Tuesday, May 02, 2006

ToI-let reading


Riotous item in (where else) the ToI-let Paper. (Link via Uma).

Paulo Coelho. Richard Bach. Khalil Gibran (I’m fairly sure he used to spell it “Kahlil” on his book covers). Ayn Rand. So utterly predictable in their selection of titles-that-I-think-are-deep.

Too too rich for words. Sanjay Suri cites “The Alchemist” and “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” among his favourites (I too loved “Jonathan”. At least for a few years after I first read it. At age 7) then says he’s “not into fiction”. His staple is the Gita. Ektaa Kkkkapoor, pay attention.

Amisha Patel has such “a passion for books” that she reads “even between shots” (when, presumably, she could be drag-racing or para-sailing instead. Or painting her nails) “The Prophet is a book that I relate to in every stage of my life.” She “like(s) to read philosophy”, so now she’s “reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez”. Does she read up on the physical sciences from The Alchemist? This is the woman who reportedly claims to be a "gold medallist" in Economics from Tufts and also a Biogenetic Engineer graduate. Oh well. After all, she "also believes that her family are the biggest strength for her".

Nethra Raghuraman hits her stride with “The Fountainhead”. Such erudition. Esoteric, even. She also feels “Arundhati Roy and Jhumpa Lahiri are exceptionally talented”. Soon to join this select list (one surmises) are Siddharth Dhanwant Shanghvi and Raj Kamal Jha (why the hell do I feel superior, the latter is reportedly ensconced on a Caribbean island writing a novel for which he got a 3 crore advance, no matter that The Blue Bedspread was the sheerest bilge)

Parvin Dabas bats far more steadily, citing Vikram Seth and Umberto Eco, but throws it away with a Sehwag-like slash outside off-stump - "It's hard for me to imagine how some people can write so beautifully... books are a work of art(sic)," says Dabas who loves to read a particular passage from Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate.

Shweta Kawatra gets my vote because her “favourite book is Tell me your dreams by Sidney Sheldon”. At least she’s not pretentious.

I wonder what Rahul Bose would mention if asked …


**** ****

37 comments:

shakester said...

my my you have been in the most irritable of phases haven't you.
and you still IF SUPPORT PARAS
all the time

Ph said...

We like very much that you are posting so regularly. Especially after that non post.

Falstaff said...

hilarious. Now if only I knew who all these people were. I especially loved the Dabas bit about how he "loves to read a particular passage from Vikram Seth's Golden Gate. Why, one of these days he might even get through a whole chapter!

Am reminded of Browning:

"Well, and it was graceful of them, they'd break talk off and afford / She to bite her mask's black velvet, he to finger on his sword / While you sat and played toccatas stately on your clavichord."

bongop'o'ndit said...

ROTFL ! Everytime you think the TOI-let has reached a low, they outdo themselves.

But someone pray tell me who/what in the world is a 'Biogenetics Engineer' (as opposed to a Chemicalgenetics or a Physicalgenetics Engineer) ?

Veena said...

Yeah, I read this and wondered too what Rahul Bose would pick. Calvino maybe? :)

Patient Portnoy said...

I once saw an interview which had Madhu Sapre telling us that she's very much into reading. She likes books such as Lady Chatterley and D H Lawrence

BTW, was surprised none of them mentioned Dan Brown. Too populist for their taste?

Tom Pinkerton said...

Oooh! *Somebody's* on a roll!

More, more!
:D

Gamesmaster G9 said...

God, how much sheer HATRED can a few sheets of processed wood pulp generate?
I have begun to love all other newspapers on the sole grounds that they are not TOI.

silverine said...

lol

I did a post on TOI ( My Think Pad my twin blog) and viola I see a comrade in arms !!!

@gamemaster g9: I have begun to love all other newspapers on the sole grounds that they are not Same here buddy!

p.s APJ: thanks for dropping by my blog. Honored :)

silverine said...

oops last comment was mine!

Prerona said...

wouldnt i like to know!

Plumpernickel said...

Awww... Come on... Don't tell me its not entertaining. I love the fact that most such people are engineers or graduates or post-graduates from unknown universities in the USA or Australia and have given up their true passion to "act" or be "actors". Lets not even get into Rahul Bose. Arghhhh! One more shot of his serious, erudite, sophisticated, suave (adjectives used often for the feller by said rag) mug and I shall puke....

dhoomketu said...

Not sure whether this deserves a lengthy post, though.

Tons of such comments are printed everyday in various Tabloids (It's in their DNA) and these individuals don't seem anything out of the ordinary. What's the point here?

ichatteralot said...

Haar haar de haar! (Forgot which comic character laughed like that) But I wonder why people even bother to read what these dim wits read anyway. BTW, I read an article in Mid-Day recently that if you pay good money an impeccable 'past' is cooked up for you so Ameesha may have just done that. I wrote about TOI Let paper recently - very aptly described!

Sue said...

See, Rahul Bose actually does read books. I can't recall offhand what he said he reads, but I do remember thinking, ok, here's someone who knows which end of the book to open.

@Chatty - Must look up that post of yours!

hdpal said...

The superficial always wish they were more.

Rohini said...

I think they should have followed the question up with a quiz on the books they claimed to be their favourites and then we would know if these celeb readers had read more than just the jacket cover, or even that!!

Atleast that Shweta (whoever she may be) was honest.

Inkblot said...

the book he's been planning to spring on the unsuspecting world the after tomorrow-
written while in pensive perambulations on the pot, packed with profoundly pusillanimous puffery/ propaganda/ pastiche/ philippics...poo?

ya think any of 'em read BLOGS?

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

You're a snob, you know that?
Nothing wrong with being a snob except that most people will hate you for it.

Smith said...

if they actually did like those books, then what is the problem? it is possible that they have read them and liked them you know? And Parvin Dabas liking to read a particular passage from Golden Gate doesn't sound like such a bad thing! It is a great book...and people do like bits of books in particular (as opposed to the whole of the book, but without prejudice to its merit as a whole book), but it's fun to read your tirades! and I am definitely part of the ToI haters club...

Bald Monkey said...

I would not be counted as a fan of the TOI, but I would also like to humbly say that this post reeks of elitism. This is not really criticism of the quality of the content but more of a mocking of the people who have expressed their literary tastes. You have divided people into three categories -- the pretentious dicks who are talking about stuff they do not understand, the idiots who actually like Sidney Sheldon (oh my God !) and the third category is the one you belong to -- the group of all-knowing, all-understanding intellectually superior beings who are deep and all that.
I think that it is presumptuous (to say the least) of you to sit on that high chair of intellectual perfection and pass judgement on the common tastes of others. Also, you happen to be superciliously dismissing anyone daring to mention a publication worthy of your superior tastes as camp. There is no escape for anyone is there ?

The Marauder's Map said...

For regular entertainment of the kind, do look into 'Bibliophile' in the Sunday Asian Age (pAge section). Recently, they quoted somebody who actually named four different books for different questions and I almost gagged out of surprise.

And Bald Monkey, Smith etc, you know why we are laughing at TOI? Because the article is on the occasion of World Book Day and they can't find anybody better than a bunch of actors and models to comment on books. That's why. It's like quoting Amitav Ghosh and Salman Rushdie on World Fashion Day or something.

thalassa_mikra said...

I can't believe I'm doing this but:

1. Amisha Patel did indeed attend Tufts and graduated with a degree in Economics. She was even given an alumni award a few years ago (perhaps this is what is touted as a gold medal?). She's never herself claimed the Biogenetics degree, so this is some fan's hyperactive imagination.

2. Far from being an unknown university, Tufts is one of the best regarded universities in the US, and far superior to that other favourite of Bollywood kids, Boston University (I believe Abhishek Bachchan attended BU).

Bald Monkey said...

@The Marauder's Map:
The exactly is my point MM. TOI is a rag and I have no problems with that opinion. I personally have no problems with anybody considering TOI the pinnacle of journalism too. However, if you notice, there is hardly any criticism on the motivations and content of the article (if we can call it that). The post mocks the literary tastes of the people in the article. That is what strikes me as a bit officious. That is all.

Preeta said...

No way. Raj is now in the Caribbean? Last I heard, he was in the cushy "wooded estate" of Yaddo, an artists' community in upstate New York. I think Picador has consistently nurtured for him the illusion that his second book (the one that begins with a dependant clause, "If...") was flying off the shelves at Khan... who pays for his upkeep? Not the Express, certainly.

Your rant on the reading preferences of Bollywood actors was hilarious. I do think they have all been trained by publicists to say these things, and their publicists have a common kitty of book names (and they do not read much either).

Given your rant, perhaps you will find this incident funny: I once interviewed Sonali Bendre at the beginning of my journalism career, and asked her this standard "favorite book" type of question. She said she liked humor, and that her fav book was Milan Kundera's "Jokes." It was all I could do not to split at the seams with laughter. Later, I could have cried at this desecration of Kundera, but I figured she's only paid to be pretty (and Pramod's, but now he's dead).

thalassa_mikra said...

@Preeta: Am I missing something here? Milan Kundera's first book is called "The Joke", and it has been translated into English several times. The title may have been translated as "Jokes" in some edition. And if indeed Sonali was trained by a publicist, she would have picked a better known work as "The Unbearable....".

I mean skewering celebrities for poor book choices is fun, but I think it's absurd to assume that a celebrity cannot possibly have sophisticated literary taste, and is tutored by publicists.

As for Parvin Dabas, he is fairly well educated and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NY. He is also a photographer who recently held an exihibition of his work. Here's some of it:

http://www.usefilm.com/photographer/81305.html

Not terribly original, but at least thoughtful.

Preeta said...

Sorry to use J.A.P.'s comment space to respond to thalassa's query, but... yes, I do know that Kundera's book is called "The Joke" and that was the whole point. "The Joke" is satire, not humor, Ludvik is ironic, not jocular... etc etc. I just found it odd that someone who displays "sophisticated literary taste" by naming a Kundera book would be off the mark in understanding what the book is about. When I prodded, she could say nothing more than that it was a book of humor.

But perhaps you are right that in one of the translations, "The Joke" became "Jokes", and I shouldn't be holding that up to scrutiny. She might have read it, and understood the context (of the Soviet regime) differently. Or her publicist might have picked up the name from somewhere and Bendre mis-remembered it. Or maybe I completely misread The Joke!

Shan said...

Err...Vikram Seth is bad? Crap, I wasted so much time on that man's books. I guess it's all because I'm so lowbrow. I even enjoyed The DaVinci Code!!!! Imagine. My taste's surely touched a nadir there didn't it? Oh, and I also thought Love in the Time of Cholera was pretty boring, if well written. Man, I should start reading only Sidney Sheldons now. There is no way I can aspire to the high intellectual standards of the writer of and (most of) commentators on this blog. Sheesh...

Srin said...

JAP, there is no excuse for people who like Sidney Sheldon.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Sidney Sheldon! Gag! Gag!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ladies and gentles, if I may …
I’m too much of a lazy bum to respond individually to 30 comments, pliss kindly to excoos, but some points …

Rahul Bose must at the very least have read English, August. One of my favourites. And I rather like the Bose too. How many actors can you think of who have represented their country in any sport?

Swati, I hold Tufts in high regard, but a “gold medal” in Eco and “Biogenetics”? Please! As for Sonali’s “Jokes”, I tend to agree with Preeta – SB sounds like she’d been primed by a publicist (perhaps one with a sense of humour).

Bald Monkey, Smith, if hating Ayn Rand is elitism, then I bloody well am an elitist. I mean, after Howard “Check-my-ass-for-my-rugged-individualism” Roark, nobody is “officious” in comparison (though I suspect you meant “pompous”). Marauder, thanks for the defence.

I would submit, however, that you missed my point. I sneered (yes, I sneered. So?) at these people because they are pretentious, not because of their literary taste. If you notice, I think Shweta Kawatra is fine because she doesn’t pretend to have higher tastes than Sidney Sheldon. (Like Great Bong, I love Mithun-da because he has no pretensions. Food for a post) As for Parvin Dabas, perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt, it may be the ToI-let-ries putting that utterly inane line in his mouth.

Preeta, do give us the low-down on Raj K Jha. I didn’t even know he had a second book.

J.A.P.

Bald Monkey said...

@JAP:
With due respect, nobody has branded you as an elitist because of your literary tastes. That would not be logically possible to do, since you have not talked of your preferences in the post. On the contrary, you have passed judgements on people based on their preferences. That makes the post elitist.
I also have noticed that you (in your infinite wisdom) have thrown in some constructive criticism on my usage of the English language. I am thankful for that. I certainly do not intend to equal or rival your supreme command over the English language, but would humbly want to state my position.
Officious according to the webster online dictionary is: volunteering one's services where they are neither asked nor needed. One of the synonyms is impertinent. I would generally employ this adjective for a person doing or being exactly that. Allow me give you a simple example. Let us assume that a person reads about the reading habits of somebody in the online version of an insignificant tabloid. This person then, based on that information, ends up passing sweeping judgements on the intellectual prowess, sincerity and character of the person in question without even knowing that poor fellow. That is doing something which is not asked for or needed and is certainly being impertinent. I however stand corrected and in the future shall call you pompous. (having or exhibiting self-importance according to Webster)
Best Regards
Bald Monkey

Smith said...

aye JAP, chill...I never called you anything, I just don't understand why you'd laugh at people for stating their preferences...why do you assume they are being pretentious? they might actually like those books you know!!!

If you were XYZ film star and liked a particular set of books, and asked to name them, would you edit that list for 'appearance-of-pretentiousness'? now THAT would be pretentious!

Preeta said...

"If You Are Afraid of Heights" is the name of Raj's second novel. Any more info than that, is not fit for public posting. :)

progga said...

JAP, back after a long time (me, not you!) - kemon aachhen?

Shan, a great book by Seth is From Heaven Lake.

And urm... I grant that it all seems suspicious, when herds of actors together speak of loving perceived "high-brow" lit. But here's a way to check it (if you're really that interested) against a control group: what're your 3 favourite books? Honest replies, no jazzing up or trying to prove a point.

Anonymous said...

it's amazing how so many people have opinions on 'celebrities' without really knowing them.is the actor who mentions a book he likes 'pretentious' or the person who looks down upon him because of his choices?what i meant when i said i like reading a particular passage from vikram seth's 'the golden gate' is that passage really stuck out to me from the whole book and almost encompassed what the whole book stood for.it's very easy to take cheap shots from the security of a blog at people who have no way of replying or may not have any interest in doing so.everyone is entitled to their opinions and opinions are a dime a dozen.but it's much harder to appreciate someone,something which some of you actually have the courage of doing and must be lauded for doing so even when it may not be considered 'cool' to do so.

Pavithra said...

Oh my.

JAP ... it's been such a long time. I've missed your snarky posts. This one certainly rates high on that list. Haven't snickered so much in quite a while.

Ciao. Off to read your other stuff.