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I am awed and impressed by those who write reviews. The aplomb with which they write on book/movie/music and the knowledgeable analysis of the same that they present has held me spellbound. Unfortunately for me, the words that spout freely and plentifully (when I blog), as if water gushing forth from a broken pipe that the municipality neglects to fix, dries up the minute the topic of a review comes up, like the tap that inevitably dies out on the Bollywood hero at the precise moment he has lathered himself liberally with soap suds from head to toe.

Now if you were to simply ask me whether I like something or not, you’d have got your answer in a jiffy. No dilly dallying, oh no Siree. In this, I would probably take the wind off the sails of the on-screen lawyers we see thundering ‘Yes or No?” at hapless characters put in the dock, who chafe under such restrictions and are dying to break free from narrow constraints.

Just for a moment, let us imagine that Mr. Lawyer is actually questioning me, in true Bollywood style. (Remember, all the answers given by me are in a ringing tone, audible clearly, except where otherwise mentioned.)

Mr. Lawyer: Is Ritu Lalit your blogger friend?

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: Do you know her debut novel is out?

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: Do you know it has been published by Rupa & Co?

Me: Yes.

Mr. Lawyer: Do you know it is called ‘A Bowlful of Butterflies’?

Me: Yes.

Mr. Lawyer: Do you know it is available at flipkart?

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: Do you own a copy of ‘A bowlful of Butterflies’??

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: Has the author signed it for you?

Me: No

Mr. Lawyer: Hmmmm…. have you finished reading the book?

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: Did you like the book?

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: Did you tell the author so?

Me: Yes

Mr. Lawyer: (unnerved at the opportunity not having presented itself for his thundering act, sips water to buy time and think of some new way to trip me)

All well so far. But Mr. Lawyer returns with more wind in his sails.

Mr. Lawyer: (resuming) Have you written a review of the book yet?

Me: (hemming and hawing) Errr… Ummmm…

The chance that Mr. Lawyer has been waiting for is right there and he sharpens his claws in anticipation of stealing the thunder or rather letting the thunder fall and thus win a thunderous applause for a performance expected of him.

Mr. Lawyer: This is a court Ms. Shail Mohan. No Errrs and Ummms. Please answer the question, Yes or No?

Me: (mumbles) mnogoodatreviews….. so I…

Mr. Lawyer: (in louder voice, very close to that thunder now) No one is interested in what you are or not good at. Just tell us, have you written a review, Yes or No?

Me: (smallest ever voice) Actually, I meant to…

Mr. Laywer: (exultantly gives in to the much awaited full-fledged thunder) YES OR NO?!

Me: (whispers) no.

Thunderbolts meant for you cannot be deflected forever. Now that the thunderous performance is over, Mr. Lawyer is thunderously magnanimous.

Mr. Laywer: (in gentle tomes) Can you please tell the court why not?

Me: (shamefacedly) I don’t know to write them.

Mr. Laywer: (raises eyebrows dramatically, accompanies it with derisive laughter taken up by onlookers) Ha! A likely story!

But this is not a story. It is truth, the absolute truth and nothing but the truth. Of course I am not talking of the fabricated scene above. I simply suck BIIIG time at writing reviews of books. You will not find a single one on Shail’s Nest though I read fairly lot. In fact you will not find a single review on anything, be it books, movies or music….anything at all. The one time I wrote about the one who makes me indescribably happy, I made a mess of things. I could only write about how I came across the musician and what his music means/did to me but nothing about the music itself.

One big hurdle for writing reviews is an undeniable fact, oft repeated, but nevertheless not something that can be swept under the carpet. I am different. Period. I notice things that no one ever does or deems important enough. That sort of makes me shy away from this whole business of reviews. I have stopped trying to analyze why I like/dislike something because it definitely is NOT in the same terms of why the public does. I have my own reasons and till the time as I meet up with them Neptunians from my home planet, they are best left to my own self.

Sorry Ritu, you cannot call this a review by any standards, just a non-review. But lemme tell ya, I liked your book. Congratulations on your debut novel and wishing you the best on the second which I hear is already on its way. For those who want to read a review that does justice to the term and the book, I’d recommend that you read one by Tikuli, here and another by Athira, here.

Here is the book trailer video:


In the meantime, if anyone is taking classes on writing reviews or knows someone who does, please let me know. :/

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