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September 13, 2012 / subramanyam

I read Godaan.

          There are many books we read, some of them entertain us, some make us sit on the edge and make us turn pages to find out what actually happens.  Some reenergize us to face the world in a much better way. However, if  a book transports us to the age in which it was written, leaves an indelible impression on us to an extent that we cannot forget the characters and their behavior.  If the book makes you laugh, cry and identify yourself with its characters you know,  you know you are reading a classic.

          Last week, myself and Wifey were dawdling aimlessly and happened to see a book exhibition and sale @ Ameerpet.  We were browsing through the books there, that I happened to see the book “Godaan” by Munshi Premchand. It was a Telugu translation of the great work of Premchand and it was available for just Rs 35/- . I had no second thoughts while picking the book.  I neither knew about the book nor about the translator at that time. All I knew was Munshi saab was a great writer, hence picked it.

                 Once I picked it up, there was no looking back.  The story was woven beautifully, so beautifully that I fell in love with the narration.  Godaan is the story of Hori, who is a farmer in a village in north India.  All he wants to own is a cow. How this farmer ends up becoming an agricultural laborer, how he changes from being an owner to a worker  and how fate plays its cruel games with him forms the crux of the story.  There are two tracks in the story one that runs in a pure village background and the one that runs in the towns and cities. The changing lifestyles, the different perspectives and the disconnect between these two populaces are brought to light in this story.

           If Godaan makes sense to me 80 years after it was actually written, its purely because of its wonderful characters and the lucid writing style. The characters in Premchand’s books are always intriguing , his characters are very close to the real world and carry probably all the shades, the good, the bad and the ugly parts of a person’s character.  Whether it’s a vexed wife, a belligerent son, a grief trodden young widow , a hypocritic leader, a cruel money-lender or  a good Samaritan philosophy professor, Premchandji makes sure the sketch is complete.  Actually the way these characters evolve from the turmoil  in the day to day life makes us connect to them.  As you read the book you would feel that you have come across these people in real life.  Things, on which we have little or perhaps no control  actually call shots in our lives isn’t it ?  Premachand, in this book makes us realize that this  universal truth and has nothing to do with the era, place and family a person is born into. The book made me realize that the commodities, things and facilities, food and clothing habits etc .. in life would have changed, but the struggle in a day to life still remains the same. That’s probably why I was able to connect very well with this book.


The telugu book I read.

The simple writing style of Premachandji and his non-judgemental attitude deserve a special mention, he does not take sides.  This is the fourth book of  Munshi Premchandji which I read, each and every book was fantastic. Somehow, in each and every book I was transported to the pre-  independent era and was learning the way the society of that day was coming to terms with the changing times. Of the four I read till now Godaan is the kingpin. The positive tone at the end that the next generations horizons got expanded and they are looking for much better opportunities leaves us with a good feeling . Do read this book when you have time. If you know about any of the other works of Munshi Premchandji  do refer them to me.

P.S. :  The review would incomplete if I donot acknowledge the contribution of the translator. I know little about Samatha Koteswararao who translated this book into my mother tongue Telugu. She has done a fantastic job with the translation.

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