HT Picks; New Reads

Published on Mar 20, 2021 12:38 AM IST

On the reading list this week is an examination of world cinema in the light of classical Indian aesthetics, a book on the leopard by an ecologist and conservationist, and a look at the flaws in the legal process that led to the hanging of Bhagat Singh

On HT Picks this week, are books on world cinema examined against the rules of classical Indian aesthetics, on leopards, and on the twisting of the legal process that led to the hanging of Bhagat Singh. (HT Team)
On HT Picks this week, are books on world cinema examined against the rules of classical Indian aesthetics, on leopards, and on the twisting of the legal process that led to the hanging of Bhagat Singh. (HT Team)
ByHT Team

In the light of the Rasa Siddhanta

353pp, ₹800; DKPW
353pp, ₹800; DKPW

Cinema Through Rasa discusses the important works of world cinema in the light of the Rasa Siddhanta of Indian classical aesthetics. Rasa Siddhanta was first mentioned in Bharata Muni’s Natyasastra, the ancient treatise on dramaturgy. This book catalogues major cinematic works in the light of Abhinavabharati – a 10th century commentary on the Natyasastra by the great Kashmiri Saivite philosopher Abhinavagupta. Further, it outlines the links between purusartha, the cultural value system of life pursuits in the Indian tradition, and aesthetics while citing examples from the works of major directors such as Orson Welles, Luis Bunuel, Ingmar Begman, Akira Kurosawa, Andrei Tarkovsky, Alfred Hitchcock, Carl Dreyer, Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstien, Robert Bresson, and Satyajit Ray. Cinema Through Rasa aims to serve as a tribute to Abhinavagupta’s genius, a commentary on important ideas such as rasa, the nature of emotions, cinema and beauty along with a tryst with the masterpieces of the world cinema. The medium of cinema, though modern, should be seen as resting in the power of rasa without which nothing makes any sense. This book is a translation of the original Hindi book Abhinava Cinema, which was first published in 2016. Abhinava Cinema was lauded as innovative, path breaking and a must-read for students of literature and cinema studies by scholars and critics.*

The Rosette in India

239pp, ₹599; Westland
239pp, ₹599; Westland

The leopard is perhaps one of the world’s most beautiful creatures. The spots on its body are even romantically called ‘rosettes’. It is social but solitary, inconspicuous but significant in numbers, large but elusive, and does not fit any of the pigeon holes of large cat conservation. In India, the leopard is a poster boy for the fight to preserve wildlife, but in many countries it faces either ecological or local extinction. A worrying phenomenon, given that these cats carry out important ecosystem services that have not been fully understood yet. In Leopard Diaries: The Rosette in India, Sanjiy Gubbi, who has studied and documented the leopard for nearly a decade, gives us a close look at this fascinating creature. From detailing its food habits to throwing new light on how the young are reared, from offering suggestions on tackling leopard-human conflict to imagining the future of this arresting animal, this book is a 360-degree view of the leopard, its ecological context, its fraught relationship with the human world and how wildlife and human beings can find a way to coexist.*

Legal Heresies of the Raj

289pp, ₹699; HarperColllins
289pp, ₹699; HarperColllins

Bhagat Singh, considered one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement, was only 23 when he was executed in 1931. In their attempt to punish him, British authorities used controversial legislative powers to make an ordinance supposedly aimed at preserving ‘peace, order and good government’ but one that was never approved by the Central Assembly in India or the British parliament. A three-judge special tribunal was mandated to complete a hearing within a fixed period that did not even allow the 457 prosecution witnesses to be cross examined. Dr Satvinder Singh Juss, a London-based law professor and practising barrister, looks at these and other flaws in the legal process that was followed which led to the hanging. Through a comparison of the emerging case law in the UK with what was decided in the trial, he gives fresh insights into the use of colonial power. Full of engrossing details from previously unpublished original archival material, including hand written documents translated here for the first time, The Execution of Bhagat Singh offers a fresh look at the enduring legacy of the revolutionary and the lessons it holds for today.*

*All copy from book flap.

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