Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

The events of the World Wars staging in the planet earth not only brought the highest recorded casualties of the 20th century but brought many historical consequences and incredible stories. People in my community often take Hitler‘s genocide of killing 6 million European Jews as an act of achievement or blessing because they theorize the opinion that it is the Jews being blood-thirsty of the Muslims in Palestine for decades. Hardly they are familiar with Zionism movement and do not recognize the difference between a Jewish religion and a Zionism movement.

The complexity of the subject lies in the tragic state where the Jews were the prime target in The Holocaust. In my life, I personally came to realize that Jews have been war or political victims ever in the timeline when I happened to watch Roman Polanski‘s The Pianist back in 2003. I was familiar with the face of the young Anne Frank as I happen to see in some tribute videos played on the TV a few years ago and I calculated the prominence of her picture in the history section that there is something very memorable about this girl.  Later on, through various sources on the internet, I learned her personal and posthumous achievement as a teenage diarist revealing some very critical details of the existing chaos in Nazi Germany and the Netherlands, and her very tragic conclusion of giving up life in one of the concentration camps in Germany at a minor age of 15.

Anne Frank rose to posthumous fame globally when her diary was published with the sharp details of her personal life and the war disturbances during her two-year hiding with her family. It is not just an impression of reading a girl’s diary speaking of the world war but it is a deep psychology of understanding one of the 6 million casualties that how a normal person of any age shapes in the historic or political chaos. How a girl of 13 with all the luxury of a domestic and school life lives an unfortunate life in the two-year hiding with her family?

Everyone in the Europe was affected by the world war and Anne Frank is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of that time. As a reader, when you read the first dozens of the letter, you become a child like her. With her writing and your reading, you begin to create and develop an understanding with her, her ideology, her opinion, her social behavior and attitude towards her parents, her sister, her friends (among which couple of them became more than a friend for a short period), and other people with whom she was hiding in the concealed rooms. Diary was Anne’s best and most loyalist friend but the reading mentally convinces if you are the diary’s replacement and the deceased is talking, admitting and confessing to you.

Anne wasn’t a childish immature diarist as I was expecting. To my surprise, she was a mature girl who had a treasure of words to describe in details her physical and emotional developments. She was impressive in giving detail about the structure of the house where the whole family was hiding which is known as Secret Annex (Achterhuis in Dutch). She has spoken about her relation with Peter in much of the detail that draws your attention. Peter was a 16-year-old son of the van Pels family, the family who joined the Franks in the hiding. Besides, she expresses her love towards history and literature and set her ambition to become a journalist when the war is finished.

To my reading experience, the dozens of books which I have read so far, this is the book which gives me more pain and grief. I have to admit that when I was reading this book, I was traveling the time and wanting that bad to save the entire family from the evils of invasion. It breaks my heart to understand how much people have to suffer from the decisions made by the people in power. I began thinking while reading her letters about my honest opinion that the whole world, its existence, the life, the timeline and every creature arriving at the surface is all scripted by the God. He is the author, a writer to the fate of the earth and its inhabitants. Anne was bestowed with the diary, a present she got on her 13th birthday by her father. A month later, the hiding began and the diary gifted a month ago became Anne’s keeper of the secrets. The next two years, she began writing in rich details a lot of things until she is arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the concentration camp. It was Miep Gies who hid the Franks and van Pels in the Secret Annex. Months after Anne’s tragic death, Miep found the papers and the diaries on the floor of the concealed room. She didn’t read but forwarded to Anne’s father Otto Frank after the war, when her death was confirmed in the Autumn of 1945. If there was no war, there would have been no hiding and this book would never be written nor reach to us. It is all scripted, Anne wasn’t brought in this world to live a normal life. She was born in the most disturbed timeline at the unfortunate place to write the diary and do us a favor to read her. It is all scripted. 

Miep Gies died a few years ago at the age of 100. One of Anne’s friends, Hanneli Goslar, is still alive at 88 who now lives in Jerusalem with her family. Goslar has appeared in several Anne Frank documentaries. Had Anne not died in the camp, she might have fulfilled her ambition to become a journalist and would have been 88 to date. Anne and her sister Margot were buried in an unknown mass grave but the reading of her memoir is buried in our hearts and we have sympathies and respect for the poor little girl. 

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Although I am not a keen viewer nor do I prefer watching films of the science-fiction genre despite the fact that The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Game of Thrones top the list of my favourite film franchises and TV shows. One day, my brother suggested watching a film of the same genre and that was The Maze Runner which I never heard before. My only piece of knowledge about the film was that Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones, was the part of this film. That wasn’t enough but somehow I made my mind to watch even without any of its stills or a trailer.

It took some time to understand the happenings inside a dystopian state where all young kids are stuck at some place in The Maze called The Glade. The Glade has four large walls and each wall has The Door which opens every morning and closes every evening before the dark. To reveal the mystery and dig the existence of the outside world from those Doors, few of the captives run and return before evening to collect the info. The runners then reveal that there are many creatures towards the path which has appendages such as spikes and shears. Those creatures are called The Grievers.

The last two individuals who arrive at this sorry place are the main characters of the film, Thomas, and Teresa. Together they dig the mystery how they ended here and what is the reason behind dropping at this place. Later on, they discover the purpose that all the individuals in The Maze are kept on trials to survive this place.

The fittest will survive and return back to The Creators who sent them on trials in The Maze. The Creators are a group of agents of the organisation called WICKED (World In Catastrophe Killzone Experiment Department). This organisation was formed to find the cure for The Flare, a virus that eats away the brain of the human and turns them into cannibals. The humans who suffer this disease are called The Cranks.

As a viewer, I found the plot of the film very interesting enough to make my mind to read the book with the same title. And when I read, I found a lot of changes but those changes were made in the film for dramatic impact which often happens with almost every book-inspired film.

The book, written by James Dashner, obviously is more open to defining the major characters and the places mentioned. What is more of an interest is how the pages are making Thomas build for a certain cause. How he is grabbing the attention of everyone in the book is very natural. Teresa has a more onscreen appearance in the film as compared to the book as she is in a coma for more than half of the reading since her arrival in The Maze. Also, both Thomas and Teresa are telepathic in the book. Why not in the film? Well, I believe it does make sense.

The best thing about reading a novel is that the reader visits the universe of the author whose subconscious mind creates a powerful fictional story. When I was reading, I felt the existence of Thomas passing through The Doors of The Walls and facing The Grievers and that is the beauty of writing a novel that sends the reader to the universe of those pages.

One factor what I certainly liked about James’ creativity of the plot was the brain behind the construction of the maze and the purpose of sending humans. That is very very human and close to reality. James re-wrote the concept of evolution and theory of survival under his creativity. We all humans are sent to earth for some reason. Our brain doesn’t develop in the earlier phase but with time, it grows and we even memorise some portions of our earliest of living phase. And we have to survive. God send us humans on trials, we are put to test. God is The Creator, I am Thomas, the rest are fellow Gladers, my partner in crime is Teresa, my obstacles are The Grievers, and Satan is The Flare. Marvellous job James!

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 “I have consciously never oversold or overexposed myself to the audience. When I look back I feel it was quite risky to be starring in one film when other actors were busy with two or three films on the floors simultaneously. I determinedly decided to work in only one film at a time. It was simply my confidence in the subjects I chose and the hard work I was ready to put into them.”


I have always suspected and reckoned that the first half of the twentieth century has fetched more gripping and compulsive stories than the second half due to the time being disturbing and chaos in its nature. Many wars were fought and casualties were witnessed and suffered. The outcome was painful for ages. The pride of Hindustan collapsed with the partition and communal riots in the result with many tragic stories to bargain some piece of time in the future. One of the same stories met golden fortune of the Hindi film industry which was still in the development process from leapfrog. In this millennium, we are extremely fortunate and blessed that the story has finally been inked from his own hands and met a huge success after its publication.

Dilip Kumar sahab is the epitome and the real shamma-e-Bollywood. His presence is the magnitude and the real red carpet, whose footsteps to the industry brought a new attention in the golden era and produced many memorable films. In my reading experience, it is convincingly confessable that before browsing this book, I knew the legend merely by 20% through his films; but after reading his twenty-five chapters, I must declare that I know the man by 75% and with the reading section of ‘Reminiscence’ where forty-three individuals have paid respect and shared incidents attached to him, I have to avow that the percentage of knowledge I have gained has stretched to 80%. The rest stays with his personal life with his best half, Saira Banu.

Being the greatest actor of India for all ages and generations, it was highly in demand and everyone’s desire to know him in his own speech. Although it took an age to decide him to speak up, the blessed part is that the biggest promise in reading the book actually fruit our patience.

The book is easily parted into three sections. The first section is being the formality of book introduction and forward. Saira Banu, Dilip sahab‘s superlative blessing has done the honors of introduction by touching some memorable moments of her life with him and confessed that she should write a book about her life with him. Film journalist Udaya Tara Nayar has forwarded the book. She has the credit to compile and shape the book and narrate his autobiography. Ms. Nayar has explained in her pages how Dilip sahab finally made his mind write this book.

The second section is the reader’s borrowed time to enrich his understanding with the chronicles and memoirs of the legend consisting of 25 chapters. The third and last section is the tribute to Dilip sahab inked by many personalities which stretch to more than a hundred pages.

The first four chapters cover his childhood. His first years of life in the area of Qissa Khawani Bazaar, the Piccadilly of Central Asia located in Peshawar, the-then part of British India and current city of Pakistan. We must praise the author that such an individual has the sharpest memory at such an old age to describe us the toughest circumstances when he came out from the mother’s womb. Whatever the details his family explained is still stored with him and is now read to us.

The childhood chapters discuss his family specifically his dadi and his parents to whom he call amma and aghaji. By the fourth chapter, he mentions aghaji‘s Hindu friends in the same area; one of them was Basheswarnathji who used to bring his handsome son at their home stunning the ladies whose name was Prithviraj. Yes, Prithviraj! Father of Raj Kapoor and from here begins a childhood friendship between the upcoming iconic superstars of the golden era. Also in this chapter, Dilip sahab moves with his siblings and amma to reunite with father in Bombay where aghaji meets business opportunities in fruit-selling.

When we learn his teens, we go aggressive like him. We read his lovely bonding with his brothers, his affection and keenness with the English literature, his school and college life especially the latter life inking more pages on his restoring of friendship with Raj Kapoor as both studied in the same college. We experience his struggles and his attempt of settling alone in Poona (Pune) while running away from home after a mild disagreement with his father. His days in Poona are an interesting read with many troubling and funny incidents there.


“I had never ever seen a film studio in my life, not even in photographs. I had heard of Bombay Talkies from Raj Kapoor who spoke about it as the studio where films starring his father Prithvirajji were shot.”


The making of legacy begins in the eighth chapter when the first lady of the Indian cinema, Devika Rani, a Bombay Talkies panjandrum, proffers him to join Bombay Talkies in their first meeting and learn acting under the guidance of the company. As we have read enough of Dilip sahab till his twenties till this moment, we emotionally begin sensing a change in fate, a blow of breeze in the alfresco. Here comes the learning process in Dilip sahab‘s acting life as the amateur encounters many significant and notable film personalities.

Those filmgoers who have watched his earliest works of the 40s will observe that he was pretty a bungle ‘layman’ in acting profession in films like Jwar Bhata and Jugnu but his skills developed rapidly from Shaheed, Mela, and Andaz. The same exercise is developed in these initial pages of the career beginning chapters from a keen learner who realized his fate was written to become a film star and aid his ever-growing family financially and raise his siblings with proper life standard and reputed education after the parents’ demise.

No great celebrity in any part of the world can cross the phases of life without tragic moments. From the eleventh chapter, we read and grow commiserations for him as he begins meeting tragedies in life. Some forlorn moments, inefficacious love affairs and devastating episodes of quietus led by playing repeated sorrowful and gloomy characters produce upsets, sickness, and exhaustion in mental state enough to consult a psychiatrist in London who suggests bringing a change in the mood of character roles he plays in his career. During all this phase, there is a separate chapter on the beautiful but complicated Madhubala for obvious reasons. In this book, Dilip sahab responds the questions revolving around decades about the involvement of Madhubala in his personal/professional life.

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“I…became aware that an actor needed to strengthen his instincts because the duality between the real and unreal cannot be sorted out by the mind, which is more concerned with truth and logic in any normal situation. The mind will always tell you this is nonsense… It is only instinct that will help you to absorb what you have to absorb from the script and drive you to render a performance coated with realism and conviction despite the knowledge of it all being fiction and drama.”


 

Also, he has detailed in pages about his working relation and camaraderie with few prominent celebrities like Vyjayanthimala, Sashadhar Mukherjee, Ashok Kumar, Bimal Roy and many more. His acting pages will also annex to our knowledge the offered films he refused for some reasons but to my huge surprise, in fact, a shock, he didn’t shed light on David Lean‘s offer for the role in Lawrence of Arabia which went to Omar Sharif later. Remind me if I happen to miss but there is no precise detail of the famous offer-refusing moment. Hilariously, Dilip sahab has mentioned Lean’s Doctor Zhivago as the story inspiring his writing Kashmir Valley on his wife, a project he wanted to produce after Bairaag. Indeed it is the biggest omission in the book.

It is more than half of the book-reading when his best half, his dream girl Saira Banu shows up; a girl who madly fell in love with him when she was only twelve. From the seventeenth chapter, the reader’s most romantic portion comes to existence after all the troubles and struggles, and there is a sweet fascination of reading this golden love affair. The whole nineteenth chapter covers their high-profile wedding and the coming chapters tell you more about their marital life and the films they co-starred together.


“I do not know if it is in my genes or if it is something I have assimilated from the environment I was brought up in. It gives me great contentment and joy to espouse a good cause.”


In the last reading phase, I lose an edge when the timeline crosses like a rocket. Dilip sahab travels from birth till finishing Bairaag in 1976 after reading 238 pages and 22 chapters; but in final three chapters and 45 pages, Dilip sahab travel 38 years and reach 2014!! The biggest ‘?’ is why not fetch more details between 1976 and 2014. In the final three chapters, he did speak about his role as Sheriff of Bombay and lawsuit slapped by A.R.Kardar, he did speak about his comeback in the 80s and working in major films like Shakti, Vidhaata, Mashaal and later on Saudagar but my argument is that heavy detailing was badly missed just like he wrote few of the chronicles in first 22 chapters at length. In fact, he spoke more about Raaj Kumar than Saudagar.

Same case with his two tours of Pakistan (1988 & 1998); on both occasions, he didn’t go for lengthy details. Both tours were emotionally monumental, the first was his grand return to Peshawar after his childhood days; and the second time he visited, he was awarded Nishan-e-Imtiaz.

Due to short details in final three chapters, he didn’t speak about his friendship with filmmaker and mobster Haji Mastan. More than this, the major surprise was not mentioning about Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. Although he has mentioned most of his films he has worked in but wrote not a single word of his final film Qila. Perhaps he realized it was a regret to retire after finishing Qila rather than Saudagar. But remarkably he did speak about his biggest regret of getting involved in the lady from Hyderabad, Asma Rehman.

The newest incident from the book was Lataji‘s visit to Dilip sahab few months before the book released in the mid of 2014 which indicates that he was active in completing the memoir in his nineties. The Substance and The Shadow easily is one of the most important books in Bollywood’s richest library and showcase. Someday in late future, I may read the book again with the same enthusiasm as I discovered a lot of treasure from his box. Many great legends and prominent celebrities of his time have left the world but he is still there and we hope he stays further long and may we witness him completing his century.

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Chapters:

Childhood (Ch#1 – Ch#4)

Younghood till Devika Rani’s Offer (Ch#5 – Ch#8)

Film Career till Marriage (Ch#9 – Ch#19)

Post Marriage Career till Present (Ch#20 – End)

 

About Personalities:

Ch#05 – Raj Kapoor

Ch#08 – Devika Rani

Ch#09 – Ashok Kumar, Sashadhar Mukherjee

Ch#10 – Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor

Ch#11 – Kamini Kaushal, Naushad, Mehboob Khan, Nitin Bose

Ch#12 – Madhubala, S. M. Sriramulu Naidu

Ch#13 – Madhubala

Ch#14 – Bimal Roy, Vyjayanthimala, S. S. Vasan, B.R.Chopra, Yash Chopra

Ch#17 – Saira Banu (till the end)

Ch#20 – Pran, Mukri, S.U. Sunny

Ch#24 – Subhash Ghai

Ch#25 – Lata Mangeshkar, Yash Chopra

(There are few personalities I have missed adding here who are mentioned in the book.)

 

About Films:

Ch#09 – Jwar Bhata

Ch#11 – Shaheed, Milan

Ch#12 – Azaad

Ch#14 – Devdas, Madhumati, Gunga Jumna, Paigham

Ch#16 – Gunga Jumna

Ch#22 – Gopi, Sagina

Ch#24 – Kranti, Shakti, Saudagar

Ch#25 – Mashaal

(There are few films I have missed adding here which are mentioned in the book.)

 

Important Deaths:

Ch#11 – Ayub (brother) & Amma (mother)

Ch#15 – Aghaji (father)

Ch#25 – Nasir (brother)

 

Best Reminiscences:

(I have picked 23 best tributes out of 43 chosen individuals.)

Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Moin Beg, Yash Chopra, Farida Dadi, Dharmendra, Sitara Devi, Subhash Ghai, Rishi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Salim Khan, Manoj Kumar, Mumtaz, Lata Mangeshkar, Nanda, Nimmi, Waheeda Rehman, Harish Salve, Salim Sharifee, Ramesh Sippy, Sharmila Tagore, and Vyjayanthimala.

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“Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them.”


A riveting manuscript blended with the toppling of articulation. An essence of dissemination with a gifted cerebrum which educates the readers the life of an artist who never inclined nor compromised. The quote above is from the thirtieth chapter which confirms the resistance and determination. An institution, an influence; whose artistic brilliance and extracting expressions from the silence won hearts and made him the most beloved entertainer of the 20th century. He was Charlie Chaplin a.k.a. The Tramp.

A verbal but soft revolt over the hatred or a memoir wonderfully constructed like an architect coalescing the whole tabulation with a strong grip. A case study which examines a life structure built from a struggling poverty towards solving the enigma of solemnity. A gracious gentleman with a beautiful heart, a blessing smile which can melt a tart.

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He was respiring in his seventies when the pages of this incredulous book were inked. I am not surprised that the gentleman who wrote his own scripts, directed his own films, would go on write an autobiography; but what astonishes me is the chosen vocabulary. The school of words used as the text defines his individuality and indicates how indulged and fascinated was he to treasure the richness of words and then use as a sword. It is not to my knowledge nor have I quested an answer to what length has the wordings of Mr. Chaplin been edited but the introductory words by his biographer David Robinson confirms that the writing is all done by the tramp himself. The artistry of a performer has his own percussion of conveying his message and reading his life in his own words helps you step into his world and understand him.

 

Being a stage/theater artist, the actor knows how to bring a ‘Vow!’ among the viewers. So as the author who happened to be an artist, he drops the revelation of mystery by beginning the book with precise date, time and place of birth this way;


“I was born on 16 April 1889, at eight o’clock at night, in East Lane, Walworth.”


This is exactly the confession and the first sentence of the book which gives the reader an impression that a grandpa in his rocking chair is about to excite you with the story existed from his universe.

The first 5 chapters are very private, firsthand and tragic which speaks of his grinding poverty and mother’s mental health. Chaplin talks about the couples who were parted and the family comprised of a mother with her two children, Charles and Sydney, depended on his weekly payments of 10 shillings a week. He talks about a failing stage performer whose vocal issues ended her career and her 5-year-old son took the stage in desperation to win the spectators, collected the coins and handed over to his ailing mother.

Chaplin recounts his struggles at such a tender age when his mother was shifted to the medical care for mental sickness. The wait for some good fate and fortunes making you anxious to turn over the pages.

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The quality of eagerly reading this book is that with every chapter, the reader grows his fictional age from childhood to young hood to manhood. When Charlie reaches the age of puberty, he becomes romantic so as the reader. Those readers who have watched his films would realize how romantic was Charlie and how cavernous would he go to convey his utter emotions in the silent films. Plus the account of his love affairs distinguishes in writing to grow the feeling of youngness and maturity. For example, his depiction of love for Hetty Kelly gives a warm look at his boyhood which makes your understanding of ‘love’ a bit emotional but when he speaks about his relation with Paulette and Oona, his third and fourth wife respectively, the reader grows adult like him.

At 19, Chaplin proposes 15-year-old Kelly on which she keeps silent. He determines not to meet her again but he couldn’t resist and feels regret. He meets her at her residence but he couldn’t say more than ‘Goodbye’ twice. His love for Hetty Kelly is what grieved and ached him all his life and at such an old age when he chooses to write this book, he drops a ship of theseus on the readers when he writes in chapter 6 about her;


“Although I had met her but five times, and scarcely any of our meetings lasted longer than twenty minutes, that brief encounter affected me for a long time.”


 

Moving from the affection of love affair, he builds his career in next chapters while landing in the United States; and in space of 10 years, he works for Fred Karno, Keystone Pictures, Essanay Studios and Mutual Films Corp. The amazement is reading an inspiring journey by highlighting his earnings. Fair enough to reveal that his earnings under contract with Karno which stood at 6 pounds/week turn into an extremely rich contract of $670K with Mutual Films Corp. payable at $10K/week. What an accomplishment in few years!

Also, the book has rich details of his life-long friendship with Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks from chapter.13 who later form a partnership business by the name United Artists. Under this banner being a co. owner, Chaplin makes most of his feature films and makes the company one of the leading production companies of that time in Hollywood.

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For the reader’s luxury, Chaplin has enriched and highlighted some very interesting episodes from his personal account and professional career. He records many elite names he met and befriended them. In different chapters, Chaplin has covered makings of his various feature films. For me, the most interesting read is about his film The Kid in which child actor Jackie Coogan co. starred. He pens interesting story how he discovered the child and how he approached Coogan’s father.

Monsieur Verdoux is the film which covers three chapters which is quite peculiar and outlandish for me because the film wasn’t received well. There is a whole chapter about the film when it encountered the clearance issue from the Office of Decency by copy pasting their whole letter and writing the whole part of the script which was objected. I find writing this all at length redundant and extraneous; this chapter could have been easily abridged.

The reason I am pondering it too lengthy a chapter is because a critically acclaimed film like Modern Times has surprisingly very short details as compared to the others. A film based on The Great Depression and rise of the machines was a hard hitting subject but to my discouragement, Chaplin wrote only a few pages.

Two films whose omission from the book hugely astound me are The Circus and A King In New York. The former, being one of my favorite Chaplin films, was a prominent film which depicted the rise and fall of a circus while the latter was produced after Chaplin was barred from the United States and he showed his anger and criticism over McCarthyism in the film.


“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl.”


 

Chapter.23 is among the gripping chapters of the book which details Chaplin’s tour of Japan and describes how fortunate was he to escape the assassination of the then Japanese PM, Inukai Tsuyoshi, which was committed by 11 young naval officers who revealed the plan that Chaplin’s murder would facilitate war against the US.

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Also has Chaplin filled few pages about meeting very notable, established and prominent personalities like Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, Mr. and Mrs. Einstein, business tycoon William Hearst, the then Premier of Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev and his Defense Minister Nikolai Bulganin, India’s preeminent leader Mahatma Gandhi and first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, first premier of People’s Republic of China Zhou Enlai and few more.

The most critical readings are the last six chapters when Charlie’s life meets severe turnaround when WWII begins. He has one whole chapter on his speeches for Russian War Relief. While Hoover and his FBI team begin scanning him after being accused of being the father of Joan Barry‘s child, his image meets a downfall. Also, the last phase of the book has heavy details on Chaplin’s final moments in the US and early days of settlement in Europe.

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So Charlie Chaplin has covered most of his life in 477 pages but somehow he still has missed leaking or providing few details. He speaks nothing about his second wife, Lita Grey nor does he mention his half-brother Wheeler Dryden. The readers will not find any details about his children especially Sydney and Geraldine. Nor is there any word about Arthur Jefferson, his understudy while working with Fred Karno. Arthur Jefferson is Stan Laurel most celebrated for his partnership with Oliver Hardy in a world famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

 

 

Another major surprise is that Chaplin mentions nothing about his frequent collaborators like Henry Bergman, Mark Swain, Eric Campbell, Albert Austin and Roland Totheroh who was Chaplin’s most regular cameraman for more than 30 films. Perhaps chapters may exceed more details in writing on these gentlemen or perhaps some other reasons. Chaplin talks about Limelight but didn’t speak about his novel Footlights which was unreleased for next six decades until it published in 2014. Footlights is considered a prequel and a fictional book which laid the foundation of producing this film.


“Loneliness is repellent. It has a subtle aura of sadness, an inadequacy to attract or interest; one feels slightly ashamed of it. But, to a more or less degree, it is the theme of everyone.”


Two things I would like to inform the readers about this book. The first point to remember is that Chaplin wrote this book in 1964, so obviously, the readers won’t have the luxury to read about his emotional return to the US eight years later when he received an honorary award for his contribution and outstanding achievements in the industry at the Oscars.

The second point is that the book should not be compared with Attenborough‘s film Chaplin produced in 1992 due to the fact that the details of the film are not precisely accurate as Chaplin has described in his literature.

But above all ‘My Autobiography‘ is a pure gift of The Tramp to his fans. Those readers who are curious to know how the silent cinema functioned in the beginning of the twentieth century should read this book and further realize how a pauper from England revolutionize the industry when the silent comedy was more focused on whacky vehicle races and pieing. His writing eloquence will melt you. A blatantly honest and easily one of the greatest autobiographies written and published.

Thank you, Charlie…

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Chaplin’s Wives:

Ch#16 – Mildred Harris (1st wife)

Ch#24 – Paulette Goddard (3rd wife)

Ch#27 – Oona O’Neil

 

Chaplin’s Love Affairs:

Ch#5 – Marie Doro

Ch#6 – Hetty Kelly

Ch#26 – Joan Barry

 

Chaplin’s association with the companies:

1899 – The Eight Lancashire Lads (Ch#3, Age.10)

1906 – Karno Company (Ch#6, Age.17)

1914 – Keystone Pictures (Ch#10)

1915 – Essanay Studios (Ch#11)

1916 – Mutual Film Corporation (Ch#11)

1918 – First National (Ch#14)

1919 – United Artists (Ch#15 – Co.owner with Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks)

 

Chaplin’s Earnings:

1906 – 6 Pounds/Week (Karno company)

1916 – $10K/Week (Mutual Film Corp)

 

Chaplin’s Films:

Ch#14 – A Dog’s Life, The Immigrant

Ch#15 – Shoulder Arms

Ch#16 – The Kid

Ch#19 – The Gold Rush

Ch#21 – City Lights

Ch#24 – Modern Times

Ch#25 – The Great Dictator

Ch#27 – Monsieur Verdoux

Ch#29 – Limelight

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“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The Alchemist is Paulo Coelho‘s most famous book which he wrote in mere two weeks and published in 1988. The book is among the list of one of the most read books in the history of literature with the name mentioned in the Guinness World Records for being the book translated in most languages. By 2015, the book has been translated in 80 languages and has sold more than 65 million copies.  

The book is about Santiago, the Andalusian shepherd, dreaming about finding the treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt. Santiago makes his mind for the quest of treasure. He meets numerous people during his spiritual journey who inspires/influences him and will give that same impression to the readers.

The book can easily be fragmented in 4 parts:

  • First phase is Santiago’s dream and contribution of gypsy woman and old king of Salem, Melchizedek towards the boy’s goal of treasure digging.
  • Second phase is his life in Tangiers where he is robbed and works for a crystal merchant.
  • Third phase is expedition at al-Fayoum Oasis where Santiago meets an Englishman who is in search of the Alchemist. This is where the boy falls in love with Fatima but she persuades him to find the treasure first.
  • Final phase is meeting his last inspiration, the 200-year-old Alchemist himself. He plays a very important role in the boy’s treasure hunting.

The Alchemist is a human torch in journey of hope with supernatural power towards WILL. Need a hand? Then hold this book and read. The book has one story but we all are connected somehow. A tremendous guide!!

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Why this book inspires you after reading? Because no matter what religion you follow, what faith you obey, what career you pursue, whoever or whatever you love… the flow of the story teaches you something at every turning page. The reader is at ease solving a riddle of his life.

The author digs more of the human psychology and spiritual philosophy of life than you may act/react at your side in your own world. At every point of twist, the author shatters the puzzles and fixing it for your most difficult questions to be answered.

Paulo repeats some specific words and during the storyline, the writer indirectly emphasizes the readers to work on it. Some of these are omens, personal legend, soul of the world and maktub etc. Maktub is an Arabic word which means ‘It Is Written’. The word is used by few of the characters repeating when the character is at the defining moment where they choose to say Maktub that whatever happening is written in your fate. The word is introduced by the crystal merchant.

Melchizedek talks about Personal Legend to Santiago, which he defines “it is always what you want to accomplish in life.” The word Omens has its own prominence like the previous mentioned words. Paulo has repeatedly motivated his main character Santiago to follow his Omens to find the treasure. In an interview, Paulo defined “Omens are the individual language in which God talks to you” which gives a more clear point to a common person. The word Omens is the highest level of motivation by which one can succeed. To my understanding, there is something in me and you that creates and builds your wants, and empowers you to reach your goal and make it possible. That something is your Omen, and God creates and builds your omens only if you want Him to assist you in achieving/accomplishing. That is how some specific Coelho words are worked on the human minds helping them to live and breathe a better life.

 

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Creativity is remarkable. Some names in the books are major references which the reader must understand. The name of old King is Melchizedek who actually is mentioned in the Book of Genesis 18-20. Melchizedek holds kingship of Salem which is a biblical name of Jerusalem mentioned in Psalm 76:2. The two stones, Urim and Thummim which he gives to Santiago are basically associated with the sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest of the Israelites. These stones are mentioned in the Book of Exodus which used to determine God’s will.

The Alchemist has the possession of Elixir of Life and Philosopher’s Stone. Both are legendary substances. Philosopher’s Stone is a chemical substance which turns any metal into gold whereas Elixir of Life is a drink by which the drinker is granted eternal life/youth and never gets sick. Both the substances of Alchemists are called his Master Work.

London Times says that Paulo’s books have had a life-enchanting effect on millions of people, so as this book. And New York Times has a better compliment for his writing which says that this wizard makes books disappear from stores. I am not admitting that my life has changed, but I am admitting that by reading this book, I am becoming aware of my options when I am surrounded by life’s complicated issues. Now I will be at ease than before to decide why, what, when, where and how to do. Paulo is like a spiritual teacher becoming the reader’s imaginary friend, motivating and cheering you by reminding you to follow your omens. Such book is recommended to every reader who surely will learn a lot from it.

Thank you so much Rossie Nathalie for suggesting me this book…

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Islamic Republic of Pure Land has a bitter history of feudalism among the chieftains and the headmen stretching for decades. The woman’s pride and dignity has been dependent on the word of mouth fouling or polluting her for the hunger and lust of the tribe’s godfathers. The traditional silence of women on beatings, tortures and harassments are still a freedom’s wail. But there was a time, this silence was never whispered to the outsiders and diggers until one lady open her mouth to the world and face the consequences of speaking the truth – Tehmina Durrani

Tehmina Durrani belongs to an influential family. Her great-grandfather, Mohammad Hayat Khan, served the government of British India and played an important role in establishing MAO College at Aligarh under the guidance of his close friend Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Her grandfather, Liaqat Hayat Khan, also served British India who was once minister of Patiala and after independence; he became Pakistan’s ambassador to France. Her father, Shakirullah Durrani, was a huge name in banking who worked in PICIC, ICP and later on held notable positions in PIA as managing director in 1969 and governor of State Bank of Pakistan in 1971.

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Tehmina’s name and rank stabled more when she married Ghulam Mustafa Khar, the Lion of Punjab. Mustafa Khar is one of Punjab’s most powerful politicians, who was among the founding members of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party. Their marriage had a disastrous impact on her personal life which led to shape a controversy-bound book ‘My Feudal Lord’. The book was European best-seller and made her name among one of the most successful Pakistani authors.

 

‘My Feudal Lord’ would sound a soap-opera with some spices of melodrama but the reader will fall behind the centuries-old gate of the haunting dungeons while notching the details. A reader unknown to Ms Durrani may highly predict the insider of almost 400-page story-book but the style of narration is propelling enough to harvest a forbidden fruit of evil seed. The book brings out the hatred for the feudal and shows true colors of the offensive decisions made on the throne by ruling over women by playing foul game.

 

The book is divided into three parts consisted of 18 chapters.

  • The first part is her introduction, her first marriage with Anees and falling in love with Khar resulting in divorce with former and marriage with latter.
  • The second part details married life of Durrani and Khar in political exile, her sufferings and beatings, her support to Khar in the political movement and sister Adila’s involvement.
  • Final part is the final phase of their married life with many emotional fluctuations and turnarounds making the reader think about the most possible ending.

One thing should never be forgotten while reading, this book is mainly the story of Durrani and Khar narrated by Durrani. This is half narration of what we come to know from her. Khar never wrote a book nor do I think will be interested to speak this topic ever. Durrani was actually Khar’s sixth-wife with age difference of at least 15.

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Another major aspect of the book is that by reading it, the reader will clearly understand the persona and psychology of Tehmina Durrani. It is her story but more than that she opens her world and invites common people to let them know who she is? what does she think? what is her take on male domination in Muslim society? what is the role of a person who has a dual role of a husband and a politician at the same time?. The book is more like a conversation between a mental patient and a psychiatrist where former is Ms Durrani and latter is you the reader.

 

Many times you would even come to understand that she wasn’t wise enough to understand Khar’s art of deception. She easily fell prey in his cage and lost her mind. Ms Durrani did break traditional silence by writing the book, but with the tale she should have presented her short analysis summarized from her life as what exactly went wrong. Reading her life will raise many questions e.g.,

  • Are all feudal lords omen to their women?
  • Is love really blind enough to fell into prey that easily?
  • Do parents contribute their daughter’s marital misery?
  • Is defending your awful husband for the sake of children a wise decision to keep your marriage and protecting your family image from falling?
  • Which decision was the worst? Leaving first husband or marrying Khar?

I honestly believe, there should have been one particular chapter of her analysis where she would summarize and provide answers of the most complicated questions arose from her life, like the few I raised above. Those details would definitely hit on the eastern and western societies and their readers.

Ms Durrani is indeed a brave individual who suffered the pain all those years and kept the marriage that long. This book is highly recommended to those readers who want to place the woman’s rank and acknowledge her role in the society. This revolutionary book is a moral victory over a complex society. May you stay strong with high spirits Amen.

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The title says it all. British author Louise Brown tours you to one of the shadows of the great Badshahi Masjid, the Diamond Market of Lahore which has a rich history of songs, dances, seductions, pleasures, fake and broken promises; and being a source of pleasuring men for centuries since the Mughal-era. It was once a land where the trained courtesans used to conquer the hearts of emperors.

The Dancing Girls of Lahore is a story of Maha, a classical dancer whose virginity was sold to an Arab Sheikh when she was only 12, but her existence cornered in the Walled City. Her fate is gashed with the timeline the author pens in each of 8 chapters, highlighting her struggles in raising money and children. 

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I am confound shall I pay my compliments for mustering the author’s courage, bestowed in her for shaping a book blazing her analysis, research and token of her lifetime in a historic sex market of Lahore or shall I appreciate the writer’s courtesy towards the humans of entirely different world to whom she spent every inch of monotone…

It is quite a lantern of outcry from the details of a dark frame with hopeless life stories coming from an author who herself is mother of three young children (by 2000). So I find super-naturally an extraordinary writing from a mother who forwards us a tale of a sex-selling mother Maha and her children i.e., soon-to-be sex workers in early teen hood.

Delicacy of the book lies in the anecdotes, descriptions of customers and various individuals, street foods and religious festivals, and history diggings over national and religious significance. Another impressive factor of reading this account is defining/detailing of characters. Not only the leading characters have been pedals of bicycle, also the minor individuals who carry less prominence were folded with some amount of paras.

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Reading the book has a comfort of fragmenting the pages by the headings which will ease the readers to read summarized details. Louise also covers the sorry state of transgender/shemale prostitutes in the bazaar. Also the use of Punjabi and Urdu words forward more output towards the meanings for comprehension and adding swear words ignite the sketches of emotions which is quite hilarious at some moments. Enjoyable parts are where Maha always turn ferocious and begin swearing. The author has made a careful observation of Maha.

Overall, The Dancing Girls of Lahore is a book presenting a terrible insider of a low-morale social life of the poor in the city of hearts but simultaneously a marvelous read of a summarized 4-year timeline in a red light district which guarantees interest towards the author’s explanations and research. It is a heartbreaking story which most importantly focuses of the lives of women residing there and confronting the horrors and cries. A ravishing sorrow…

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