The writer who makes you laughIt was in May, a fine Saturday, when I came across an ad in the Kantipur Daily. The ad talked about Hari Bansha Acharya’s latest novel—Hari Bahadur.
It was in May, a fine Saturday, when I came across an ad in the Kantipur Daily. The ad talked about Hari Bansha Acharya’s latest novel—Hari Bahadur. The book was to be launched the very same day in the premises of Nepal Academy in Kamaladi. It was an open event and anybody interested could just walk in. Never having stepped into the academy or a book launch before, I decided to take a chance. I attended the book launch.
At the event, the author appeared in front of the audience clad in yellow shirt and dark blue waistcoat as Hari Bahadur, the protagonist of his novel and the antagonist of popular TV series Madan Bahadur Hari Bahadur—from which the novel had drawn inspiration. Acharya then performed a scene from the very plot, albeit cursorily. That day was full of many firsts for me. It was also the first time that I was ever seeing a live drama performance. I was awestruck by Acharya’s performance and versatility.
Madan Krishna Shrestha, a dear friend of the author, his partner in crime, and the chief guest for the programme, launched the book and Buddhisagar, a celebrated writer of our time, commented on the book before interviewing the author. It was a good event and the book did not disappoint. The book perfectly lived up to the event’s buildup.
Of all the books I have read so far, Hari Bahadur is the first one which I finished in one sitting. I read it on a well-spent Sunday. The book was so engrossing that I couldn’t help getting glued to it. I leafed through the pages as if I was counting rupee notes.
In the course of reading the book, there were times when I felt the author was not only narrating the story but playing the notorious character of Hari Bahadur right in front of my eyes. Only very few writers have the quality of engaging readers in their work right till the very end and thereby helping us embark on a journey towards a whole new world. Acharya does so with his book. He provides an escape.
It is said that a strong impression never fades. I, along with many people my age, have grown up watching Hari Bansha Acharya in television. It is because of him that our childhood memories about Nepali television are full of comic instances where the actor has made us laugh. I feel nostalgic as I remember how he used to make us laugh, embodying a plethora of characters.
Apparently, he does the same with his writing. He leaves a remarkable impression. Nepali readers who are fond of dark comedy will definitely love this book.
At a time when the future of the country looks very grim, this book tends to provide a quick escape from the reality. Our life is hard. There is blatant pollution and rampant corruption wherever you go. We are fed up with the politics and the politicians of the country.
In such times of frustration, comedy refreshes us. Comedy unites us. At a time when Nepali novels are becoming more and more sentimental, leaving readers with tears in the process, this book makes us laugh from the very start, albeit at climax it does make us emotional.
I personally feel that it might be worth accrediting Acharya as a ‘trend setter’ for he has paved the way for writing comedy in Nepali literature. In Nepal, there has always been a dearth of writers who make readers laugh so hard.
Most established writers in Nepal are of the view that a storyteller and character that does not leave the reader with a moist pair of eyes is not remembered in the long run. I have to disagree.
Dhurmus-Suntali, Magne Budo, Maha Jodi, Mundre—these are all characters that have become household names. These characters and their stories always manage to paint our faces in smiles. They have managed to make space in our hearts.
Why are authors then so afraid of bringing to life such characters? I wish there were more authors such as Acharya who would takes us to a world of a character—such as Hari Bahadur—so comic that the surrounding did not matter anymore.
Pokhrel is pursuing Chartered Accountancy at ICAN