First, as the first thing in the new year, the author posted an introduction explaining why he was missing in action for sometime (I was one of them who was wondering what he was doing so silently after such a striking start!), and what he was planning to do in the next few months (his plan to write his first novel online) and the structure he had in his mind for that (how many words and how many chapters, etc.). He talked about what he was getting into as well. As he said, blog novel is indeed a not-so-tested idea in Indian context. Not many people have tried it in our part of the world though I am not sure about others. Like all other things, writing in India is way different from that in any other part of the world - including the English writing. Today, we have our own version of Indianized English. For that matter, we have Indianized almost everything western. Others can't relate to many of our writings. Likewise, we have a huge subset of English readership that doesn't like reading anything other than Indian stuff in English. That is the reason we have so many English blogger networks specific to India today.
He also revealed the story line briefly and explained why he chose politics and media for his novel. That did remind us of some real life characters in our politics and media, which immediately made us interested in the novel as well. Though the story is that of Tamil Nadu politics, the important characters in the story could be seen in many of our other states as well as our national media. That is the reason he has been able to impress so many readers across the country.
I liked his upfront communication of the structure of his novel. It is the 'corporate way' of doing things. This is what people like us (who are so used to structured way of working) do when we take up anything - even if it is in a creative field like writing. Creativity is killed when you are restricted by structures, they say. But, I think, it is this hybrid approach that is working these days. There is no clear demarcation of arts and science (black or white) these days. It's the marriage of both (grey) that works now. Writing is both. It involves a lot of calculation, which is a science. It involves a lot of psychology, which is again a science though there is a bit of art when it comes to understanding it. So, in my opinion, that introduction was a good start because it communicated his planning. He prepared his readers by telling them how much time they would have to commit. It was required because he was getting into a new area. He has to keep his readers interested throughout - for months - from start to end. He can't afford to bore them. Otherwise, it would result in not just loss of readership but that of his own confidence as a writer as well.
He had to strike a balance between too less and too much. I always get a feedback that my posts are too long. That way, I thought, his sizing was appropriate - not too small nor too big. The dynamics of blogsphere is slightly different from that of the print media. You can't write long posts if you are interested in good readership. Most of your followers are bloggers themselves. They wouldn't like to follow your blog if you expect them to spend too much time on your blog. Most of them are not full-time writers or readers so they have limited time when they hit home and open their boxes every evening. This sizing of 600-700 words per post in my opinion was one of the many best things in this novel. The continued support and appreciation that he is getting till date is a testimony to that.
Within days, he posted the first chapter. Writer Sujatha used to say, the story should start right in the first line. Even Manirathnam's movies start like that right from the first scene. Journalist's story also started in the first paragraph in the first chapter itself. Then followed the background (flashback) stories. The introduction about both Durai and Vidya were good. In fact, the first few paragraphs about Durai were enough for us. We could have written pages about him ourselves with that. We have been seeing him and his father in flesh and blood in real life for so many years, of course, with different names. I am sure this line would have reminded each one of us at least one politician we have been seeing - "A trained politician that Durai was, he suppressed his disappointment in no time and regained his calm."! This is one common trait that most of our populist politicians possess. Agree?
How about this - "The restaurant would not like to lose a chance to please him, even if it meant foregoing the week end crowd."? I am not sure if it was a phenomenon all over the country. I think, it all started off in Tamil Nadu and was picked up by others later. For last few decades, this has been the case in Tamil Nadu. If you can't please the ruling class, you would be nowhere in no time. I think, it is our chief ministers who showed to others how powerful a chief minister could become or how much power could be misused maximum by them. The first statue of a living politician was unveiled in Tamil Nadu. Fortunately, that was the last as well. But, Mayawati is doing the same thing in large numbers in UP today.
Any actress who comes to Tamil movie industry with high political aspirations could use this novel as a quick reference guide to understand the dynamics of Tamil politics. This is one such line from chapter-2 that gives a good introduction about our politics - "However TN politicians were a different lot compared to the Delhi ones- members of opposing parties do not see eye to eye; participating in TV debates is simply not done."! By the way, wondering why someone with political aspirations should join movie industry first? That is how it works in our place. That is the easiest way to have a lateral entry into our politics. Like joining polytechnic to join engineering as lateral. :)
This paragraph is another gem that explains the state of affairs in the state of Tamil Nadu:
This line spoke volumes about our politics in Tamil Nadu too - "In Tamilnadu politics recent corruption is more unpardonable than old corruption!". Yes. We have always been ruled by corrupt rogues. We have never had a third option. Even if we are provided with a third option, we don't care. We find a reason to ridicule them. At the same time, I also think that it is better than allowing the same fellow to loot forever. We at least punish someone for his/her misdeeds. We make them feel insecure and remind them that they are dispensable, we are superior to them and their fate is in our hands - literally and otherwise. I think it is because of that fear factor we have been getting good administration despite all these. So, with this approach, by now, we should have been completely corruption-free, right? That hasn't been the case. Why? What went wrong in between then? The answer is - we wasted a few decades by shifting our focus to punishing 'arrogance' as well in addition to corruption.
-Cont. in 3/3...
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