1/3 rd Murakami
There is an Indian author named Chetan Bhagat. A newly popular writer with simplistic stereotypical stories that do not warrant much attention other than to calibrate maturity levels of readers. Not exactly the deepest fellow doing the rounds in Indian Literature, if you catch my drift.
Haruki Murakami reminds me of Chetan Bhagat.
Emo kids, mysterious women, jazz, cats and catchy titles are all cool. But if you plan to tell a story about them, you need to tell a really good story about them. South of the Border, West of the Sun was an extremely superficial account of ennui/ midlife crisis with mediocre writing. Mercifully it was a short read. I still have Murakami’s Dance, Dance, Dance and 1Q84 that I picked up cheap to go through, but if those are of the same quality I am swearing off Murakami forever.
Apparently his music taste is refined. Jazz. But could I point out another transposition for people from the Indian subcontinent?
Read Murakami, and play Johnson.
Where Johnson and Padmarajan succeed and Murakami fails is in capturing depth. Not just style. Murakami’s wafer thin characterization of Shimamoto as the mysterious tragic beauty is supposed to be read with the recommended Jazz vinyls crackling in the background. To me the girl from nowhere story was never better captured than by the writer/music director duo of Johnson and Padmarajan. Acquaintance builds to understanding to love to resignation to further understanding to confusion to realization. There are stages and depths to relationships that ebb and flow with the time and circumstances and mood.
Working in the Malayalam language, they have churned out countless tunes and situations that would make any film maker/book lover swoon. It is not coincidence that the best movies are those by creators who read and write a lot. An untested random theory. Padmarajan’s grasp in painting with words spills over to his movies. Rain plays an important role in his movie Thoovanathumbikal, just like how rain plays an important role with Shimamoto’s character.
Doesn’t warm rain as a backdrop intensify everything in a story? Today, just as I finished reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s mind blowingly amazing book 100 Years of Solitude, all I remember is the oppressive, sweltering, deluge of torrential outburst over wormy guava groves, dusty almond trees, tattered banana leaves and mossy wooden pillars.
Even with such stellar characters like Rain, Murakami manages to under deliver.