On this week’s reading list -- essays on the rise of Indian Americans, a book on Mughal India, and another on women screenwriters in Bollywood. (HT Team)
On this week’s reading list -- essays on the rise of Indian Americans, a book on Mughal India, and another on women screenwriters in Bollywood. (HT Team)

HT Picks; New Reads

A collection of essays on the rise of Indian Americans, a book on the rich aesthetic and cultural legacy of Mughal India, and a first-of-its-kind volume that focusses on the lives and writing practices of women screenwriters in Bollywood - all that on this week’s list of interesting reads
By HT Team
PUBLISHED ON JUL 02, 2021 07:16 PM IST

Spotlight on the diaspora

351pp, ₹895; Wisdom Tree
351pp, ₹895; Wisdom Tree

The election of Kamala Devi Harris, born of an immigrant Indian mother, cancer specialist Shyamala Gopalan, originally from Chennai, has put the global spotlight like never before on the small but high-achieving Indian-American diaspora. The community happens to be the most educated with the highest median income in the US, and has excelled in almost every area it has touched – from politics to administration, entrepreneurship to technology, medicine to hospitality, science to academia, business to entertainment, philanthropy to social activism.

This evocative collection – of the kind perhaps not attempted before – captures the rise of Indian Americans across domains, by exceptional achievers themselves, like Shashi Tharoor; those who have been and continue to be part of the ‘rise’, like MR Rangaswami and Deepak Raj; top Indian diplomats like TP Sreenivasan and Arun K Singh; scholars like Pradeep Khosla and Maina Chawla Singh; and others who were part of, associated with, or keenly followed their stories.

A collector’s item, this eye-opening saga of a diaspora, which is possibly amongst the most successful and enterprising globally, would not only prove to be highly readable and insightful for a wide readership, but also immensely substantive for scholars and people in governance.*

From portraits to patronage

351pp, ₹3000; Niyogi Books
351pp, ₹3000; Niyogi Books

Enter the splendid world of Mughal India and explore its rich aesthetic and cultural legacy though fresh insights offered by 13 eminent scholars. Recent scholarship in this field has offered deeper analysis into established forms, explored pan-Indian connections and drawn comparisons with contemporaneous regions of the early modern world. Further studies along these lines were encouraged in a seminar held by the KR Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai, and the formidable scholarship presented by contributors forms the content of this volume.

The articles in the book explore varied subjects under the Mughal umbrella, challenge long-held ideas and draw comparison between the artistic expression and a material culture of the powerful Islamicate triumvirate of the early modern period – The Safavids in Iran, the European-based Ottomans, and the Mughals in the Indian subcontinent.

Themes as diverse as portraits of royal women, sub-imperial patronage of temples, word image relationship, the lapidary arts and the Imperial Library of the Mughals, a reconsideration of Mughal garden typologies, murals painted on architectural surfaces, the textile culture of the city of Burhanpur, changes in visual language and content of painting, and imperial objets d’art have been discussed, challenged and analysed. This beautifully-illustrated book is sure to appeal to connoisseurs, collectors and scholars alike.*

Personal, powerful, real

300pp, ₹675; Women Unlimited
300pp, ₹675; Women Unlimited

Did you know that Shama Zaidi, who scripted Garam Hawa and Mandi, introduced the master filmmaker Satyajit Ray to the concept of the colour palette in films? That Sooni Taraporevala, the writer of Salaam Bombay! spent her student years at Harvard working various jobs as dishwasher, server and security guard? That Juhi Chaturvedi, who wrote Piku, goes back to her childhood to give flesh and blood to her characters? Or that Sabrina Dhawan took two years to complete another script after Monsoon Wedding?

Scripting Bollywood is a first of its kind volume that focusses on the life world and writing practices of women screenwriters in Bollywood, an industry that is traditionally dominated by men. Through candid, insightful conversations, 14 women, who have penned everything: classics like Umrao Jaan and Rudaali; potboilers like Aaina and Dil To Pagal Hai, spy thrillers like Raazi; and spunky comedies like Vicky Donor, give their take on female writers and their relationship with the commercial Bollywood framework; women and the collaborative process of filmmaking; how their own realities give rise to memorable stories; and the liberating experience of writing for digital platforms.

Besides sharing their craft, the brilliant storytellers featured in this collection let readers into their lives and inspiration – they are personal, powerful, real!*

*All copy from book flap.

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