One of the many things wrong with growing old is that people we once admired become what is called past their prime. Pretty girls put on weight; batsmen go out for a duck; singers keep clearing their throat and sipping water or whatever; columnists recycle news and views . . . Sachin Tendulkar is an exception.
Hindi cinema, or if one may, Bollywood, is such a fascinating subject of study that almost any lens through which you might choose to look at it offers myriad possibilities of providing fresh perspectives on history, culture, society, politics, nationhood, gender etc.
There are not many Indian authors who had the courage and confidence to write about the United States of America despite the fact that many young and not-so-young men, and young and no-so-young women in post-Independent Indiaespecially from the 1950s and 1960s onwardshave literally grown up loving American popular fiction, popular music and popular cinema (Hollywood).
Divided into four sections, each one with an introduction, this book is with five essays on the renaissance in Europe, four on the Indian subcontinent, and two each on eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe and ‘Art and Philosophy’, the scope of this book is quite vast even if it is largely Eurocentric.
At a time when India is seen, rightly or wrongly, as intensely engaged in an effort to get closer and closer to the United States, it is useful to read this book by the wellknown journalist and author Kalyani Shankar. The principal theme is how Indira Gandhi was crafty enough to outwit Richard Nixon, himself a superb practitioner of the wicked art of realpolitik, in the context of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan bringing into being Bangladesh. Those of us who are old enough do have an idea of how Indira Gandhi did it.