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Archive for December, 2014


Fire Under Ash
Saskya Jain | Random House | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.34.45 PMIt’s “an audacious debut” says the PR blurb from the publishers. Is it? What’s audacious about this debut? Nothing, if you ask me. Just a PR word. Saskya Jain’s debut novel about Delhi’s rich meeting aspiring middle-class Bihar is a look at the class and regional divide that continues to scar our country. Caste makes no appearance here. Delhi, New York and Patna do. Jain’s clever use of advertorial hoardings to capture the signature tune of changing India is arresting. As is her ability to chain her characters to the architecture that surrounds them. As for the rest, she has a story and she tells it well.

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Skin Talks
Dr Jaishree Sharad | Random House | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.35.10 PM‘Skin Talks’ begins with several endorsements from the entertainment industry. The forward bears the signature of Amitabh Bachchan. The book takes you through the various regimens that help keep one’s skin healthy and beautiful. But the strongest pitch is made for Botox, fillers (hyaluronic acid) and derma lifts that are expensive and debatable. If you are the kind that relies more on skin doctors than home remedies, this book is for you. Whatever your age, skin type and characteristic, Dr Jaishree Sharad has an answer. Consult it, if you want. Risk, is yours.

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The Taste Of Words
Ed. & Transl. by Raza Mir | Penguin | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.35.21 PMIt’s a treat for poetry fans. Raza Mir, a management teacher at an American university, has put together an anthology of Urdu poems that he has translated into English. It’s a quirky collection that starts with Amir Khusro and ends with Gulzar. It includes many well-worn verses as well as some new sharp voices such as Ishrat Afreen’s:

Mera qad
Mere baap se ooncha nikla
Aur meri ma jeet gayi”

(I grew taller than my father/My mother had won.) Whether you know or don’t know Urdu, this ode to Urdu tehzeeb (culture) is going to charm you.

 

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 2 November 2014.)

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Filmi Jagat: A Scrapbook
Ed. by Kaushik Bhaumik, Debashree Mukherjee & Rahab Allana | Art Heritage/Niyogi Books | Rs 995

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.15.58 PMWhat do you do when you find a cinema lover’s scrapbook from the Early Talkies days? For Rahab Allana, a curator with Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, the answer came in the form a book that not only features pages from the scrapbook but also tries – with the help of insightful essays – to decode how images in 1930-40s were consumed. This kind of reading opens doors to many ways of understanding our past. Basically, seven films made between 1938-42 find their mention here – Jawani Ki Hawa, Duniya Kya Hai?, Apni Nagaria, Naya Sansar, Behen, Jhoola and Kunwara Baap. Great to leaf through, except it would have been more fun had the publishers recreated the scrapbook as it was with its pockets and slide-outs.

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Natural Kingdoms
Dr Rajan Sankaran | Penguin | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.16.10 PMEven though the scientific community across the world has debunked homeopathy as – ‘a product that is no better than a placebo’ – this form of treatment is very popular in our part of the world. Homeopathy doctors in India can be found in big cities, small towns and even in villages. Dr Rajan Sankaran, a Mumbai-based homeopath is one of them. He claims to have evolved a ‘sensation method’ of homeopathic treatment. Does it work? Science has made its opinion known. India is yet to debate the subject seriously.

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Mid-Wicket Tales: From Trumper to Tendulkar
S. Giridhar & V.J. Raghunath | Sage | Rs 525

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.16.23 PMThere are books on cricketers and there are books that discuss cricket. Each has its special place in our hearts. This book falls in the latter category. The authors are cricket fans who have contributed articles to the ESPN-owned website, Cricinfo, since 2008. This book contains 27 of their essays that detail and discuss every aspect of the game. Though the 20-20 game is mentioned and analyzed, it is the test format that is the favourite. “If cricket is to survive then test cricket must thrive,” Venkat tells the authors. We agree.

 

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 26 October 2014.)

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