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References in Samit Basu’s ‘The Simoquin Prophecies’

By on Jul 18, 2008 in Reviews | 30 comments

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Profile image of author Samit BasuSamit Basu’s books are wonderful amalgamations of various literary works, movies, events etc. Quite a few people do get the allusions, most go ahead and have a hearty laugh anyway at the incidents / characters mentioned in his book – but many don’t exactly quite *get* it. And unless you’re a Bong, you will NEVER *get* many of the jokes; OK, many of THAT stuff which I point out aren’t exactly references, but simply Bengali words that he’s used for his characters. Loads of free time right now, so I sat down to make this comprehensive list of references Samit Basu makes to other works. I’ll start off with the first book in the GameWorld Trilogy – The Simoqin Prophecies
– then move on to the others in due course of time. And please, I’m NOT trying to explain all the jokes in the book here – simply references that people may not know or miss (maybe because they aren’t Bongs). On the right, BTW, is Samit, well, what he looked like around two years ago.

Book cover of Samit Basu\'s Simoqin PropheciesI generally read from ebooks (even if I have hard copies of them) because it allows me to search and note down MY takes on MY favorite parts (and bookmark them – without having to bother about running out of paper bookmarks or dog-eared pages). The problem with Samit Basu’s case is that Indians are lazy bastards who are never as vela as their Western counterparts in scanning, OCRing, and uploading ebooks. I’m against piracy – and I’ll happily pay to buy original ebook versions – if only they were available. The sad thing is, publishing houses don’t take the initiative in this regard. Anyway, that’s why noting down MY takes on Samit Basu’s books is a bit tedious for me. Took some (free) time to get this sort of stuff done.

Not making lame conclusions of references either, because in most cases I think I’ve quite fairly figured out where Samit Basu came up with those names and incidents from. Too bad if you don’t agree. Given stuff below is ORIGINAL work – although I admit other fine chaps could have reached the same conclusions as mine themselves. Feedback, or any references that I miss out, would be greatly appreciated and may be directed to me using the comment form at the end of this post.

Edit: Samit Basu had a look at this list. He says I was off-the-mark regarding gun-kata and Simpsons inspiring D-d-death – but the rest of the list is correct.

SPOILER WARNING : The Stuff written below contains a LOT of plot spoilers to The Simoqin Prophecies.

Have anything other than these? Or any feedback? Leave your comments using the form given here.



30 Comments

  1. Bhavika

    July 19, 2008

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    Hey… I was just browsing the article- didn’t want to spoil the book for myself- but I caught Lalmohan Ganguly’s name, and what you think about only Bengalis knowing about Feluda is so not true! The english translations are not at all recent; I read the books about 4-5 years ago, and though I don’t have the books- got them issued from the library- but I’m pretty sure that they’re from the early ninties, atleast. And, I recently also saw a Feluda movie- on Zee English, they were having some Ray marathon- so, yeah, non-Bengalis do know about Feluda and Topshe and Jatayu :)

  2. Ankur

    July 19, 2008

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    @Bhavika: Gee, I really didn’t know about the English translations not being recent thing! :O Of course the originals are quite old. And I’ve seen the Feluda movies, in Bengali that is, but I didn’t know about the Zee Studio thing – I knew they were doing a Ray film fest, but didn’t know they showed Feluda too.

  3. Aviatrix

    July 21, 2008

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    Feluda is so not restricted to Bengalis.
    And I thought Chorpulis, sounded a lot like Chor police.A game we used to play as kids. But dunno how that’s related. Dont remember anything else from the book..but i felt all the references to the Mahabharata were too blatant.

  4. Ankur

    July 22, 2008

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    @Aviatrix: Yes, I thought of the Chor-police connection too, but in the text I thought it was more of a play on the word corpulent. About references to Mahabharata being to blatant, well, I guess that’s because people are more familiar with a greater number of incidents from the Mahabharata. About Feluda, I still can’t believe that too many people apart from Bongs have *read* it. Still haven’t come across too many who have. But if it really IS true that a lot of non-Bongs (Bongs simply LOVE to throw around this term) HAVE read Feluda, then I think it’s quite an embarrassment because quite a lot of my Bong friends haven’t read either the original or the English translations.

  5. Archie

    October 4, 2008

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    Thats quite a detailed retrospective of the book, Good Job. I’ll tell Samit to go through it. I think he’ll find it amusing. Anyways what are you upto these days???

  6. Ankur

    October 5, 2008

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    @Archie: Heaving a sigh of relief, after giving the SAT Subject Tests yesterday. Can enjoy the Pujo now. :) What about you? Did you progress on the Stanford project thing?

  7. Archie

    October 5, 2008

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    No dude. My school went berserk after seeing the sum of money they had to pay and decided against it. So i guess I’m stuck here giving my competitive exams. Anyways if you got free time try checking out my blog. I’ve finally been updating this one.

  8. Ankur

    October 6, 2008

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    @Archie: Subscribed to your blog feed now. Too bad that your school didn’t agree to let you participate in that competition. Best of luck for test prep. :)

  9. Rajarshi

    November 19, 2008

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    I guess “chorpulish” “kumirdanga” and “lukochuri” are named after games children play in bengal.. all of us have played these games and are household terms in bangla..

    Also “Borphi” is the name of an evil sorcerer in “Gupi Gyne Bagha Byne” film.
    Pushdev Rabin of Oudh is also a masculine take on Phulan Devi.

    Bali kidnapping Maya and climbing higest tower in Kol direct reference to King Kong..
    Also there is a jab at the IIMs while discussing Kol’s academics.
    The name Kol and certain of its characteristics reflect Kolkata(Calcutta)

    A Pashan(stone monster) named “Khudito” -inspired from famous novel by Tagore Khudito Pashan.

  10. Ankur

    November 19, 2008

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    @Rajarshi: Wow, that’s quite a lot of more (hardcore) Bangla references – and a few others – that I missed. Thanks! I’m sure fellow Samit Basu fans would like to know about these too. :)

  11. Namya

    November 26, 2008

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    Thanks, got most of them, but the Bangla ones were interesting.
    I’m pretty sure ‘Ventelot’ comes from Camelot, which is where King Arthur came from.

  12. dimitry ghose

    December 17, 2008

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    couple of inaccuracies i thot existed in ur expostulation:
    1. Chasing a deer / the ‘circle of protection’ for Prince Chorpulis – well…rama hadnt made any circle for sita. it was lakshman who drew the circle after sita forced him to look for rama after hearing of marich impersonating rama’s voice & calling for help.

    2. where he sticks a fish on a pole (without rotating discs under it): nopes. it was a wooden bird hidden among foliage which was used for the training by drona. fish was used only for the swayamvar of draupadi.

    3. riddle of the sphinx : has been used in harry potter’s goblet of fire also. when harry was inside the maze & faced the sphinx.

    4. king lear is a different play of shakespeare & macbeth is a difft one

    5. Asking for three wishes from a jinn: direct reference to bhoote’r raja’s 3 bor from goopigyne-baghabyne

    6. Borphi (The Boy Genius, on page 13): reference to the old wily wizard in goopi-gyne/ bagha-byne who was modelled on merlin

    7. amloki: village names used in goopigyne/baghabyne…amloki & hortuki were the native villages of goopi & bagha respectivly

    8. ullook: it’s not bengali for owl, it’s bengali for a baboon or gibbon. which’s a primate & related to the monkey race (as Bali). bengali for owl is pacha.

    apart from these there are various other observations of allusions which i had made when i had read the book long time back…like how some of the main charcters hve been named after nicknames of samit’s best buddies from school & some other connections from the school days, etc.

    how do i know this last part abt school buddies etc? well…he was my school senior & is a good friend…

    good mail tho…

    cheers,

    • Ankur

      December 17, 2008

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      @Dimitry: A comment from one of Samit’s friends himself! Nice! Thanks for pointing out the errors! As for the Goopi Gayin Bhagha Bain references, I never caught on to those despite having seen the movies. Thanks for sharing that – and the bit about Samit Basu’s school too!

  13. Reader

    January 3, 2009

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    Basu copies too much stuff…and copies from everywhere..tries to mix everything in to one….lacks originality…it is really sad to see remixes in the literature ….he writes well, it will be great if he can come up with original idea than just doing the work of putting ideas by different great authors together

    • Ankur

      March 16, 2009

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      I think it’s pure genius to mash-up so many diverse sources while being funny at the same time.

  14. Ashwin

    January 8, 2009

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    @ reader : Though he has mixed up from different authors….
    I like the twists in the stories….
    Kirin himself becoming the dark lord is one twist..
    And i never expected The crew of Baby Of Destiny to escape with the help of the heroes mirrors…..that was awesome.

  15. randombrowser

    October 16, 2009

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    Interesting post. Came across while searching for a download. Read the book a long time ago and agree with most of your references. Think I have one more: the part where amloki follows Bali by making out the tracks of the horse-girl (don’t remember the name, but this one also from Harry Potter) and other marks sounds like something Sherlock Holmes does in a spoofy way.

  16. The Kingdom of Potolpur is definitely a reference to Bengal as there are references of Potolpuri rasgullas and Phuchkas which evidently shows the Bengali Link. Also the talk of of “The Bard” of Potolpur, The Potolpuris tend to swear by his name isn’t that a hint towards Rabibndranath Tagore? Bengalis are known to swear on his name.

    Another thing I thought I might point out is the names of the three princes of Potolpur, Chorpulis, kumirdanga and Lukochuri are three typical games played by almost all Bengali children at a certain age and for these games gender is no bar.

    • Ankur

      June 28, 2010

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      Indeed, the names of those children games is something very obvious that I missed. Not familiar with Potolpur (the actual place), so I don’t know about the other bits, but they must be true!

  17. Password

    March 9, 2011

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    Hey,
    good job on the many references you’ve managed to compile…

    Here’s one more – that whole i am your father bit in the end has obviously been inspired by the star wars movies… :)

  18. Shubhra

    July 7, 2012

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    Hey!

    Awesome post! I chose the translation to French of the names in The Simoqin Prophecies as my research project in MA and this blog really helped a lot! I found some bengali references I did not know. Maybe I could add a few more references…

    “Tubeworm” – The underground public transport system in Kol by means of “magically hollowed out tubeworms” is also an extremely clever way to refer to the london “tube”, slang for metro.

    Prince Amrit who orders his soldiers to stop fighting and embraces peace seems to be inspired from the Mahabharat as an “epic poem” (bhagvad gita) results from the battle but could also be a reference to King Ashoka who embraced Budhhism, the religion of the “Shanti-Jodhha”, after he realized the destruction war causes

    “Sluggs” – The group of 4 musicians, an obvious reference to the “Beatles” pronounced the same as “beetles”

    “Tlottlot the highwayman” is probably a reference to Alfred Noyes’s poem the Highwayman where he repeatedly uses “tlot tlot” for onomatopoeic effect..

    Sir Speeralittle is a play on words like ventelot (went-a-lot
    ) and camelot (came-a-lot) and I think it refers to Sir Lance-a-lot
    The Lady of the Swamp who offers a club to Aswin is also from the Arthurian legends and is originally the Lady of the lake who gives Arthur a sword..

    Hihuspix – This character is named in a similar way to how the characters in the Asterix and Obelix comics are named :)

    Calling the rabbit (Bunihopus bobtelus) reminded me of the roadrunner show that used to come on cartoon network, I don’t know if they still air it or not but they always used to come up with such parodies of the scientific names when talking about the coyote and the road runner!!

    Lastly, the airheads, the “flight-art fanatics”, the seagull who offers to teach the stork level flight thereby setting him free, is a parody of Jonathan Livingston Seagull

    Loved all the references both subtle and obvious and the artful way in which they have been integrated into such an interesting storyline! The way he has created an original story using elements from different mythologies and stories from popular culture and kept the whole book light and funny is absolute genius! :)

  19. Prayag Ray

    July 20, 2013

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    These are some references I found in The Unwaba Revelations:

    1. Aishwarya the Duck – Aishwarya Rai.
    2. Hall of Kings in vaman realm reminded me of the Great Hall in Hogwarts (Harry Potter series).
    3. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound” – reference to a classic philosophical paradox. Taken up new significance due to the philosophical implications of wave function collapse in quantum physics.
    4. Eagles that always arrive late for battles – alludes to the eagles in the Lord of the Rings. They show up right at the end of the novel. Deus ex machina. What were they doing all along?
    5. A scholar named Amartya – Amartya Sen?
    6. Creatures called “moumras” – based on the character Mumm-Ra in the cartoon Thundercats. Basu admitted to having watched Thundercats as a child in an interview with me.
    7. Statue of Thoseus Feeling a Little Pensive – Famous statue named “The Thinker”; guy sitting in a pensive manner.
    8. Arathognan – Parody of Aragorn and the “Hidden Monarch” figure in fantasy fiction (see Clute and Grant, Encyclopedia of Fantasy). Also based on Conan the Barbarian.
    9. Epsiode of Unut the Asur in Castle Blagyar – parody of Gothic novels, Frankenstein, Dracula.
    10. Unwaba – Directly drawn from the myth of the unwaba in Zulu folklore.
    11. “tortured for all eternity, stuck on wheels with food just out of reach, sores all over us and vultures munching on our exposed brains” – mashup of various Greek myths: Tantalus, Sisyphus, Prometheus.
    12. Battlefield of Pataal-e-gurh – reference to Bengali food: patali gur.
    13. Marshall Askesis’ Mortals (elite warriros clad in black armour) – the Persian army of “Immortals” in 300. Also a reference to the famous “dine in hell” dialogue later.
    14. Haroun’s battlefield acrobatics on an elephant — Legolas in Return of the King (Peter Jackson)
    15. Four Horsemen of Apocalypse – draws on same in Biblical apocalypse and Terry Pratchett’s four horsemen.
    16. Disegno and Brotozoan (tiny guy kills giant with stone) – David and Goliath.
    17. Akashraths look like floating animals – Pink Floyd’s album cover for Animals; also their live performances.
    18. Destruction of Enki University – reminded me of collapse of trade towers (9/11)
    19. Safat (bird that lays eggs in air) – myth of Porridge Birds laying eggs in the air?
    20. Eukantseus (goes to underworld to rescue dead wife) – parody of tale of Orpheus.
    21. “Irresistible force meets immovable object” – famous philosophical paradox, and of course, reference to Dark Knight (Batman film).
    22. Pirate Greenbeard – Bluebeard.
    23. Episode of ravian warriors Satorin and cousin Onkad – Achilles’ wrath in the Illiad, death of Patroclus.
    24. Motonrole — Bengali; mutton roll.
    25. “Choose your destiny! Flawless victory!” – Mortal Kombat (game).
    26. Ravian Star – nuclear bomb
    27. Rescue of Imokoi by Army of undead – Turning of the tide in Battle of Pellenor Fields by the army of the dead (led by Aragorn) in Lord of the Rings.
    28. Trials faced by heroes on Duck of Destiny – Labours of Hercules, Odysseus’ wanderings.
    29. Hattima the whale, Nurmi (ship), Captain Aguleb – Moby Dick, Pequod, Captain Ahab (Herman Mellville).
    30. Dark Tower’s layout (concentric walls) – Minas Tirith (Lord of the Rings).
    31. Black ship, fast moving, undead walk its decks (part of the trials faced by Duck of Destiny – Pirates of the Carribean.
    32. “Tribe of nasty little boys” on an island – William Golding, Lord of the Flies.
    33. “Giants apes fought lizards” – King Kong vs Godzilla.
    34. Lonely stranded man on an island wanting to go back – Tom Hanks film Castaway.
    35. Rocs – Sindbad

    This is a hurried and possibly incomplete list. The thing is, I’m an MPhil student (English) from JNU, and I’m writing a dissertation on the trilogy, and well, I don’t have much time left to hand the damn thing over, so this is the best I could do right now.

  20. Prayag Ray

    July 20, 2013

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    Also, rather than this obscure Equilibrium film, don’t you think the ravian fight sequences draw much more from: The Matrix (film), Max Paine (game) and DragonBall Z (cartoon)?

    • Those can indeed be counted as influences, but Equilibrium is a cult epic within sci-fi film fans. And if you watch it, you’ll realise how similar they are!

  21. Prayag Ray

    July 20, 2013

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    Also, the Grim Reaper being replaced by someone is SO Terry Pratchett (clearly the strongest literary influence on the trilogy), and not some episode of the Simpsons.

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