Gorky in the lower depths of mother Russia

Maxim Gorky was arguably the most famous writer in the world at the turn of the 20th century. His novel Mother inspired millions of workers for generations. His play The Lower Depths, was among the first plays to detail the lives of the lower classes in a very realistic, unromantic manner.  But Gorky is now more or less forgotten. How did this happen? A key to this lies in the answers to the following questions: Why did Gorky, who had severely criticized the October 1917 revolution, go back to Russia under the regime of Joseph Stalin? Why did the man who would publicly denounce such gifted men as Lenin and Trotsky, succumb to the guile of the much less gifted (and more ruthless) Stalin? Continue reading Gorky in the lower depths of mother Russia

Dilip Kumar: The Chekhovian Amateur who redefined acting

Anton Chekhov revolutionized modern playwriting and short stories. And he is one my favorite writers. Thus, I remember being confused when I first read that Hemingway had said the following about him: “Chekhov wrote about 6 good stories. But he was an amateur writer”. I have never quite been able to understand why Hemingway called Chekhov an amateur. Whatever the truth of it, I now realize that its at least not an illogical statement, lest one feels that an ‘amateur’ couldn’t possibly redefine plays and short stories. There is another ‘amateur’ who also redefined his field and its a pity that he is largely unknown outside the South Asian sub-continent. That person is Dilip Kumar, Continue reading Dilip Kumar: The Chekhovian Amateur who redefined acting

The Ghost of Bob Dylan: On the two models of poetry

I remember I first listened to Bob Dylan’s songs back in 2004 when I was studying in the small town of Colchester (the oldest town, and the first capital of Britain). I found myself relating to his songs in a way that I had never related to music before. The combination of his powerful lyrics and wildly raw singing style left me enthralled. For instance, I still can’t get over how someone can write the following lines:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind Continue reading The Ghost of Bob Dylan: On the two models of poetry

Re-Modeling Iqbal: Why Iqbal is too important to be given up!

Dr Muhammad Iqbal wrote the national song of India, has been declared the national poet of Pakistan, and served as the intellectual influence for Iran’s  revolutionaries. However, over the last few years, there has been an ever-growing allergy towards Iqbal among the liberal sections of Pakistan

Iqbal is presently claimed by the right; in the past he was also strongly claimed by the left. Now, since there is no Continue reading Re-Modeling Iqbal: Why Iqbal is too important to be given up!