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HT Picks: A selection of good reads

This week’s interesting reads includes a book on Indian billionaires, one that weaves together history and Hindi film songs, and another on Krishna

books Updated: Jul 13, 2018 21:09 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Krishna,India,Hindi film songs
Post independence history and Hindi film songs, filthy rich Indians, and the dark god, all feature in this week’s reading list (HT Team)

THE BILLIONAIRE RAJ BY JAMES CRABTREE

358pp, Rs 799; HarperCollins

India is the world’s largest democracy, with more than one billion people and an economy expanding faster than China’s. But the rewards of this growth have been far from evenly shared, and the country’s top 1 per cent now own nearly 60 per cent of its wealth. In megacities like Mumbai, where half the population lives in slums, the extraordinary riches of India’s new dynasties echo the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers of yesteryears, funneling profits from huge conglomerates into lifestyles of conspicuous consumption.

The Billionaire Raj takes readers on a personal journey to meet these reclusive billionaires, fugitive tycoons and shadowy political power brokers. From the sky terrace of the world’s most expensive home to impoverished villages and mass political rallies, Crabtree dramatizes the battle between crony capitalists and economic reformers, revealing a tense struggle between equality and privilege playing out against a combustible backdrop of aspiration, class and caste.

The Billionaire Raj is a vivid account of a divided society on the cusp of transformation – and a struggle that will shape not just India’s future, but the world’s.*

NOTE BY NOTE; THE INDIA STORY 1947-2017 BY ANKUR BHARDWAJ, SEEMA CHISHTI, SUSHANT SINGH

327pp, Rs 499; HarperCollins

The story of India, over the past seven decades, has been one of development and social and political change, which has often been forgotten, pushed to the recesses of our memories. Ankur, Seema nad Sushant refresh those memories in Note by Note, linking the events of each year to a significant film song. For in a country that has a song for every season, every emotion, nothing qualifies as much as the film song to be a metaphor for the nation.

The Hindi film song has uncannily encapsulated the sentiment of its era, reflecting, as well as forming, the consciousness of the country’s identity and mood. From the afsana the country was articulating in ‘Afsana likh rahee hoon’, even as Jawaharlal Nehru gave voice to India’s tryst with destiny, to the mood of socialist India in ‘Awara hoon’, to the political and social unrest of the 1970s as reflected in ‘Zindigai kaisi yeh paheli hai’, to the dreams of a new and young India, it is all here.

A tribute to India and the exceptional republic that it has been, Note by Note captures the rhythm of modern Indian history – to the beat of popular film music.*

SHYAM; AN ILLUSTRATED RETELLING OF THE BHAGAVATA BY DEVDUTT PATTANAIK

273pp, Rs 499; Penguin

The Bhagavata is the story of Krishna, known as Shyam to those who find beauty, wisdom and love in his dark complexion. It is the third great Hindu epic after the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. However, this narration was composed in fragments over thousands of years, first at the Harivamsa, then as the Bhagavata Purana, and finally as the passionate songs of poet-sages in various regional languages.

This book seamlessly weaves the story from Krishna’s birth to his death, from his descent to the butter-smeared world of happy women to his ascent from the blood-soaked world of angry men.*

*All copy from the book flap.

First Published: Jul 13, 2018 21:01 IST