By Arun Pratap Singh
DEHRADUN, May 19:
Ruskin Bond, easily one of the most loved writers in English currently in India turns 83 on Friday (May 19). Though popularly referred to as a Children’s writer, he actually shares a very strong and unique bond with his readers of all ages. Writing for 7 decades now, he is as famous as Mussoorie, where he has made his permanent abode and majority of his stories are based in Doon Valley, many of them related to his childhood times, spent mostly in and around Dehradun.
Though he turns 83 on Friday, his passion to continue writing as in the past, remains intact and well ignited. He weaves magic with his pen (he uses an old typewriter to write).
Despite achieving so much success in terms of fame and respect, he remains a humble, down to earth simple man who prefers to shy away from limelight and hustle bustle of modern life, and choosing to stay in the quiet environs of the hills and comes down to Dehradun or further down to Delhi very infrequently. Though he is a self-confessed lazy writer, who loves to remain home, has afternoon siestas and one who goes to bed early, he has remained perhaps the most prolific writer in English in India, penning over 150 books so far.
Bond, started writing at an early age of 17 and came up with a novel that became popular much later though, “The Room on the Roof”. This novel was written in 1957 following his return from London and has now become one of his most popular novels and one which won him John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. The story captures one of his most regular character Rusty’s dissatisfaction with his guardian and fascination with the bazaar. The story has it all, the poignancy, friendship, grief and life and is must read for his fans.
Bond’s speciality that connects him to his readers and establishes a very strong bond with them is his ability to keep the narrative simple but in reality having a vivid imagery. He weaves stories that reflect his innate love for the nature and various elements of nature like mountains and wildlife. He can turn a simple walk in the hills into a beautiful story that one can’t put away without reading the entire story. In addition, his loneliness is also well reflected in his stories.
Many of his stories have been turned into films, beginning with Junoon, a Bollywood film produced by great Shashi Kapoor and directed by legend director Shyam Benegal, which was based on his novelette ‘Flight of Pigeons’ set in 1857 which was the year of First War of Independence of India.
Some other of his stories that were made into Bollywood films include ‘The Blue Umbrella’ which was made into film called Neeli Chhatri by well known director Vishal Bharadwaj and ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’ made into a movie starring Priyanka Chopra and named Saat Khoon Maaf’. The movie is based on Ruskin Bond’s short story. In addition, his “The Adventures of Rusty”, somewhat autobiographical story published in 1981 that dwelt on his childhood, was also made into a highly popular TV serial called “Ek Tha Rusty”. The story has an encounter with a tiger, dodging mishaps with Uncle Ken, finally leading the reader to a trip of Delhi.
Though most of his stories are semi-autobiographical in nature, Bond is currently giving final touches to his official autobiography very strangely titled, “Lone Fox Dancing” due to be published in a few weeks’ time.
Bond is a recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992, Padmashri in 1999 and Padma Bhushan in 2014.