News of an Abduction #5


“Lime Juice” said Maran looking around those people dressed in wet raincoats sipping hot tea. It was raining and it was a dirty place, the detective was thinking about the missing boy and the dead girl. He could break into anything; he searched his mental archive as to how detectives in movies cracked cases. Only a little while later he realized that these stories were scripted by smart writers. If this case had been a screenplay, at this point some anonymous source would throw an unused matchbox with a hidden message which would ultimately end the case.

It didn’t make sense, The Mangals were not as important as they thought to have their son to be abducted, if there were any internal squabbles they weren’t anything major.

And at that moment of thought, Maran was interrupted by a mobile message. It was the message that broke the case and swept the remaining pieces under the rug.

“Mangal boy returned home, no clue on abductors. Come immediately to Mangal household.”

It was a telegraphic message from inspector Daniel. Maran quietly finished the lime juice, he should be happy but he wasn’t. It was still raining.




News of an Abduction #4


The terrace above the state mortuary seemed like a nice picnic garden; Daniel devasaghayam inhaled the cigarette with much ease.

It was the day’s first cigarette, Maran stood in silence thinking about the girl below.

“who was she? From where did she come from?” those two questions looped his mind along with the image of the thin girl lying there calmly. There might have even been a hint of a smile, he imagined between those thinly pink lips.

‘That girl should have been in school, she ended up in a dump, hungry and dead’ he said to himself.


Unlike others writers who thought that smoking accentuated their string of words, E.L.Somu sat in his wooden chair cursing himself and that burning thing in his hands.

“The one reason my story this Wednesday will not be as good as the one last Wednesday is because of this” he used his other hand to point to the cheap cigarette in his left. He was saying this to a young reporter who had been asked to profile him in the ‘men yet to receive proper credit’ column. He hated such things, so did the reporter.

E.L.Somu was a rare breed, someone who taught himself to write and someone who did that with elan so much so that his weekly serial appearing in the “BEST CRIME Weekly” was a rage, it had become too bigger a number so much so that the usually not so forthcoming English press thought him worthy of print.

E.L.Somu wrote his first story in 1981, it was an 11000 words rant called ‘Give me your heart and I’ll get you his Brain’. It was nothing like anybody or anything had written. Now when serious university wallahs write pages and pages about the works of E.L.Somu they mention the audacity in ‘Give me your heart and I’ll get you his Brain’.

E.L.Somu still wrote in Best Crime, he was one of the partners and had helped found the longest running crime fiction magazine in south asia. Every Friday the paperbacks would find their way to the newspaper vendors and continued to sell like what they used to before internet came into existence.

“In spite of this entire newfound appreciation sir, there is still a section of the critics who think that your books are nothing but sex interrupted by gun shots.”

That was Imran, the features reporter for the Madras Mail. He was trying hard to be neutral in the interview and not for a moment confess with a shaking of a hand or a sheepish request for an autograph saying “Big time fan, I am”

Big time fan he was, most of his family read these paperbacks before the rest of the world. His father owned Dawn Newspaper & Magazine mart on the corner that turned to the Royapettah Clock Tower.

E.L.Somu knew this question was coming, he never had to face much of interviews in the past but whenever people came up to talk to him, sex was somewhere between the third or fourth question. The first and second would be about personal well being and the Madras Heat.

He offered Imran one more cup of coffee and smiled while he thought of an answer.


The Girl now had a name, Kuyil. A police station south of Chingleput had received the distress call and the inspector there had grudgingly sifted through the missing files and found the match.

It would be the most important day of his life, dutifully the inspector along with his two constables informed the sole living relative of the girl.

It was no new story; the father had no recollection of his daughter. Drenched in locally made spirit, it took some time for Lorry Driver Kannayiram to realize that his daughter had indeed been missing. He had two other sons, both working under him. Stealing sands from the dry river bed, the daughter did not matter to him anymore. If Kannayiram had chosen to speak the truth he would have confessed selling off the girl after a deal made at the wine shop.


“Which book does not have sex, you tell me?” E.LSomu questioned back. It was the only response he culd come up with, the writer was proud of his sales but always had that nagging feeling in his head that the books were sold only because of the fact that lewd descriptions and people in compromising positions were well liked by the public.

“Take a look at the epics, if you want. If Ravana had not looked elsewhere, there would have been no Ramayana. Similarly the curiousness of the immature Kunti proved to be an important factor in the course of Vyasa’s epic. Life is such; it is after all a quite basic requirement for human beings”

Imran wrote them down like a fifth standard student writing down important questions for a weekly test, not that he didn’t agree with what E.L.Somu had said, but these were questions on his pad and he had to ask them.

The week that went by

Some minutes into Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara(ZNMD), to be bride Kalki Koechlin announces that her would-be Abhay Deol and his long time friends would undertake a final bachelor trip across Spain and each one of them would choose an adventure trip and that the others would oblige. For all practical purposes, that is the entire story of Zoya Akthar’s second attempt in wielding the megaphone.

If Luck by Chance was a tongue in cheek look at cinema with a cheeky title, ZNMD is a lighter look at life itself. Kabir, Arjun and Imran three friends drifted away by years reunite for a long unfulfilled wish. The class differences between them are established poignantly by the choice of wardrobe and class of travel.

Hrithik Roshan plays serious Arjun, the London Stockbroker who dreams of a laidback retirement life but only if he works hard now. Parental issues and writerly dreams haunt the funny Irfan expertly played by Farhan Akthar While Abhay Deol plays the buffer between the two and has problems on his own.

The film has very little to do with adventure sports but more about the protagonists finding out what is the best way to lead a life, the film succeeds in that attempt without being preachy. The scenes in which the boys overcome their fears are inspiringly shot.

Each of the characters has their own part to play and not one bad apple could be found in this barrel of a movie in which acting is uniformly good. Worthy of mention is Katrina Kaif whose sweet candy beauty has been used unlike before to portray a free adventure seeking spirit and Kalki as Kabir’s suddenly possessive girl friend.

The expanse and culture of Spain accentuates the sequences, as do the laugh out loud funny dinner conversations between the boys. Shankar, Eshaan and Loy deliver a solid soundtrack to Javed Akhtar’s lines.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is an interesting watch and will occupy a proud place in the lives of Zoya Akthar and crew. For never have the sounds of hugging and patting backs made more sense on screen. No, I have not seen Dil Chahta Hai.

While on the other hand Deiva Thirumagal suffers from the over involvement of everyone in the spotlight, consider me in the insensitive bracket but I find that most films dealing with the issues of disabilities are very much the same. It is similar to the underdog sports story in which we know right from the moment we look into that poster,what will happen in the end.

People not unlike us, seems a viable artistic option for directors out of filmable material and one more excuse for the lead actor to come up with an ‘award worthy’ performance. If directors are willing to take up the task of educating the public on the issue of autism, then a proper documentary seems to me at least a better option in achieving that goal.

Deiva Thirumagal begins in a hill station where Krishna played by Vikram is one of the assemblers at a chocolate factory. It is quite known that he has the intelligence level of that of a five year old, his wife dies during childbirth and thus begins the man’s battle for the custody of his child against a villainous father-in-law and a ‘I don’t know what i am doing in this picture’ Amala Paul.

The long and winding subplot involving MS Baskar, some stolen chocolates and suspicions of infidelity did not work at all, if its intention was to make us laugh and the indifference of the father (Sachin Khedekar) towards his elder daughter was quite un-fatherly even by cinematic standards.And not forget, that spark of love between lawyer and client introduced so that Anushka and Vikram can have a song together.

There is not that likeable tension and fiery debates between lawyers usually seen in films which conclude in the courtroom. Anushka Shetty is adequate as Anuradha the down on luck lawyer who takes up Krishna’s case and there is the ever dependable Nasser. Santhanam lights up some moments with what is given to him.

I was probably one of the few, who walked out of the theatre with dislike. No, I have not seen I am Sam.