Sunday, February 27, 2011

మహాకవి దాసు శ్రీరాములు

Author : మహాకవి దాసు శ్రీరాములు

Book: కృతులు పదములు - జావళీలు

Period : 1846 – 1908

Other books by the author: తెలుగునాడు, అభినవ గద్య ప్రబంధము, శ్రీ దేవీభాగవతము, సూర్యశతకము, కురంగ గౌరీ శంకర నాటిక, చక్కట్లదండ, భృంగరాజమహిమ, వేదాచలమహాత్యం, కృష్ణార్జున సమరం, అభినయదర్పణం (అభినయదర్పణం), దురాచార పిశాచ భంజని, ఆచార నిరుక్తి, విగ్రహారాధన తారావళి, పదములు - జావళీలు , and many more.

He has written many plays also. Famous plays are Saakuntalam and Maalati Maadhavam. His operas are Saatrajit vilaasam, Samvaarnopaakhyaanam.

About the author: He has practiced as an advocate in the sub-court of Eluru and earned much fame and money. One of his ancestors, Raghunath Rao, has shifted his place from Dhaarwad to Golconda in 1560. His son Gangoji (Haridasu) being a Haribhakta got his family name as Daasu. His second son Raghunaayakulu has joined service under Portuguese and was posted to Machilipatnam in 1640 and settled there.

This review is mainly about the author who is very renowned of his time. He is a great poet, playwright, composer, and choreographer. He is also a social reformer. He is a contemporary of Kandukuri Veeresalingam garu. In his time the dance and music are not permitted to be learnt by ladies of high caste. He thought 'when the Gods for music and dance are Saraswati Devi and Parvati Devi themselves ladies, why is it not to be learnt by ladies?' He has opened a music and dance school for ladies in Eluru. None from high caste have turned up. Without getting discouraged, he started to teach to his daughter Saradaamba. Later two devadaasis have joined and he had no objection to teach them. Slowly many girls have joined and learnt.

Most of his musical compositions are Kritis, jaavalis and padams dedicated to Lord Venugopalaswamy of Totlavallur.. His padams and jaavalis have the same simplicity that marks Kshetrayya’s compositions. They are favourite items with Kuchipudi dancers of even today. His Abhinaya Darpanam has been compared to Bharata Naatya saastra.His musical compositions are an inevitable part of today’s musicians’ and dancers’ repertoires.

It is by sheer luck that we ran into this book. The book contains many kruthulu. Must have for every musician.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aftertaste - Book Review

Reading a second book by an author is much like watching a movie sequel, the reader's expectation is a greater barrier for the author to scale than merely a plot or a narrative. Namita Devidayal's first book "The Music Room", a memoir with a twist, featuring the life and times of her music teacher as the centerpiece was a wonderful debut for this journalist.

Like the earlier book, Aftertaste also has a central theme, not music but something more primal, food. Specifically, the heavenly mithai that the matriarch of the Todarmal family has converted into a thriving business. Mummyji, as the powerful old woman is known, is in the hospital, suffering from a stroke from which she is not expected to recover. The book chronicles the effect of this event on the condition of her four grown children and the impact her impending death has on the family dynamics.

The narration moves back and forth between the days prior to Mummyji's stroke in the lives of Rajan Papa, the oldest son, who is in a financial crunch which his doting mother is aware of but does nothing to alleviate; Suman - the once-beautiful elder daughter who preaches spirituality and detachment but is firmly entrenched in the material world, Saroj - the unfortunate, dark-skinned younger daughter struggling with her personal tragedy compounded by Mummyji's tyranny, and Sunny the youngest spoilt son who is juggling an extra-marital affair while dealing with business problems.

Through the lives of one family, the book shows the obsession of business families with money and its constant pursuit which becomes an end in itself even as the family ties chafe under the eternal pressure to maintain wealth and more importantly, social standing. Mummyji transforms the sagging fortunes of her husband by using her skill at making mithais, and as she traverses the traditional barriers, she picks up the family honor and the power that accompanies her actions. A strategy of bribing her kids either with food or money leaves a devastating trail in the dysfunctional family, spelling doom even for the next generation.

The story is fairly interesting but the author's use of similes and metaphors about food leave a bad taste. Instead of the gentle "show, not tell" style of the Music Room, there is judgment and justification for each character's action, an analysis of events from the author's point of view about the reason the characters behave the way they do. While a few loose ends are tied up at the end, it was heartening to see the surprise unresolved piece which is apparent but invisible to the ones who clamor for it.

I was reminded of a similar family saga "Home" by Manju Kapoor which focused on the lives of three generations of a business family that settles in Delhi after the partition. Both books read like polished versions of the family soaps more popular among TV viewers. Perhaps it is in this element that as serious reader I am disappointed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cloud 9 minus one - Book Review

Here is another book which is perhaps a thinly disguised autobiography, a debut novel by an author (Sangeeta Mall), writing about fictional characters set in her real-life alma mater IIM, Bangalore. Is it a female version of Chetan Bhagat, a wannabe chick-lit, or serious literary fiction? It is hard to classify this novel about Shruti Narayan (nee Malhotra, aka Ruts), ex-IIM grad, now NRI, who is visiting Bangalaore for a weekend reunion, twenty years after leaving the place.

The book is well-written and neatly flashes back and forth from the present to the past, as the skeletons emerge with old classmates coming into the scene. The language is realistic and dialogs authentic. The story is utterly believable and told in an unselfconscious first person narrative that is laced with tongue-in-cheek humor. We meet a whole bunch of characters from the past with quirky nicknames like Rats, Captain, Curry, Jaggu and Paxi. The central theme of Shruti's discomfort with th whole idea of revisiting IIM is revealed in bits and pieces as the story about her friend Priya unfolds. College friendships, the urge to try something new and exciting when stepping outside the comfortable boundaries of home, the naive belief in good-bad, right-wrong, dealing with conflicting feelings of loyalty and jealous, are seen in the petty rivalries and competition in the college campus.

It is heartening to see Shruti's struggle in trying to find her old (or is it young) friends in these new middle-aged creatures that she confronts. Some things have changed, much hasn't. The story is not just about what has transpired to make the once-rebellious youth into conformists but about finding that core characteristic of each individual that made them your friends (or rivals) and reconciling to the new reality.

While Shruti's perfect marital situation with an understanding husband and well-behaved kids gets a little jarring, it is Shruti herself who comes across as a regular person with her quota of diffidence and insecurities. The strength of the book is not the story which is fairly pedestrian, but in the telling of it. It is a comfortable read, interesting enough to keep you turning pages but a tad too long.It is a coming of middle-age story.

In the final analysis, personally, this book seems to be new wine (of the chick-lit variety) packaged in an old bottle, with huge doses of nostalgia and the wisdom that comes from hindsight. And it tastes pretty good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3, Zakia Mansion - Book Review



Sometimes I go on a binge - I read all the books written by an author. While it is great to keep reading someone who writes well, it is difficult to evaluate the different books in an unbiased manner. Sometimes the characters look familiar, even identical to characters of other books, the situations seem all to similar and the dialogue can sound repetitive. But this time, I was pleasantly surprised.

I picked up Gouri Dange's first novel, 3, Zakia Mansion, after reading her more recent "The Counsel of Strangers". It is a brief novel, hardly 160 pages or so but tells the story of Shaheen Adamji, born as the oldest child of the Karimali family living at 3, Zakia Manion, in a household made up of parents, two siblings, an orphaned cousin and a loving grandmother. The story begins with 14 year old Shaheen and appears to be a coming-of-age novel at first. The level of details in the narrative are just enough to illuminate the everyday events of a family that had seen better days while continuing to live in an ordinary life in a city.

The story takes a unexpected turn with the arrival of a cousin from Junagadh, a turn that breaks apart their humdrum existence and plummets all the three children into a dismal spiral. Shaheen is the first to escape, by marrying Ayaz, a Mama's boy, who is unable to balance the two women in his life, a state that does not improve even after the arrival of another female, his daughter, Juhi. Shaheen's siblings, Ayesha and Farhan suffer longer at Zakia Mansion and head towards their own private hells. Ehsaan, the cousin who grows up with them, flies off to America and is relatively spared the sad details of those he holds so dear.

A large part of the novel deals with spunky Shaheen's life as she weathers the storms and one day finds herself a divorced woman without custody of her teenage daughter. Dange has done a fabulous job of capturing the thoughts and the nuances of teenagers, whether it is Shaheen's feelings or the more vicious sentiments of Juhi towards her parents. The story meanders along for a brief while until Manas, a young man, appears in her life. From this point till the end of the novel, the story keeps you riveted with the brisk storytelling style that moves the plot forward without sacrificing deeper insights into the various characters as they learn to take risks and enjoy what life brings them.

There is no comparison with the later novel that Dange wrote, the originality is refreshing, as is the writing. This novel, is a great read, with characters that are real people who we all know, characters that show us that life, after all, is worth living, even as it pulls you in myriad directions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Madarpita.. Thaambhoolaadhi katha sankalanam

Name of the book : మదర్పిత... తాంబూలాది కథా సంకలనము (Madarpita......tambooladi collection of stories )

Language : Telugu

Author : Unnava Venkata Haragopal

Pen names : Srihari ; Manasa

Cost of the book : Rs. 200=00


The author Sri Hara Gopal is a retired bank officer.
All the stories are written by the author, who is a bank employee, between 1970-1984. The stories are published in Telugu magazines of that time. The author has taken pains to collect all of them and bring out in a book shape. The book is released by Sri Akkineni Nageswara Rao garu.

This book satisfies the long felt need of many readers to have a book with many short stories. The book has 39 stories and one novel by name "(నవ్వినా కన్నీళ్ళే) " Navvinaa Kannelle". The famous top hit telugu movie "seetaramayya gari manavaraalu" is inspired by this fine story. Majority of the stories are based on middle class life people. There won't be any rich boy meets a poor girl type.

In my view "ఆనందమే జీవిత మకరందం (Anandame Jeevita మకరందం) " story is the best one. It is about a man working in telegraph office. On one rainy night, he receives all telgrams with sad news and he gets disturbed to send all telegrams with bad news. At midnight he receives one message to be sent with a good news of marriage that of his close friend but with an unexpected twist at the end.

The next story I liked is "ఎక్ష్ప్రెస్స్ ఆగదు - Express aagadu ". It is about an express train stopping in a very small station because of floods. Krishnaveni who is full pregnant, travelling with her husband seeks the help of asst station master,Lakshmipati. Lakshmipati loves her previously and sees her unexpectedly now. She delivers in his house. This story too has got a twist at the end which the reader cannot anticipate.

"వయసు విచక్షణ - Vayasu vichakshana " story is about an 18 year old daughter Rajani and her father Ramarao. Ramarao's wife expired when his daughter is very young. He brings up his daughter very lovingly. He does not remarry for the sake of his daughter. If the story is told completly now the beauty will be lost.

The story "ఢిల్లీ వెళ్ళాలి - Delhi vellali " is full of comedy. In the two stories "రెండో వైపు - Rendo vypu " and "జాలీ ట్రిప్ - Jolly trip ", it is narrated how the owners loot the workers. The final twist in "సత్యభామ - satyabhaama " is also tough to expected by the readers.

At the end one feels that they have missed such a good collection of stories up to now. It is worth reading.

PRASAD