The Guide – R K Narayan.
Unfortunately I had’t read none of R K Narayan books for some unknown reason (call it availability as they are still not available in stores – not talking about online stores). Which better book to start but with “The Guide”, on which a timeless cult classic movie was made which I believe was a super success. I have already seen it multiple times and the visuals are pretty much intact in my brain with those lavish locations where Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) dances to the tunes of the official “Guide” Raju, terrific Dev Anand at his best and Rehman as Marco (in my imagination), Rosie’s Husband whose only interest or reason to live is Archaeology. Because I too loved the book I thought to pick up the book which turns out to be way better narrated than the Movie for sure and I realized they did change the movie ending (Of-course for better) in this case too. The best part of reading this book was the faces behind the characters, it was fortunately so good, the story, the characterization, location (Malgudi), locales, people and their own stories, the book was totaly fun to an extent and then it all derails and derails big time. Flow is terrific as it keeps moving from first person account to third person flawlessly that after a certain time I actually stopped noticing.
The very first unfortunate part of reading a classic in todays time is the “Foreword” and “Introduction”, trust me on this, YOU DON’T WANT TO READ THEM. Now onward, I am never going to read them ever before reading the book, rather I would love to read them after I am done with the book. In this case too, they have given out everything about the story, its analysis, critical is still fine or explaining the way R K Narayan handled his stories too is alright to an extent but it made me biased towards so many things before even I started the book, that was such a bad start. I so much wished I hadn’t read the Introduction, don’t even care now whoever wrote it in this particular edition.
R K Narayan’s story is simply brilliant, I mean who can forget “Swami” and “Malgudi Days” at least from our part of the world (India) we loved them so much. The simplicity and the real life characters, situations and what not. Totally had me in splits and a permanent smile plastered on face almost throughout the book. Although its a very short book hardly 200 pages but once the story is set, the mood is made unfortunately it just drags mid ways onward and simply refuses to reach the abrupt ending. Totally unbelievable. Like a friend of mine commented “Murakami looks like a cake walk” as RK Narayan has left so much to be interpreted by the reader in the book that it totally made me not like it all (I hate to call hated it). All the love and affection I had for Raju the guide who falls in love with someone’s else’s wife just because he wasn’t giving her her due (as per him) and later on becomes exactly like her own husband in the first place. It all becomes predictable at some point of time to no end. Didn’t expect this from R K Narayan. But then the Introduction and Foreword got me thinking, those guys were actually right about him in calling him merciless. Although this was my first book from him, so I will be very keen on starting my journey with the very start and get the earlier books to know how right these guys actually are about the man.
On his prose, writing, story, characters, locations and almost every other thing the stuff is top notch. But it fails to connect with the reader (or may its me only) and refuses to give me a closure which unfortunately movies gives in a very convincing way. If you have read this and liked it, do tell me how you liked it and if you haven’t read it, I don’t know what to say 🙂 go ahead take a peek, who knows it may work for you. But if you do read, do come back and tell me your interpretation of the ending.