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Book Review: Vinod Pande's Saanvri The Story of a Concubine

Moulded but not mastered by the prophets of doom, Vinod Pande did the next best thing – unleashed Plan B – which presented him in a new avatar.

Monojit Lahiri | News18 Specials

Updated:August 4, 2017, 5:50 PM IST
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Book Review: Vinod Pande's Saanvri The Story of a Concubine
Image: Vinod Pande
From obscurity to oblivion, with a little stardust thrown in between, can be a near-suicidal space to reside in for any self-respecting artiste. Why? Largely because, to be unknown and aspiring holds the possibility & promise of good things to happen someday, motivating focus, dedication & hunger to achieve success. In contrast, to have too much – too soon, experienced sudden fame [insanely unreal in the Bollywood space with its dizzying glamour glitz, fake jhappi’s from opportunistic lackeys] and then be dumped by the very same industry, labelled a yesterday washed-up bloke in a tomorrow world can be shattering … especially when the person is talented, willing to rectify his flaws & fully prepared to clear the confusion between direction & destination in a new & mystifyingly changed landscape.

Did the town-criers, after all, get it wrong? Was their arsenal of opinions which proclaimed that between directors and fans, there is no real deewar of colour, creed, proforma – only respect, remembrance, hope, belief & love, clearly outdated? Or was the new commandment that screamed “Action is all. You are what you do”, the real death sentence?

Vinod Pande has been fighting the good fight for ages. A civil servant with the British Government, Broadcaster with the BBC, Docu& Ad-film maker but most known for his film Ek Baar Phir in the early eighties, Pande clearly flattered to deceive. None of his other films – YehNazdikiyan, Sach, Sins – remotely resonated like his maiden masterpiece and in a business passionately dedicated to amnesia and where you are as hot – or cold – as your last film, Pande soon found himself out in the cold. His TV serials Air Hostess&Reporter were well received, but they have not featured films, remember? This transition was commonly seen as a demotion by the public and lovers of good cinema were both sad & mystified at a gifted film-maker’s slow fade-out …

Moulded but not mastered by the prophets of doom, Vinod Pande did the next best thing – unleashed Plan B – which presented him in a new avatar: Author! Starting with Don’s Wife, which dwelt on forbidden love, he now offers his second book SAANVRI – the story of a concubine. Hailed by one columnist as a book in the footsteps of Manto&Chugtaiand another as a powerful tale of lust, power & intrigue, this victim-to-exploiter story outlining decadence in high places of power is indeed an engaging read. The use and abuse of wanton carnality as a stepping stone in a society that constantly manipulates the paradigms of appearance & reality to suit its own convenience, is fascinating. Raw and real, Pande socks our solar plexus with startling honesty. The cathartic journey from intoxicating innocence to absolute corruption is brilliantly navigated by the master story-teller and one can’t help but feel that SAANVRI is a film waiting to be unspooled!Pande doesn’t pretend to walk the path of Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh or other celebrated literary luminaries. His focus &style of presentation is consciously populist and dedicated to embrace the masses who enjoy intrigue with the love n’ lust masala on overdrive!
Bravo Vinod Pande! Ek Baar Phir, the film–maker-turned-author has given us something that enriches while it entertains. Will Production Houses, forever looking for material to connect with the masses, pause to consider this ready-to-roll story of a concubine and yank the forgotten film-maker out of mothball land & give him a fresh break, Ek Baar Phir??

Over to you, esteemed readers …
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