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REVIEW

Books

Uncommon tales of common folks of Uttar Pradesh

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Collecting over a dozen of them, ranging from the macabre to the miraculous, from the unspeakable to the uplifting, and featuring humans at their best and worst (more frequently though) is Bollywood writer and director Tanuja Chandra.

Power and its practitioners: A witty but disturbing look

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Offering a fascinating but sobering look at a gamut of these effects, spanning but not limited to overweening conceit, a prodigious sense of entitlement, contemptuous disregard of contrary opinions or suggestions, and compromises with moral principles and personal relationships is this book by Daniel Levin.

Of the nether world and dark secrets

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Throughout the novel, Attari portrays her heroine to be a fighter, as Alia struggles with a supernatural dose of despair and manages to keep her humanity intact. Despite youth, beauty, wit, money and a tough spirit, the larger than life portrayal of Alia's character longs to lead a normal life.

An Indus Valley city's end and its shadow on the present

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This historical/conspiracy thriller is a major departure for the Karachi-born, financial journalist-turned-author, whose debut, "Beautiful from the Angle" (2010), initially seemed a chick-lit look at high-society Karachi before revealing itself as a masterful blend of politics, terrorism, social repression and media (manipulation), with an explosive finale when Benazir Bhutto returns, but she well holds her own in the genre.

A man born of the soil returns to the soil

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The text was originally written in Odia language, named ‘Matira Manisha' in 1934. The translator, Bikram Das deliberately retained certain Odia words used in daily colloquial diction like, ‘jaa' (sister in-law), ‘bhauja' (wife of one's elder brother) and numerous others, to ensure the essence of the narrative intact within the natural flow of words.

A 'spirited' history of the British empire and its 'high' legacy

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There are also many revealing facts about alcohol -- how its use grew from the calorific benefits it provides, how a beer had the first recognised global trademark, and how a whiskey was the first product to be advertised in cinemas, and so on.

Love in different age

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The author has appropriatley depicted the internal emptiness within the two souls that remain unfulfilled till the end in spite of they being a family.

An ode to life at the turn of the previous century

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It is this attention to detail that makes Zindaginama such a gem, set as it is in a small village of Shahpur and how the Ghadar movement, a planned mutiny against colonial rule, and the First World War changed it all. 

India's original and abiding 'He-Man' and his eventful life

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It was a tale that wouldn't seem amiss in Bollywood. A boy is pulled out of school and put to work on his family's farmlands, married off at a young age, gets frustrated at the bickering between wife and mother and leaves home for foreign climes to make his career. In a few short years, he is a celebrity sportsman, and a popular film star.

An Arab Spring version of Aladdin?

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Braswell's version of the Aladdin story is a tribute to the old stories' capability to be timeless and flexible enough to serve as a mirror, by accommodating notable features of the times they are told -- even the Arab Spring.

Movies

'Aftermath': could have been a lot Of things which it isn't

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The script continues its shaky journey through the indescribable grief of the two men without leaving any lasting impact on us. The fringe characters who are teased into the terrifying duet of depression are so sketchy they seem to de-energize the grief that resides at the core of the narrative. Neighbours, friendly journalists, nosy lawyers trying to pry open the two grieving men's wounded hearts occupy a dead-end .

'The Boss Baby': Refreshing and entertaining

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"The Boss Baby" is a cute, overtly dramatic animated film which at the core is about a child's imagination pertaining to sibling rivalry and a highly classified, industrial espionage. 

'The Salesman': A compelling story well told

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The film begins with a freak accident that leaves their home in shambles. This makes them shift base. At the new apartment, Rana is attacked by an intruder, one day. She is shaken to the core, but she lifts her chin, dusts the burden of self-pity and ventures to re-establish herself in a state of weightless normalcy.

'Before I fall': Astutely handled redemption fare

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You would hate it for being slow and repetitive causing you to lose interest in the narrative. Or, you'd love it for being a high-concept film. A film that will hold your interest and thereby touch the right chords in your heart.

'Kaabil': Hrithik paints every frame in glorious colours

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Hrithik's transformation from romance to rage is so credible, compelling and chilling you flow with his fury to the battered, bruised, bloodied, wounded love-soldier wondering if hell hath any fury like a blind man scorned.

'Raees': Nawazuddin redeems this flawed saga of gangsterism

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There is plenty of gratuitous action, rapid fire movement and swift reflexive responses to violent impulses. But Raees never succeeds in getting its act all together. It's all too hazy, scattered and sketchy, except when Nawazuddin walks in as the 'good cop' who vows he will get Raees by hook or crook.

'Passengers': Remarkable for its attempt rather than success

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"Passengers" gives us a lot to be happy about. While the leads impress us with their proclivity to seem preoccupied when they have nothing to do, Michael Sheen as a robotic bartender on board the ship gets the best lines and the most impassive attitude to the absurd proceedings. He actually makes it all seem tenable.By the time Laurence Fishburne shows up as the wheezing dying captain of the ship,we are already half asleep and well on the way to joining the spaceship voyagers in their lengthy slumber.

'Dangal': Strong performances and Aamir expectedly shine

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As a biopic, though one-dimensional, the film is well-packaged and presented in a realistic manner. Apart from a few predictable cinematic liberties, it lacks high-voltage drama and the entertainment quotient is dutifully obligatory. The plot keeps you engrossed right till the end and the climax, with the slow-motion shot of Geeta toppling her opponent, is exhilarating.

'Kahaani 2': Forced yet convincing

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Vidya once again in a new avatar as Durga Rani Singh delivers a power-packed performance with a broad spectrum of emotions ranging from a happy single mother taking care of her paraplegic daughter to a horrified and traumatised victim. There is just one scene, which deals with the sensitive issue of opening up to the abused child, where she falters and that too, because the scene is awkwardly handled by the director.

'Dear Zindagi': Lengthy life lessons sans drama

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The film lacks drama and is stretched to over 2.5 hours on a wafer-thin plot, making for tedious viewing. Humour comes in the form of some light-hearted moments but is not enough to give respite.

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