HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week
LOOKING FOR MISS SARGAM BY SHUBHA MUDGAL
After thousands of hours of training and practice, the gods of music smile upon the deserving few. Genius shines; melody and goodness reign supreme; and all is right with the world.
Or is it?
What happens, for instance, when a cunning PR brain brings together two equally matched star musicians from India and Pakistan in a concert for peace? Or when a Hindustani vocalist, denied a foreign tour, flies from Pune to Philadelphia? Or when a small-town music teacher and a big-city businessman team up to plan a hunt for India’s best new classical talent – and make a few crores in the process?
How does it all end when a harmonium player desirous of a Padma Shri award comes to a powerful ustad for a recommendation? Or when a Bollywood director calls a classical singer, offering to make her a sensation, like the mysterious Miss Sargam whom no one hears anymore but everyone remembers?
And is it really a good idea for an old-world recording company to reinvent itself for the twenty-first century, or a devotee of a pious godwoman to compose songs for Hollywood?
In this, her debut work of fiction, one of India’s finest and most original musicians has produced a sparkling collection – utterly distinctive, hugely entertaining and mercilessly funny.*
REEL INDIA BY NAMRATA JOSHI
If there’s one experience that unites India, it is cinema. In Reel India, award-winning film critic Namrata Joshi journeys through the interiors of the country intimately chronicling little-known accounts about the nation’s incessant obsession with the movies.
In Lucknow, she encounters a Shah Rukh Khan fan who has embraced an alternate reality in which he lives and breathes the star. In Wai, she finds an entire economy fuelled by the film industry as the town transforms into a film set. An activist filmmaker in Odisha demonstrates how he teaches local tribal people the basics of his craft, empowering them to train the spotlight on issues threatening their habitat and livelihood. From the fever pitch of the ‘first day first show’ in makeshift halls to the rivalries of regional cinema, it is India’s immersion in the movies like it’s never been seen before.
Filled with real-life stories that are as fascinating as the revelations and insights they offer, Reel India raises the curtain on the starry-eyed dreams and big-screen passions that live on after the final ‘cut’ is announced.*
THE SILENT PATIENT BY ALEX MICHAELIDES
Alicia Berenson writes in her diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.
Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another world.
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.
And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth? *
*All copy from book flap