10 October 2023 | By: Writing Buddha

Didi by Nirupama Devi/Alo Shome (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

2085th BLOG POST

31st Book of 2023

I recently got an opportunity to read a book which was written more than 100 years back in 1915 by Nirupama Devi named “Didi”. It was originally written in Bengali language and is known to be one of its modern classics. I have read its English translation currently which has been translated by Alo Shome. This 232-pages book published by Rupa Publications speaks about the society during that era when there weren’t many legal parameters for the society to maintain good balance with all the parties/genders/people.


In this book, Didi, Nirupama Devi talks about the kind of life few women had to lead due to the issues such as polygamy, widowhood etc. She also speaks about how boys were themselves confused about their personalities as most of them were governed by their father and did what was asked them to do. Author has used three major characters – Surama, Amar and Charu to make us go through the societal dilemma as well as the different state of mind that a human being goes through when they get stuck in a life which is not of their choice.


There are several other supporting characters also who gives story a nice push whenever it moves slow. The plot doesn’t have much but it is still unique as the circumstances keeps changing for all the characters due to unforeseen happenings around them in family and beyond. I liked the shades in the character of Surama – who is basically the protagonist in the story. The way she stays calm even after knowing that her husband is about to bring second wife at home gives you inner strength. Her rebellious nature once she finds another woman under the same roof makes you uncomfortable to see change in her demeanor. Then, the chemistry between both- Surama and Charu, the 2nd wife of Amar, is written so magically that it is what also gives the name to the title of the book- DIDI. I was surprised to read their conversations where Surama regularly guided and helped her on day-to-day basis.


The character of Amar is also dynamic as he ends up getting married for both the times due to pressure and circumstances. He has to deal with the changed attitude of Surama due to his decision of 2nd marriage but he continues to handle the situation without anyone’s support. He loses control on his emotions in between but realizes that he is doing wrong with people in his life. Similarly, the chemistry between Surama and her father-in-law is so beautiful that every girl would want to get married in a home with such an impartial and understanding guardian.


Author has also used the locales and aesthetics of the era beautifully. All those letter scenes are so nostalgic as someone who’s born in 90s, I was able to relate with the curiosity of sending and receiving letters. The temple scenes are nicely described which makes us imagine the whole scenario easily.


Overall, the book helps us understand the challenges of human beings when they are thrown into circumstances they weren’t prepared to handle. I feel that the translation might have taken away a bit of the essence from the story but still, it helps you understand the intent behind the creation of the tale. I give this book 3.5* out of 5.






9 October 2023 | By: Writing Buddha

Sridevi : The South Years by Amborish Roychoudhury (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!

2084th BLOG POST

30th Book of 2023

There are few authors who can chose to do easy work considering their immense knowledge base on a subject but they still choose to go ahead and write something from the same field of work which needs a lot of deep diving. Amborish Roychoudhury is one such author. I can say this with utmost clarity even when he is just 2 books old because I have read both his work. His 1st book spoke about the cult movies which shaped Bollywood differently. It was a very interesting book as author talked about movies which we don’t generally speak about.


This time, author went ahead and wrote a biography on Sridevi named “Sridevi: The South Years”. As the name of the title suggests, author takes us through the whole timeline of her journey in South movies about which most of us know nothing at all. He could have easily chosen to write about her Bollywood journey for which researching would have been easy but yet he chose to go the difficult path. This 194-pages book made me feel so small as it gives us such basic information about Sridevi’s formative years that we realize we know so little about the subjects we think we know everything.


Author’s research is evident in every chapter as he has to go through different languages in which movies are made in South- Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. Author is able to provide us a clear distinction between her career in all these languages and it doesn’t become confusing at all. Yes, I agree that reading the name of movies and people from Southern India is tough for rest of us but it’s something about which author could not have done anything to make it easier for us.


The book is not only formative but motivating as well. There are few pointers that I would like to mention which were new and inspiring for me:

Sridevi started working in film industry right from the age of 4.

She never took any holidays or leaves for almost 3.5 decades and worked continuously until her marriage had to come in between to make her take a break.

She never took formal training in acting but learnt everything on set itself from renowned directors of South movies while shooting for her movies.

Her mother took most of her decisions regarding which movies to choose and she trusted upon her throughout her career.

She had become popular before Kamal Hassan and Rajanikanth. They became super star later. Hence, she can be called their senior.

She was able to play almost all kinds of relationship with the same actor in different movies such as- Mother, Sister and daughter as well. This is something not many actors can handle.

She had become Superstar in Bollywood where she was seen as a diva whereas in South industry, she was considered as an actor-material only.

She didn’t use to shy away from doing more than 20 movies with any actor. She was okay getting casted with the same actor in similar/different relationships across movies.

I wasn’t aware that Amitabh Bachchan’s movies used to get remade in South languages back in the day. Sridevi was part of few of them.

Rajanikanth was originally casted mostly as a villain. He turned into being a full-fledged lead actor only later when the audience response on his win against actor received more applauses.

Sridevi was able to play a child character as well as an adult role at the age of 14- both at the same time which is a rare phenomenon.


Collectively, the book is full of facts that we are not aware about this personality called Sridevi and why she was able to rule Bollywood as soon as she entered into it. It was because of the immense amount of work she had done in the South. Amborish is able to take us through her whole journey very smoothly. He makes it an easy read with small chapters – each of them focusing on one aspect or phase of her life. I am glad he didn’t touch Bollywood much to excite readers but stayed firm on his intention towards writing this biography with a purpose. Overall, this is an enjoyable read. I give the book 4.5 stars out of 5.