Friday, February 25, 2011

Ruskin Bond - Susannah's Seven Husbands

I am a fan of Ruskin Bond, have been so ever since I read his little articles in The Tribune.  I discovered his short stories and anthologies later, when I read some of them in my daughter's prescribed English textbooks.  Till date I love Rusty best, and his wastral of an uncle who tried his hand at many things.

His books have been made into movies before, Junoon was based on A Flight of Pigeons, both great in their own way.  The Blue Umbrella was made into a fabulous movie by Vishal Bhardwaj.  Needless to say the promos of 7 Khoon Maaf had me hooked and I was double hooked when I learnt that it was based on a short story by Ruskin Bond, Susannah's Seven Husbands.  

I hied off to see 7 Khoon Maaf last Sunday and came back a wee bit disappointed.  Not that it wasn't good, it just wasn't brilliant.  I expected more out of the Bond-Bhardwaj combo.  The first couple of husbands were good, but after that the story seemed to falter, bolstered a bit by the Keemat Lal episode and  then, alas faltering again.  

But yet, such is my mania for Bond, that I ordered the book containing - hold your breath - the original short story, the novella that Bond expanded it into and the screenplay of the movie.  Just this morning I finished reading the story and the novella, in that order.

Bond's original short story is exactly what you expect of him.  It is short, intriguing, contains all his masterstrokes, it leaves you feeling mystified and satiated.  This Susannah was born long back, was tremendously rich, and was supposed to have a cellar full of treasures with snakes guarding it.  She was seen riding around the town in a buggy, rich and beautiful, admired and feared by all.  She had several husbands that she was rumored to have sent to their early graves.  Her ghost was said to have haunted the house and the surrounding areas, waylaying good looking men as she was said to be looking for a ideal mate.

The novella lists her husbands, expanding the story.  It introduces the character of Arun, Susannah's neighbour who was too young to be a lover, but was old enough to be her friend.  He is in love with her and talks to her and her gardner often, and is privy to the goings-on in the house.  In his characteristic style, Bond leaves an element of mystery about the husbands' death.  So we are not sure if these deaths were brought on or an accident.  An excellent ruse, I think.  

It makes for a fairly good read.  Bond has this admirable quality of saying just enough, not more nor less.  It stands him in good stead and as long as the husband is interesting, it carries you along.  It is not his best offering though.  It lacks the brilliance of many of his stories and novellas.  The packaging does not help either, with the poster of 7 Khoon Maaf on the cover.  Ruskin Bond does not need cheap tricks to sell his books. In my opinion he is a living legend.  His books and stories are going to live forever and we are watching history in making, he is going to be a classic.


















23 comments:

Smita said...

I was trying to find the book when somebody on Twitter saved me by telling me about the collection which had the book (as expected I already had it with me). Itoo loved the story for it's simplicity & the matter of fact way it was told in. Isn't that expectde from Bond uncle?

avdi said...

We know that dont we? Bond with the best!

My book has the novella too, and the screenplay. I didnt like reading the screenplay though.

YOSEE said...

R.Bond is a great read anyday. Had read Susannah before, so dint want to see the movie and have Ms.Chopra spoil Susannah for me .
I did like the movie 'Blue Umbrella' though !

gaurav said...

I was trying to find the book ... but book to mil hi nahi rahi hai.... koi bta skta hai ki book kaun se site me milege.......susannah's seven husbands

Sandy said...

Humm.. I dont know, I had read many short stories in NCERT books in school times.

But yes.. the movie felt exactly like u described. let me take that book & then hopefully it would be better than the movie itself

Nimita said...

Smitha... do tell me the collection that has the book... couldn't find it in the stores... Thanks

Nimita said...

Smitha... you said about a collection that had the book?...could you tell me which one...cant find one in my city

avdi said...

Yosee - I agree totally. The room on the roof and Time Stops at Shamli are two of my fave RB stories, apart from Rusty stories. I loved both Vishal Bhardwaj's and Ruskin Bond's Blue Umbrella.

avdi said...

Gaurav - I got the book from flipkart.

Nimita - Looks like Smita has vanished. Alas even I cant help.

avdi said...

Sandy - I used to read Ruskin Bond stories in my kids' school books :D

javarevisited said...

I saw the movie today. looking for book now :)

Javin
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avdi said...

Java- It was all over the bookstore when I visited one today.

luv said...

could anyone please mail the ebook to me? mirjampie@hotmail.com

mohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Susanna's Seven Husbands by Ruskin Bond. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

The Nomadic Archaeologist said...

Well written....Ruskin Bond's Susannah did actually exist. She was Dutch and had seven husbands. Her tomb is situated in Chinsurah, West Bengal (Chinsurah was a dutch colony) an imposing structure and protected by the ASI. Her full name was Susanna Anna Maria!!!!

avinoor said...

i can find my storie:-)

rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Susanna's Seven Husbands by Ruskin Bond. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

avdi said...

Rohit, I hear its a new trend to publish screenplays of books. This one is interesting.

BookwormTigress said...

hi, m a huge fan of bond myself........... my first novel was a collection of short stories by him.... n all of a sudden when d movie has come and gone i feel lyk reading d actual work.........don't u have any ebook?????

avdi said...

No e book I am afraid. Its worth buying the 3 in 1 deal, as it gives you an idea how a story evolves.

Abhay Patel said...

Thank you for sharing such a nice information. i appreciate your work.


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Peterdell said...

Thank you !!

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Ava Suri said...

Thank you, Abhay, Peterdell.

 
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