There is a kind of anger that is necessary in the world as it is right now. It is an anger that sticks to the truth like tar to your shoe on a hot day. It is the anger that powers the best storytellers, who not only stick to the truth but sing while they do it. This is a popular stand currently, because it is powerful. We live in a time where it is possible, as chaos shifts under our feet, to break the rules we have been fed and speak out, even if only for an instant.
Daughters of Jorasanko, the recent novel from Aruna Chakravarti, reasserts her position as a perceptive and sensitive writer. Though written as a sequel, it does not lean on Jorasanko, but asserts its independence in its totally different tone, mood and pace. The female characters in Daughters of Jorasanko vividly reflect a change from the previous generation of women in Jorasanko, and it is more evident in the third generation of Ranu and Nandita, so much so that a comparative study of the women in the two novels might be an interesting project to undertake.
It would not be an exaggeration to state that since his sesquicentennial birth anniversary celebrations began in 2011, Rabindranath Tagore has been the focus of attention of plenty of scholars all around the world. As a global figure, Tagore transcends the boundaries of language and reaches out to people distant both in time and space. So it is no wonder that seminars leading to anthologies based on his oeuvre have flooded the market over the past few years.
While much has been said about Rabindranath Tagore’s ethical concerns and his dynamic approach to aesthetics as separate strands in his work, the present study attempts to take a holistic view of these elements through a focus on the last decade of Tagore’s life. Shirshendu Chakrabarti examines the ‘slackening of the ego’ found in Tagore’s late poetry, adopting an approach that foregrounds the relationship between aesthetic form and abstract idea.
Lata Singh’s Raising the Curtain: Recasting Women Performers in India reveals how women in theatre and performance in the country have moved, changed and evolved over a period of time. Her absorbing book turns the spotlight on the little known history of theatrical performance, restoring women performers to their rightful place by documenting their lives and highlighting their overall contribution to this genre. Normally women performers in India—including issues of feminism, with all its contentiousness—were discussed by examining assorted ideological perspectives and positions of caste, class, gender and prevailing social conditions.
In 1998, commemorating fifty years of India’s Independence (1947–97), artist Vivan Sundaram installed a year-long site-specific project at the Durbar Hall of Victoria Memorial Museum in Calcutta, calling it a Journey Towards Freedom: Modern Bengal, which was subsequently re-christened as the History Project. Almost twenty years later, under this latter name—that according to art critic Geeta Kapur ‘subsum[ed] yet retain[ed] the central reference to “modern Bengal”’ (p. 95)—Tulika Books has brought out a handsome edition that chronicles Sundaram’s undertaking of this ‘huge production’ (p. 56).
Tilt Pause Shift:Dance Ecologies In In-dia edited by Anita E. Cherian is a remarkable book. It is remarkable for many reasons, in a context where hagio-graphies about dancers, coffee table books on dance with glamorous production values abound—here is a book that is scholarly, incisive and very aware of the politics of bodies in performance.
The Radical Impulse by Sumangala Damodaran is a valuable archive of IPTA’s musical repertoire across languages and regions of India as well as a sophisticated analysis of the political and cultural climate of the early to mid-twentieth century in which this music evolved. Formed in 1943, the Indian Progressive Theatre Association made one of the first conscious attempts to use music and performative forms as modes of political activism and protest and to develop a self-conscious ‘people’s aesthetic’ that had a momentous impact on literary cultures of the time.
Banaras, generally characterized as the longest continuously living city and as a microcosm of Hindu civilization, has long enjoyed epithets of an eternal, timeless, unchanging, and archetypal Hindu holy city. It has, perhaps, for a city of its size, attracted much more attention from scholars of repute, and many of them, in recent times, have forayed beyond the domain of the sacred, to unravelling the complexity that Banaras represents.
India is a diverse country with several re gional cultures and histories. We implicitly acknowledge this diversity as a badge of identity. However, when it comes to modern architecture, we expect all buildings to look ‘modern’, whether they are built in Maharashtra or Bengal, Punjab or Kerala. Even critics don’t expect otherwise. But the ground realities reveal a different picture and some critics are beginning to realize that modern architecture in India is not as homogenous as it is imagined.
This is a remarkable tale of a remarkable man who went by several names, trained in espionage by the brother of the celebrated writer Ian Fleming and who undertook among other things the safe keeping and travels of Bose as a fugitive. The life of Bhagat Ram Talwar, alias Silver is a story that is incredible and mysterious even as it is formed and sculpted by extraordinary macro-political events that the second great war and the new balance of power accompanying the rise of the Axis powers and of the Soviet Union came to embody.
This book brings together the writings on India produced by a range of Europeans who travelled or did not travel to India from 1500 to 1800. These include the arrivals from Portugal like Garcia da Orta, travellers headed to Mughal India, like the Frenchman Francois Bernier, Richard Steele and the Bordeaux jeweller, Augustin Herryard; collectors of material objects and trained warriors who arrived in the age of Mughal crisis and made most of the opportunities it offered also find a place in these pages: Richard Johnson and the Franco-Swiss mercenary Antoine Polier among others.