People who are familiar with me even in the slightest, know for a fact that I am probably the biggest cinephile in their circle. Now, I’m well aware of the eyebrows that will be raised by a few fellow peers as to how (and why) a cinephile – a pseudo-intellectual one at that *cough cough* – is narrating a story about falling in love with books. Well, that’s because I please to do so – that’s why!

Notwithstanding my rant directed at imaginary, non-existent haters, I feel that books and cinema are intricately connected by a common thread: they are both effective means of storytelling. Books can be spaceships; books can be time machines. Reading a good book is like stepping inside a portal that can teleport you to a parallel universe, an alternate timeline in the past, present or future. To make things less esoteric, I would like to share a couple of fascinating experiences. I hope mentioning the two together will help the readers make some sense of what I’m trying to convey.

  • As a child, I remember reading Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan. This happened ten years ago, when a naïve 11-year-old me fervently believed in things that the present me would cringe at. That being said, it seems like only yesterday I was transporting those fictional characters – the loyal friends, the enigmatic family members and the strict teachers – into my real life. A 1935 classic set in a town far away from Jalandhar, the place I was based in at that point of time, was so inexplicably close to my heart. It was perhaps the magic of R.K. Narayan, or it is probably what books are supposed to do – they give you an insight into reality by taking you far away from it!

Shubang Gautam remains a great fan of R.K. Narayan and his works

  • The 15-year-old me was busy reading a James Hadley Chase classic when he should have been preparing for his board exams. As I grew up, I became as cynical as the archetypal detective I had been reading about. Apparently, as my father would say, pulp fiction is more like the tissue paper of literature – it is meant to be used and then thrown away, rather than being taken too seriously. However, I feel that even the most clichéd crime thrillers can engage you. Oh and before you start wondering about it, I didn’t exactly sail through my boards. But looking back, I don’t really regret the time I invested in those riveting reads.

As you can see, both the experiences happened in different settings, yet it was my love for reading that runs through them as a common thread – just like storytelling does with books and cinema!


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