Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Dirty Picture - Movie Review

Rather late but I did make up my mind to see this movie in the theatre after seeing and hearing all the fabulous reviews it got. Funnily my first impression when I saw the posters were - what the hell I am not going to watch this movie but everyone who saw it was unanimous in their praise. Something that had not happened to a movie for many years and I wondered why. So I went yesterday with Shobhs and saw the movie in Padmavathi where it is playing for an incredible 80 odd days in an era when the DVDs are already out and to a decent crowd as well. I must also mention that it is in a small way that we pay our debt to the vamps of yesteryears 'Silk Smitha' in particular who spiced up many movies in our youth with her sizzling numbers, her smoky eyes and her pout. She was something else, coming after the overweight Jayamalini, Jyotilakshmi and their gang who were good dancers and the original item girls but Silk Smitha redefined it all with her looks, her figure etc. Thin vamps were in after that.

Anyway less about Silk and more about the movie. Inspired by the life and unfortunate death of Silk Smitha the South Indian siren, 'The Dirty Picture' is a well made ode to the ones who make it on their own - the Silks and many like her who have suffered similar fates. (Wonder why so many heroines and women actors kill themselves or die lonely deaths?) The high spirited young girl who lives in poverty in her village runs away from home and backed entirely by her guts, her desire to make it big and her ability to understand what the viewing public wants and adapt accordingly, Reshma, the village bumpkin becomes the bosom heaving, hip thrusting 'Silk'. Using her charm and the weakness of a superstar for new women, she gets more powerful and her star keeps rising. But the country bumpkin that she is, she reaches too far, swallows too much, makes a few mistakes and finds herself struggling in the uncompromising and cruel world of films. She looks for love rather naively in her superstar Suryakanth and does not find it, she finds it with his brother and loses it. Finally she finds it with a director who never liked her but by then it is too late. She has produced movies, made debts, lost her money, has no love and its all too much. Silk kills herself.

Vidya Balan as Reshma is brilliant and she gets under the skin of the role properly. The film grates on the soul as it shows openly what is talked of in winks, in whispers and innuendos, so much that at times you wish it also winked and whispered to you. Silk pushes herself in front of you, too big and bold to ignore and too much to digest in real life, in day light. For keeping that going on and on the director Milan Luthria needs to be appreciated for staying true and on course. Naseeruddin Shah as superstar Suryakanth, Tusshar as his brother Ramakanth and Emraan Hashmi as the director who falls for Reshma are perfectly cast. More importantly for me 'The Dirty Picture' does what few films have done in the recent past for as long as I can remember - it makes you feel for the character, for Silk and her weaknesses, her losing fight with the world, the injustice of it all as she refuses to buckle down and be someone she is not. When she loses money in her film, when she seeks roles, when she dies and in many other moments one cannot but help feel for the poor village kid, because that is what she finally remains. Well done team and you deserve all the awards.

I'd like them to talk about Silk Smitha too when they get their awards and with a touch of reverence. At least they should give her the respect she deserved for doing what she wanted to and believed in. Silk Smitha's life is if I remember right, began from Eluru, a town in Andhra, in highly impoverished circumstances and she made her way up despite her unconventional looks, dark skin, bedroom eyes and pout. She is a classic example of how one can use their strengths best if one knows them. Pitched against the reining dancing queens - fat, white and who relied on excessive body movements to titillate, Smitha brought a new angle of seductiveness into the vamp. From the hard, shake and grind dances we moved into the come-hither-baby times as Smitha used her body, her eyes, her voice to leave a lasting imprint on her viewers. Where the others jumped on you, Silk drew you to her.

One can only imagine the hurdles she would have faced and the loneliness that she would have experienced in her journey in what is certainly a male dominated world of films in South India. To have a fine film made by this classy team which has made a classy film on her life itself is a wonderful ode to her life.

After Dark. Haruki Murakami

Slim at 200 pages and easy to read, Murakami's 'After Dark' lingers on in your mind for long after you have read the book as do his other works. Haruki Murakami is one of the most unique writers one can read, because he has a viewpoint that is stunningly different from most other story tellers. It is not front on - it is in the shadows, in the gaps, the spaces, the whispers. All that we cannot capture, he does. His characters seem to speak as they think, real time, real life, and shift effortlessly into situations, past, present and future that seems ordinary, but yet have so many possibilities. There is an underlying element of excitement, a rhythm to the stories, even if two people are having coffee. Rarely is there explicit violence, action, sex - it has all happened before or there is a possibility. We only watch the characters as they tell the story. There is music playing on, there is food, there are human emotions all intermingling making it all very real and lively.

'After Dark' is a seven hour story, starts at 12 in the night in a slightly unsafe area of Tokyo, sometime after the last train has left. The next train is in the morning. A 19 year old girl Mari, soon to be on an exchange program to China, is in a cafe reading a book. She is joined by a young man Takahashi, who sits at her table as the place is full. He reminds her that they have been out on a date with her older sister Esi and another friend of his. She is not really interested. After the coffee the young man, a jazz musician who goes to the University to study law, leaves. Shortly after a lady comes over, an ex-female wrestler who runs a 'love hotel'. a customer has badly wounded a Chinese prostitute and left without paying. Could Mari translate Chinese to her? Mari is told that Takahashi has told the lady that Mari knows Chinese. Mari helps the lady and waits till the pimps pick up the badly beaten girl. The love ho owner passes on information about the guy who beat up the girl complete with a photo from the cc tv. We know that the customer who beat up the girl is a perverted software engineer who steals all her clothes and belongings. Takahashi meets Mari again before dawn and they discuss her older sister who is now in some kind of a sleep, from which she does not wake up. Takahashi tells Mari that her older sister had told him that she would like to be closer to her younger sister. When Mari goes home she cuddles up to her sleeping sister who shows signs of waking up. The mafia is after the software engineer. The next day dawns. The book ends. There are numerous possibilities after that but you know what would happen, and are at liberty to imagine the endings you want.

Murakami leaves you in a unique space, neither here nor there, in between. Surreal I believe is the word I am looking for, but somehow, I feel it does not fully justify what he does. He specialises in leading you to the spaces that we only feel, we normally do not read of in novels or stories, thoughts that are as good as whispers in one's own mind, seemingly solid characters who open up slowly into layers of weaknesses, doubts and fears. A girl in a two month old sleep, her sister out to be on her own all night trying to conquer her own fears, a jazz musician who is confused about what he wants to do in his life, a perverted software engineer leading a double life, a mafia looking out to save their business, a love hotel called 'Alphaville' and its owner who has a soft core.

Add to it Murakami's own method of giving a soundtrack to the novel - there is always a song playing - there is always food, drink, cigarettes, booze. He creates the world for us, not as a part of it, but like a voyeur. It is about loneliness, this book, about people trying to cope in the big city. For Murakami fans it is a nice, easy read and as with all others, a must read to enter the world of his.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moneyball - Movie Review

Watched 'Moneyball', the Brad Pitt starrer, a real life story based on a book by Michael Lewis about the 2002 campaign of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. The unsuccessful player-turned-scout  Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics team which has just lost three star players to other teams. He has to put together a good team for the next season with limited financial constraints. Beane realises soon enough that if he goes through the regular route of scouts, players replacing players, based on their valuations and expectations, he may end up with the same result and probably no job by the end of the season.

While negotiating players with another club he meets Peter Brand an economics student from Yale who has not played professional baseball (or from the looks of him any baseball). Brand tells him of how he values players using a statistical method that values players on their On Base Percentage which gets him several highly undervalued players. Some of these players are too old, are not seen as classic players by the scouts and coaches, but they are drafted in. The scouts, coaches and the team manager do not agree with this composition and the team starts to lose. When push comes to shove Beane trades his star players so the manager has no option but to play the new players. The new team, put together at a far less payroll than some of the big ones, wins 20 games in a row, a record in American League. His new undervalued wards do the team proud though the team loses in the playoffs. The Boston red Sox management sees the wisdom behind Beane's system and offers him a General manager job at 12.5 million which he turns down and stays with the Oakland Athletics.

I was disappointed with 'Moneyball'. Save the statistical theory of Brand, and his belief in his new system, Beane's team shows little to justify why the Oakland Athletics won those games. There is some amount of motivation, some amount of confidence building that goes on by Beane but overall it was largely unconvincing as to what really made the team win those phenomenal twenty games. The idea seems interesting but there is obviously far more that went into the campaign than the composition of the team and that is where I found the movie disappointing.

The best payrolls do not guarantee the best results nor do the worst payrolls. What does guarantee results is the conviction one has in an idea - be it statistics, player capabilities, trust, space, a desire to prove. It is often the ones who have no pressure that do their best and come up with upsets precisely because they have no pressure and want to prove something to someone. If at that same time they find a management supportive of them, that could well do the trick.

Overall the movie was a tad slow, had far less content backing the theory than I'd like and was rather one dimensional in its analysis. I also did not find anything in Brad Pitt's performance that deserved a nomination in the Best Actor category. Among true life incidents made into sports movies this movie goes to the bottom of my pile. Disappointing because it did have a wonderful story, of using a different approach, a scientific approach to winning. If it had also included some other aspects of winning, it would have been a fine movie.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Paradoxes of Life - The 'Love' Paradox

We often ignore the things that we claim are the most important to us.

Be it people or things or wants - the most important things to us are often the most ignored. Make a list of things that are most important to you, and normally, we'd find that most of the important things are postponed in our life. Maybe because we want to be 'good enough' for them when we finally experience them.

But then there is no time like now. I suspect that much of our good is held back because of this penchant of ours to hold back on things that are important to us. If we don't think they are important enough, why would the good god contest that. He'd say we seem to be doing very well with the things we have (the ones that ar not important to us).

To get a move on in life, a different perspective and certainly a different experience in life, start working on the 'important things' in your life and postpone them no further. We're good enough now.

Song of the Day - Gulabi Aankhen

Song from 'The Train' with Rajesh Khanna and Nanda, peppy and always a good one to listen to. But the song is shot on a frenzied Rajesh Khanna and Nanda who shake, run, shiver and quiver, slide, life, jerk and quirk, in an attempt to match the energy of the song sung by Mohd Rafi. There is also a particular shot when the leading duo hide behind a tree to eat some of that electrifying material before they come back and jerk and shake away gloriously. I love the song.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What Would Happen If Money Was Not There?

If money went out of the equation in our daily life what would happen?

1) I think that a more natural way of living would take over our lives. I'd stop using the branded toothbrushes, toothpastes and go to the good old neem twig, charcoal, salt which I believe gives the rural folk in India much stronger teeth than the urban folk.

2) I'd stick to home cooked food and in that, home grown or traded food. It would be simple stuff and I suppose organic because there would be no money for fertilisers and modern equipment which would emphasise the need for 'more'. I'd probably head to the places where there is some land to grow my stuff.

3) Clothes and other accessories would become far more simpler. The first thing that would disappear once money goes out of the system are the brands from my life I'd guess. I'd use clothes that are homemade, simple and functional.

4) I'd pretty much build my dwelling with my own hands, do the plumbing, do the masonry, the carpentry - do and learn a lot of work with my hands. It would keep me happy and satisfied. I'd grow my own garden, figure out water storage, drainage.

5) I'd be more social to my neighbour, my community, of whom I know nothing now though I've been living here for three decades now. I'd figure out ways for us to deal with problems as a society or community along with the others.

6) I'd also realise the importance of animals and insects and the environment. And the many chores they do in our society for so little.

7) I'd spend much more time with the family as we'd figure out how to do things by ourselves - farm, milk, vegetables, fruits, pets, water. We'd find ways to entertain ourselves, to learn and to teach.

8) I'd probably do a lot more walking, cycling and stuff like that. I'd probably be more aware of the changing seasons, of nature, of small changes that affect us when we are in tune with nature. I'd see more sunrises, sunsets, stars and moonlit nights.

9) There'd be nothing to hide, nothing to build careers for. I'd just live, beautify my surroundings, create in as many ways as I can.  It would give me much needed space to create if I have the aptitude.

10) There would be no need for unnecessary information, entertainment that offers instant gratification.
Each day would be new, filled with insecurity or security, depending on how we look at it. Each moment would be new.

11) I'd eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, sleep when tired.

12) I'd greet any person without reservation because they will have nothing to ask of me. I will smile back at people without wondering if they are smiling because they want a loan.

13) My vision for the place I am in will grow. I will plant trees, plan water bodies, secure bunds from floods. I will think ahead.

14) I will think of others and their welfare much easier with money out of the equation.

15) True character will be the big diffrentiator. I will be able to diffrentiate between the truly great and the truly mediocre once money is knocked out of the equation.

16) My to-do lists will become far more meaningful and more 'mine'.

Need to think of some more. But funnily all these look like a life that I'd want to live once I retire 'after I make enough money'. Guess I can start now.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Song of the Day - Kitne Sapne Kitne Arman

My one great memory that this song brings up is that of our dear friend Topper a.k.a. Sunil Jyoti who would sing the first few lines of this song with great gusto (in a short period of time only when he was smitten by this song). One with a fine taste and a large collection of music Topper's collection of Kishore Kumar songs was what we heard when we drove to Goa and back I'd think. Why does this memory of Topper remain - because I have never heard him sing any other song. I still remember his expression of pure joy. One who has a great love and zest for life, one who laughs easily, Topper is always great company.

But the song itself shot on Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja in the 1972 hit film 'Mere Jeevan Saathi' is another of those peppy Kishore numbers that one can't stop humming along. Enjoy.

Rhapsody in August - Movie Review

Another from the great Sagar treasure trove of movies 'Rhapsody in August' is Akira Kurosawa's movie about the bombing of Nagasaki by the US and how it is dealt with 45 years later by three generations of a family - a grandmother who suffered the bombing, her postwar children and her new economy grandchildren.

Left with their grandmother who has lost all her hair in the bombing, saved only because she lived in a village covered by mountains some distance away from Nagasaki on that deadly day, are her four Big Apple-Yankee-loving grandchildren, cousins, perpetually draped in all the US branded clothes. The movie begins with a letter form one of her many brothers Suzujiro, who has settled in Hawaii and done well for himself, married an American woman and has grandchildren of his own. The brother wants his sister to visit him in Hawaii and sends her his pictures with his children and grandchildren. Grandma does not even recognise him, though she is clearly very lucid in her memory otherwise. The cousins are angry with her because they are losing out a chance to go to Hawaii and try to convince her to make the trip.

Meanwhile one of the older cousins takes the younger ones on a tour to Nagasaki and shows them the school where their grandfather died on the day the bomb was dropped, in the school. They see the twisted memorial of a monkey gym on the school premises, pay their respects to it, see the spot where the bomb was actually dropped, see the water fountain kept with the stone engraving mentions that all victims died asking for water, see all the monuments sent by all countries. The youngest of them innocently asks his sister where America's monument was and is told that America was the one that dropped the bomb. The experience changes his attitude a bit towards America and his grandma who he learns has been a teacher just like his grandpa. She is no more the 'stone head with some reeds on her head'.

Grandma relates tales of her brothers as she sits with her grandchildren on the moonlit courtyard often scaring them. She tells them of her brother who drew eyes, his recollection of the day of the bombing. She does not recognise the brother in Hawaii still. However when confirmation arrives that he is really her brother when he correctly names their family members she agrees to go, after the memorial service to her husband on August 9, the day of the bombing. The news is conveyed.

The parents of the children who had been in Hawaii and who expect some part of the rich inheritance of the old relative, fear that mention of the bomb could put off the American side of the family and they may disown them. When grandma's brother's son, the half American Clark (Richard Gere) sends them a telegram that he would be coming to Japan they fear that he is coming to sever ties. But Clark comes with peace and spends time with his aunt, at the memorial, the school and they all plan to go to Hawaii together. However his father, grandma's brother, dies and he has to leave early. Grandma loses her balance as well, guilty that she has not been able to see her big brother sooner, has hallucinations of the bombing again and in the end is seen running towards Nagasaki to protect her husband. The entire family runs after her in the rain to protect her form harm, their priorities clear now.

For story telling Akira Kurosawa is fantastic.  I loved the way the story flowed simply, the generational gaps, the slow uncovering of their history they were not even aware of, the Japanese-American undercurrent, grandma's own reconciliation with her past and the way it catches up with her finally. A movie that would have jerked present day generation into introspection.

It has a lesson for all of us. After this generation there will be no further reference to that period (also for us a period when we got our independence) save history books and monuments. I always wonder how this rich treasure trove of elder citizens is left by themselves. They are all witnesses to a time we had not been in, a culture we have not experienced. But we let them die, without exploring any of their thoughts, impressions and feelings. Must watch. Must imbibe and must interact with the old people now.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Song of the Day - Hum Bewafa

From the movie 'Shalimar' which I never saw, comes this haunting song sung by Kishore Kumar which has shades of what I look for in my travel collections. A tad slow but it has enough to get the shoulders and head moving. Dharmendra looks handsome as handsome can get - and his face seems to emote much more than all the current actors put together. Surprisingly Dharam was never known as a great actor. Falling standards or were the standards pretty high then? Anyway here's to the jinga lala, hurr purr song.

The audio is not great but this one has a shot of Dharmendra without his shirt.

The Way - Movie Review

Watched this delightful 2010 film starring Martin Sheen and his real-life son Emelio Estevez, the older brother of Charlie Sheen (born Carlos Estevez). 'The Way' was made by this father-son duo to honour the Camino de Santiago, an ancient Catholic pilgrim route that originates from several places  in France and other countries and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain where the remains of the apostle St. James are believed to be kept. Traditionally undertaken by walk, from the door of the pilgrim to the Cathedral, the Campino is now undertaken by many on cycles, horses and even donkeys. Starting from the French Pyranees at Roncesvalles, the journey is an 800 km trip going through a picturesque countryside and is symbolised by a Galician scallop which is sometimes worn as a badge.

The movie takes you through the the entire length of the traditional Campino. Dr. Tom Avery, an opthalmologist from the US gets a call that his forty year old son - with whom he never saw eye-to-eye on matters regarding life - has died in a storm in the French Pyranees while on the Campino trip. The guilt ridden father arrives to take his son's body home but decides on an impulse to cremate his son's body and carry his ashes along the Campino route - as his son's last journey with him. The old doctor takes off stubbornly refusing advise from many not to take the arduous 800 kms route. Withdrawn and wanting to be with his thoughts as he journeys along, he bumps into a gregarious Dutchman Joost, a party loving, overweight man, who is on the Campino to lose weight for his brother's wedding and also be be more desirable to his wife. They are joined by a Canadian Sarah who is ostensibly on the Campino to quit smoking but in reality is escaping her abusive husband and lost child in an abortion. An Irish writer with a writer's block joins them and completes the quartet. They walk along through the established pilgrim routes, getting their Pilgrim passport stamped, enjoying the journey, having fun, fighting and growing. As they end of the journey they all become people who are more at peace with themselves. Dr. Avery takes the completion Compostela certificate in his son's name - Daniel Avery. The other three decide to join the doctor on his trek beyond Santiago where he finally scatters his son's ashes in the ocean.

It is a movie that is made by someone for whom the Campino means much. The trail has some wonderful landscapes and makes you want to go and join the Campino and walk the 800 kms. I am not sure about the Campino but I am keen to walk on a smaller trek - perhaps walk the length of Goa as Koni and I had planned - to start with. 'The Way' is rather long at 2 hours for an English film but it does not bore you if you are in the mood for it. There are many lovely songs that are played in the background as well including Alanis Morisette's 'Thank You'. Watch it if you're a travel person, nature person, are introspective and want to see a movie made for the love of it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Song of the Day - Aaj Se Pehle

I heard this song from the from the superhit 'Chitchor' in 1975-76 when I was still in middle school. Brother Joseph at St. Gabriel's High School, Kazipet (where I studied for 4 years before moving back to Hyderabad) who was fond of music would play this music loudly over the loud speakers after school and we'd listen to these wonderfully melodious numbers without understanding a word as we played football or cricket in the rays of the setting sun at Kazipet. I saw the movie much later of course and loved it. A classic.

Once again the music has a lot of travel element to it complete with shots of the sky from branches of trees. Love the Vijayendra dialogue - '..woh bhi ek galat tareeke se overtake karne wale se' and Amol Palekar's naive response - 'That's the spirit sir.'

The Eighteenth Parallel - Ashokamitran

Ashokamitran writes in Tamil and this fine Hyderabadi novel (Disha Books, 134 p, Rs. 55) is translated into English by Gomathi Narayanan. Vinod lent this old copy to me on my request after I'd seen his review of the book on his blog. Ashokamitran's world of Hyderabad and Secunderabad in 1948, a time when he was a college going student (in real life) trying to make sense of all that was going on about him in a critical period in the history of the twin cities, makes it the first truly authentic Hyderabadi novel that I have read complete with landmarks, the food, the people, the Irani cafes. I loved it.

I'd guess the novel was largely autobiographical as Ashokamitran was born in Secunderabad in 1931 and would have been the age of the protagonist, Chandru in 1948. Chandru belongs to a Tamil family that lives in the Lancer Barracks in Secunderabad. His father is a Railway employee in the Nizam's Railway - one of those few departments where Tamils and Telugus had jobs, unlike the other state departments where Muslims had a majority of jobs. Young Chandru is torn between his love for cricket, his Muslim and Hindu friends, his trouble with understanding the local languages Urdu and Telugu, his growing up years, girls and other such concerns. But soon these concerns make way for bigger concerns as the State of the Nizam prepares itself with its Razakars, a militant Muslim volunteer group formed to resist the accession of the state to the Indian government. The Razakars were civilian volunteers who quelled any thought in the direction of Indian accession and were opposed to the Indian National Congress and its off shoot in Hyderabad, the Hindu Mahasabha.

As the period grows blacker and uncertainty increases in the state, the small populations of the Tamils and others are caught between the two forces - Hindu and Muslim, Pro and Anti accession. Chandru does not go to college anymore with increasing attacks on Hindus and those who side with the Congress. He is attacked as well. He sees the Muslims grow more and more aggressive as they feel they will be able to resist the Indian government. The atrocities of the Razakars is shown and it reflects in the unnecessary aggression by their neighbour Kasim who stomps into their house and shuts off their tap one day accusing them of wasting water in days of shortage. News of the supply of arms to the Nizam by the gunrunner Sydney Cotton in his daily flights, the rhetoric of the Razakar leader Qasim Razvi, the fear of Communists joining the Nizam's forces, the prospect of Pakistan supporting the Nizam's fight against the Indian Army, the death of Gandhi, lead to a period of heightened gloom followed by the the meek submission to the Indian army by the Nizam, completely turning things on its head.

Chandru is as much disturbed by Gandhi's death as he is by the anger of the Hindus against Muslim  refugees when the tide turns. Overnight the tables are turned in the Hindu dominated population of the State of Hyderabad  as Hindus go on a rampage against the Muslims who dominated them for years, especially the last few months of Razakar brutality. But nothing disturbs Chandru as much as the incident that happens to him when he runs away from a murderous mob and jumps into a Muslim house by mistake where a small family is hiding from Hindu mobs. Seeing the Hindu boy, one of the teenaged girls offers herself to him to save the family. Chandru runs away from the horror of that hopeless submission, an act that he feels has stained him by making him party to it.

Coming close after my last book on the Hyderabad Nizam's (The Last Nizam), Ashoka Mitran's novel gives the perspective of the common man, the Hindus and the small sections non-aligned people like the Tamils in those times in a neatly woven tale. It is a wonderful glimpse into the history of  my hometown, as he describes many landmarks that are now no more, a Hyderabad we knew. But many landmarks still exist - Manohar theatre, the station, the tank bund, Tivoli theatre, Parade Grounds, Mettuguda, Basheerbagh, Regimental Bazaar, Keyes High School. Only one landmark I could not place - KEM Hospital. The mention of Hyderabadi cricketing stalwarts Eddie Aibara (who coached me during the period I played Ranji Trophy for Hyderabad and who was the hero of Hyderabad's first Ranji win), Bhoopathy (who was the Tamil curator and a cricketing great, someone I'd met as well during my playing days) and Ghulam Ahmed (the beaurocrat cricketer) made me smile. Life it appeared, seemed to go on two levels in those days - the act that everything was normal, colleges, cricket, girls, communal harmony on one level and and the politics underneath on the other. Chandru's friendship with the Anglo Indians, the Muslims, other Tamils, the cricket games, his buffalo, all make for a nice read.

Two things stand out with Ashokamitran's writing. The way he changes from first person to third person without missing a beat and secondly the way he juxtaposes humour with all of the other extreme emotions - frustration, fear, anger, horror. If I have a compliant it is that there are times when it rambles on with his inner dialogue making one skip some paras and also that I did not quite get the length of the time involved since the start of the book to the end. But these are minor. The book itself is a great read and fits into many categories - coming of age, Hyderabad of the old, the historical period of the accession of Hyderabad to the Indian Union, the common man's perspective of the period.

Ashokamitran is the pen name of Thyagarajan, who lived in Hyderabad for the first twenty five years of his life. He moved to Chennai where he resides currently and is seen as one of the literary heavyweights in Tamil. He worked for many years in Gemini Studios and wrote a book on those experiences too - 'My Years with the Boss'. I hope to meet him in my next foray to Chennai and gift him a copy of my cricket noel which he may like.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

10 Rainy Day Songs

This is a list I started many days ago and never finished. It started on a rainy day six months ago when it rained hard in Hyderabad after a long time. Driving past Husainsagar lake in the afternoon rain I was reminded of the rainy day songs that I like hearing. Here is a list of 10 of those that I remembered:

1) Kabhi to nazar Milao: Adnan Sami's soulful song reminds me of a monsoon that we spent listening to the song with my mother who was not too well then. Soulful and lovely to play on the drive. reminds me of the heavy monsoon everytime.;postID=59770727870819917

2) Downeaster Alexa: Billy Joel's number from Stormfront has been an all time favourite with me ever since a wonderful summer back in the early 1990S when it rained and rained everyday. How I loved listening to that song.

3) Rim Jhim Gire Sawan: Fantastic number by Kishore Kumar in Manzil. Sung as well as the original by my college mate Ramesh who excelled at the Kishore numbers. I remember a rainy evening being stranded at Paradise and borrowing Ramesh's bike. When I returned the bike I was drenched but there was some rum and Ramesh was singing this song and it was still raining outside. Heavenly.

There's a rainy video of  the female version. A young Amitabh and Moushumi running along a monsoon drenched Bombay's roads.

4) Rain: Madonna's not too well-known number got to me in my Mumbai days. I would play this song and listen to it as the rain poured outside at the flat in Nerul in 1995 where Shobha and set up house for the first time. In fact monsoons in Nerul were wonderful as we listened to music, hosted parties in our barely furnished flat and watched movies till late in the night on an old second hand EC tv.
Or even at my desk at office or in the local on my walkman.

5) Everybody Hurts: REM's memorable number is perfect to sink back and reminisce, to let the music flow over and drown under. We spent many days listening to this number over beer in Cafe Mondegar in Mumbai.

6) Bheegi bheegi raaton mein: From 'Ajanabee' this highly romantic number is great to hear on a rainy day drive. I heard it many times in one of those tapes that have assorted songs, not knowing who sang it, which movie, just captured by the romance of the song.

7) Words: Boyzone's or Beegees, this song is simply lovely for one of those long rainy rides. Great for romance.

8) Raindrops keep falling on my head:  This is an old hit, one I have heard on many cassettes and albums without knowing who sang it. But whoever sang it, B.J. Thomas I think, did a wonderful job and it enters the rain song list easily.
9) Indian Rain: A fabulous number by the Colonial Cousins. Its haunting, lilting music. Lesley's vocals and the way Hariharan enters the song is simply fabulous.

10)  Pari Hoon Main: Sunita Rao's haunting song from the 90s makes it to the list because of its tone and mood. Though the song is not about rain, as many other songs in this collection, it is great to listen to on a rainy day as it makes one go inside and listen to the sound.

Song of the Day - Hum Dono Do Premi

A mus have in any travel songs collection this song is picturised on Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman in the 1974 film 'Ajnabee'. The two lovers are taking a free ride on a train as it courses through India's rural scapes. Kishore Kumar, Anand Bakshi and R.D. Burman come together again to make this magical number.

Never saw the movie, never saw the video till now but I heard this song so many times that I remember most of the lyrics. Zeenat Aman, her saree flying in the careferee winds looks absolutely natural, and they look so convincing in love, rolling over in the hay and cavorting on the train. Lovely to watch.

And the philosophy of life as well.

'Gaadi se keh do, manzil hai bahut door' says the girl
'Thoda safar ka maza lelijiye huzoor' says the boy
And much more!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Song of the Day - Dil Kya Kare

This unforgettable song from the 1975 superhit 'Julie' starring Vikram and Lakshmi is another of those songs that I associate with travel and freedom. Something to do with the mountains, the hills and clouds. The shots of the sky from the trees perhaps and the lryics. Probably the whistling does it. Once again sung by Kishore Kumar, music by Rakesh Roshan.

'Dil kya kare 
Jab kisi ko kisise pyaar ho jaaye
Jaane kahan, Kab kisi ko
Kisise pyaar ho jaye

Jaise parbat pe ghata jhukti hain
Jaise sagar pe lehar uththi hain
Aise kisi chera pe nigah ruthti hain

Rok nahin sakti nazron ko
Duniya bhar ki rasmein

Na kuch tere bas mein Julie
Na kuch mere bas mein'

Aa mein teri yaad mein 
Sabko bhuladoon
Duniya ko teri tasveer dikha doon
Mera bas chale to dil cheer ke dikha doon

Doud raha hain saath lahu ke
Pyaar tera nas nas mein
Na kuch...'

Romance spilling over from the heart all through.

Enough for a Lifetime - The Guardian's List of 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read

1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time in a single list.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Money by Martin Amis
The Information by Martin Amis
The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge
Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes
Augustus Carp, Esq. by Himself: Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man by Henry Howarth Bashford
Molloy by Samuel Beckett
Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Queen Lucia by EF Benson
The Ascent of Rum Doodle by WE Bowman
A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd
The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
No Bed for Bacon by Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon
Illywhacker by Peter Carey
A Season in Sinji by JL Carr
The Harpole Report by JL Carr
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary
The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
Just William by Richmal Crompton
The Provincial Lady by EM Delafield
Slouching Towards Kalamazoo by Peter De Vries
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
Jacques the Fatalist and his Master by Denis Diderot
A Fairy Tale of New York by JP Donleavy
The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
Ennui by Maria Edgeworth
Cheese by Willem Elsschot
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Caprice by Ronald Firbank
Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert
Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn
The Polygots by William Gerhardie
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Brewster's Millions by Richard Greaves (George Barr McCutcheon)
Squire Haggard's Journal by Michael Green
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House by Eric Hodgkins
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal
The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes
Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
The Mighty Walzer Howard by Jacobson
Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
The Castle by Franz Kafka
Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor
Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester
L'Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane (Gil Blas) Alain-René Lesage
Changing Places by David Lodge
Nice Work by David Lodge
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay
England, Their England by AG Macdonell
Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie
Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf by David Madsen
Cakes and Ale - Or, the Skeleton in the Cupboard by W Somerset Maugham
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills
Charade by John Mortimer
Titmuss Regained by John Mortimer
Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Fireflies by Shiva Naipaul
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin
La Disparition by Georges Perec
Les Revenentes by Georges Perec
La Vie Mode d'Emploi by Georges Perec
My Search for Warren Harding by Robert Plunkett
A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau
Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
Alms for Oblivion by Simon Raven
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
The Westminster Alice by Saki
The Unbearable Bassington by Saki
Hurrah for St Trinian's by Ronald Searle
Great Apes by Will Self
Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe
Blott on the Landscape by Tom Sharpe
Office Politics by Wilfrid Sheed
Belles Lettres Papers: A Novel by Charles Simmons
Moo by Jane Smiley
Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith
The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom by Tobias Smollett
The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark
A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
White Man Falling by Mike Stocks
Handley Cross by RS Surtees
A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray
Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell
Tropic of Ruislip by Leslie Thomas
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout
The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon
Tono Bungay by HG Wells
Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle
The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams
Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson
Something Fresh by PG Wodehouse
Piccadilly Jim by PG Wodehouse
Thank You Jeeves by PG Wodehouse
Heavy Weather by PG Wodehouse
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse
The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
Fantomas by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler
Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Trent's Last Case by EC Bentley
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary E Braddon
The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
Greenmantle by John Buchan
The Asphalt Jungle by WR Burnett
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain
Double Indemnity by James M Cain
True History of the Ned Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross
The Ipcress File by Len Deighton
Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter
The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter
Ratking by Michael Dibdin
Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
Dirty Tricks by Michael Dibdin
A Rich Full Death by Michael Dibdin
Vendetta by Michael Dibdin
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt
The Crime of Father Amado by José Maria de Eça de Queiroz
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
LA Confidential by James Ellroy
The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Ellory
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene
The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
The Third Man by Graham Greene
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
The King of Torts by John Grisham
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Fatherland by Robert Harris
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen
The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V Higgins
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg
Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household
Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles
Silence of the Grave by Arnadur Indridason
Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes
Cover Her Face by PD James
A Taste for Death by PD James
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman
Misery by Stephen King
Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Constant Gardener by John le Carre
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
52 Pick-up by Elmore Leonard
Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Cop Hater by Ed McBain
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Sidetracked by Henning Mankell
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
The Great Impersonation by E Phillips Oppenheim
The Strange Borders of Palace Crescent by E Phillips Oppenheim
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Toxic Shock by Sara Paretsky
Blacklist by Sara Paretsky
Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace
Nineteen Seventy Seven by David Peace
The Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos
Hard Revolution by George Pelecanos
Lush Life by Richard Price
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
V by Thomas Pynchon
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
The Hanging Gardens by Ian Rankin
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
Live Flesh by Ruth Rendell
Dissolution by CJ Sansom
Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Le Sayers
The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon
The Blue Room by Georges Simenon
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Getaway by Jim Thompson
Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine
A Fatal inversion by Barbara Vine
King Solomon's Carpet by Barbara Vine
The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Native Son by Richard Wright
Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
The Face of Another by Kobo Abe
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
Epileptic by David B
Room Temperature by Nicholson Baker
Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac
Le Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac
The Crow Road by Iain Banks
The L Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
A Legacy by Sybille Bedford
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
G by John Berger
Extinction by Thomas Bernhard
Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch
Evelina by Fanny Burney
The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
The Sound of my Voice by Ron Butlin
The Outsider by Albert Camus
Wise Children by Angela Carter
The Professor's House by Willa Cather
The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Les Enfants Terrible by Jean Cocteau
The Vagabond by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Manservant and Maidservant by Ivy Compton-Burnett
Being Dead by Jim Crace
Quarantine by Jim Crace
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
Roxana by Daniel Defoe
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
My New York Diary by Julie Doucet
The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Silence by Shusaku Endo
The Gathering by Anne Enright
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
Howards End by EM Forster
Spies by Michael Frayn
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
The Man of Property by John Galsworthy
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Immoralist by Andre Gide
The Vatican Cellars by Andre Gide
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
Hunger by Knut Hamsun
The Shrimp and the Anemone by LP Hartley
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
Narziss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier
Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Ambassadors by Henry James
Washington Square by Henry James
The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
The Unfortunates by BS Johnson
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Ulysses by James Joyce
Good Behaviour by Molly Keane
Memet my Hawk by Yasar Kemal
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
Martin Eden by Jack London
Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
The Chateau by William Maxwell
The Rector's Daughter by FM Mayor
The Ordeal of Richard Feverek by George Meredith
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
Sour Sweet by Timothy Mo
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro
The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul
At-Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Kezaburo Oe
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Good Companions by JB Priestley
The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
A Married Man by Piers Paul Read
Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson
The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney by Henry Handel Richardson
Call it Sleep by Henry Roth
Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Unless by Carol Shields
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Three Sisters by May Sinclair
The Family Moskat or The Manor or The Estate by Isaac Bashevis Singer
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Death in Summer by William Trevor
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
Peace in War by Miguel de Unamuno
The Rabbit Omnibus by John Updike
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Jimmy Corrigan, The Smarest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
Frost in May by Antonia White
The Tree of Man by Patrick White
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
I'll Go to Bed at Noon by Gerard Woodward
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Le Grand Meaulnes by Henri Alain-Fournier
Dom Casmurro Joaquim by Maria Machado de Assis
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
The Garden of the Finzi-Cortinis by Giorgio Bassani
Love for Lydia by HE Bates
More Die of Heartbreak by Saul Bellow
Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Vilette by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Look At Me by Anita Brookner
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Possession by AS Byatt
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
A Month in the Country by JL Carr
My Antonia by Willa Cather
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
Claudine a l'ecole by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Cheri by Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette
Victory: An Island Tale by Joseph Conrad
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette
The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Lover by Marguerite Duras
Adam Bede by George Eliot
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
A Room with a View by EM Forster
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Strait is the Gate by Andre Gide
Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Living by Henry Green
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
The Go-Between by LP Hartley
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer
Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest by WH Hudson
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek
Beauty and Saddness by Yasunari Kawabata
The Far Pavillions by Mary Margaret Kaye
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
Moon over Africa by Pamela Kent
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise-Francois Choderlos de Laclos
Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence
The Rainbow by DH Lawrence
Women in Love by DH Lawrence
The Echoing Grove by Rosamond Lehmann
The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
Zami by Audre Lorde
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
The Silent Duchess by Dacia Maraini
A Heart So White by Javier Marias
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
So Long, See you Tomorrow by William Maxwell
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
The Egoist by George Meredith
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Lolita, or the Confessions of a White Widowed Male by Vladimir Nabokov
The Painter of Signs by RK Narayan
Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
All Souls Day by Cees Nooteboom
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Maurice Guest by Henry Handel Richardson
Pamela by Samuel Richardson
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
Ali and Nino by Kurban Said
Light Years by James Salter
A Sport and a Passtime by James Salter
The Reader by Benhardq Schlink
The Reluctant Orphan by Aara Seale
Love Story by Eric Segal
Enemies, a Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer
At Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Waterland by Graham Swift
Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Music and Silence by Rose Tremain
First Love by Ivan Turgenev
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
East Lynne by Ellen Wood
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Non-Stop by Brian W Aldiss
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
The Drowned World by JG Ballard
Crash by JG Ballard
Millennium People by JG Ballard
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Darkmans by Nicola Barker
The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear
Vathek by William Beckford
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown
Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Coming Race by EGEL Bulwer-Lytton
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The End of the World News by Anthony Burgess
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Erewhon by Samuel Butler
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
The Influence by Ramsey Campbell
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton
Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Hello Summer, Goodbye by Michael G Coney
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
Pig Tales by Marie Darrieussecq
The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R Delaney
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
Camp Concentration by Thomas M Disch
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
Under the Skin by Michel Faber
The Magus by John Fowles
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Red Shift by Alan Garner
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Light by M John Harrison
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein
Dune by Frank L Herbert
The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
Atomised by Michel Houellebecq
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Children of Men by PD James
After London; or, Wild England by Richard Jefferies
Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones
The Trial by Franz Kafka
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Shining by Stephen King
The Victorian Chaise-longue by Marghanita Laski
Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
The Earthsea Series by Ursula Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Monk by Matthew Lewis
A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay
The Night Sessions by Ken Macleod
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin
The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Ascent by Jed Mercurio
The Scar by China Mieville
Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller Jr
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Mother London by Michael Moorcock
News from Nowhere by William Morris
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Vurt by Jeff Noon
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth
A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys
The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Air by Geoff Ryman
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Blindness by Jose Saramago
How the Dead Live by Will Self
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Insult by Rupert Thomson
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Institute Benjamenta by Robert Walser
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Affinity by Sarah Waters
The Time Machine by HG Wells
The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
The Sword in the Stone by TH White
The Old Men at the Zoo by Angus Wilson
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
London Fields by Martin Amis
Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
La Comedie Humaine by Honore de Balzac
They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy
A Kind of Loving by Stan Barstow
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn
Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett
The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
Room at the Top by John Braine
A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
The Virgin in the Garden by AS Byatt
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
The Plague by Albert Camus
The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier
What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe
Disgrace by JM Coetzee
Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coeztee
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Underworld by Don DeLillo
White Noise by Don DeLillo
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Little Dorritt by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
Sybil or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
The Book of Daniel by EL Doctorow
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
USA by John Dos Passos
Sister Carrie by Theodor Dreiser
Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Silas Marner by George Eliot
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
Effi Briest by Theodore Fontane
Independence Day by Richard Ford
A Passage to India by EM Forster
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide
The Odd Women by George Gissing
New Grub Street by George Gissing
July's People by Nadine Gordimer
Mother by Maxim Gorky
Lanark by Alastair Gray
Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
South Riding by Winifred Holtby
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
Chronicle in Stone by Ismael Kadare
How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman
The Leopard by Giuseppi di Lampedusa
A Girl in Winter by Philip Larkin
Passing by Nella Larsen
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Amongst Women by John McGahern
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Of Love & Hunger by Julian Maclaren-Ross
Remembering Babylon by David Malouf
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Time of Indifference by Alberto Moravia
A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
McTeague by Frank Norris
Personality by Andrew O'Hagan
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Ragazzi Pier by Paolo Pasolini
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
The Moon and the Bonfire by Cesare Pavese
GB84 by David Peace
Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock
Afternoon Men by Anthony Powell
Vineland by Thomas Pynchon
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Shame by Salman Rushdie
To Each his Own by Leonardo Sciascia
Staying On by Paul Scott
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr
The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon
God's Bit of Wood by Ousmane Sembene
The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge
Richshaw Boy by Lao She
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Novel on Yellow Paper by Stevie Smith
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovtich by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
This Sporting Life by David Storey
The Red Room by August Stringberg
The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Couples by John Updike
Z by Vassilis Vassilikos
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
Germinal by Emile Zola
La Bete Humaine by Emile Zola
Silver Stallion by Junghyo Ahn
Death of a Hero by Richard Aldington
Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge
Darkness Falls from the Air by Nigel Balchin
Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard
Regeneration by Pat Barker
A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry
Fair Stood the Wind for France by HE Bates
Carrie's War by Nina Bawden
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
An Ice-Cream War by William Boyd
When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Auto-da-Fe by Elias Canetti
One of Ours by Willa Cather
Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
Monkey by Wu Ch'eng-en
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Sharpe's Eagle by Bernard Cornwell
The History of Pompey the Little by Francis Coventry
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Bomber by Len Deighton
Deliverance by James Dickey
Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos
South Wind by Norman Douglas
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Justine by Lawrence Durrell
The Bamboo Bed by William Eastlake
The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
The African Queen by CS Forester
The Ship by CS Forester
Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
The Beach by Alex Garland
To The Ends of the Earth trilogy by William Golding
Asterix the Gaul by Rene Goscinny
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
Count Belisarius by Robert Graves
Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman
De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage
King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard
She: A History of Adventure by H Rider Haggard
The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
Covenant with Death by John Harris
Enigma by Robert Harris
The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
Rasselas by Samuel Johnson
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
Confederates by Thomas Keneally
Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
Day by AL Kennedy
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
La Condition Humaine by Andre Malraux
Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat
Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener
The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
History by Elsa Morante
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Burmese Days by George Orwell
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
The Valley of Bones by Anthony Powell
The Soldier's Art by Anthony Powell
The Military Philosophers by Anthony Powell
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolp Erich Raspe
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Crab with the Golden Claws by Georges Remi Herge
Tintin in Tibet by Georges Remi Herge
The Castafiore Emerald by Georges Remi Herge
The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa
Sacaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Safran Foer
The Hunters by James Salter
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald
Austerlitz by WG Sebald
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal
Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson
A Sentimental Journey by Lawrence Sterne
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Williwaw by Gore Vidal
Candide by Voltaire
Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh
Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh
The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells
The Machine-Gunners by Robert Westall
Voss by Patrick White
The Virginian by Owen Wister
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
The Debacle by Emile Zola

Have fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Song of the Day - Mere Sapnon Ki Rani

One of the best known of the train or travel songs 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani' is a peppy, romantic number that has a love struck Rakesh Khanna singing from the jeep as Sujith Kumar drives their jeep parallel to the train in which an Alistair Maclean reading Sharmila Tagore is travelling. From the 1969 super hit 'Aradhana', composed by R.D. Burman who shows his emerging genius in this song, this is the anthem song of all love lorn Majnu's waiting for the Laila's nod. A must have in the travel collection.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Last Nizam - John Zubrzycki

This is a fascinating book (334 p, Rs. 365, Picador India) on the Nizam's of Hyderabad, their fabulous riches of jewels, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, the abrupt termination of their rights when Hyderabad was taken over by force by the Indian government IN 1948 and mostly of the reluctant last Nizam who turned away from his state. For someone who has lived in Hyderabad for 30 odd years I am glad to have its history in place now and am utterly fascinated at the roots and past of this city. John Zubryzycki's detailed research, interviews and storytelling make this book come alive and it is a must read for all who have lived in Hyderabad surely and for anyone else interested in this story.

Though Zubryzcki starts with the Nizam's directly one must delve into history a few years before the Nizam's came into power. From 733 A.D. to 966 A.D. the Chalukyas ruled the region. When the Chalukyas were divided into four empires the Warangal-based Kakatiyas took control of the region from 1000 A.D. to 1310 A.D. Sultan Alauddin Khilji, the Turkic Afghan ruler took over the region from 1310 and it remained with that dynasty till 1321 after which it was ruled by the Tughluqs till 1347. In 1347 the Bahmani Kings who ruled the region from Gulbarga, took over control of the region until 1518.

In 1518 the Governor of Golconda Quli rebelled and established the Qutb Shahi dynasty at Golconda. It was in 1591 that Quli Qutub Shah the fifth Sultan of the Quli dynasty established Hyderabad on the banks of the Musi, moving away from the Golconda fort. Market places were set up, the historic Charminar was built (as a commemoration of the eradication of plague) the Mecca Masjid and the famous Purana Pul were built in his reign.

Golconda's diamonds are known to be the finest and were much sought after. They also were the only known source of diamond in the world until 1730 when the Brazil diamonds were discovered. The Kollur region in Guntur district had some of the most rich diamond mines which gave many of these fine jewels to the Golconda kings. A bustling diamond, pearl and jewel market operated in Golconda for which traders came from far and wide. The famed Kohinoor diamond was also mined from Kollur mines and was reportedly with the then rulers of the region, the Kakatiyas.

Naturally Golconda was desired by the Mughals. In 1687 Aurangazeb, the Mughal emperor, attacked Hyderabad and laid siege to Golconda where the rulers fled and took refuge. The siege lasted a year and ended only because on the Quli generals betrayed the kings and opened a gate for the Mughal emperor's army. Ever since, Golconda and Hyderabad were vice regalities of the Mughal emperor and continued for almost as long as 1948, despite the fact that the Mughal empire had ceased to exist.

The story of the Nizam's starts from sometime then with the appointment of a Mughal general Quamruddin as the Viceroy of Deccan with the title of Nizam-ul-mulk in 1743. The Nizam-ul-mulk was a personal favorite of Aurangazeb and the grandson of his general Khwaja Abid who died fighting for Golconda (his grave is near Himayatsagar to date). The Nizam's claim to being the Viceroy was challenged by the then Governor Mubariz Khan who was promptly beheaded and his head sent to Delhi. The accession to the throne of Golconda gave rise to the Asah Jah dynasty, or the lineage of Nizams of Hyderabad. The first Nizam-ul-Mulk ruled over from 1743-48 and laid down certain principles of how to rule the land before he died.

The British and the French were active in those days trying to gain the support of as many princely states as possible. There is a period between 1747 and 1762 that there was no Nizam recognised by the Mughal empire which was the sovereign power to which Deccan's Viceroy reported. The Nizam-ul-Mulk's oldest son Nasir Jung claimed the throne by siding with the British while Muzaffar Jung, the Nizam-ul-Mulk's grandson sided with the French. In what turns out to be straight out of a potboiler, Nasir Jung is killed by a rebel Nawab and the French claim Muzaffar Jung as the Nizam. Not long after Muzaffar is killed by the same Nawab of Kurnool, Himmat Khan, in battle. In an incredible story, though Muzaffar Jung dies early in the battle, a Hindu king who is with him on the elephant, pulls the arrow of the dead king's eye, and sitting behind him makes the body move as if the King was alive and urges the soldiers on. The battle is won by the dead king's men. In further intrigue the other heirs, the dead Muzaffar Jung's brother Salabat Jung throws two other brothers of his, Basalat Jah and Nizam Ali Khan into jail. Meanwhile Nizam-ul-Mulk's  eldest son Ghazi Uddin who was in the Mughal court in Delhi returns to claim the Deccan throne with the help of Maratha armies. He is poisoned at Daulatabad by his aunt, the mother of Nizam Ali Khan. Salabat Jung ruled Deccan for eleven years without being recognised by the Mughals and his own incompetence finally leads to his being thrown into jail. The second Nizam is then recognised by the Mughals in 1962 as Nizam Ali Khan, the fourth son of Nizam-ul-Mulk.

Nizam Ali ruled for a long period (1762- 1803) and was a politician more than a fighter and played one against the other. But the British had firmly gained control over the Nizam and drove out the French who at one time had considerable influence in Hyderabad. Upon his demise the third Nizam was Nizam Ali Khan's oldest son Sikandar Jah who was not considered a great administrator. It was in his time that a Hindu money lender Chandu Lal was appointed as the de facto Diwan and he brought the finances crashing with his corruption and intrigue. So absolute was the British control that the Nizam's could not appoint anyone without their approval. Sikandar Jah ruled from 1803-1829.

The fourth Nizam was Nasir Ud Daula one of the nine sons of Sikandar Jah, though illegetimate, still the eldest. Nasir was illiterate and had a hands off approach to administration. Hyderabad's finances were at its lowest at that time as the state paid for the British army to protect it. Nasir wanted to sell the fabled Nizam diamond during that period. It was during Nasir's rule that Salar Jung, considered one of the most able administrators in India of that time became the Prime Minister. Despite all that Nasir was considered a good Nizam who was kind hearted and he ruled from 1829-1857, the year of the Mutiny. On his death Afzal Ud Daula, his son, was made the fifth Nizam. This was the period of the Sepoy Mutiny against the British, a delicate period for Hyderabad which through the offices of Salar Jung, supported the British and gained its confidence. The small Mutiny in Hyderabad was quelled. Afzal Ud Daula apparently did not like Salar Jung and wanted to dispose of him but the British supported him totally. It was Salar Jung who brought fiscal discipline and made the first steps to bring the state out of its debt.

When Afzal Ud Daula died (1857-1869) his only son Mahboob Ali Khan was two years old. Three years before Mahboob turned 18, Salar Jung died suddenly, probably poisoned. Mahboob Ali was fond of the good things in life but he was also a beloved of the masses as he went incognito to find out the troubles of the common man at night. His reign was to be known as the 'Days of the Beloved'. Mahboob would die of his excesses with the bottle but he brought communal harmony to the region and was known as a reformer. However he was guilty of signing away Berar, one of the prized possessions of the Deccan. Mahboob ruled for a long period - 1869-1911.

His son Osman Ali Khan (1911-1948) would become the seventh Nizam and the richest man in the world during his reign. Known for his long tenure, good administration, fabulous wealth, extreme stinginess Osman Ali Khan would take Hyderabad to its greatest glory until the state was merged with India in 1948 after Independence. Osman Ali Khan was the one who started the Osmania University, the High Court, the Osmania General Hospital, built schools, dams, roads, railways, collieries, power stations and many more developmental works. He also put forth many reforms including banning the practice of devdasis and made primary education compulsory. In the World War I the Nizam sided with the British though the Ottoman empire sided with Germany, thereby becoming the most faithful ally of the British and the leader of Muslims in India. However the richest man in the world was also eccentric and wore cheap cotton pyjamas, smoked and used local brands including Charminar cigarettes and bargained for trifles. His penchant to eat salt biscuits every morning with his tea probably had much to do with the famous Osmania biscuits we eat in Irani cafes. He had two sons Azam Jah and Moazzam Jah. Osman Ali Khan who had provided for the last Caliph of turkey, the heir to the Ottoman Empire, Mejid, then got the two daughters of the ex-Caliph as wives for his sons making one of the strongest alliances in the Muslim world. The two Turkish Princesses,  Durreshehwar and Niloufer were well educated, highly polished and strong women. Durreshehwar would have two sons Mukarram Jah and Muffakam Jah while Niloufer would be childless and would divorce her husband.

The Nizam lost his power after India took over the dominion by force during Operation Polo. Though called Police Action, the Indian army is said to have stormed the capital of Hyderabad causing deaths that ranged from 2000 to 20,000 by estimates. The Nizam capitulated easily in two days and the Indian flag flew. The seventh Nizam had almost no powers in the new set up and built a make believe kingdom in his King Kothi palace where he adopted many children. Disgusted with his son Azam Jah's constant state of being in debt, his extravagances and extreme debauchery, Osman Ali Khan proclaimed Mukarram Jah, his grandson as his successor, a decision which irked Azam Jah no end. After Osman Ali Khan's death in 1967, after a long and glorious rule, the wealth of what is roughly estimated to be 218 billion USD (USD 2 billion in 1940, 2% of the US economy then, a time when the treasury of the Indian government had a revenue of 1 billion), its 100 million pounds of gold and silver bullion, 400 million pounds of jewels, including the Jacob's diamond, and its many complications with heirs, thieves, contestants, government regulations, tax matters and much more fell upon Mukarram Jah who was far more interested as they say, in diesel cars and mechanics.

Mukarram Jah was crowned the eighth Nizam of a kingdom that had ceased to exist, in 1968. He married five times, four Turks and one Australian. He always escaped the responsibility that awaited him at Hyderabad, one of the largest Indian princely states, the richest certainly. Thought Pandit Nehru the then Prime Minister tried to get him into diplomacy, Mukarram Jah, never took the opportunity to become a leader, a diplomat of perhaps the President even as many feel, and instead escaped to Australia where he bought himself a large ranch and sank a lot of money there, finally escaping from there as well, as his debts began to catch up with him. In India his own relatives, his son and daughter, his friends and advisors, cheated the Nizam in exile and much of the fabled wealth disappeared. Despite all this the Nizam's jewels, in vaults in banks, still are some of the most coveted and are involved in some of the largest legal imbroglios. The last Nizam meanwhile lives incognito in Turkey in a small flat, happy that he spent some fine years in Australia. In Hyderabad his properties, his palaces are slowly occupied by land grabbers and little is left of the glory of the Nizams.

It is an amazing story and there are so many more details that are so interesting about the rulers, good and bad, their foibles and failures. The description of the jewels, the 100s and 1000s of women that the Nizam's had in their zenanas, their excesses with the money, women, wine, hunting, their hundreds of progeny legitimate and illegtimate, their penchant to take what they fancied be it a palace, a car or a woman by merely expressing their liking (the Falaknuma Palace belonged to the Paigah nobles which Mahboob Ali Khan 'liked' and was gifted) is like a fairy tale. The Nizams finally felt betrayed by the British when they were left to fend for themselves after the Indian government took over but in the end it was justice finally. This was the land they took by force and ruled over the people who lived hard lives mostly, while the Nizam's lived in extreme comfort. The common peasants were squeezed by their landlords, to death sometimes, and this region is known for its extreme cases of feudalism, of landlords and its natural off shoot, naxalism from the oppressed masses. It is ironical today that not less than half a century later the city is crowded with common folk who elect their leaders, who walk through the same palaces as individuals with rights and who probably do not know of the story behind Hyderabad and its Nizams, who do not bow before anyone be it of the royal lineage of the noble lineage. Muslims, Hindus, Parsees, Sikhs and so many more people live together in harmony in an equal, democratic state where everyone has the same rights. The wheels of power have finally turned a full circle.

However much of the wealth of the Nizams will be in dispute. Raised from the people through extraordinarily high taxation, giving away of jagirs, it in many ways belongs to the people as well and should be used for their welfare. The people who built the roads, palaces, dams, tilled the lands deserve their share. Questions will be asked certainly. But for now the beleaguered Nizam and his family fights one another for the fabulous wealth that was once owned by the Princely state of Hyderabad. A must read for all Hyderabadis. And John Zubrzycki, thank you for such a fascinating book and for acquainting me with a Hyderabad I never knew.