A puzzling literary rebellion, a Bollywood exploration, intellectual angles and relationships all combine to bring together a delectable set of reads
Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings
by Kuzhali Manickavel
It feels great to read a book that refuses to be bound by scales of art. Kuzhali Manickavelís Insects are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings appears to be a new literary rebellion of sorts. The abstractionistís words seem to flow seamlessly and no, itís not a rant. Magic realism is webbed with clever manipulation of language. Each short story in this collection is starkly different from another. Dark humour that may not hit you in the first reading will suddenly sneak up from behind. Much like the insects that inhabit this book. Manickavel can be noir and she can be lyrical. Hers is a contemporary Wonderland thatís messy. To unearth its symbols and statements seems to be an inviting yet arduous journey. Tread carefully, the book is ripe with obscurity and at times seems like a puzzle that only hints at more puzzles for answers.
- Arshad Said Khan
by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan
With all the fanfare surrounding the launch of this blogger and journalistís debut novel, it would leave us to wonder if the book would actually live up to the hype. Arshi is the archetypal protagonist, looking for love, bumbling along, full of insecurities about her relationships. Dealing with broken marriages, live-in relationships, multiple boyfriends and similar contemporary chick-lit angst, the novel proves to be a fun read. The author places the context of the book in the correct milieu.
How relevant do you believe is chick-lit?
I think any kind of fiction set in contemporary times serves as part of an accurate representation of how we live. It all depends on what you identify with at the end of the day. I think theyíre fun reads but not something I go back to repeatedly.
How is You Are Here, different from other chick-lit novels?
Firstly, You Are Here is not chick-lit, at least, in my point of view. It was my intention also of showing a generation of young Indians struck by globalisation and living in the metros. There is a young woman protagonist negotiating her life and her relationships, yes, but I think the similarity ends there.
Was it an easy transition from blogging to writing a novel?
I always wanted to be a writer. Blogging regularly gave me the discipline I needed to write a book. It was tougher having to stick to a narrative structure and keep characters in place and so on.
Edited by Anandam P. Kavoori and Aswin Punathambekar
An anthology of essays by scholars who examine the phenomenon
that is Bollywood. An academic effort, it looks at the cultural, political
and institutional ramifications of the films and music as they making
their way through a global journey. Editor Aswin Punathambekar answers
a few questions.
Is Bollywood truly global?
Bollywood, and other film industries in India, have been always been global in the sense that filmmakers, music directors, and technicians drew on ideas from all over the world. And films from India have been part of a global circuit for several decades now. What is new, however, is the scale and organisation of Bollywoodís global flows. We are now seeing concerted efforts by companies to institutionalise markets - to convert a vast yet vaguely understood overseas territory into well-defined audience communities.
Has there been a shift from largely an area of interest for
the NRI community to an international audience?
Audiences in countries like Nigeria have been following Hindi films for nearly four decades now. Simply because the dollar-and-pound markets of North America and the U.K. matter more to the industry doesnít mean thatís the only audience. Even in these large NRI markets, Bollywood is beginning to attract non-desis. With Bollywood films making their way into mainstream theatre chains, it is bound to attract attention. It remains to be seen if this initial interest will last longer and attract greater numbers of people.
Can mainstream Bollywood movies hold their own against foreign
films, or is it Ďoffbeatí Indian cinema that works?
ďOffbeatĒ Indian films and mainstream fare often have different circuits
and they rarely intersect. Even now, successful small-budget films like
Manorama Six Feet Under havenít been marketed and distributed widely
in overseas markets Ė itís still the big-budget big-banner films that
make it into mainstream venues. There have been a few success stories
of Bollywood films holding their own, as you put it. But this is where
festivals like Mahindraís Indo - American Arts Council Film Festival
play an important role by introducing audiences to a range of films
being made in Mumbai and not just the stereotypical 3-hour extravaganzas.
the Land of No Right Angles
by Daphne Beal
A book on self-discovery, Verve contributor Daphne Bealís In the Land
of No Right Angles charts American student Alexís journey to Nepal and
her encounters with her friend Will and a local Nepalese girl Maya.
Traversing America, Nepal and the seedy underbelly of Mumbai the novel
is not without its share of platitudes. But this work, part travelogue
and part melodrama, is more than just pop fiction. With a pretty insightful
grasp of local culture and human connections that transgress parochial
concerns, this suspenseful coming of age story is definitely worth a
Excerpts from an interview with the author:
Is the book based on your own travels/ experiences?
The research for this book was very much hands-on. While itís not a memoir, I do share some biographical details with my protagonist, Alex. I was lucky enough to study in Nepal when I was 20, and then to be able to go back for personal reasons and for work every four years after that. There was no way that secondary sources could elucidate such a deeply foreign place. There is just too much sensationalism about prostitution to trust another personís viewpoint. However, I do feel indebted to the insights I found in Mary Ellen Markís photo essay, Falkland Road, Mira Nairís Salaam Bombay, Vikram Chandraís stories about Mumbai, and Suketu Mehtaís Maximum City.
What inspires you as a writer?
Like so many writers, it is the stories floating all around us that inspire me. Everything from newspaper accounts to family legend to eavesdropped conversations get my imagination going. ?I want to know why people act the way they do, and if that answer isnít immediately clear to me, thatís often the starting point for a story.
- Mamta Badkar
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