Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Review: Nagin by Mayur Didolkar

Title: Nagin
Author: Mayur Didolkar
Publisher: Juggernaut






Mayur Didolkar’s Nagin is a collection of nine short stories, each dealing in supernatural beings. The stories do not conform to a particular time and place and this makes it all the more appealing. The age old concepts of vish kanyas, vidrupas, and ichhadhari nags and nagins all come together — both in urban and rural settings — to create a world that is different yet bearing similarity with the realities around us.

The blurb reads: “Loving wife, obedient daughter, loyal friend. But if you provoke her, she will raise her hood and spit venom.” It is a little misleading since it’s not just women who are protagonists in all nine of the stories. But there’s nothing to complain since the stories themselves fulfill the promise of being entertaining.

All nine stories are exquisitely crafted. Some of the stories hold a sense of hope and humanity in bleak situations. One will be left guessing while reading the stories since each is replete with unforeseeable twists and turns. Didolakar’s writing is simple and straight forward. However, some stories are more successful than others. ‘Ranbhool,’ ‘A Little Poison Doesn’t Hurt,’ and ‘Watching You’ are stories that will keep you guessing till the very end about what to expect.

The author emerges as a capable player in a game of shape-shifters, ruthless babas, malevolent masterminds, and sundry secrets in settings that wander between natural and supernatural worlds, alternate realities blending with elective affinities.

Quirky in presentation and good read throughout, Didolkar’s yarn pleases at every turn.







Mayur Didolkar has published two novels – The Dark Road and Tears for Strangers – and several short stories, all with Juggernaut. A crime and horror writer, the possibility of things going dreadfully, irrevocably wrong in ordinary situations inspires his work. Mayur is also a marathon runner and occasionally tries his hand at stand-up comedy. He lives in Pune where he runs an investment advisory firm.








I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading! 




* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in






Friday, June 1, 2018

Book Review: Who Owns That Song - The Battle for Subramania Bharati's Copyright by A.R. Venkatachalapathy


Title: Who Owns That Song - The Battle for Subramania Bharati's Copyright
Author: A.R. Venkatachalapathy
Publisher: Juggernaut







Not many know why there’s such a fuss about Subramania Bharati or his literary works. That he’s a gem of a poet is known only to a fraction of the Indian population. The reason is not exactly ignorance or lack of interest. It’s more to do with the fact that his genius remains untapped in the global language. An activist, journalist, and a freedom fighter, Bharati wrote in Tamil and only a fraction of his works has been translated. Some of these have failed to evoke the true essence of the magic that his own words spun in Tamil. Till date he remains an unsung poet whose work has been exploited and gathered momentum only at the face of a legal battle.

Born in Ettayapuram in 1882, Subramania Bharati was a social activist, journalist, and poet. He wrote thousands of verses throughout his lifetime on subjects as diverse as nationalism, the Tamil way of life, religion, children’s poems, and elegies to freedom fighters. However, he only attained fame posthumously when his half-brother, who held the copyright of his work, went on to publish the same. Others were profiting out of Bharati’s works even as his own family was in the doldrums. With filmmakers and publishers vying to acquire copyright to his works, legal battles for the rights were fought.

AR Venkatachallapathy’s ‘Who Owns That Song? — The Battle for Subramania Bharati’s Copyright’ is a story of the events that led to the nationalisation of the great poet’s work. In this book, Venkatachallapathy chronicles Bharati’s journey as an artist and how his works changed hands several times before finally being released by the government into the public domain, free of any copyright claim.

The way this book has been assembled is commendable. It is not Bharati’s biography even though it provides the readers with a glimpse into the author’s life. One can also get a sense of the narrow world of publication and of copyright laws of the past years. It is a valuable resource for those burning with the desire to understand the question – who does an artist belong to? This book raises the question of whether an individual's work should be dropped into the public domain for people to make use of as they wish instead of being passed down generations as family heirloom.

A skillfully written, well-researched account of one of our greatest poets and his posthumous fame.







A.R. Venkatachalapathy, historian, writer and translator, is a professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. He has taught at universities in Tirunelveli, Chennai, Singapore and Chicago, and published widely on the social, cultural and intellectual history of colonial Tamil Nadu.





I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading! 






* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in, Goodreads.in