Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Company Limited

" As ambitious as Lady Macbeth, Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition! By that sin fell the angels." - Henry the Eighth

I visit the annual book fair, pretty much every year, and as far as I go the action is outside where the 2nd hand dealers sell their books at cut throat rates. Picked up a gem this year - Company Limited by Manisankar 'Sankar' Mukherjee. (Made into the feature film Seemabaddha by Satyajit Ray in 1971).
The protoganist of the book, Shyamalendu Chatterjee, is part of the senior management of Hindustan Peters - a company that sells fans and electric lamps. A former English teacher at a University and a Shakespeare lover, he gives up his teaching career for a lucrative post in the company. At about same time, Runu Sanyal, a second generation executive also joins the company. The book skips ahead to the time when the two high fliers are competing for a promotion to the board room. Sankar gives us a wonderful account of an executive's life in the corporate India of the 70's. The contrast between Shyam's wife Dolon who has become a typical "company wife" and his sister-in-law Sudharshana, a Bihari innocent is striking and revealing. The climax when Shyam has to manage a "crisis" and the aftermath - a phyrric victory - is a fantastic example of corporate ethics as opposed to induvidual conscience. Shakespeare appearing as Shyam's conscience is a beautiful touch. On the whole a wonderful read that still has meanings in today's world.

- Hari

No comments: