Famous Indian Writers- A perspective with “Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar”
The following is a perspective on the fiction stories as it applies to the famous Indian Novel “Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar” written by debutant Indian author Kochery C Shibu.
In many ways Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar could be classified as a realistic fiction novel. fiction stories in Literature refer to the form of prose, especially novels, that describes imaginary events and people. The fiction stories as in this novel has a setting in the hydro electric project work site in the remote Himalayas and related to events happening in the 21st century and some which have happened in the 20th century. Whilst the novel itself is fictional the events could happen in the real world as we live today. This is in contrast with many non fiction stories typically set in an imaginary world or universe that as the reader would understand is not true.
The famous Indian Author has maintained the traditional separation between the fiction and the non –fiction stories in this novel. The lines may be blurred at times with more over lap than mutual exclusion. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is well researched and has the necessary ingredients and the elements of truth which are grounded well to the background. The reader would be able to connect with the events of history and the people who were affected by the time and events being referred to. The fiction and the creative imagination starts with the fictions stories bringing to life a set of characters and events which are near real. The truth of the circumstances and events is presented by the author by using his fictional characters in the novel. It is an interesting but challenging aspect of writing when the imagination and fiction stories are used to bring about significant understanding and conclusions about the truth and reality.
The famous Indian author has brought in creative invention in fiction stories with convincing degree of believability. In many ways the experience of the readers would be that of the compelling willingness to believe what is being told by the author. Another aspect of good fiction stories is the limitless possibilities that it offers. It may sound paradoxical; acceptance that fully knowing reality is in itself an impossibility as brought to fore by the large possibilities of the fiction. In many ways fiction stories also demonstrate the limitations in trying to measure the reality or realism in writing.
fiction stories as in Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar, as also with similar well researched and well written novels, cover a vast canvas of fables, myths, fairy tales, short stories, epics, poetry, plays and dance forms. It also includes comics, cartoons, films, video games, radio and television programs etc. The creation and distribution of fiction stories has been accentuated by the advent of the internet and digital revolution. The digital revolution has also come with the problems of associated IPR violations and plagiarisms. The advent of the online libraries have made access more readily available. The synergy of the home computers combined with internet and the creative minds have led to new forms of fiction stories. These have ushered in an era of interactive computer games and cartoons. Possibly the most interesting off shoot has been the mush rooming of the fan fiction stories. The readers now use the medium to tell fiction stories derived from the fiction stories that they have loved with variations of their choice. The development of fiction stories blogging which could be called as flash fiction and fiction stories as a collaborative effort by a number of people using the blogging platform is another variation.
The traditional approach has been to look at fiction stories as written between 2500 to 7500 words as short story and between 7500 to 17500 words as long story, between 17500 to 50000 words as novella and above 50000 words as novel. This distinction has also been blurred with many overlaps with the advent of the digital media based publications.
The approach of treating fiction stories also as a means of communication would bring to fore many interesting aspects of writing. These would include the theme, context, degree of fictionality, suspense, the perspective, the length and possibly the motive of the whole effort itself. To the reader this would be in terms of the plot, the sub plots, parallel plots, structure, scenes, characterizations, dialogues (or the lack of it), emotions and the most important factor of the freshness and readability of the fiction stories.
The traditional readers and authors would not have considered fan fiction as anything serious to reckon with. The rise to fame of fan fiction can be credited to “Fifty Shades of Grey” the erotic novel by EL James. The novel started as “Master of the Universe”, which was inspired from “Twilight”. The novel was initially published with on the fanfiction.net. Subsequently it gained popularity as an e-book and eventually ended up in the form as it is known today with over 100 million copies sold. The fan fiction has also spread its tentacles to include real person fiction, homosexuals and inspirations on the star trek character Spock. Then there is the supernatural dose and magical characters and the alien world with Harry potter characters sprinkled in. Whilst some of the authors like JK Rowling of the Harry Potter series and Stephenie Meyer the creator of twilight may have been indulgent to the fan fiction novels copying their characters, most of the authors do not subscribe favorably.
The following book review is a perspective on fiction stories.
“Their fears, their anxiety, their love and new found feelings, Dhalaudhar looked over everything from a distance. Constant it was, they could speak their heart out to it and it kept all their secrets.”
Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar would qualify well in Indian Literature as the first book written by debutant author Kochery C Shibu. The novel showcases the extensive knowledge the author has about the life and people in the Dhauladhar region and of hydroelectric projects, which, I believe was the domain he worked in. Finishing a novel is a feat in itself and the author’s efforts are commendable.
The book starts with Nanda, who according to the description on Goodreads, is the protagonist. He is running from the law and his past is revealed in a back-story. There are three stories of the main protagonists which run in parallel. Possibly first of its kind in Indian Literature. For the rest of the book, he meets new people and looks at the snow-capped peaks of the Dhauladhar ranges. All the new people he meets have stories which are told as back-stories. Back-stories are a good way of introducing a new character. I enjoyed reading some of the back-stories in this book. One of the unique features of this book with a difference was that there were many characters in the book and each one’s past was revealed with the story starting from three generations before they were born. The strength of the book is in its details and it tells of the author’s attention to detail, and you end up keeping track of so many characters. One does concede that it becomes difficult for the reader at times to decide with whom you need to sympathies with even though you are empathizing with so many characters in the novel.
Another interesting feature of this author is the very different plot. So many characters are introduced and each one is shown to be headed for the project in the Dhauladhar ranges. It is only at the end of the novel that the reader realizes that each one had a role to play in a plot that is developing in many dimensions. I expected something similar to happen with the story, only to be taken by surprise with so many twists and turns in the development of the novel. I grant that the author might have meant the Dhauladhar to be a meeting point for characters with incredible pasts and indomitable spirits, in many ways another new in Indian Literature.
The author has covered extensively the life in the Dhauladhar and of the villagers. The novel covers the customs and traditions, the simplicity of the villagers and their struggle to come to terms with the winds of change that blows when a mega project is set up in the area. The life of the shepherd community is covered well through the eyes of Mangu Ram who is representative of the village, their aspirations and dreams.
Another aspect has been the folklore and traditions of the villagers covered in the novel. The stories of Kurla- Kurli and many such brings the reader very close to the life of the villagers. There is always an impression of the happiness of the villagers in the simple life that they are leading that the author is trying to convey. May be one cannot be blamed for even beginning to believe that there could be an impression being conveyed that it is the city folks who are bringing miseries to the village life. Some of the traditions being followed in marriages and the ceremonies have been well brought out in the novel.
The life of the workers in the camp is an amazing insight. The relationship between the petty and the thekkedar, the thekkedar and the labour mate and the other many characters have been well brought out . Of course there always the heart wrenching stories of so many of them who are struggling to make a living and risking their limb and life for a few rupees more. Some times the helplessness of the workers seems so distressing even to the reader. Even in distress there are the stories of the contractors who are seen to be unethical. There is also the approach of the contractors who are indicating that the workers are better off living on the crumbs that he throws than get in to a tango with the administration.
Now, the characters. Honestly, there are so many that I wonder how the author managed to weave them together so well in the novel. Though I must confess that I don’t remember all of them. . I for one couldn’t connect with any of them and I didn’t understand why some of them behaved the way they did. The well accomplished and talented dancer doctor Rekha falling in love with a terrorist and for that matter the arc between Khusru and Rekha, for example, was ridiculous.
Writing wise, the book is written well, and there is a freshness to the writing that is amazing. The classic style writing with the life of the villagers and the project workers form a very interesting part and a very different style of writing within the novel.The author has made deliberate efforts to bring in so many Indian languages in this effort. As the reader gets lost in the world of the life of the construction workers and the nuances of the relations ship in a camp site, one cannot stop but wonder about the life in such places.
In a foodie verdict it can be said that this book is like Dhanshak, tangy, savoury and delicious. Overall, this book turned out to be like a collection of short stories when each character is taken into account while the author has tried to link them together by putting them here and there in the book.