HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week
This week’s list of good reads includes a serious volume on media and entertainment in India, an account of one of the best actors of his generation, and translations of religious poetryUpdated: Jan 17, 2020 19:03 IST
WORDS SOUNDS IMAGES; A HISTORY OF MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT IN INDIA BY AMIT KHANNA
Ambitious and encyclopaedic in scope, Words – Sounds – Images is a pioneering book that presents an exhaustive account of the evolution of media and entertainment in India – from the Indus Valley civilization right up to the twenty-first century.
Presented here are topics such as forms of entertainment during the Harappan and Vedic times, including details from the Natya Shastra; the early drama, music and dance of Kalidas; the development of ragas, musical instruments and early folk traditions; the genesis of classical dance forms, and developments through the ages, including the Mughal period, the southern kingdoms, the north east, and under the Marathas and the British. Independence onwards, it takes a decade wise look at the evolution of print media, cinema, music , television, dance, theatre and radio.
Amit Khanna – himself a lifelong media professional with diverse experience as a film producer, director, lyricist and in various roles in the field of entertainment – brings his unique perspective to bear on the subject and makes this a lively, engaging read.
A must-read not just for the students and practitioners of media and entertainment but also their lay consumers.*
GOD IS DEAD THERE IS NO GOD; THE VACHANAS OF ALLAMA PRABHU TRANSLATED BY MANU V DEVADEVAN
Twelfth-century saint-poet Allama Prabhu, along with Basavanna and Akka Mahadevi, was a founder of the Virashaiva or Lingayat movement in Karnataka. During a period of intense religious ferment, these Sharanas – protégés of Shiva – aimed to dismantle religious hierarchy and bigotry. They rebelled against exploitation based on class, caste and gender. And the form of expression they chose was the vachana – poetic compositions in everyday Kannada, which shook 12th century Karnataka out of slumber. Today, with their focus on devotion towards Shiva through love, labour and dedication, they form an integral part of the Bhakti tradition as well as India’s spiritual heritage.
The vachanas of Allama Prabhu symbolize his journey of freeing himself from worldly attachments and bondages. From gazing at Shiva from a distance, to uniting with him, to declaring He doesn’t exist and to finally realizing that He should be understood as a dynamic void: Allama covers a wide arc in his quest for spiritual enlightenment. Rooted firmly in the idea of experiential reality, his vachanas are passionate and filled with yearning; critical and brazen. Translated with great skill and fluidity by Manu Devadevan, God I s Dead, There Is No God is a treat for modern day seekers as well as poetry lovers. *
IRRFAN KHAN - THE MAN, THE DREAMER, THE STAR BY ASEEM CHHABRA
Irrfan Khan is a gentle dreamer with arresting eyes, a towering presence and an illustrious filmography. Most of us know the man only through the characters that he has played: Ashoke in The Namesake, Maqbool in the eponymous film, Rana in Piku, Saajan in The Lunchbox, and of course, Roohdaar in Haider. Today, these characters have made him a recognized name around the world.
Irrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star is an intimate and meticulously researched account of this refreshingly unique and unconventional Indian icon. Drawn from personal interviews and told through many voices, Aseem Chhabra traces Irrfan’s personal and artistic life in all its many shades. Rich in detail and peppered with anecdotes, it is a fascinating look at the life and work of the actor which begins in a small household in Rajasthan and culminates in his face gazing down from billboards in Hollywood. It explores some of his greatest performances that have shown India and the world what cinema can do.
At the heart of this story, however, is a man, possibly the finest actor of his generation, his passion for the craft of acting and his love for unusual characters.*
*All copy from book flap