Posts Tagged ‘The Feast of Roses’

A History of the Jana Natya Manch
Arjun Ghosh|Sage | Rs 695

In 1970s and 1980s Delhi, the presence of the leftist street theatre group, Jan Natya Manch, could not be ignored. Their Machine had us riveted, Moteram Ki Satyagraha had us in splits and Bakri had us crying. That was, till Safdar Hashmi was alive. Post his murder in 1989, the group has been reduced to a propaganda mandali that can be hired by anyone, anytime – Anna Hazare’s team paraded them in April 2011. Ghosh tries to fight off this reality by conflating Janam with Hashmi, but he does not shy away from asking the question either. Despite this, the author’s resistance to probe “caste” in Left’s cultural politics leaves us wanting.


The Twentieth Wife
The Feast of Roses

Indu Sundaresan| Harper Collins | Rs 399

The writer’s first novel, The Twentieth Wife – a fictional account of the life and times of Nur Jahan – published in 2002, won the Washington State Book Award in 2003.  Its sequel, The Feast of Roses, did not garner the same attention but it did help the author find a place for herself on America’s history-fiction bookshelf. In India, the last book in the Taj trilogy – the two novels were followed by a third, The Shadow Princess (2010) that tells the story of Mumtaz Mahal – is yet to make its appearance. Like Barbara Cartland, Sundaresan’s florid prose can be taxing, but her tale holds true.


The Wednesday Soul
Saurabh Pant| Westland| Rs 250

Touted as one of the country’s top ten stand-up comedians by a national daily, Pant delivers the punches – for e.g.: “Depressive celebrities had a magnetic charisma that explained the careers of Nirvana, Amy Winehouse and Bengali writers”; “Living in India you can automatically earn one an honorary Ph.D in Queues” or “That’s your plan? Disguise me with sunglasses. I am not Shahid Kapoor at his own movie screening” – but fails to give us an equally enthralling story. In the opening note to the book, the author admits that it took him five years and 87 re-writes to put together The Wednesday Soul. It shows.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 1 April 2012)

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