April 30, 2005

On Transition.

I write, not with the unconstrained abandon with which I wrote a few days
back; I write in the hope that what little I convey will not be shackled by innuendos, tainted by undercurrents and diverted by overtones. My over-dramatized portrayal of the series of unfortunate events (next on my movie list :)) that kept a part of my silly self disturbingly distracted the past few days, now complete, I proceed to happily don the role of a reader and write!

Freedom and imagination - Two things that I associate with reading a book. As a reader, I am free to explore the hidden places in my world, using the map that the writer provides me. As I absorb the picture painted by the writer, I alter it unconsciously, navigate through the tiny alleyways that the writer gives me the freedom to create, and adjust the moods and expressions of characters almost imperceptibly to suit my taste; in short, I live in the world created by the writer, but change it to the extent the writer allows me, to make it that much more interesting for me to experience it. To reduce the abstruseness of what I convey here, I quote from A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth, my closest companion the past few days.

She did not know the first thing about cricket – even Pran’s enthusiasm had not affected her at all – but she was drowsily entranced by the sight of Kabir, dressed completely in white, shirt unbuttoned at the collar, capless and with ruffled hair, running in to bowl – or standing at the crease wielding his bat with what seemed like easy skill….The sound of a bat on ball, the rustle of a slight breeze in the bamboo, the twittering of a few sparrows, the calls of a couple of mynas, and above all, the sound of the young men’s easy laughter and indistinct conversation all combined to make her almost oblivious of herself.

If I close my eyes now, I am there in the field and I see Lata, sitting on the bamboo bench, her eyes unwaveringly focused on Kabir. I am enveloped by the sounds around them, I hear the birds chirping, I hear the laughter and the indistinct conversation. I am an invisible onlooker in their world, privy to their most personal thoughts. The freedom I talk about, reveals itself when I also notice a bed of daffodils blooming unnoticed at Lata’s feet, a squirrel thoughtfully nibbling on a blade of grass before chasing another squirrel, the sun casting golden rays that reflect on Lata’s thoughtful visage and the way her hand involuntarily moves to adjust an errant strand of hair from her forehead…these are the images that the writer has given me the freedom to imagine and create, and the combined visual effect is as powerful as reality itself.

Sometimes, when I see a novel made into a movie, I cringe at the disparity between my mental images and the ones I see on the screen, somehow, a bit of the magic that I had built around the original story is lost when I see it in front of my eyes, small details associated with the world that I built while reading the story are now thrown into oblivion…and the original charm is lost somewhere in the transition from words that I read to images that I see. Movies are powerful, but more powerful than them is the cumulative result of a reader’s imagination humming in tune to a writer’s song.


RTD2 said...

Yup..dual deja vu :) Actually, true-blue deja vu for me coz I had done a more specific, less eloquent post on movies made from books a long time back (Sorry, don't know to do the linking thing on this space or else I'd share! I think in Nov/Jan..if u're curious!)
So, how do u like Vikram Seth?

rajesh said...

But it needs more time;a religious dedication towards reading with full concentration in order to paint the vivid picture from novels,than what it takes to just casually watch the same story in a movie,while non-chalantly enjoy the bag of popcorns and coke!
Ofcourse,as you said,the scope of a million different scenarios from a book's description, gets constrained to 1 single scene/event in a movie.

RS said...

To rtd2, dug up your old post: "from the written word to the moving image" :), more concrete than what I tried to say!
Vikram Seth's novel is like an Indianized "Kane and Abel" (probably unfairly for me to compare like this, but anyway I love the book so far), he traces the family trees well and still makes sure each character leaves an impression on your mind...(also, if you log into and click on "view" for any of your old posts, you should be able to get a link to your old posts).

To Rajesh: Agree. Probably why I am crazy about movies and books, not necessarily in that order though!

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