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Book 4 d week : Sum. Tales from the afterlives.

Review by Vinoo.

Author : David Eagleman

What a wonderful read this book where the author takes us through forty possibilities of life beyond death. His questions on life, death, love, technology, god, communism, capitalism stay with you long after the book. Insightful, irreverent and hilarious all packed in one book. What better way to illustrate than quote from this book that is wonderfully imaginative.

‘Sum. In the afterlife you relive your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together.

You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet.

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Book 4 d week : Brilliant Orange. The neurotic genius of Dutch football

Review by Vinoo
Author : David Winner

The introduction begins with : ‘If this is a book about Dutch football, at some stage you’ll probably wonder why it contains pages and pages about architects, church painters, rabbis and airports, but barely a word, for example, about PSV and Feyenoord. A very fair point. And the reason, I suppose, is that this is not so much a book about Dutch football as a book about the idea of Dutch football.’ Indeed. Brilliant read.

Quoting from the book again ‘Dutch people must be warm and fun and wonderful. They certainly all had to be very brave, living as they did below the sea and protected at times only by a small boy with his finger in a dike.’
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Book 4 d week : The Road to San Giovanni

Review by Vinoo
Author : Italo Calvino

‘The Road to San Giovanni’ is a collection of autobiographical pieces, and has five pieces, each one brilliant. My favourite of the lot is ‘A Cinema-goer’s Autobiography’. Sample this, ‘What used to be called the Hollywood firmament formed a system entire unto itself, with its own contrasts and its own variables, a human typology.

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Book 4 d week : The right to perform

Review by Vinoo
Author : Safdar Hashmi

I thought it apt to review this book along with the movie as it finds a mention for Saeed Mirza. ‘The right to perform’ is a book with selected writings of Safdar Hashmi. It covers topics in Street theatre, Theatre, Cinema and Interviews and Safdar in conversation, and is a must read for anyone who has anything to do with theatre. Safdar was a theatre activist with a political purpose, a communist, an artist who took his art to the people. Safdar Hashmi, to me, is our own version of Che Guevera.

A protest street play called ‘DTC ki Dhandli’ (DTC’s fraudulence), against the bus fare hike, was put up by Jan Natya Manch. Two actors were arrested and then released with threats not to perform again. The artists called this a gross violation of their democratic rights and issued a statement. Among the signatories were Bhisham Sahni, Vishnu Prabhakar, Hans Raj Rahbar, M K Raina, Dadi Padumji, Manjit Bawa, Vivan Sundaram, Pameshwar Broota and many others. Film-makers Saeed Mirza and Kundan Shah, who were in the capital on that day, also put their names on the statements.
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Book 4 d week : M F Husain Ki Kahani Apni Zubani (Hindi)

Review by Vinoo
Author : M F Husain

Roughly translates to M F Husain narrates his story.

Dada ki ungli pakde ek ladka,
maa de gayee naam Maqbool,
aur bane phirte hai M F Husain.

Fabulous sketches made with few seemingly casual strokes pepper this book that is like reading a hand-written autobiography. His stories tell us about him. The opening pages have a sketch of his family tree. ‘Mitti ka ghada bol utha’, ‘Maa’, ‘Dada ki achkan’, ‘Purani basti’, ‘Dada ki ungli pakde ek ladka’, ‘Primary school’, ‘Batool’, ‘Ramleela’, ‘Bicycle’, ‘Bandh mutthi das rupaih ki, khuli to dus lakh ki’ J are some of my favourites. Been a real long time since I read a book in Hindi. The fact that it is hand-written makes it much more readable than cold print.
Thanks to my brother for this rare copy. Anyone who wants to read it can hop over. Can’t risk lending.

I remember M F Husain from an interview where he says ‘Na aane ki khushi, na jaane ka gham’. Like the fakir, I’m not jubilant when money comes, nor dejected when it goes.

Maqbool Fida Husain passed away, in an alien country at the age of 96. The country is suddenly all ready to accept him. The same people who threw him out are all praise for him now. When M F Husain paints a nude it is vulgar but the same people can accept thousands of nude deities and even worship the human phallus. We just don’t deserve him. We will see the same drama when a Salman Rushdie is gone. Like Jatin Das said ‘this country has never respected poets, painters, musicians, dancers, artists. Only Politicians, Film stars and Cricketers are of concern to everybody’. Sadly, I have to agree. Jatin Das also did well to point an accusatory finger at the media saying there were over fifty media persons during the vandalizing act by radicals over the nude picture of Sita but not one of them had seen the painting. The media, sadly, hasn’t helped in placing the facts before the people.

Time to revisit ‘Meenaxi’ and ‘Through the eyes of a painter’. Should be possible to get ‘Gaja Gamini’ too. Who wouldn’t be ‘fida’ over Madhuri? I wouldn’t blame him.

Useless trivia : M F Husain’s words were actually hand-written by his friend, Rashda Siddiqui, for this book. It was collated from bits and pieces M F Husain wrote on tissues, old envelopes, bills etc. I think it adds to the book really and makes it a collector’s item.

Book 4 d week : Inside an elusive mind – PRABHAKARAN

Review by Vinoo

Author : M R Narayan Swamy

Over a dozen assassinations, scores of internecine murders, over 60,000 deaths, one man at the centre of it all. Velupillai Prabhakaran. The only book about one of the most wanted men in the world. The first profile of the world’s most ruthless guerilla leader claims the book. Indeed. This book is a good read on the root cause of the Srilankan ethnic crisis and gives us a peek into the complicity of the roles played by India, Srilanka, various Tamil outfits and Prabhakaran. And stuck in the melee was the Tamil who continues to suffer and is now forever condemned to be just a second citizen. While you don’t always empathize or agree with Prabhakaran and his ‘methods’, it is impossible not to salute him for what he stood for and what he almost pulled off. Yeah, in retrospect it is easy to say that the LTTE was finished the day they assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, but then that was bound to happen. India’s agenda was different and all they wanted was for the LTTE to be a pawn, which Prabhakaran was smart to see. RAW, with the help of other Tamil groups, had tried to have him killed, according to Prabhakaran.

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Book 4 d week : Clandestine in Chile*

Review by Vinoo
Author : Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This book is a walk through Chile detailing the adventures of Miguel Littin on his secret entry into Chile 12 years after he was exiled by the Pinochet dictatorship. Marquez has written this with Miguel Littin as the protagonist. Littin got back into Chile supposedly using a false identity, false passport and a false wife (hic hic!) to accompany him. During his stay there he secretively shot footage and even got an interview with a resistance leader, all of which form part of his documentaries. ‘Acta General de Chile’ is one of the films which is believed to have exposed the human-right violations under the Pinochet dictatorship.

*I have recommended this book earlier. I just thought it apt to bring it back in the context of Littin’s ‘Dawson Isla 10’.

Useless trivia : ‘Clandestine in Chile’ has been translated to  Bengali by Buddadeb Bhattacharya.

Book 4 d week : The men who killed Gandhi

Review by Vinoo

Author :  Manohar Malgaonkar

Thanks to a good friend for recommending this read on Gandhi’s assassination. It is good read on the conspiracy but then, it is far from unbiased. The book dwells at length, and for seemingly no reason, on the Narayan Apte’s affair with Manorama Salvi, briefly mentions Savarkar’s affair with Margaret Lawrence and keeps referring to Madanlal’s bride-watching for no specific reason. Quoting from the book ‘That was the general pattern of the times. Indian boys went to study at the great colleges of England, goggled at the wonders of the western world and were tamed by the civilizing influences of their environment. They invariably returned as brown sahibs. Many fell in love with English girls, and some brought back white wives. Savarkar conformed to the pattern only by falling in love with an English girl, whose name was Margaret Lawrence. Otherwise he remained defiantly Indian’. He has also referred to the vices of most of the accused and co=conspirators, but seems to paint a very good image of Nathuram Godse, which could well be the case.

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