Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I
Ri – Homeland of Uncertainity by Paulami Duttagupta is an adaptation of the movie Ri.
‘Ri’, is a Khasi word, which means country or say, homeland. This novel is a story about journey back to homeland. Literary speaking, we all are wanderers who are wandering around in order to locate our real roots, which are actually deeply located back in our homelands. Every single individual has his own perception for finding roots; it may be looking for satisfaction in professional life, happiness with family members or may be looking for some purpose in an aimless life. This story is about – ‘Ri’.
Based on the backdrop of terrorism in north eastern states and set in 2000s, the book makes an intelligent start with an introduction to the very concept of ‘north eastern sates’. I am confident that many of us know nothing about this region except a few names such as Shillong or Darjeeling or Cheerapunji.
The author sets the mood and tone of the story with a beginning laced with familiarizing the readers with the region; its geographical and cultural aspects – both beautiful and majestic. Then, she makes a twist and directs the attention towards a social menace – ‘Terrorism’. Yes, even these states were also grief stricken with an ‘inside-outside’ war. Like Kashmir, the youth were diverted towards the wrong routes in the name of freedom. Inadvertently, they stood against their own men in dress, their countrymen – their saviors. Within this gloomy situation prevails the uncertainty of homeland.
The author makes an attempt to highlight the plight (the uncertainty) of people in north east states through the story of Kyndiah (SP in Policeforce) and Manbha (a ‘so-called’ freedom fighter). She sensitizes on the aspect that how war, which the people claim to fight, becomes senseless, thus, seeking freedom from undesired bondage.
The characters are really strong and they are not merely the protagonists of the story rather they are the faces to the numerous thoughts and the mindsets of people out there! Kyundiah is a result-oriented and committed police officer who has left behind his family to serve his country. He heads his team and cares about his men like his own family. Contrastingly, is Manbha, who is actually a young blood vouching for responsibility, belongingness and recognition (just like any other young lad) but unknowingly, becomes a committed member of an outfit group, and is set on a mission.
She balances the story by incorporating the media outlook in the equation. She touches upon how media probes deeper into the issues but glorifies the plight. Indeed, a perfect example of shallow journalism. Starting from the blocked roads of Shillong, it traverses through India-Bangladesh border, Meghalaya and it ends up in openness of Church, located in Jowai, Meghalaya.
Reading this novel was a perception changing experience for me. It made me re-think if we should ever try to justify why terrorist groups are growing? It was frightening to learn how we (we all) debate about terrorism on a global scale but actually we have NO IDEA of what is happening in our own state. How the influencers make use of ‘Fight for freedom’ and ‘terrorism’ interchangeably for their own benefit at the cost of the commoners. What runs in the minds while performing inhumane tasks?
Read the story to learn how these issues affect the lives of the commons and the culprits alike and how the author suggests an alternate approach in the voice of Emika! Who is she? A Freedom fighter or a terrorist? The uncertainty prevails!
About the book
Ri – Homeland of Uncertainity – “People from this state sacrificed their lives for the sake of freedom for India but who knows about them? These selected chronicles of selected parts of the country, India, has always excluded us, and it hasn’t become self-sufficient yet. For half a century, independent India has only waited for some miracle to happen… and you still have hope?”
Trapped in the limbo between ideology and conscience, Manbha finds himself part of a terror outfit. An unexpected opportunity, anger, squalor and disillusionment –followed by armed combat and injury lead to the soul – searching that form the substance of this moving tale.
About the Author
Born in Shillong, many moons ago, with schooling at Loreto Convent, and an English Honors from St. Edmunds Collage, Paulami started her career with ‘All India Radio Shillong’. She wrote and also gave her voice to a few shows there. Later, she came down to Kolkata and got a post graduate degree in Comparitive Literature from Jadavpur University. She had also taken a fancy to learning Spanish, but today confesses that she has forgotten most of it.
In the past, she has written for ‘The Times of India’ in the ‘Guwahati – Shillong Plus’ edition and also ‘The Shillong Times’. Television had always attracted her and was connected to the Bangla TV industry for about 6 years. She was associated with ETV – Bangla, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath in this period.
Having left her day job in 2012, Paulami took up full time writing. Her first novel ‘Pinjar’ released in early 2012. She has also contributed to ‘Minds@work’ anthology in 2013. Her second novel ‘Unplanned Destiny’ released in 2014. She is also the screenplay writer of the National Award winning film – Ri Homeland of Uncertainty.
When she is not writing or watching movies, Paulami is either reading biographies or classic pieces of literature. Cricket, food, cinema, books and music are an integral part of her life.
About the Book
Title: Ri, - Homeland of Uncertainty
Author: Paulami Duttagupta
Publisher: Fablery Publications
Reviewed by Priyanka Batra Harjai, Book Blogger cum Book Reviewer.