Journalist - A Blog Novel by Mr. Hariharan Valady (3/3)

Once again it has been a long break... I don't think I would be able to do justice to this review in three posts but I am also worried if my review would become longer than the novel itself. So, let me try to condense my comments in this post and start with a fourth part if required later.

A fiction cannot be a photocopy of reality. The author has realized it well and thus also deviated from reality in some cases. The real Durai from Tamil Nadu is not as educated as he is portrayed in the novel. We don't even know if he ever went to college. He never fell in love with any TV anchor from a 'national' channel though there were talks of some stuff with a local newsreader two decades back. On the other hand, this Durai's education and his affair with the TV anchor reminds me of Kashmir. Not sure how many more states' stories are going to come in the chapters in line. :)

Knowing most of the parallels in reality, I couldn't resist comparing every paragraph in the story with reality. Not sure if it is good or bad for the novel. Having known almost everything about Durais and Rathinams I even felt like cautioning Vidya at times. I did that also while commenting on chapter 3.

All the criticism by opposition parties and media that we see with our bare eyes is one thing. There is another 'behind the scene' relationship that these people share with one another that we don't get to see. If the opposition  prince (only in democracy could you see prince and princess in opposition as well) is caught in an American airport with millions of black money why does the prime minister back home takes it up at the diplomatic level and resolves it? The media doesn't criticize parties that pay them huge money in the form of advertisements or in other forms. Most of the successful politicians always pretend to be friendly to media people. If you are in media you can directly call any politician any time for any help. You don't even have to ask. Their cronies will always be waiting by your gates to provide you with whatever facilities you are in need of. They would just read it on your face and do it for you. Why? Simply because you wouldn't be able to criticize them so hard after enjoying all those benefits. You also become party to their corruption now, right? This is why some of our media weirdly support some individuals even when they are at fault and some of their criticism doesn't sound like true criticism.

It was a good idea to come out with an Index after the third chapter. It would help the new comers to the blog in long term perspective. It would be much more helpful if it is brought up to top after posting every chapter. Likewise, the idea of listing all characters in the story and giving an introduction about each of them in a separate post is very good too. It's like salt and pepper on the table. Then, after the tenth chapter, he gives a quick summary of the story so far. All these are innovative ideas that aspiring online novelists could make use of.

When he started the novel, I was wondering how he would manage the images part. He managed it successfully by camouflaging some real pictures. Even then one of the readers pointed out who it was on the picture. Though the picture has nothing to do with the story, I personally think it is a 'very small' failure from author's perspective (I am supposed to do a 'critical' review. By nature, I am not good at being critical so this is the maximum I could do to be critical!). :)

As a writer, the author is successful in making the readers impatient about 'what next?' at the end of every post. Considering the size of each post, it's really very good to be able to convey some part of the story in every post and ending it with some curiosity.

In chapter-6, he talks about how Durai changes the topic depending on the audience. This is one thing that I have found in most of the successful politicians. You have to be a rabble-rouser. You have to speak for applause. If you do that well nobody would care whether you really work for their cause. Mr. Rathinam is so good at it. I have been seeing from my childhood how he has been doing it successfully.

The kind of relationship such leaders have with their party men at grassroots level is highlighted well in some places. Increasing the salaries of government employees with the elections in mind is such an innovative thing that it has been working in their favor for decades now. It's not just government employees, they do this to all groups of people. They have understood the pitfalls of democracy so well. Doing big short term favors to groups is more effective than smaller things for all people collectively. It actually helps in long term. Pleasing all is an impossible task. Instead, if you just do that to smaller groups of people, you would be able to make bigger impact and the beneficiaries would become your ambassadors forever. Even their children will like you just because their parents liked you and talked good about you to them.

Politics is not about pleasing all. It's about pleasing the right people who would do it for you with the rest. This combo knows it well. The author has understood it very well too. :)

Chapter-7 looks at things from their perspective as well. The author looks at things that make them corrupt even if they were not corrupt by nature. I know of many leaders who became the victim of the situation. They had to become corrupt to survive among the beasts. But, I personally feel that our politicians who are in question (Durais and Rathinams) are all corrupt by birth.Crookedness is in their veins.

The author says that politics and media are two fascinating things for him. Chapter-9 adds one more to the list, i.e. romance. The scenes that follow the bomb blast are very romantic. 

There comes an actress-turned-spokesperson in the eleventh chapter. It surely would have reminded everyone of some 'big-shot' in reality. There are so many actresses who want to join politics today. I don't know how many more actress-turned-spokespersons we are going to produce.

There is a time when Vidya gets confused with Durai's argument. She wonders on whose case he is arguing. I have seen this many times in reality. First few times I was confused like mad too. Then practice made me better. I started understanding what they mean when they say something. It's good if the author comes out with the dictionary of such stuff, too. What they say versus what they mean! Like the modern dictionaries to understand what women mean when they say something else (for example, if they say 'nothing', it means there is 'something' seriously wrong, they say!).

I liked two subtle things in chapter-12. The narration of Vidya losing all the excitement of the long drive with Durai when Uma slams the door explains a very subtle thing about the ability of slamming doors. It's these minute things that make or break relationships. Then, how Vidya skips telling Uma the overnight experience she had with Durai also is an interesting piece. It may sound obvious but it deserves the emphasis the author gives. Another such thing comes in chapter-13. When Durai wants to vent out his frustrations with his wife Meera, she remains locked with the TV and says, "Shhshh…we’ll do during the break...". Meera wouldn't have done it if she knew that that's what is going to be the game changer for Durai and Vidya. "The pressure cooker blew the fifth whistle when ultimately there was a commercial break" is another such thing. It's these minute things that need emphasis in stories. The author has understood that well and done a great job.

If the last forty years are so important in our history, the color TV thing is one of the most important one in the last forty years of our Dravidian politics. In 2006, I was betting with people saying so and so party won't win that time. But, the moment I got to know that their election manifesto had color television on top of their list, I ate my words. I know very well how mad our people are about movies and televisions. No other part of India is so mad on these things - except for Andhra Pradesh to some extent probably. But, I think, people have come out of it now. It won't work anymore. Because, there is nothing more exciting than movies and televisions for our people. Nothing means nothing... houses, jobs, money, nothing can do the trick. Even if you promise a second life they wouldn't fall for it. Money did work once but now everyone gives money so it doesn't work anymore.

Overall, every post has a good number of comments. That tells how many people are reading this novel. I have not been able to read some of the recent posts. I am sure it would have become all the more interesting by now. Need to find some time to read them all - at least once a week!

@Hariharan: Sir, thanks for giving an opportunity to review your brilliant piece of work. I am not sure if I have done justice. However, my best wishes for the successful completion of the first ever online novel that I have come across. :)

Please click here to get started with the novel...


  1. thanks for sharing the synopsis. the book looks interesting. will add it to my "to read list"

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