Guide – The Novel

I had liked Dev Anand’s film – ‘Guide’, since I was a kid. The liking could have been largely attributed to the fabulous songs of the movie. But later in life, I chanced upon a article by R K Narayan, the author on whose novel the film was based, that went on to talk about his disappointment over the way his novel was commercialized and manipulated to suit the movie goers. This prompted me to take time to read this novel. It is really different from the ‘filmi’ version.

The best thing that I like about R K Narayan’s style is the language. It’s English, but not the old European or the modern American style, but the words seem to be of a typical well educated south Indian who seems to have learnt his vocabulary early in life from the pages of ‘The Hindu’. He spends lavish words and pages describing the locales, the people and their lives. The conversations too are simple and believable and not being ‘Theatrical’. The story is also set in a typical south Indian terrain which is what you miss in the movie, which thanks to the ‘filmi’ funda was set in north India.

The movie apart from this change also goes on to infuse a lot other changes by the director/producer, who incidentally were not only Indians as the movie was also made in English with an American director. Though the movie in itself is a beautiful one, enriched with evergreen music and the charismatic Dev Anand, when compared to the novel the reader tends to second the views of R K Narayan in that the movie goes on to destroy the novel in a way or two.

The Novel is a good read, especially for those who are accustomed only to the Sheldons and Archers.

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~ by Jayanthan Ravi on May 7, 2008.

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