Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Badhwar wins French award

Journalist-turned-author Inderjit Badhwar has won the prestigious French literary award Le Prix Litteraire for his debut novel La Chambre Des Parfums (The Chamber of Perfumes).

The novel was selected for the best foreign debut novel of 2004 by a jury comprising France's leading writers, intellectuals and filmmakers in Paris.

Previous winners of the award include India-born Salman Rushdie for his novel Shame and London-based poet and author Lavinia Greenlaw.

Badhwar's novel was first published in India by India Research Press last year under the title Sniffing Papa, IRP said in a release on Wednesday announcing the award.

It was later published in French under the title La Chambre Des Parfums which received critical acclaim.

An alumnus of St Stephens College, Badhwar worked in several television channels in the US and was the executive editor of India Today magazine.,00110004.htm

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bride and Prejudice

Last night I had a chance to sneak preview Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice (B&P).

I didn't go in with much expectations. I anyway don't like wedding films. After being brought up on a solid diet of Hindi films, full of weddings and funerals, I can't take wedding films any more.

The film had already been panned by the Indian film reviewers. Many said that they were happy that the film didn't do well, fearing it will spawn a spate of clones.

Well, the poster at the cinema's box office proclaimed B&P to be UK's No. 1 box office hit. Who do you believe?

Anyway, I found the film interesting because of its music and some characterisation. Technically it is shoddy. Even a David Dhawan does a better job compared to this film. Cinematography and editing are substandard, and you don't expect this coming from a film made in US and UK.

The music by Anu Malik has translated my juvenile fantasies into reality. I used to imagine how English songs would sound if they were rendered with a Hindi filmi music style. Lo and behold, Anu has (over)done that. There is an item number too. Not bad!

All the characters are larger than life, unrealistic. I am not saying anything about Aishwarya's acting. The snake dance was amusing, and Mr. Kohli is terrific. He is the saving grace of the film.

The film does not has even an iota of subtelty. It is a spoof of Indian weddings, Indian music, Indian cinema, India itself.

You will like this film only if you are able to laugh at yourself!

American Elections

Throughtout the US election campaign, I had this feeling that Kerry would not win. I had seen a similar kind of excitement and fervor at the time of Bush Sr.'s election several decades ago. Hype was built around Michael Dukakis who was to defeat Bush. Finally, as we know, Bush came out a winner.

The same has happened this time around. Kerry didn't have the charishma or was it his jaw that did him in. I don't know. But I guess too much of negative publicity against Bush backfired on the Kerry camp.

On the day the election results were announced, while walking to my office, I was thinking of the parallels between Modi and Bush. In the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, the media painted such uncharitable picture of Modi that people began taking his side. He finally won the election to the chagrin of all liberals and scularists. The same, and more, has happened in Bush's case. Bush won despite Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11. Bush won despite Bin Laden's warning: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn’t play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security."

Interestingly, that morning, I read a news about Narendar Modi. Apparently, he was likening himself with Bush, saying...look Bush won because he did the same as I had done. Modi is remorseless about Gujarat massacres. So is Bush about Iraq. It all looked so surreal to me.

What do we expect now? Of course, more wars and more violence. The world is going to be a bloodier place.

I liked this message from a reader in the Outlook Magazine:

"I sat up late on Tuesday night watching election results with shock and awe. As a non-citizen I could not vote but I followed the entire election cycle starting from the Democratic primaries extremely closely.

I was shocked by the fact that people of this great country, when left alone in the voting booth decided that quashing abortion and gay rights of their fellow citizens was more important than economy, jobs, environment and the war in Iraq. I was shocked to discover that people used a euphemism called “moral values” to describe their bigotry. And I was shocked to discover that a president who dodged the draft, who was consistently negative and untruthful in his attacks against his opponent, a self-proclaimed uniter who left no stone unturned in dividing this country for political gains was thought to be morally more upright than his opponent. And I was awed by how the Republican Party think tank played on raw emotions of people to win a resounding majority.

By choosing to vote on issues such as these and by voting for a president that takes delight in belittling international leaders (and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it – after all people will vote to whatever is more important to them)-I think the US has well and truly lost claim to be leader of the free world."

Monday, November 01, 2004


Novelist Beryl Bainbridge, while in conversation with Michael Holroyd, actually forgot the names of one of her early novels (she’s written tons of them), but in the light of her remark that she "can’t make anything up" and that all her characters are based on real people, this didn’t seem more surprising than forgetting someone’s name.

Anjum Hasan, Author, Author, Outlook