Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kavalu (ಕವಲು) - Book Review

The new Kannada novel is about sex and feminism – it’s pros and cons, in various cultures, at various stages of life. Without actually describing the act, Bhyrappa tries to dissect the concept of sex and its affect on one’s life in the backdrop of the feminist feelings.

The novel starts off in a police station, with the arrest of an industrialist. A few chapters are spent on the description and background of the characters. 
Two stories run in parallel.
 
The first story is of an industrialist, his dead wife, his mentally challenged daughter, his extra marital affairs, his second wife, her affairs, her feminist feelings and her son.
The second story is about a teacher in university, her feminist feelings, her affairs, her husband, her husband’s lifestyle, their separation and their daughter.

The first story is weaved with a thread called sex . The crux of the story - How a casual sex with a co-worker can turn the life on its head? And how the sex starved couple resort to other means and its effects.

The second story is weaved with a thread called feminism. Crux of this story – The efforts of a lady who wants to survive alone, breaking the net called “family”. Suspicions, legal hassles add to the additional glamour of the story.

Though the characters of the stories meet, the stories never. The work could have been split easily into 2 books.

The author brings in a small story about the western culture family setup (live-in, pre-nuptial agreements) basically to highlight the pitfalls of that culture.

The book starts off slowly and picks pace in the last 120 pages. After the boring start, many characters enter, to increase the tempo.

The legal aspects of divorce, domestic violence are the interesting portions in the book.

Known for his strong views in his earlier works, Bhyrappa tries to provide a balanced view on the women rights without taking any stance here. Reader can’t sympathize with any specific character of the book.  The book is full of Bhyrappa’s trademark language and style of writing.  The author seems to have been in a hurry and leaves many loose threads at the end. 

I do not want to become a spoiler by revealing more about the storyline in the book.

Simply putting – “Kavalu (ಕವಲು)” is not worth the hype created and not worth the name - SL Bhyrappa (ಸಂತೇಶಿವರ ಲಿಂಗಣ್ಣಯ್ಯ ಭೈರಪ್ಪ). The story line could be the material for movie - "Sex and Dhoka".
Overall a disappointing Kannada novel.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like an interesting read ;)

-sundar

MK said...

Even I too read the book and was highly disappointed and disgusted. This book comes no where near to the league of Bhyrappa's other classics like Parva, Gruhabhanga, Avarana, Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane and Vamshavruksha. As you rightly mentioned, the two parallel stories never meet even though there is a very loose link at the end. I felt, the characters are highly exaggerated and seem to live in a pseudo world. Novel ends in a typical filmi-style. None of the characters come close to heart and I felt, Bhyrappa has failed to depict any human relation in real way.

There is over emphasis on extra marital affairs. The fact that industrialist's second wife does not know who the "real" father of her child sounds ridiculous. There are many such shocking and very silly plots in the novel.

Kavalu surely is a black spot in Bhyrappa's works.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Sundar - I know what you mean ;)

@MK - Spot on. Bhyrappa's worst book. Ill-prepared work.

Sanjay said...

I beg to differ from your view that the novel takes a balanced view. As a matter of fact, it is an outright attack on feminism and the laws that have been created to prevent exploitation of women. If the parallel story had depicted how the laws have benefited the women, the novel would have been balanced.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Sanjay - Your views are appreciated.

The author seemed to take a strong stance, but diluted it by bringing in the 2nd dowry case involving the indutrialist's brother. Even the 1st dowry case seemed to be a clear case against the industrialist's mom. Bhyrappa has not attacked this system as strongly as he has in his earlier novels.
Slight mockery with no strong counter attack was not his style.

Narendra said...

It is another excellent work from Bhyrappa.
It brings out the issue that our society is facing today.
Women movements are gaining momentum and lot of false cases are getting lodged in courts.
This can happen to you tomorrow.
If a complaint is lodged in the name of dowry or wife harassment, the first step is arrest and it will be very difficult to get bail.
And in the end (if you have luck) you might be able to prove that you are innocent. But, at the cost of what - by that time you would have spent a lot of money, mental agony, humiliation, loss of business, etc.

So, if you understand the seriousness of the problem, then you will understand this novel.

This is not some imagination. Many girls are taking undue advantage of the prevailing laws and duping the husbands and making money.

Recently I heard that, a girl looted Rs.13 lakh from her father-in-law, disappeared suddenly and after few days the her husband and father-in-law were arrested.
After looting the money, she has lodged a dowry harassment case and applied for divorce and asking for compensation!!

What do you do, if you are in that husband or father-in-laws position?

"Kavalu" is trying to bring out this problem that is going to get bigger!

Narendra said...

Forgot to subscribe to comments. Writing this post to subscribe.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Narendra – Nice to know your views.
I tend to agree with you regarding the dowry cases that have been happening recently. And arrest is almost imminent in most of the cases. It’s a true mental torture for victims.

But what has this novel told about it? 20-30 pages on dowry cases. And I liked those small portions (I have mentioned this in my blog). I also liked that Bhyrappa tried to show both sides of the coin (though not convincing enough). But this book is not a prescription for the patients of dowry problem.

But the other portions occupy major space and are centered around sex. And there nobody is correct - the industrialist, his second wife, her boyfriend, the university reader, the politician.
What is Bhyrappa trying to tell here? That the society is corrupt and lost all morals. Hmm…Bhyrappa has played to the stands here.
Even the issue of prostitute, what was the point? Is protesting against men who go to prostitutes, wrong? Or should prostitutes get equal or more punishment than the guys who use them?

I am a fan of his writing, but my stand remains – This novel is no match to his previous works. We expect more from this great author.

Finally a request to you, Mr Narendra – Please deter using personal remarks like “This can happen to you tomorrow.” “What do you do, if you are in that husband or father-in-laws position?”

Narendra said...

> Finally a request to you, Mr
> Narendra – Please deter using
> personal remarks

Take my apologies if it sounded like personal comments.
It was not directed at anybody. I was just suggesting to step in the shoes of those characters in the novel and think.

I am not asking anybody to change their views. I only tried to give a background for the "katha vasthu" in the novel.

You are free to judge the novel with the spectacles you are using.

I agree that, all the characters in this novel are being influenced by sex and all the mistakes are centred around that act only.
But the point raised is: Only the man is getting the punishment. None of the women characters (except the mother who goes to jail in case of false dowry harassment case) get any punishment.
Author is pointing out that, the law is getting biassed and even though grave mistakes are committed by women, they are not being punished. But, the main character in the novel was being misused by the women and he got the punishment!!

Law should be impartial; Men and Women should be equal in the eyes of law. Just because some women groups put pressure, the court should not get influenced.

So, I feel that the novel is close to real life, other than the sexual acts. But, these sexual acts are also becoming more and more common. 2 weeks back 2 lawyers fought and the lady advocate was killed in the high court premises itself. There are numerous such incidents happening among the educated youth. So, may be, if we don't take precautions, these might become more common in the near future.

Lost in thoughts said...

Thanks Narendra.

Law aspect, we see the story from the industrialist side. What about the prostitute's side? Will she be treated indifferently in the society and law? This is not shown fully(probably intentionally). Bail is temporary relief.

As you mentioned dowry laws do not discriminate on gender.

Honestly, its a pleasure to hear different views. Thanks for sharing.

Narendra said...

> dowry laws do not discriminate on gender.
When a dowry case is filed, there are 2 parties. The case would have been filed by the girl and the other party is her husband and his family.
Now, if the law is not partial, then enquiry should be conducted to find whether a crime has been committed or is it a false complaint.
Now when a dowry complaint is filed, the first action is to arrest the husband and his family.
So, I feel the law is completely partial to the girl who has filed the complaint.
And in the court, the husband will have to struggle to prove that he is innocent!!

Lost in thoughts said...

This debate is never ending.

Dowry law doesn't discriminate gender - Meant the lady(mom-in-law) or the guys(husband or father-in-law) are not treated differently.

Narendra said...

> Dowry law doesn't discriminate gender
I would have agreed if it had followed the path of any other complaint.
Complaint will follow with enquiry and other things will follow.
In dowry complaint, arrest happens first, even before enquiry.

The law assumes that the husband is at fault immediately once the complaint is filed. If there is no prejudice then how can the law know that the husband is at fault even without any enquiry?

srikanth said...

I am in totally disagreement with your views.
Itz a great work by SLB. He has portrayed the western influence that is going on indian mindset, the way people pick the bad portion of wester culture which leads to self destruction of ILLA and MANGALA.
Take the case of Jayakumar's mother. SHe at her age of 80 brings in so much new life to Vasale (PUTTAKKA)which shows the positive about women. Also ILLA's daughter she is totally different from her mother and she enjoys a good life.
I am so pleased to read this book.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Srikanth - Good to know your views!

Raju said...

Kavalu is yet another great novel. We should come out of Bhyrappa's image in our minds to better understand Kavalu, I mean we should not let his earlier works prejudice our views. After all SLB's novels don't belong to any genre and this is a new experiment imo.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Raju - Bhyrappa's previous works are haunting. They are really class. I cant say the same about this.

Anonymous said...

Kavalu is a superb novel which highlights how the society is disintegrating in various ways.

Ramamurthy said...

I agree. Bhyrappa's not good. It has taken 6 prints basically because of the hype an his past reputation. If any other author had written this book, it would have been a flop.

CruiserDeep said...

I think the reviewer is in denial , he can't digest the hard facts of life and the surreal trauma which legal terrorism unleashes.

He is just another guy who will only know its real, when the boot hits his own behind!

Lost in thoughts said...

@CruiserDeep - Good that you reviewed me (the reviewer)!

My point is that the novel doesn't focus on legal hassles as much as it should.

A line from my blog in case you missed it - "The legal aspects of divorce, domestic violence are the interesting portions in the book."

Anyway like me, you too have a right to voice your opinion. That's appreciated!
I would request you to avoid making personal remarks!

CruiserDeep said...

I don't even know you to pass personal remarks, I believe I just did what you did to Bhyrappa - Review.

I just had a feeling that you thought the situations/narration in the novel was exaggerated(going through ur comments on this post), thats why I thought you were in denial of the truth these days.... it can get very surreal when false dowry cases are plopped on one, for no fault of self.

Lost in thoughts said...

@CruiserDeep - Chill!
I have immense respect for Bhyrappa. And his previous works have taken him to a different class altogether. I have no intention to insult the person - Bhyrappa.

In case I have in any way, my apologies.

The dowry case debate is never ending...And I would leave it at that.

CruiserDeep said...

Dowry Prohibition act is actually very easy to assess: Its not a deterrent for giving or taking, its a tool for extortion when misused(no punishment for misusers, so no fear of punishment)

Anonymous said...

All Said & done, the author is the same, whereas his work has chosen a different strata

Lost in thoughts said...

@Anonymous -
That was very diplomatic ;-)
I like it.

Nagesh said...

This work shows how differently individuals get influenced by various aspects of changing society and culture .......... and struggle to maintain their perceptions about various human beliefs at different stages of life.

There is nothing wrong or right to discuss about his work.

Beauty of this book is, it makes you to think and imagine as well.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Nagesh - That's a nice way to look at it.

vinayak said...

Kavalu is one of another excellent work from Bhyrappa.
It shows out the issue that our society is facing today.

some one who can not understand the KAVALU pls don't comment on this ...
!!!

Lost in thoughts said...

@vinayak-it would be good to hear different views about a work. I think even Bhyrappa would appreciate it(this is only my thought). It is a bit rude to ask people not to comment.

Anonymous said...

Kavalu is not at all againset wemen

RAGHURAM said...

the novel is really good and another feather in the cap of BHYRAPPA's collection

Lost in thoughts said...

the sales of the novel are really good, that way its really a feather in the cap for Bhyrappa.

Anonymous said...

wixppvelncksbwebts... Nail Fungus Treatment, DMYuLBI...

sudarshana gururajarao said...

Bhyrappa's novels take an approach that is not very conventional. Because he has a deep command on the logic and philosophy his writings may not suit to everyone's tastes. Perhaps he could only come out and explain eh he let the two stores run in parallel but not meet. I suppose all the incidents.that happen in society don't need to be connected although it might be conventional to think so. I like his novels for the deep philosophy he brings in to the characters be it good or bad and make me go back and do some reading on the ancient Indian philosophy . Aavarana for example took an entirely new path in its sfr acne so did parva.
SLB is known for his deep.Passion for the sanatan tradition ,, one may have a different view but as a resident in a western country ,the life here sucks and so does.the.society . The liberalism that this society has been practicing has thrown values away and family as a.unit is.pretty much.non existent. Swinging the issue from one end to another does society no good. The dowry issue has the same fate.

Sudarshan

Lost in thoughts said...

Thanks Sudarashana for your views. I agree with your comments on Parva and Aavarana.Also agree that Bhyrappa has deep command on logic and philosophy. Somehow i felt that these elements were missing in Kavalu to a great extent.
But again its my opinion only.

chandana said...

hello sir,am feeling very sorry to not hav found this site b4,by the way i too was disappointed by this novel,but let me clarify one thing,it may seem outrageous,but it happens all around us. i hope his next one wud be on women who r modern and educated yet not able to fight thier maritial odds..

Lost in thoughts said...

thanks chandana for your comments..yeah bhyrappa will definitely come up with something special...hope that happens shortly.

ramesh b said...

I am also disappointed. It is NOT in the same class as his old classic ones like Matadana, Doorasaridaru etc. Characters are not well developed or linked. Looks like it is written a hurry!
The software developer's love affair and the divorce is also not commoon in USA. There is a big impact on the indian society, man/woman relationships due to the unstoppable western values. In implementing equal and just society, there could be lot of mistakes(like the putting any one without question to acell when awome complains). All in all I enjoyed reading the novel and thought about some forthcoming changes.
ramesh b
Los Angeles

Lost in thoughts said...

Thanks for the concurrent views Ramesh.

Madhusudan H G said...

if i could have read before my marriage i will never get marry!!!....

Chaitra said...

Good to see there are quite a few people who agree with me :)
The book is nothing more than a man, deeply nostalgic about the times lost, venting his frustration over the new world

AnthonyAnrR said...

Even I too read the book and was highly disappointed and disgusted. This book comes no where near to the league of Bhyrappa's other classics like Parva, Gruhabhanga, Avarana, Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane and Vamshavruksha. As you rightly mentioned, the two parallel stories never meet even though there is a very loose link at the end. I felt, the characters are highly exaggerated and seem to live in a pseudo world. Novel ends in a typical filmi-style. None of the characters come close to heart and I felt, Bhyrappa has failed to depict any human relation in real way. There is over emphasis on extra marital affairs. The fact that industrialist's second wife does not know who the "real" father of her child sounds ridiculous. There are many such shocking and very silly plots in the novel. Kavalu surely is a black spot in Bhyrappa's works.

Smith said...

@Raju - Bhyrappa's previous works are haunting. They are really class. I cant say the same about this.

Srihari said...

I read this one like 3 times, every time it'd make me to think of it in a different sort in a positive way. I see this as yet an other great novel. I see so many comments of people not liking the novel. Basic question is why do you like some novel? or why you dont like a novel. I guess, when a writer's becomes famous with a stature such as SLB. His novel should sell in the market. It may not only be due to the legacy of the novel, or the controversy which surrounds this novel or his previous one or his legacy..or it simply sells just because it exposes the "desires which an indian mind would like to hide".
Now, when you come to "likability" of a novel. There are differences of opinions. For the people who do not like the novel - they may not like it, cause they are not brought up in their personal life in way described in a novel or having a conservative - 'very much indian' - "being good being bad" feelings about a subject called sex. They may think, sex should always, to be be a part of love, nevertheless,its apart from love, and it may continue to be called an affair or just an one night stand. Its a commodity where anybody can purchase for some means. That's what he is depicted in the form of characters, which is true in real sense of the world. Acceptance of truth or believing this is a truth is up to reader's discretion. However, believe it or not, this what it is at the end of the day in a real life scenario.