Through the prism of life emerges The Mad Tibetan: Stories from Then and Now. Each story carries the visual and emotional impact, and vivacity of a film.
I have a bundle of books (I am sure we all do!) that have been picked up because of the Author’s name. Many have lived up to those expectations and some have been a let-down. Not necessarily bad but yes they have dwindled. Regrettably, in the latter category belongs The Mad Tibetan, by Deepti Naval.
I have been an admirer of the art-house actress Deepti Naval. Her name as an author was enough to make me want to read this collection of eleven short stories. The compilation is a mixed bag, some are her personal accounts and some figments of her imagination. I would agree that each story does in fact have the potential ‘vivacity of a film’ but they all seem half-baked. Was Ms. Naval in a hurry while penning these? I wonder!
The title story The Mad Tibetan starts on a different tangent and ends on a different one. There was potential to close the loop and tie the two ends together but sadly that didn’t happen. After all, the title story is expected to be the strongest and the main focus. Stories like D and Thulli too lacked the magic I expected from her, these were supposed to be through the ‘prism of life’. Since she is an industry insider, I was looking forward to the story Balraj Sahni. She could have explored and added a unique angle to the veteran actor’s story. Why didn’t she?
Enough of the negative, I’d like to share my top four stories of her collection. The Piano Tuner would knock on your heart and it has immense potential to be developed into a screenplay. I secretly wish this would have been the focus of her collection. I liked The Morning After too, feels like a variation of the 1983 movie Masoom (which isn’t a bad thing), it deserves to be re-read. Ruth Mayberry will invoke emotions from the deepest corners of your heart for the protagonist. I felt the turmoil and the character’s frustration with the story Birds. This was a not-so-simple and a moving one!
However, four stories weren’t enough to salvage the book overall. Yes, they didn’t see the light of their potential. Hope the next time around Deepti Naval will give us a more gripping book or a short stories’ collection.
Rating: 2.5/5 (with a heavy heart)