Just finished reading Mr. Sampath - The Printer of Malgudi by R.K. Narayan. It is another delightful piece of writing by the creator of Malgudi. Funny, dramatic and filled with the finer emotions of human nature, Mr. Sampath made me smile all through and laugh out loudly at a few places.
The story is told mainly through the editor of 'The Banner' a fortnightly magazine, Mr. Srinivas, an idealistic writer who is keen on changing the world. He sets up his home in a modest place in a new town Malgudi, his office in yet another modest place and goes to work. He meets Mr. Sampath, the printer of Truth Printers, who agrees to print his magazine. And that begins a bond that one knows, will last forever. The enthusiastic, garrulous and enterprising Mr. Sampath takes upon himself, as he takes upon all things in the world, the responsibility of bringing out 'The Banner'. They run it as long as they can and when Sampath shuts his printing press due to lack of finances, Srinivas is forced to stop his publication as well.
The enterprising Sampath gets into the movie line and ropes in Srinivas, Mr. Editor, as the writer of the story. To add to their capers comes Ravi, a tenant in the house where Srinivas stays, a brilliant artist searching for a girl he fell in love with many years ago. Enter Shanti, the film's new heroine, who is a replica of Ravi's love, but who is also favored romantically by the married Sampath - and everything goes haywire. The entire story comes winding down in a climax scene of the movie when Ravi cannot hold his passion anymore leading to hilarious but long lasting changes to all their lives.
Sampath at once seems like Ukridge of Wodehouse and I love him. You cannot help but like his spirit of enterprise and his irrepressible optimism. Srinivas as the idealist who finally realises that he is no one to change or protect anyone, is perfect. The story, I suspect has some autobiographical tones, by the way it jumps from the press to the movie making business. RKN gives a pretty good account of how the movies business is, writing down many common details of the business. It is light, easy and endearing of course and makes you want to come back for more of Sampath, Srinivas and Ravi and their lives.
A 3.75/5 rating from me.