Licence to read

The latest Bond Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, the movie closest to the book (below) Ian Fleming  

It’s the birth centenary of Ian Fleming, the man who created James Bond. How many people know of the printed version of the suave super spy

We seem to live by the belief that there is only “One life to live,” so the little haiku, “You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face,” comes as a bit of surprise. These lines appear in “You Only Live Twice,” written by Ian Fleming in a book about the adventures of a British spy with the code name of 007.

Yes we are talking about James Bond, who since his debut on movie screens in 1962 has all but overshadowed the 14 books —12 novels and two collections of short stories — Fleming wrote.

Says business management student, Abhimannue Srikishan: “The movies are more popular because they offer ‘more for less.’ This would mean audio-visual experience as opposed to mere text.”

Valene Varela, another undergraduate student, concurs with this opinion but feels it is about time we did away with the stereotypical notion that books are outdated and that television is in.

No clue

Shamefully, many “die hard fans” of the suave super spy admit to not even being aware of the existence of the novels on which the movies are based!

Rakesh (name changed ), a P.R. executive and self acclaimed movie buff says: “People are concerned only with the outcome and not the origin,” and horror of horrors, “not too many care about such nitty-gritties!”

Evelyn Rajeshekar, a student of journalism, believes that the “The movies sell better because of excessive advertising and marketing.”

The latest Bond film, “Casino Royale” starring the delicious dream boat, Daniel Craig, is very close to its printed source, which is also the first James Bond book.

However, a large majority, like Payal Wadhwa, an accountant, confess that they had “not read the book and had no yardstick to assess how close or how far away the movie was from the book.”

Fortunately, there are a handful that swear by Fleming’s spellbinding novels. According to former Principal of Baldwin Boys’ High School, S.D. Samuel, “Ian Fleming’s books were widely read earlier. And we would wait with anticipation for newer adventures.”

Musty dusty

Walk into public libraries and you will be appalled to find the thrill-a-minute page turners piled up any which way on the lowest and dustiest racks.

Bookstores are divided on the saleability of the books. Augustine Jones of a bookstore says: “The sale of these books is reasonably good as there are quite a few avid readers who snap them up.”

However, Rajan Das of another bookstore says: “The sales are not really satisfactory.” The reason he attributes to this is “the probability that Fleming’s style does not appeal to many, especially of the present generation.”

It is ironic to see the serpentine queues grow longer in front of the ticket counters at a multiplex and on the other hand to witness the books that created the phenomenon being ignored.

The next time you stumble across these books — and there are spanking new reprints with super cool introductions, pick them up for gratuitous adventure and the wry British humour.