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Of Celluloid Dreams and Revenge Comedy

G.J.V. Prasad

By Krishna Shastri Devulapalli
HarperCollins, Delhi, 2013, pp. 296, Rs. 299.00


Take a bow KSD! One crackling humor- ous novel is difficult enough, you have now given us two. I thought Ice Boys in Bell-bottoms was going to be a difficult act to follow (and it was meant to be the first of a trilogy, but the second is yet to come) but you have come up with the seriously funny Jump Cut. Indian English readers have waited decades for a writer like this.   The problem with writing reviews for novels is that however circumspect you are you may still end up revealing too much and spoiling things for new readers. So, apologies in advance to both the writer and potential readers. This is a novel set in Chennai (where else), a city that seems to flow in the veins of KSD, a city of celluloid dreams and nightmares, a city that gets a regular supply of aspirants from the smaller towns and villages, and a city that sends a regular supply of aspirants to the United States of America. So many of the citizens of Chennai live without meeting the tribes that inhabit Kodambakkam that sometimes it takes an effort to realize that Chennai is not only the city of politicians and their shenanigans, not just the city of aspiration for ordinary people, but also the city of the extraordinary people who see themselves as part of the dream world of cinema, one that ends badly for many. This is the city that KSD writes about, one where the classes exist in mutually exclusive zones but cross each other all the time.   The novel is a delicious story of vendetta and modern romance, how the hero succeeds in giving it to the bad guy and how he also ends up with the right girl, about how a son relates to his father, how he repays his fillial debt to a man who was ripped off by a plagiarist of a filmmaker (so difficult to find another kind of a filmmaker in India, so much so that KSD has a line somewhere that says that the only original work that is done in Indian cinema is by the transport and catering departments!). The novel begins with whiz kid Ray Raman coming back from the US to Chennai to visit his father who has been hospitalized. We meet his usual circle —the rich Abie (a Syrian Christian who lusts after well-endowed women ...

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