A boy and a girl grow up together on a farm. Girl hates boy, then they fall in love (cue a love song in sarson ka khet)… boy goes away “to prove himself”and is later believed dead (a sad song, not unlike “lambi judai” fits here). Step in the rich villain (though at this point we do not know him for that) and woos the heroin. The heroin gets in trouble (what’s new) and the hero, apparently raised from dead (though later turns out that he was not dead) saves her despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Before they sail into the sunset, villain comes back, and separates them again. He tries to kill the hero apart from , and tells the girl that the hero ran away. On the eve of the wedding (when the songs are on), the hero comes back with his companions, and there takes place the climatic (and anti-) battles. And then, they all (of course, minus the villain and his minions) live happily ever after…
This, in essence is the story of any romantic movie/book. This (of course, minus the villain trying to kill hero) is the story of any Sooraj Barjatya movie. And, this (of course, minus the songs and stuff) is the story of “The Princess Bride”.
Now, if you judge the book (and the movie) by the words fairy tale, romantic or fantasy alone, you would be making a big mistake. For which fairy tale has a detailed description of a torture devise? And which romantic movie has a big cliff which only one man has scaled before (the “insurmountable odds” was a pun, you know), the world’s greatest swordsman and the world’s strongest person, and a girl who was 19th most beautiful girl in the world when she was born, and climbed the ranks quickly till she achieved the top spot? (For the fantasy bit, there is nothing which you cannot have in a fantasy, so I am letting it go)
So, when I tell you that this story is a roller-coaster ride, you better believe me. The ride starts from the farm where Buttercup (an apt name, don’t you think) and Westley grew up and goes on to the palace of the Prince Humperdink, then onto the tall Cliffs of Insanity, on scaling which you come to a sword-fight between two “wizards” of swordsplay (better than Masters). From there, you go to a show of strength and then followed by a show of brains (OK, intellectual prowess, not actual “show” of brains). Then a headlong slide into a valley, and through fire swamps. Then you go back to the palace and the cave (where the prince keeps his hunting animals), where the final combat takes place (between Inigo Montoya and Count Rougen).
Of course, I read the “good parts version”, not the “classic tale” (and the movie is fairly true to the book). This apparently saved me 100-odd pages of packing and unpacking, 150-odd pages of wedding preparations etc., which make me realize that the classic tale (if it existed, but it doesn’t outside the mind of the author, William Goldman) might just qualify as the Barjatya Bible. I mean, think of pages upon pages describing the packing of the bags by a princess’ maids, and pages upon pages where they teach the farm-girl to be a princess and then of course, wedding preparations.
But, the “good parts” version cuts down the romantic story to a minimum required amount, and with the side stories of Fizzik, the rhyming giant and Inigo Montoya, definitely makes this one book worth reading (and one movie worth watching). And no, it is not a “kissing book” as the name suggests.
Think of it as a part “Shrek” (for sheer lightheartedness of the story), a part “Cinderella” (for a farm girl to princess), a part “Zorro” (for all swashbuckling) and a part all fairy tales. Add a dollop of humour, a pinch of magic and romance per taste. What you get this book. Serves (minimum) one…