The Queen of Indian Pop: The Authorized Biography of Usha Uthup is a faultless English translation by Srishti Jha of her father Vikas Kumar Jha’s original Ullas Ki Naav in Hindi. Both titles are appropriate for summarizing Usha Uthup’s journey. The book has a distinction in the sense that it has been able to address the conundrum.
Audiobooks and dubbing films for regional audiences in India are opening up a whole new market for people whose vocal cords are their raison d’etre. PC Ramakrishna’s book Find Your Voice: A Definitive Guide for Stage Actors and Voice Professionals could not have come at a better time for voice artistes. The first of its kind in India, the book is an excellent mixture of the theory of Voice and how to cultivate and preserve it, as well as nuggets on the features of the field of Voice.
Studies abound of Arthashastra, Mudrarakshasa, Panchatantra and Hitopadesha; not so many of Dasakumaracarita, Vetala Panchavimshati and Simhasana Dvatrimshika (2nd century BCE to 13th century CE). Srinivasan is the first to study them together vis-à-vis western political thought. It is the first study based upon Telegu translations which provide different versions of some tales.
Ramachandra Guha is one of the few historians to have considered with any degree of seriousness the role of the Hindi film in keeping the chaotic diversity of India together. Kaveree Bamzai’s engaging book under review extends Guha’s basic premise by examining the making of a shared cultural space, even as it traces compellingly the journey of the three Khans through the Hindi film industry and a globalizing India.
I have read many of RK Narayan’s stories and novels. To me his books epitomize the adage ‘Simple Living-High Thinking’. His words flow like soft rain, gentle and beautiful, bringing to life dormant thoughts and emotions in the reader’s mind. The quirky people of Malgudi—the loving ayah, shrewd matchmaker, naughty Swami and his friends are all like family for avid readers India of the 80s.
I enjoyed reading the book Unheard Voices from Ancient Times. But would I enjoy reviewing the book, I wondered. To my delight, I found that I did! Beginning with the cover design, I looked at it from all angles. It set me thinking. I stared at the expanding, green spiral. Did it show the passage of time from the Jurassic Age to the Age of the Puranas
This beautifully produced book brings together twenty diverse essays (including the excellent introduction) on the Ramayana tradition in visual, literary and performance cultures across a broad geographical swathe and across more than a millennium.In her careful examination of Ramayana-themed sculptures in the Chalukya and Hoysala period temples of Karnataka, Parul Pandya Dhar shows that the image of Rama as ideal ruler is seen from inscriptions of the sixth century onwards where kings are compared to the divine hero. Interestingly, the nobler aspects of Ravana are also occasionally represented.
Children nowadays are exposed to a wide variety of mythological stories from around the world, and so have become quite familiar with the creatures studding these stories. Whether it is the poisonous basilisk from the Harry Potter stories, the manticore and cyclops from the Percy Jackson books and movies, or dragons from any number of books and movies, children have abundant access to stories about western mythological beasts.
Madhavi Mahadevan presents to us the tale of Drishadvati, an illegitimate princess born of Yayati, the philandering Suryavanshi king of Hastinapur. She is blessed (or cursed?) with a book—that she would sire four kings. Drishadvati, it was prophesied, was also ‘blessed’ such that she would regain her virginity after every birth. This boon made her the coveted prize of her times.
The central questions that historian Sanjukta Sunderason asks in her book are these: What does ‘partisan aesthetics’ connote as a conceptual frame? What historical work can it do with the artistic field of mid-twentieth century India as archive, and what does it lend methodologically to the field of global and transnational art histories of this period? (p. 4).
Photography emerged as a bare witness to the happenings and developments that were taking place in the fast-changing world of the nineteenth century. The veracity of the camera was undisputed, as it overcame the interpretation of its predecessor—the illustrator’s brush. Photojournalism took some time to emerge on its own, as the technology to transfer photos on to the newsprint was initially not there. India was lucky to have an early tryst with photography as the British who were its pioneers had just established their presence in the form of the East India Company.
In a country like ours, where actors, read heroes and heroines, take centre stage over everything else in popular Hindustani cinema, are more important than even the directors, one wonders how important scripts are, and hence scriptwriters. To begin with a confession, I thought more about it once this book hit the market.The Indian screenwriter Anjum Rajabali (known for scripting Drohkaal, Ghulam, Rajneeti and Arakshan to name a few) has penned the Foreword to this book where he starts by quoting Alfred Hitchcock: ‘To make a great film, you need three things—the script, the script and the script.’
At the outset, let me admit I enjoyed reading the book: it makes for a pleasant change from the weakly researched but pretentious High-Church-academic treatises on music it has been my lot to review recently. Much of its content conveys the impression of being honestly felt, which makes even its many shortcomings relatable. That said, it is not an easy book to categorize.
Just like the tales and legends of Iliad give a magical patina to the mystique of Greek of yore, this slim book And That is Why with enchanting myths and legends from Manipur, recreates a world that lends a strange yet acceptable dimension to our humdrum lives.Well-known author and cultural maestro, L Somi Roy, may have retold the tales for a young audience, but such are the re-tellings that an adult is forgiven if charmed by them. As a cultural, literary and sport celebrity who is native to Manipur, Mr Roy has picked a collection of legends that tickles one’s imagination and, at least to this writer, encourages lateral thinking…
Anastasia Damani’s illustrated books are a pleasure to read. The world is becoming a smaller place every day. You can go off to London or to Europe for a holiday and you can also visit lesser known exotic places. But we have so many novel and beautiful things and people all around us and it is an amazing experience to learn about some of them. India was ruled by the British for a long time and then in 1947 they left the country. But some of them, especially those belonging to mixed families, that is both Indian and British, loved the vibrant and warm culture of our country and so they stayed on…
All children are born imaginative, some perhaps more than others. And imagination fosters creativity. Unfortunately, their curiosity to discover the world around often gets jaded over the years. What experience ignites a child’s imagination? What helps the child pursue the ideas formed during the growing years? As a child, Einstein was fascinated by a magnetic compass gifted by his father to play with, wondering why its needle always pointed to the north! Later, in his teens, he would marvel how it would be like if he travelled so fast as to catch up with a beam of light!..
This is the story of a determined, stubborn and spirited girl who has become famous as Teejan Bai. She has been heaped with honours, but her journey from the humble Bhil village of Ganiyari (Chattisgarh) to the world stage was a struggle. Teejan’s birth was not welcome in her impoverished family, and her enthusiasm for playing kabaddi and climbing trees met the disapproval of her disciplinarian mother. She was mesmerized by her grandfather Brijlal’s performance of Pandvani—narration of tales from Mahabharata and wanted to sing also…
Ribhu’s Adventure on Earth is a fun story where a fun-loving air-spirit Ribhu, a child of the Gandharvas of Indian mythology and student of Gandharva Vasusen gets cursed by sage Durvasa for disturbing his meditation. With his dholak as the only companion he is cursed to go down to the earth as a demon rakshasa in Dandaka.The story revolves around Ribhu’s adventures in his new life with his dholak as a friendly reminder of the past, where he meets demons like Tadaka rakshasi, Mareecha (Tadaka’s son) and observes how Rama frees them from their curses. Ribhu then moves away to Mithila where he meets Ahalya (the wife of Rishi Gautama) turned into a rock and waiting for the young Prince Rama to come there and touch her with his foot to free her from the curse…
The book is mainly based on the story of Ramayana. But it differs from most of the books narrating the story of Ramayana in the sense that other books have Rama, Lakshmana and others as the main characters, but this book gives you a new perspective on the journey of Rama. It depicts the contribution of the monkeys in Rama’s Ayana i.e., Rama’s journey. Whether it was the search for Sita or the construction of a bridge over the sea to reach Lanka, or defeating the greats of Ravana’s army, or bringing the Sanjeevani herb to save Lakshmana, all this would not have been possible without the cooperation of the monkeys…
The enchantment of the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, is soul stirring and timeless, capable of reviving the thrill of the tale with every fresh presentation of the drama down to the current times and newer audiences. So many creative attempts have been made, using a variety of formats, styles and texts to analyse the story and the characters through the years in novel interpretations but the main source still remains a fountain of joy for authors to re-create the original tale. Salutations to Vyasa for painting such a rich canvas of the Mahabharata from where writers can never tire of highlighting every single square inch of the grand picture, time and again…