I raised this question of whether An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar is an autobiography at all in an earlier post. Here I am giving my view on that.
I read the book with the purpose of gaining insight into what it means to be a gay man in a country where being gay is still illegal. Even if he was from a society where they are most accepted. While I did know that he did not come out publically as gay in the book because of the legal reasons (not everyone is an activist and I respect the fact that he doesn’t even pretend to be one just because of his position in society) but I expected him to talk about the difficulties or I should rather say challenges.
I was disappointed. It was not that he did not touch the subject at all. Karan was rather forthcoming and called himself effeminate many times but there were no real challenges he refers to. He did say that he went through some voice therapy to make his voice more masculine and little things like that. It is either that he did not have to face too many challenges or it is that he did not want the book to be about his being a gay man.
This, however, does not completely answer why I refrain from calling the book an autobiography. The way he has written the book is more like a narrative. In a style that I am writing right now. It is like he is chatting with us. He goes back to his childhood and his school. He talks about his struggles and mentions his feelings at the time without going into too many details at any point in time. Also, he does not follow a timeline. He follows subjects. This makes the book seem like a casual conversation; which I will say is rather candid in nature.
Something I will like to mention about the book is – it is an honest book coming from the heart. While reading you will feel it that Karan’s mind is what the book tells us it is. It is crude where he rants about Kajol and her unimportance in his current life. It is warm when he speaks of Adi Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan. It is sad when he talks about how friendship took a backseat in the business partnership he has with Apoorva Mehta. You will feel the honesty he has put in the book. I will still call it as an account of parts of his life and not something that chronicles it.
Hope you enjoy reading the book because I certainly did enjoy the candor.
While I dwelled into my love of stories and books in my last post. I want to focus this one on the importance of storytelling and in consequence the importance of reading or listening to stories.
Stories inspire us. They may be in the form of an incident that occurred to us or to someone else but they inspire us. I remember when I read Rafa – My Story. I have never been as inspired in my life as I was then. I know of people who have anecdotes of what changed their lives and they use it to inspire others. If you are ever looking for inspiration – read and read more until you find your inspiration.
Stories are life as we feel it at that point in time. Every story, ever written by anyone in this world is a reflection of what they felt at that point in time. It can be happy or sad. It is the authors feeling that comes out on paper. When you read, you are looking at life from someone else’s perspective. You are feeling what the author wants you to feel. Reading is empathizing.
Stories help us judge the right from the wrong. Stories help us learn that there is a gray. Stories are the gray. Stories are the medium through which a child learns easiest.
History is also a story, story that one intends to learn from. A story that is intended to be repeated but with a different end.
Stories are a retreat into a parallel space where you can forget your worldly worries. Stories let you can run your imagination into the extraterrestrial or closer to home just a different life. Stories let you be who you want to be. It is a safe haven for the reader/listener. Away…far far away.
I like to be teleported into space with the tales of the long gone. What do you like?
The past month I have been obsessed with stories. Mid-March I got free from a project at work that had taken a mental toll on my faculties and I wanted to replenish it. And I did so by reading another book on the holocaust. Then I read the life sty of Karan Johar through his book – an unsuitable boy (I am refraining from calling it an auto-biography – more in a later post). Then I went on to watch the ten episode genius of Roshan Abbas called Storytellers in the living room and yesterday I finished listening to Nilesh Mishra’s podcast called Qisson ka Kona. All the while I was doing this I was also watching the period drama based in the early 20th century called Downton Abbey which was telling another story all together. Now that today I am at a lack of what to pick up next to feed my mind with more stories I thought I’ll blog about my fascination with stories. After all it has been a while (way too long a while) that I wrote something in the pages of suhaaandiaries.
Well my fascination with stories began way too early with Archie’s comics. It was a new world that I knew nothing about. My parents never told me stories while I was a little kid. The stories I knew was the Sunday Mahabharata and Ramayana on TV which my entire family used to watch religiously (pun intended). And one day, out of the blue when I must have been in the 1st or 2nd standard my Nani (maternal granny) cleared my Masi’s (my mother’s sister) book collection and decided to give away a pile of books to me. This included everything from Archie’s comics to abridged versions of classics like David Copperfield. I naturally started with the Archie’s comics with the bright yellow covers and the fancy illustrations of Veronica and Betty. I was obsessed. Even though at that age I did not completely understand it all but it was fun and I used to feel cool reading these fancy books. That was the beginning of it all. I then went ahead and binged on all the storybooks (Tinkle(s) and Champak(s)) available in the market. My first real book was Around the world in 80 days (the abridged version of course from my Masi’s collection). By the time I was in 4th standard I had read every book in that heap and my favorite was David Copperfield. It still remains so. I still cry when I read the chapter where David walks to find her aunt with only the village name as address and no clue how he will get there. My heart cries out to him when he sleeps under the sky. I have read it thrice since and I still went ahead and bought the 1000 page unabridged version. There is just something about that story that makes my heart cry. I have read many books since and it has always given me pleasure. There have only been a couple which I left unread. I have tried to finish everything I started, even the crappiest ones like One night at the call center and another one by Ravinder Singh (I forget the name but it was a love story where the girl dies) – I have had the resolve and finished them. The ones I couldn’t finish were The Trial by Franz Kafka and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The former I didn’t quite relate to or understand much. The concept of house arrest without a reason and then the trial in a dodgy place – what was that? It was weird and I just did not have the patience to complete it. The latter I tried to read twice but somehow could never relate to. I felt neither was Tom really or fictionally naughty. Tom’s character is not my definition of anything at all. I found him and his friend dumb and irritating at best, so decided to leave it there.
Well now I come back to the present and realize that I dwelled into my love for books and stories for a long read so I decide to write about the importance of storytelling in my next post. For now I will leave you here dwelling into your childhood and the stories you read then.