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REVIEW

Books

'Scorpion', not 'Shiva lingam', is Tharoor's subject

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Consider the "scorpion sitting on the Shiva lingam" (icon of Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu Trinity) metaphor, for instance. It appears on page 81 and is used to convey the dilemma of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) -- the BJP's ideological parent -- with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The comparison, in the first place, is not Tharoor's, but that of an unnamed RSS leader, quoted in an article that appeared in 2012, six years ago, in Caravan magazine.

A political theorist's act of resistance against his Partition ghost

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The author grew up in a small town in Assam and one of his father's friend, a retired railway employee, was a frequent visitor to their house. For reasons yet incomprehensible to the then young lad, this old man, and his politically sanctioned method, would cast a harrowing shadow on his upbringing.

A writer at peace with himself -- and nature -- in a broken world

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In the memoir, Bond wonders if his life would have been very different had his parents "not committed the mistakes and indiscretions that shaped their lives and mine and lives of my brother and sister". Here, those who have read his previous works would recall the not-so-successful marriage of Bond's parents -- Aubrey Bond and Edith Clarke.

One woman's incredible story of defiance

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Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad's incredible story of fighting for what she believed in and how she founded a major movement for women around the world with the simple removal of her hijab, is captured in her aptly titled memoir, "The Wind In My Hair", out this month in India.

The long and difficult journey back home - or what was home

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It is this inexorable truth of life that former diplomat Prabhu Dayal portrays in his second work, a novella which is poignant and heart-wrenching but also showcases hope, and how kindness and generosity -- no matter how expressed -- can be encountered as often as cruelty and self-interest.

Understanding Gandhi, as the dissenter

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The first part of the book explores the formulation of disobedience throughout history by looking at and critically examining works by scholars and thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau, who was himself one of the greatest influences on Gandhi's practise of nonviolence and disobedience; George Woodlock, who declared that humanity would not be enslaved so long as men continued to disobey; and, among others, Greek-French philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis, best known for authoring "The Imaginary Institution of Society".

The mean, tough war machine and its complex course

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Their entire story, which dates from much before they first trundled on to the battlefield in World War I -- as this book shows -- hinges on the development and interplay of these attributes: Mobility, protection, firepower and communication.

Non-cooperation, revenge and WMDs in 1920s Calcutta

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Captain Sam Wyndham of the city CID finds himself tasked with dealing with all three matters in the third installment of Abir Mukherjee's thrilling and well-researched historical crime series.

Monkey business and more: Proving intelligence in animals

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Beginning with his own experiences of watching a female chimpanzee transport her bedding outside and an other one taught to raise an orphan - a time-consuming affair - say goodbye to the others before heading for her "duty", he however notes that there are still those who would question the mental capability of animals, despite the experiences and experiments of scientists studying the matter.

AI, analytics not the fiefdom of a few businesses

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On the face of it, only a few tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon seem to be ready to maximise the adoption of analytics and AI and reap their benefits.

Movies

'Kedarnath': Competently crafted but lacks soul

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Wasting absolutely no time, the director drops the viewers into the picturesque pilgrim town of Kedarnath and introduces us to the harmonious lives of its residents which consists of human-porters who are locally called "pithoo" and the shop-cum-lodge owners and tells us how their lives are dependent on the flow of the pilgrims. And interestingly, we learn that despite being a pilgrim centre for the Hindus, there are a few Muslim families that live there too.

'Thugs of Hindostan': Aamir Khan steals the show

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The story begins Circa 1795 when the British East India Company tries to annex the princely state of Ronakpur. When negotiations fail, they assassinate its ruler Mirza (Ronit Roy) and his son Aslam. Mirza's trusted Lieutenant Khudabaksh Azaad (Amitabh Bachchan) escapes from the British's bullets, taking along with him Mirza's young daughter Zafira.

'FryDay': Slapstick but entertaining

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The plot revolves around a hard working but ineffective salesman Rajiv Chabra (Varun Sharma) who is unable to sell his company's Pavitra Pani Purifier for months. His immediate boss threatens him with dismissal if he does not sell at least one water purifier by Friday.

'Peppermint': Has no flavour or essence of its own

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While you try to find meaning and depth in the narrative, you realise there is no reason for the film to be called what it is. As silly as it may sound, the title is an odd, passing reference to an ice-cream flavour.

Nawazuddin's 'Manto' echoes Guru Dutt's 'Pyaasa'

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Nandita Das shoots Manto's life and writings as vignettes of invaluable splendour. We are provided insightful glimpses into the man's private life with a supportive but disenchanted wife, played with sensitivity and affection by Rasika Duggal, trying hard to cope with the financial constraints, trying to wrap her spousal instincts around the mind of a man who was not only ahead of his times, but also not afraid of defying norms even if it meant taking on the law and the government.

'Love Sonia': A familiar tale brutally told

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For a tale about women being exploited for sex, what makes "Love Sonia" stands out is that it treats its women as relatively unimportant. The narrative takes off in a place 1,400 km north of Mumbai, where Shiva (Adil Hussain), a farmer of a barren land is forced to sell one of his two daughters to "Dada Thakur" (Anupam Kher), a zamindar.

'Manmarziyaan': Performances elevate this predictable love-triangle

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Infatuation, lust and love are emotions that are handled with equal fervour. There is a lot happening and it happens so charmingly and with such quick spirit and wit, that it's enough to keep you hooked.

'Gali Guleiyan': A uniquely told catharsis

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The film "Gali Guleiyan", which literally means "lanes and bylanes", is set in a location with a maze of bylanes, akin to the walled city of Old Delhi, which metaphorically transports you into the complicated labyrinth of the hero's mind.

Bright cast, intelligent script in 'Happy...' sequel

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As far as sequels go, "Happy Phirr Bhaag Jayegi"(HPBJ) is a long-legged sprinter. It hops, skips and gambols through a maze of amusing incidents woven around some of the most wittily constructed yet inoffensive ethnic jokes seen and heard in Hindi cinema, notorious for insulting cultures and nationalities.

'Vishwaroop II': Astutely mounted mediocre fare

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The film is virtually Kamal Haasan's show and he with his natural charm and charisma, subtly portrays himself as an efficient and mentally agile Raw agent, a loving husband and a dutiful son. He manages to do this with oodles of cinematic liberty which includes excellent edit cuts and computer generated images.

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