Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | June 28, 2009

A book and a film

Recently I watched the film Yes Man among many that I watch every week. I was pleased with the concept of saying ‘YES’ to life after watching the film ‘Yes Man’, but I wondered why doesn’t Jim Carey holds back his unique eccentricities in some of his roles like he successfully did in Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind or Truman Show. When I discussed watching the film with one of my British friends, she said though she has not watched the film but she has read the book and recommended me that I read the book too. Following that I borrowed the book from the library and I must say after I have read the book, I wish Hollywood did not make the film the way they did.

‘Yes Man’ by Danny Wallace is not a piece of literature that would be among your collectibles but nevertheless it is hilarious to read a normal man’s experiences when he decides, enough of negativity all around and he would say yes to everything that comes his way. The book is written like a Diary is written and is based on believable true events.

Danny, a radio producer with BBC during the time when he wrote this book, was losing most of his friends because he was negative. When his friends asked him to join them for a gathering, he would typically make excuses, when his boss in office asked him for taking up extra responsibility he would avoid, when a sales person would try and explain to him a new product he would refuse even looking at it, his entire day would be spent either cribbing about things or mocking the world at large. The things to which Danny regularly said ‘No’ to actually resemble many people’s life and perhaps to some extent mine too.

After realizing that this is perhaps not the best way to live life, Danny decides to do the extreme – say Yes to everything. Therefore, he starts from replying to spam emails ending up making new acquaintances, listening and then buying new things when marketers called his phone, meeting friends and going out and enjoying, donating money to every charity that asked for his help, trying food that he did not try before, watching plays which he never thought he would watch etc. Not all his experiences were good and rational but then he says he was happy since he thought saying Yes helped him to feel upbeat. In the book he explains his experiences in a humorous way and also narrates how he benefited in his life despite being close to trouble a number of times.

‘Yes Man’ is certainly not written as a management book and is not preachy at all. It is written in a narrative style to share a man’s experience with saying yes to everything. As I noted before, it is hilarious. Never does it ask the reader to ‘be positive’ or some such thing but it just narrates how Danny behaved when he was ‘doing positive’ rather than ‘thinking positive’. In fact, he also narrates what is frustrating about saying YES to every thing.

Purists may not like the book as Danny Wallace may appear to be a shallow humourist created by the new age media but I liked the book because after a long time something made me laugh without being crass.

Also, Danny’s experiences were not out of the world (as Jim’s characters were in the film and that is why the film fails miserably) and that is why one can easily relate to them.

I am posting this promotional video by Danny Wallace about this book. Look how he ends up buying the same magazine a number of times because someone asked him to buy it more than once. He could not avoid because he said ‘Yes’.

I would say try this book and you may like it.

————

I also watched the film ‘Doubt’ recently starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. Doubt is a film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by John Patrick Shanley and is directed by Shanley himself.

The story, performances and thought behind ‘Doubt’ simply bowled me over and I wondered despite being nominated for as many as five Academy Awards it did not win any. At least it should have won definitely for Best Supporting Actress.

Doubt is set in mid 60’s in a church and its adjoining catholic school. The school is managed by Sisters of Charity who are controlled by the Church. The film’s plot revolves around an incident that concerns a student in the school and the Church and how different characters react to that incident. It is a gripping drama and once you start watching it, you cannot stop. I don’t want to talk about the plot of the film that one can find here.

Why did Doubt appeal to me?

Firstly, in the most unlikely setting it is one of the most fast paced drama that I have seen in recent times. Secondly, it is neither a horror (murder) film nor it is a court room drama but it gets your adrenalin rushing the moment it takes pace. Thirdly, the dialogues in the films are powerful. Fourthly, as I said it is laced with outstanding performances. I have hardly ever seen a film in recent times where ALL the performers act so brilliantly. Fifthly, it educates a little about the internal conflicts between Sisters of Charity and Church (dominated mainly by male priests). After watching this film, I would certainly read much more about how these institutions operated.

I liked it more because I have mostly been educated in Christian missionary school and could see traces of people I have come across in the characters.

Doubt is certainly a must watch film.

——-
29/06/2009

While our friends and family are awaiting rain in most of India, last night we experienced a major storm in Auckland. In fact, it has been raining from Saturday night continuously and the kind of lightning we witnessed last night scared us a bit.

In India, we are used to thunderstorms but in coastal areas such as Auckland, I think it is a bit different.

Here are some of the pictures published in New Zealand Herald regarding yesterday’s strike. I was too scared to take pictures from my balcony.

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Responses

  1. I haven’t watched the movie nor read the book. I heard that the movie is reasonably funny and this is the first time I am hearing of the book 🙂 Will be sure to catch both! Doubt is on my list too. Meryl Streep is one of all time favourites!


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