Archana Shah’s Crafting a Future—Stories of Indian Textiles and Sustainable Practices is organized in three sections—the story of cotton, the story of silk, the story of wool—along with a foreword by Laila Tyabji, an introduction, an afterword, appendices I and II, acknowledgements, photo credits, bibliography, and an index.
At the outset I must confess that I have never been a Bollywood aficionado and that I have not ever seen a film where Kabir Bedi had acted. Yet, I find his life, vignettes of which he has sensitively narrated in his memoir, unusually interesting, sometime even profound. In fact, after completing the book that mixes adroitly the profane with the sacred, I feel tempted to know more about him.
If the advance praise of the book is written by Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi and Professor Ira Bhasker one can assume the book is going to be good, given that it has been appreciated by actors in the popular area as well as in the critical arena, plus by an academician. And, so it turns out to be. There is something for everyone who is interested in Hindustani Cinema to take away from this book.
Remember Kasiee Paheli Zindagani from the movie Parineeta? Sanjay Dutt drives the ladies of the house out to a Night Club in Calcutta. Glasses clink, horns and keys come alive as Rekha ascends onstage—and in a red sari she puts a spell on you. Another reference would be Arun Bhai and Meenakshi Mehra from A Suitable Boy and sultry Calcutta evenings providing for a heady mix of jazz and yearning.
The book showcases several traditional games of India—their origin, structure, rules and style of play. In addition, it has extrapolated how these games depict the larger moral values of human life. In this endeavour, the author has sub-divided the book into appropriate sub-themes which enable the reader to grasp its core tenets.
Partition is one of the major historical junctures in the history of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. When it comes to talking about the horrors of Partition, it is mainly categorized in cinema and literature. The edited volume by Nukhbah Taj Langah and Roshni Sengupta is an interesting addition to the discourse.The book does not limit itself to the horror of Partition; it goes beyond and covers its continued trauma.
The first of the two-volume opus that explores India’s ‘multifaceted journey of the photographic apparatus’ (Karode, p. 10) edited by art critic and curator Gayatri Sinha, Points of View: Defining Moments of Photography in India is a collection of 15 articles while its companion, The Archival Gaze: A Timeline of Photography in India, 1840-2020 charts out the historical terrain of photographic practice.
In his seminal essay, ‘Ornament’, published in the Art Bulletin (1939), AK Coomaraswamy had analysed the meaning, function, and symbolism of ornament, adornment, or embellishment in Indian artistic traditions. Towards this, he interpreted evidence from a range of textual sources—the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, epics, Pali Buddhist canon, Jatakas, and the Alamkara Shastras—developing upon J Gonda’s earlier research on the terminological and semantic implications of the term alamkara (ornament/adornment).
The enduring tradition of cricket literature regards the game as a quintessentially English—more precisely, Anglo-Saxon—institution. In this view, cricket encapsulates the values of an eternal England unsullied by the forces of modernity. This literary tradition was inaugurated in the early nineteenth century, at the very moment when industrialization was profoundly transforming the English landscape. Over time, the idea of cricket as a national sport centred in the countryside and devoid of class tensions became deeply entrenched.
The book under review is a collection of articles that presents a multi-dimensional view of the here and now of cinema in India with indications of what trajectories it might follow. The editors say in their introduction that they ‘invited researchers from a variety of disciplinary and critical perspectives to reflect on Indian cinema’s current place among other media-cultural forms, public institutions and what the forms’ possible futures might be’ (p. 3).
Trifles makes perfection, and perfection is no trifle’ goes a famous saying, often ascribed to Michelangelo. Bollywood films are far from perfect, but a ‘crazy trivia guide to Bollywood’ can be as mesmerizing as a blockbuster is to the countless addicts of Hindi commercial cinema.The pan-India appeal of films made in Bombay (should Bollywood be now renamed Mullywood in view of its changed name to Mumbai!) continues unabated despite challenges from the South.
One of the festivities that is held in great reverence is the Durga Puja. Though it is a five-day journey, Bengal, and Bengalis (across the globe) prepare for the festival throughout the year.The Making of Goddess Durga in Bengal: Art, Heritage and the Public is a collection of articles authored by various scholars is an ethnographic study, divided into four parts, of its colonial past and the artists involved.
A collection of stories with a mythological backdrop to it has the potential to attract readers from diverse age groups, especially those who have had a taste of such stories in their childhood. The stories are written in an interactive manner and the connectedness between each of them takes the reader back and forth, weaving into a universe of the epic Mahabharata and sometimes drawing from the Ramayana as well.
Renowned mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik has picked seventy-two tales, mainly from India’s rich mythology, and used them as a canvas to paint 21st century on. This collection of stories originates from Patnaik’s webcast called Teatime Tales. Why did he pick 72 stories? Well, the reason lies in mythology. 72 steps, 72 hours, 72 names, 72 stupas—all these and more feature in mythology
This book is a collection of stories of 17 mythical beings—Asuras, Rakshasas/Rakshasis from Hindu mythology, centered around whom stories are rarely written or discussed.In Hindu mythology, devas or gods are often shown to be virtuous (even their cunningness portrayed as diplomacy and ingenuity) and thus victorious; always celebrated and glorified. Asuras and Rakshasa/rakshasis on the other hand are shown as evil, demonic figures, whose defeat at the hands of devas are symbolized as victory of good over evil.
The uniqueness of the book under review rests on the way the author has captured modern India—especially of the last six decades—through pen sketches of distinguished men and women whom he met and was most touched by. This tome is a collection of such reminiscences of people of various hues, very well known or hardly known outside their cloisters, from the fields of politics, academia, business, bureaucracy, public life and the like.
Growing up in the seventies, we cut out any bit of coloured paper that we came across, usually from advertisements in magazines, and all kinds of pictures from our black-and white newspapers: one never knew when something might come in useful for a school project or to add a dash of zing to a birthday gift wrapped in plain brown paper. Pictures, even in B&W, of monuments and animals were particularly treasured; besides collecting them against the proverbial rainy day, we spent hours looking at them.
It is not often that biographies of living persons are written. Vijay Kichlu (now in his 90s) is a fine classical vocalist and teacher but he chose to be an administrator, leading and giving shape to the Sangeet Research Academy, the ITC sponsored institution in Calcutta. He retired many years ago but clearly his friends, disciples and loyalists in the SRA wanted a record of the achievements. Meena Banerjee, the biographer, a well-known music critic has produced an engaging, appreciative account which although worshipful at times, has enough candour to make it a lively read.
As a child holidaying in Hyderabad with my grandparents, I was mesmerized by the exquisite Mughal glass collections in the Salarjung Museum—cut glass, crystal and blown glass goblets, hookah bases, bowls, bottles, platters and jugs, even spittoons—beautifully curved, with delicate swanlike necks. Beautiful translucent reds, blues and greens in jewel shades, etched, inlaid and enamelled with gold, fluted and melon shaped, with spirals, chevrons, and trifoliated designs and sprays of flowers running up their sides. Their beauty and delicacy enchanted me.
Hiren Gohain is easily one of India’s tallest public intellectuals. He was professor of English at Gauhati University until his retirement in 1999. Whether in his core academic corpus—Tradition and Paradise Lost: A Heretical View (1976), a book based on his doctoral dissertation at Cambridge and Asamīyā Jātīya Jīvanat Mahāpuruṣiyā Paramparā (1987), his much-acclaimed work on Śaṅkaradeva among others—or his political interventions, Gohain directs our glance at ideological structures that insidiously dominate our language and cultures.