky book. The main character, Allan, an explosion expert, has had an eventful life, paying an important role in some of the key events of the 20th century. Just before his 100th birthday celebration, out of boredom, he escapes from the old age home, unintentionally gets possession of big suitcase full of cash, and has both police and a bunch of gangsters after him. With no particular destination in mind, Allan wanders aimlessly, meets some crazy people during the journey, and has a hell of an adventure.    

This is a well written book with a very interesting story, although it’s not very believable. There are two separate tracks in the book – one narrating Allan’s current adventure while on run with the suitcase, the other about his younger days as an explosion expert with neutral political views caught in a world where capitalism and communism is at logger heads. Allan finds himself in the company of some of the most powerful political leaders (Stalin, Truman, Churchill, Mao) and has unknowingly been an important instrument in shaping the world as we see it today.

With Allan, Jonas may have created the coolest 100-year-old character of all times!! Even the other characters are awesomely idiosyncratic and funny.

The unique Scandinavian humor, characterized by its understatement and satire, is the highlight of this book. There were several line in the book that made me laugh out loud multiple times (to the amusement of people who happened to be in the vicinity).

This is my second Scandinavian book (The Dinner by Herman Koch being the first, see my review here) and I am totally floored by this type of humor.

It would have been an even better read, if it was a couple of pages less lengthy. Otherwise, it is a very enjoyable book.

PS: A film deal has been signed and we may see a movie version as early as the end of this year. Looking forward.

Book Review: Gone Girl

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing.” – Excerpt from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Breathtakingly Fresh & Totally Awesome!! These four words sum up my views on this book!

Gone Girl is the story of Amy and Nick Dunne, a married couple of five years. Both of them, after having lost their jobs in New York, had to move back to Nick’s home town to take care of Nick’s sick parents. Amy mysteriously disappears on their fifth anniversary and Nick seems the prime suspect. However, as the plot unfolds, new secrets about the victim and the supposed perpetrator are revealed, literally turning the plot upside down.

Full of twists and turns and a couple of “Shawshank Redemption Moments”, I was not able to put it down once I started. Told from point of views of both Nick and Amy, and following a non-linear narrative, it is a very intelligently structured fiction. A well written book with really interesting characters – especially Amy’s (In her own words, Gillian specializes in difficult characters – damaged, disturbed, or downright nasty and Amy is a perfect example)

On the face of it, Gone Girl is a whodunit thriller set against the backdrop of a broken marriage. Peel off this layer and you will find that this is truly a story about relationships – a noir love story between a narcissist husband and a physco wife.

The novel is being adapted to a movie by 20th century fox. Eagerly looking forward.

PS: The book has some dark moments and a good amount of foul language.

Breathtaking Trailer: Life of Pi

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Life of Pi is one of the novels which I always considered “un-film-able”. I mean most of it is just a boy and a tiger in a boat with limitless sea all around. As gripping and exciting the story is (I am currently reading it for the second time and enjoying every moment of it), I was never able to imagine a movie out of it.

Over the past couple of years, there were lot of rumors around a film based on this novel, various directors (M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet) came on board and then dropped off. Each failed attempt strengthened my belief that Life of Pi is one of those great novels which will never be recreated on-screen. Yet some part of me always yearned for a movie adaptation.

When I saw this awesome trailer of the adaptation by Ang Lee, and I was overwhelmed. Slightly over two minutes, there isn’t a single dialog in the trailer, yet it conveys so much.

I think it takes a rare artistic arrogance to take up such a job. But then, this is how masterpieces are created.

This is one of my most awaited movies for 2012.

Life of Pi is a Man Booker price winning, international best-selling novel written by Yann Martel. The movie is directed by Ang Lee and releases on November 21, 2012.

Dune: Right Time to Remake the Movie

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Dune by Frank HerbertJust finished reading Dune. What an amazing book! Now I understand why it is called as “one of the greatest sc-fi novels of all times”  and an “Unparalleled Achievement of Imagination“. It was a start to end read, consuming the whole of my weekend.

The book got me interested in the movie adaptation. Upon searching, I came across David Lynch’s 1984 movie Dune. Opinions are divided about this movie. It is definitely not Lynch’s best work, with most loyal Dune fans having a negative opinion about it.  Even Lynch has sort of disowned the movie, and does not talk about it in interviews etc. It did not perform well commercially either.

I have seen portions of it on youtube and I must say that I was not impressed. Some very powerful portions of the novel are presented in quite unimpressive manner. For example, see this scene where Paul rides the sand worm for the first time. Such a waste of  a wonderful cinematic opportunity.

Also, probably the technology required to present the grand canvas of the movie was not available at that time.

In short, this one is not a worthy cinematic cousin of this great Keep Reading…