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REVIEW

Books

Averting the end of the world with a motley crew's help

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Welcome to the world of Magnus Chase, one of Odin's "einherji" (chosen immortal warriors) in the third and final installment of Rick Riordan's "Gods of Asgard" trilogy, as he faces what could be his final adventure.

Perceptions, Postures and Pragmatism: India-Pakistan relations down the decades

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Beyond these, the Partition, Kashmir, river water sharing, terrorism, the nuclear arms race and many other facets, including cooperation, make India-Pakistan ties cover a large and complex canvas, painted and repainted over for seven decades, leaving those well-versed at one point not as adept later.

The cold, brutal world of Cold War espionage and its hard legacy

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It is the latter fear that strikes long retired British spy as he is suddenly summoned from his uneventful retired life in the remote French countryside to London by his former service for a matter which might be a bit urgent.

A Sanskrit poet's celebration of human experience across the spectrum

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The work (literally three centuries), comprises a hundred-odd "poetic epigrams" each under three major themes of "Niti", "Shringara" and "Vairagya", which "broadly reflect the political, erotic and philosophical modes of thought and, in turn, focus on worldly life, pleasures in beauty, and total abjuration of both".

Silence and its significance: A wide-ranging investigation

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In an another of Bloomsbury's intriguing, informative and incisive "Object Lessons" series focussing the "hidden lives" of ordinary things, ranging from dust to golf balls, the author begins by delving into what silence is not -- and this may be counter-intuitive to our perceptions.

A working woman's guide to sabbaticals - and what not to do in it

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Sabbaticals, as our protagonist Nimisha learns, are not yet part of the Indian corporate lexicon -- apart from some favoured employees, and especially not for women who are not married or plan to get on the bandwagon anytime soon. She also goes on to find out that when you do get a sabbatical, by the simple expedient of chucking up the job which she had grown to detest, it may not work out the way as she had planned during the drudgery of work.

A 'handy' guide to human behaviour

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While the "radical effect" of the internet, the smartphone and the PC is said to be "on who we are and how we relate to each other" and whatever we make of the changes, psychoanalyst Darian Leader notes that experts stress that these are changes which have made the world a "different place" and the digital era is "incontestably new".

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.

Movies

'Spyder': Brings the thrill back into the thriller

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Innovative writing in Indian cinema is hard to come by. One that synthesises thrills with a certain sobriety so effectively is rare. Murugadoss' writing is always ahead of his (considerable) skills as a director. And that's a good thing. While he lets Mahesh Babu's star power do all the talking (even while the actor himself remains distractingly quiet through most of the mayhem), the director leaves nothing to chance.

'Lucknow Central': Outstanding study Of imprisonment and freedom

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The smartly thoughtfully written script (by Ranjit Tiwari, Aseem Arora) delves into the dynamics of freedom and comes up with a super-chic musical with wings that often allow vivid characters to fly higher than prison dramas generally do in India.Undoubtedly "Lucknow Central" is a prison-break drama on a par with Franklin Schaffener's 1973 classic "Papillon" and certainly superior in its intellectual political and spiritual ramifications to the overrated "Shawshank Redemption".

Latest 'Transformers' film better than expected

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Bay has a great sense of fun underlining even his most grim apocalyptic thesis on the ruination of civilisation. Here in the fifth "Transformers", he is on sturdy ground, enabling him to create visual splendour on a scale that's both awesome and believable. The relentlessly sweaty narrative is occasionally let down by actors who don't get the joke, who play their characters far too seriously.

'Baby Driver': A breezy musically driven crime romance

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Baby is quirky because he rarely speaks and is always listening to music. He listens to music because he has tinnitus, which causes a constant ringing or buzzing in his ears and he needs the music to drown that out.

'Sarkar 3': Performances keep you riveted

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Amitabh Bachchan, whose character Subhash Nagare is designed on the lines of the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, dressed in black flowing robes and sporting a grey French beard long with the characteristic rudraksh, emulates the chieftain to perfection. With his steely gaze and paused speech, he effectively conveys the conniving persona.

'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.

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