Have you ever purchased a book, forgot you had it, and later found it hiding somewhere beneath a mess? I’ve done that several times, but the problem with Ice-Candy Man was that I remembered having left it in India and couldn’t bring myself to buy another copy in the US. I wanted to read the book because I enjoyed the movie so much, in spite of not being a fan of Deepa Mehta’s style, that I knew there had to be a powerful story behind the movie.
Initially, I was pleasantly surprised at how true the movie stays to the book. Subtle nuances are clearly translated into the movie – even minor character definitions. Although Ice-Candy man and the Masseur might not look in the movie as they are described in the book, nor Nandita Das’s Ayah make a convincing 18 year old, I could not find faults in the way the movie portrayed the characters – pat down to Lenny’s mother’s wavy, short bob described somewhere near the end of the book. To cut a long story short, I was very impressed with the way Mehta brought the book to life in the movie. Rarely has a movie interpretation of a book pleased me so much. Or in this case, vice versa.
However, can you imagine how surprised I was when the movie’s end arrives in the book only half-way through the author’s narration. I wondered why the movie does not tell us what I was to read on? Was the rest of the book so boring? Did it not mesh well? I kept reading, of course, and realized that I was glad the movie ended where it did. And at the same time, I was not upset with what happens later in the book. While the movie focuses on the love triangle between Ayah, Ice-Candy man and Masseur with the violent Indo-Pak division as a backdrop, the book is primarily about Lenny and her involvement with Ayah and Ice-Candy man. The movie leaves us wondering what happened to the kidnapped Ayah, Lenny telling us that she either became a prostitute, or died, or married Ice-Candy man, and that she never found out. But in the book Lenny finds out what happens to Ayah. And is there a better reason I could give you to read the book? And if you haven’t seen the movie, here’s me telling you, go see it.