Browsing All Posts filed under »Book Reviews«

In her shoes

July 23, 2016

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A breathless, fascinating account of a woman who keeps hurling herself into gruelling tests of endurance. As someone who goes to bed praying the morning papers will publish findings that pizza is good for weight loss, two questions popped up when I read Anywhere but Home: Adventures in Endurance, written by Anu Vaidyanathan, “the first […]

Acts of life

October 5, 2014

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Naseeruddin Shah’s memoir is unflinching, evocative, witty, even if feels somewhat incomplete. Sometime during the “bone-wrenchingly boring six-month shoot” of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Naseeruddin Shah began to type out what would become a memoir. In the book, titled And Then One Day, Shah explains why. “For me it’s an exorcism of sorts, and […]

The king of tragedy

July 29, 2014

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Thoughts on a lopsided autobiography of Dilip Kumar, which sheds light on the actor’s early life and career, but skimps on what we really want to know. A few pages into Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, an autobiography “narrated to Udayatara Nayar,” Dilip Kumar admits that he does not know how he came […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A small tribute to a big legend”

May 9, 2014

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A slim compilation of B Nagi Reddi’s memories is a welcome addition to the increasing number of books on Indian cinema. In the introduction to Many Shades Make a Rainbow: Reminiscences of B Nagi Reddi, the publisher (and Nagi Reddi’s son), Viswam, lays out what the book is about. He says that his father’s birth […]

A man and his muse

December 3, 2013

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When Meena Kumari died of cirrhosis of the liver (precipitated by excessive drinking), in March 1972, Vinod Mehta was working as a copywriter in an advertising agency. He accepted a commission to write about the actress and delivered the manuscript in October that year, and the book was published a couple of weeks later. (This […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The life and times of a hero”

June 7, 2013

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A book about Uttam Kumar attempts to get at the man behind the movie screen, with middling results. Swapan Mullick, the author of Mahanayak Revisited: The World of Uttam Kumar, writes early on about his curiosity about the man behind the larger-than-life personalities the actor depicted on screen. His curiosity is ours – for who […]

The same old rune

June 1, 2013

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Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ is stuffed with clues, chases, chunks of general knowledge, and possibly an insight into why this author does what he does. Midway through Dan Brown’s latest thriller, I began to wonder about the future adventures of Robert Langdon, the Harvard University professor with a penchant for scouring the European landscape for answers […]

A century through the eyes of a city

March 19, 2013

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A book as unusual as dates.sites: Project Cinema City: Bombay/Mumbai is best described through the words of Madhushree Datta, who came up with the concept and authored the text. “This volume presents a timeline of the city of Bombay/Mumbai in the 20th century, anchored to its most adored public institution – cinema.” The book, thus, “is divided […]

Conquering the world, one film at a time

September 25, 2012

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Rare is the book whose Foreword begins with a blurb-ready rave. Given the task of introducing this anthology of essays on Bollywood, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University, Sweden, and Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, enthuses, “Professor Anjali Gera Roy’s latest edited undertaking, The Magic […]

Elementary, not elemental

May 29, 2012

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In her introduction to A Critical Study of Deepa Mehta’s Trilogy: Fire, Earth and Water, the author Manju Jaidka informs us that her “endeavour has been to produce a concise, focused study that avoids the bane of excessive jargon” – and in the next paragraph she speaks of the “chronotopic specificities of the stories that […]

Masters of different mediums

April 3, 2012

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The essay that inaugurates Filming Fiction: Tagore, Premchand, and Ray (edited by M Asaduddin and Anuradha Ghosh) makes a persuasive case for the existence of this anthology, which, at first glance, presents itself as simply yet another book on Satyajit Ray. In a disquisition titled His Films, Their Stories (whose name, of course, looks back […]

Lata – Voice of the Golden Era

May 3, 2011

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A new book on a bona fide legend, Lata: Voice of the Golden Era, arrives with two insurmountable problems. The first is a title bafflingly bereft of articles. What, really, is the contention of the author, Dr. Mandar V Bichu? The drab reality that Lata Mangeshkar was “a voice of the golden era,” just one […]

What movies do to writers…

March 11, 2011

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A book review, for Tehelka, of The Popcorn Essayists: What Movies Do To Writers. “AT ONE point in his essay, My Life as a Cabaret Dancer, Manil Suri is stricken by an existential conundrum that — I think it’s safe to say — isn’t likely to visit your average professor of mathematics who moonlights as […]

Between Reviews: Non-Independent Film

August 15, 2009

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NON-INDEPENDENT FILM A book about censorship gives rise to thoughts about how free filmmakers really are in our supposedly free society. AUG 16, 2009 – THE EASY-RIDER ZEITGEIST OF THE SIXTIES defined freedom as just another word for nothing left to lose. The lightness of being that comes with zero baggage, the state of being […]

A Centenary Tribute to Semmangudi

August 30, 2008

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A PORTRAIT OF THE PITAMAHA A warm, worthy centenary tribute to Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer shines a spotlight on the man and his music. AUG 31, 2008 – IN THE WORDS OF THE AUTHORS V Subrahmaniam (responsible for the Music section of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer: Life, Music) and Sriram V (responsible for the Life section), their […]

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

July 22, 2007

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THE WIZARD OF AWES JK Rowling gives her deservedly celebrated series a rousing – and very satisfying – sendoff. JULY 23, 2007 – IT IS OMINOUS, but perhaps not entirely unsurprising, that JK Rowling prefaces Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with a couple of quotes about death (one of them from Aeschylus – “… […]

The "Big B" Book and the Culture of Celebrity

March 28, 2007

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  BACHCHANALIA A new “biographyâ€? of the Big B isn’t much more than a bunch of trivial musings, but the attention it’s received says as much about our obsession with the star as with the culture that surrounds celebrity. MAR 25, 2007 – THE MINUTE you open a book and the minute you note bhel puri […]