Monday, September 23, 2013

Jump Cut - Krishna Shastri Devulapalli

'Jump Cut' is Krishna Shastri Devulapalli's second novel and a worthy follow up to the the well-received and highly acclaimed "Ice Boys In Bell Bottoms", a hilarious debut novel on growing up in Chennai in the 70s and 80s. If you have read his first book, or know him personally, you know that Krishna cannot keep a joke out for long - and it is not a good idea to keep such a wonderful gift out of his work.

But as he showed in 'Ice boys In Bell Bottoms' Krishna also writes the poignant stuff well, which must be a difficult thing to balance- a dilemma he would have faced with the more layered 'Jump Cut' which deals with the relationship between a son and father, a difficult subject, to say the least. But Krishna backs his strengths, his abilities and explores a  new genre confidently and comes up with a fast paced thriller full of entertaining and highly credible characters.
Harper Collins, Rs. 299, 293 p

'Jump Cut' is a racy revenge story set in the film industry in Chennai. The protagonist is Satyajit Ray, (full name S.R. Raman), named so by his film-crazy father Mr. Raman, a screenplay writer who never finds the fame he deserved for his talents and his passion for movies. Ray, now an NRI living in the US, returns to visit his ailing father, and finds that his father's main problem seems to be a broken heart more than anything else.

How Ray, with his hugely enterprising and entertaining support cast, goes about finding out the villain of the piece and does what he does, is what 'Jump Cut' is all about. An old love interest now an activist, Padmini who flits back and forth into his life from the consumer courts where she works now, old friends Abie and his enterprising wife Sumi, Dog Raj and the unforgettable Selva add to the main drama in a new plot, a new setting. One Mr. Debdutta De pops in for a cameo and he is much like the Bob Biswas character in 'Kahaani'. Looming large in the background is the priapic, sleazeball producer RR, who cannot keep his eyes and hands to himself.

The story is told very visually and I have it entirely in my mind, scene to scene. The places, lighting, emotions, people everything is etched clearly and the movie plays on even as I write now. Good work there Krishna. The characters are strong, the narration is entertaining with Krishna's jokes coming off fast and quick (the characters cannot keep a retort out for the life of them), there's danger afoot and there's intrigue.

It's the kind of a book that could go this way or that in terms of treatment, you feel you can crank it up or down a few notches, by adding a few lines here and  there and hyping up the drama or emotion. But after a sedate and poignant start, in a highly visual hospital scene, Krishna gets back into his own style and takes it from there. I think it was a good thing he did - it would not be Krishna's book otherwise. The book cover (designed by Krishna himself) comes on strong with the theme ("Want to get even? Forget the odds" - tagline) and a worthy endorsement from India's most versatile writer Anita Nair, who found it a 'rollicking read' with a 'chuckle a minute'. I could not agree more.

There's no doubting Krishna's calibre as a writer. He is creative in many ways - witticisms, repartee, book covers, story ideas, screenplays - all underline that. I suspect he may veer towards screenplay writing given half a chance, which could only be a loss for the literary world. But long as he writes novels this much is guaranteed, he will write hugely enjoyable stuff even if he is half-asleep. Well done Krishna and I do have a feeling that this book might just become a movie sooner or later. For book lovers, more so those who love movies, a must read and a guaranteed paisa-vasool show.


lalsub said...

I have read the book over the past couple of days, but have not had time to post my own blog-review, busy as I am with some urgent work which needs to be finished off...but this much i can assert-- I loved this book as much as Ice Boys'. It kept me laughing and glued to the end--so as a witty thriller, it works very well. Loved the inside references to Tamil film industry with its obsessed Tamizh talk; also loved Dog Raj, the Labrador who is as important as the human characters. And yes, this is a very visual book as you say; IMO,it should make an excellent 'small independent' film.

lalsub said...

Posting again. First comment seems to have disappeared into the innards of the internet. Ok, read the book over past 24 hours.Loved it. Found it quite a visual experience as this blogger above has said.I think it should make a good independent small film.My own review will come up on my blog in a few days, soon as I've finished with some urgent work --but meanwhile, I have to state that this book as good as KSD's first; and it works a humorous thriller with the necessary underlying pathosand irony, plus a hint of magic realism. Loved the labrador Dog Raj, plus the references to obsessive Tamizh identity ('Chentamizh Chelvan, the lyricist from Tadepaalligudam -- ha ha!).