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December 10, 2014

Many Lives…Book Reviews

Text by Nittal Chandarana and Sarjana Singh

Verve picks books that explore the nuances of several lives, tracing varied interactions and creating fascinating vignettes of experiences

  • Games Girls Play, Aastha Atray Banan, Rupa Publications
    Games Girls Play
  • Half Girlfriend, Chetan Bhagat, Rupa Publications
    Half Girlfriend
  • Once Upon A Star, Gajra Kottary, Harpercollins India
    Once Upon A Star
  • The Song Of The Magpie Robin, Zafar Futehally, Rupa Publications
    The Song Of The Magpie Robin
  • Sachin Tendulkar: Playing It My Way, Sachin Tendulkar and Boria Majumdar, Hachette India
    Sachin Tendulkar: Playing It My Way

GAMES GIRLS PLAY
AASTHA ATRAY BANAN
RUPA PUBLICATIONS
Aastha Atray Banan’s engaging work tells the story of two single girls and their quest to find true love in Mumbai. Prudish and reserved, Siya decides to live with wild child Natasha – this leads to an interesting chemistry which is enhanced by the two contrasting lifestyles. After living together for a while, Siya, an aspiring writer, and her photographer friend, Natasha, realise that their lives are turning out to be very different from what they had expected. Every girl will relate to this sassy and racy saga of friendship. Read it for its breezy writing style that will keep you entertained till the last page.

HALF GIRLFRIEND
CHETAN BHAGAT
RUPA PUBLICATIONS
This potboiler by bestselling author, Chetan Bhagat, is about Madhav, a boy from Dumraon, a small town in Bihar, who falls in love with Riya, a quintessential, rich Delhi girl. They meet as students in St Stephen’s College – both are passionate about basketball. Although their personal backgrounds are distinctly different, their friendship grows over many meetings. But, before it can blossom into something more, the protagonists must go through many twists and turns of destiny – driven by the characters’ actions and reactions. There is a fleeting sense of déjà vu when one is reading Half Girlfriend – in terms of character delineation and the unfolding of the plot. Bhagat’s fans will love this one too, though.

ONCE UPON A STAR
GAJRA KOTTARY
HARPERCOLLINS INDIA
It is a tale of love, identity and betrayal written by Gajra Kottary, who has written scripts for several small-screen serials. Her characters are rooted in Bollywood. Vardaan, the home to a prominent filmi family, is witnessing turmoil. Superstar Raj decides to leave his wife, Simran, for Sia, the reigning queen of the silver screen. To add to the emotional crises, Raj’s sister, Ashima, has walked out of her broken marriage, returning home to pursue her dreams of acting. Kottary’s offering shows an insider’s view of an industry — where drama seems to be a daily buzzword.

THE SONG OF THE MAGPIE ROBIN
ZAFAR FUTEHALLY
RUPA PUBLICATIONS
Noted naturalist, Zafar Futehally’s autobiography traces his journey from childhood to the time he became one of the biggest pioneers of natural conservation in India. His association with Salim Ali, who was popularly known as the ‘Bird Man of India’, led him to exhilarating experiences and made him put the matter of natural conservation on a pedestal of national importance. The chronicle, written by Futehally, with Shanti and Ashish Chandola, will surely inspire readers, and let them learn more about a man who spent his life trying to strike a balance between nature and its conservation and development.

Sachin Tendulkar: Playing It My Way
Sachin Tendulkar and Boria Majumdar
Hachette India
When Sachin Tendulkar writes his autobiography, it becomes the nation’s Bible. It has a pre-order rate that could put even JK Rowling to shame, for everyone wants a piece of the toast of India, who through his awe-inspiring career, maintained a dignified and mostly private stance. The book, swathed in the patriotic saffron, white and green hues, embodies the essence of a life devoted to helping the country reach greater highs. When one reads his autobiography, one does not look at how he attacks the text or tackles syntax and grammar. Writing about it is like penning one’s thoughts about a Salman Khan movie. No matter what you say, fans will have the last word.

The read: A straightforward account of Tendulkar’s cricketing career and life: his career was his life. He gives due importance to his wife, Anjali, who unfailingly stood by his side, but when it comes to cricket, the family took a backseat. We come to know of his highs, lows, obstacles and successes, but are left craving a little more heart. Tennis star Andre Agassi’s autobiography both informed and entertained, while this one merely takes you from one match to another. An autobiography is what you wish would reveal more about the man.

Bowled over: Here is a man who signed his life over to the sport; his dedication, resilience and tact shine through. Little incidents ­— like calling his most avid fan, Sudhir Kumar, to hold the winning World Cup trophy after the match, or leaving match tickets and a jersey signed by the whole team for a cabbie who refused to charge his idol anything for the ride — show that he possessed exemplary character and a generous spirit.

It ain’t cricket: His comments about Greg Chappell’s term have stirred up quite a controversy. But we say, about time. His dissonance with then-captain Rahul Dravid, for declaring and not allowing him to reach a double ton, was written about although both players never permitted anyone outside the team to sense the tension. The media plays a huge part in making or breaking careers and is quick to shun a failure. When Tendulkar was going through a rough patch, the headlines in the morning dailies read ‘Endulkar’, a term that both angered and saddened the legend. He has a whole chapter named after this insult.

Missed point: What we found a little odd  was the minimal mention of Virender Sehwag – a man who supported him from the other end of the pitch through a considerable part of his career and with whom he has enjoyed some of his best partnerships.

Reading it, I was left with a sense of wanting more. A feeling I have always had when Tendulkar played.

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