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Calcutta Diary

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Calcutta Diary
Calcutta Diary
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Cal Reverie

Paul Theroux’s latest novel, A Dead Hand, is set in Calcutta: a mixture of literary novel, crime thriller and city book. But given Theroux’s characteristically crabbity—though affectionate—portrayal of the city, it’s unlikely that it’ll win him any popularity contests. Thanks to his acute travel writer’s eye, A Dead Hand is an intensely visual book, and reading it, one can almost see the movie playing inside one’s head. An interesting game to play is thinking up how the movie should be cast. It would probably be directed by Peter Weir, who is Theroux’s favourite director (though there’s a strong case to be made for Mira Nair). Only Ravi Shankar could do the music, perhaps in collaboration with Peter Gabriel, as in the Passion album they did together. Tommy Lee Jones would make a good Jerry Delfont, the book’s travel writer protagonist. Jessica Lange could have made a great, appropriately sensuous Mrs Unger, if only she’d been a few years younger. So I suppose we’d have to settle for Michelle Pfeiffer...or maybe Madonna? The exotic Parvati—danseuse, poet and kalaripayattu expert—would be who? Kajol? Bipasha? Surely not Lara Dutta? Theroux, who makes a startling cameo appearance as himself in the novel, would obviously be played by himself (hey, if Rushdie can do it, why can’t he?)

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