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Books

Speaking Tiger – Day 1709

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For over three decades, Upamanyu Chatterjee has been an utterly distinctive and daring literary voice, with few equals among contemporary writers of fiction. In the twelve long stories that comprise this volume, he investigates, as only he can, the absurd comedy and the grand horrors of the human condition. The book opens with his most recent story, written in 2018, which follows Thomas Roe, the much-feted English Ambassador to the court of Jahangir, as he bumbles through a subcontinent far larger than his imagination can accommodate; and it concludes with the title story, written in 1985, in which a young Sikh sequestered in his parents’ home in Mussoorie, and debilitated by jaundice and ennui, listens disinterestedly to news of Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi.

A magisterial collection of stories—each as rich as a novel—The Assassination of Indira Gandhi is destined to become a classic of Indian literature has been shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2019 – Fiction category.

The acclaimed author of the novels English, August: An Indian Story (1988), The Last Burden (1993), The Mammaries of the Welfare State (2000), which won the Sahitya Akademi Award for writing in English, Weight Loss (2006), Way to Go (2011), which was shortlisted for the Hindu Best Fiction Award, and Fairy Tales at Fifty (2014); and the novella The Revenge of the Non-vegetarian (2018), which was shortlisted for the Crossword Jury Award.

In 2008, he was awarded the Order of Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government for his contribution to literature.

@bhawanasomaaya

Ancient wisdom of Garbh Sanskar- Day 1676

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Some of us believe that we will receive what we are destined to and do not make much effort beyond that to attract the same in our direction. Nothing comes without effort and devotion. To desire an ideal partner, we must first visualize one, and to desire a superior baby as well, we must visualize it.

Parents are responsible for the shaping of their children’s character and if they are disappointed with the outcome, they need to reflect on what went wrong when they conceived their baby. If your child is always bitter and angry, there is a possibility that you were disappointed and hostile during pregnancy and unwittingly transmitted the same sentiment to your child.

If we are responsible for the quality of children we bring into this world, it is to our advantage that we are enlightened to the secrets of the foetus because the fact is that good crops blossom in fertile land and great children blossom out of aware parents.

 

#ShapingOfSeed published by #AslanReads can be pre-ordered on https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07ZZ8F8JD

@bhawanasomaaya

Countdown begins- Day 1675

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All the mothers who bring a new life into the universe and all the fathers who make this possible…

The book is a result of innumerable conversations with doctors, surgeons, psychologists, parents, and children in India and abroad. The names have been changed to preserve the It is believed that the journey of an individual begins inside his/her mother’s womb. The child is a result of its genes and its environment and parents, if they are evolved, have the power to affect, alter and influence the moral, emotional and intellectual fiber of the child right from the time of conception.

Creation of human life is a magical experience. While our ancestors described it as a blessing from the Almighty, our Vedas and Upanishads dictate that everything that happens in the universe is predetermined from the moment the foetus takes root in the uterus.

Revealing the title and the cover of my new book tomorrow, so watch this space….

@bhawanasomaaya

Krishna & Bachchanalia- Day 1673

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Krishna – The God who lived as Man is a trans-creation of Kajal Vaidya Oza’s Krishnaayan in Gujarati. It is my first at outside of cinema and there are too many miracles associated with it to be passed off as co-incidences. Lord Krishna is the eighth child of his parents; I am the eighth of my parents. It is my eighth book and it was published in 2008 and these are sufficient reasons to justify why the book occupies a special place in my heart and will continue to do so for ever.

A decade ago I was heading a film portal focused on Amitabh Bachchan and was compiling credits and trivia of all his films. A chance meeting with Neville Tulli of Osians was the beginning of a magnificent book Bachchanalia (2009) published a decade after my first The Legend on the actor in 1999. Bachchanalia is a celebration of an actor’s extra-ordinary body of work spanning 4 decades and 100 plus films.

My tenth book and third book on Bachchan Amitabh Lexicon (2011) is a compilation of selective words from the alphabets of the English language associated with different scenes from the actor’s body of work – scenes where he made you cry, laugh and all shook up.  Like he says in his film Namak HalaalLo karlo baat…aaree English to aisi aave hain ke I can leave angrez behind…I can talk English, I can walk English, and I can laugh English…”

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

Stories & Biographies- Day 1672

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Story So Far was an initiative by India Express Group to document Hindi cinema from its origin to the year of publication 2003. Books like these are made special by rare pictures available to me from the Screen library, a tame. My fifth book Cinema Images & Issues (2004) are a collection of film essays – some explored as academic study, while some retained as stubborn memories that refuse to fade.  The concerns for the issues, I admit, came in much later after I had sufficient exposure to the world of movies and the confidence to disagree/ debate on what I watched on screen.

I had no idea that attending a dance ballet by Hema Malini playing Draupadi and commenting on it in my editorial would result in my sixth book Hema Malini – Authorised Biography (2006). This was my second biography after Amitabh Bachchan co-incidentally both superstars of the 70s and the 80s. Initially Hema Malini wanted a book only on her as a dancer but I insisted on including the woman and the actor because I knew publishers would not be happy printing a boo dancer and Hema understood and accepted my decision. The pressures and the process of journeying her life and getting to understand her as a person is an experience I will always cherish.

It was an ordinary day and I was checking my mails when I came across Publisher Rohit Gupta of Pustak Mahal asking me for a quick/ easy read book on cinema. Fragmented Frames (2007) is a collection of essays delving on the genesis and growth of Hindi cinema, capturing the magic and the madness of show business. It travels you through varied subjects and phases of the dream world and was proudly released by Gulzar saab in Mumbai.

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

Salaam Bollywood- Day 1671

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I’m often asked how long it takes to write a book, it is never an easy question to answer because I work on my books along with my regular job so it is difficult for me to keep a track still I would roughly describe it as year-long journey from the concept to its execution.

My second book, Salaam Bollywood (2000) tells about my experiences as a film journalist. In my early days I was often asked how it felt to be a film scribe and if I believed in the people I wrote about. I did. The book is about the other side of stardom. The better side, of creativity and compassion, of warmth and wisdom – that an outsider will never know…The irony however is that for those I write about, I will always remain the outsider. The book was originally titled Salaam Showbiz but my UK Publisher felt a title with Bollywood will bring better sales! He was right.

Take 25 (2001) is a tribute to the 80s decade, a lowly phase for the mainstream movies but an important decade in film journalism where writers were encouraged to do in-depth stories with the dream merchants. This was the golden phase for feature writing where actors opened their hearts and homes and we splashed their quotes in colour double spreads of art paper illustrated with glamorous pictures. The book captures a leisurely era and a baggage free mindset when life was innocent and joy was in small things.

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

A book is born – Day 1670

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Most of the stories we read in childhood began with three famous words, long, long ago…

My story as an author began in the summer of 1999 when I penned a chronicle on Amitabh Bachchan profiling his life and times. My art director of the magazine I edited at that time illustrated my narrative with file pictures and the result was a book!

Amitabh Bachchan: The Legend was the first biography on a celebrity structured as a conversation and yet all the publishers I approached insisted that I rewrite the content as a narrative. I disagreed because I wanted to retain the voice of the actor and also the voices of those who worked with him – his leading ladies and his filmmakers and finally found somebody who agreed with me.

The 90s was an important decade in journalism because it introduced computers and the internet. The year 1999 ushered the electronic media and the first flash of the new millennium ‘paparazzi’, at that time understood as ‘euphoria’, was evident at the launch of my debut book in Mumbai’s leading book shop when the cameras could not stop clicking superstar Amitabh Bachchan!!

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

Obsessed with Keshava – Day 1660

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The first, Krishna: The God who lived as Man about the deity and the women in his life is a translation from Gujarati to English. The book focuses on Radha, Rukmini and Draupadi but I got fascinated with Krishna’s youngest wife Satyabhma and unknowingly became partial to the character. This can and does happen and it is okay as long as the writer is conscious about it.

 

For Keshava: A Magnificent Obsession I  conceived  the concept and all the eight wonders – peacock, flute, the Kadamba tree, lotus, Tulsi plant, Kamadhenu, conch and the Peepal tree instinctively began to  read about them till I could consume them  no longer. All of them are obsessed with Lord Krishna and believe that he loves them the most. I remained obsessed with each of them till the book was complete and even now, I can never pass by a Peepal tree on the road without wondering if Krishna resides within the branches…I cannot pluck on a Tulsi leaf without wondering about her fate and if justice was done to her by her lord….

 

The lotus, the conch,   the Kadamb tree stay within me even as I write this…. There is a possibility that the characters get as attached to the writer’s mind and don’t leave until the writer consciously bids them farewell to make space for newer characters….

@bhawanasomaaya

 

 

 

 

 

I write because I feel cleansed, because I feel happy… – Day 1658

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I am often asked if I like what  I do,  some ask me how do I write and others why do I write…? I have no answers. I write because it comes to me naturally, I write because I feel happy, I feel cleansed or maybe simply because I am accustomed to writing. It is like breathing and when I don’t it is like something is missing in my day.

 

As children we wrote with pencils, as we grew up we learnt to write with fountain pen on lined notebooks. When I started working, we were given ball points and writing pads. I learnt to correct what I had written with red ball point pens. I learnt to edit my writing using a felt pen marking paragraphs and punctuations. Then after a good night’s rest I would scrutinize every line and write a final draft out of the messy multi coloured manuscript in long hand.

 

In the 80s we learnt to befriend the typewriter keys even though there was just one typewriter in the office. In the 90s it was time to look at the screen and think and in 2000 the lap top wire became the umbilical cord that was never disconnected.

To be continued

@bhawanasomaaya

How do I write…Why do I write…? – Day 1658

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Growing up in a small home I was used to sharing my writing desk with my other siblings and the desk was large enough to preserve all our notebooks without coming in the way of each other. One day, I had scribbled my essay for college and gone out without settling the books in the drawer as our parents had trained us to and when I came home, my eldest brother who happened to have  read the essay remarked, ‘Do you know you can write, I mean you have the making of a writer’.

 

I was too young to understand the implications but a few months later, my college professor asked me to join the magazine team. My story published in the college magazine caught the attention of a budding publisher who operated from the building adjoining to my college and hired me as an intern. Post my daily lectures I  walked across to his office and spent  two hours writing disjointed paragraphs of various stories he asked me to for which I was paid a monthly fee of rupees 100.

 

Then one day, I read an advertisement in the paper inviting college students for a walk-in interview at the ball room, Taj Mahal Hotel. The room was house-full and I was surprised when I got confirmed for the job on the very same day.  I rejected the offer because I was suspicious but they kept chasing me as if I was the last talent in the country and I relented because they offered me a salary of rupees 500 a month.

 

This must be in the year 1977…Ever since I am writing….

To be continued

@bhawanasomaaya