About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das

"Fittingly for a poet, Nabina’s novel also has a strong lyrical core. 'Footprints in the Bajra' takes the homely image of the millet field as its central metaphor. ... But the novel is less a thriller about guerrilla action than a subtly colored character study of a fascinating group of individuals who intersect at various points in their lives ..." -- DEBRA CASTILLO, author, editor and distinguished professor (Cornell University, April 17, 2010).

Footprints in the Bajra is a serious book that moves at a smart uncontrived pace. It voices deep concerns about how and why the deprived and the marginalized in certain parts of our country join the Maoist ranks; how they adopt desperate and often terrible measures to wrench justice and to make their voices heard... a confident debut novel, a good read, which will leave you with plenty to mull over. -- PRITI AISOLA, author (See Paris for Me, Penguin-India, 2009) in DANSE MACABRE XXXIV.

In her debut novel, Nabina Das writes about an India where social divides stand taller than multistoried shopping malls. Footprints in the Bajra, inspired by what she saw while touring the interiors of Bihar as part of a travelling theatre group, inquires into why the Maoists have an influence over a large section of Indian society. Das talked to Uttara Choudhury in New York about her book, and its protagonist Muskaan -- DAILY NEWS AND ANALYSIS, Mumbai, March 28, 2010.


"The interspersion of references from both the West and India do not clash. Shakespeare and Lazarus as reference points are brought in with ease, as also Valmiki and Goddess Chhinnamasta, and nothing jars ... The language is poetic and creates visual images of beauty and ugliness side by side." -- ABHA IYENGAR, poet (Yearnings: Serene Woods, 2010) and fiction writer in MUSE INDIA, May-Jun 2010

Shwetank Dubey says Nabina Das ably recreates the milieu of Maoist-infested regions of India -- Nabina Das has chosen the first person account of narrating a story from the main characters of the novel, Nora the sheherwali (urban dweller), Muskaan the rebel, Suryakant Sahay the crafty clandestine planner and Avadhut the frontrunner of all the operations... the book deals with something that no urban resident is bound to know on his own — the life and times of people living in Maoist infested areas and why do they give in to the temptation provided by the Red Brigade. -- PIONEER newspaper, April 25, 2010.
'"If you misrepresent them, they'll abduct and kill you," says Muskaan, our hostess'... goes the first line with which Nabina Das settles everything about her novel -- style, subject and pace... Excellent plotline. Wonderful detail. A beautifully crafted book. -- Karunamay Sinha; THE STATESMAN, Sunday supplement "8th Day", May 16, 2010.

"This is bitter-sweet, if a rather longish tale of a modern-day Maoist revolution and the seeds of destruction and betrayal that lie embedded in it." -- Business World, May 17, 2010

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Bollywood Belief System - "New York"

I watch films and read books mostly when the euphoria and the spate of reviews are over. And I watch Bollywood too, because those creations are sometimes useful to see how certain belief systems work, to my surprise or chagrin.

One such recent view was New York (2009).

Two things:

1. Suddenly Bollywood's "overseas" interests have started including the 9/11 commentary, after these many years have passed. While New York seems incapable of any analyses about 9/11 as an event in history, the Naseeruddin Shah-directed "Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota (2006)" presented a deeper psychological insight into the people who might have unfortunately been caught in 9/11's turbulence. New York simply seems to be another chance to shoot in New York City, with the campus scenes resembling Chapel Hill (how quaint we never see such flora and fauna in a "state university" in New York) and the cobbled city streets incorporated from some Upstate town topography perhaps...!

2. In New York, Muslims take charge of their own "involvement" or "implication" in 9/11. This has become such a popular notion with the Hindu, upper-caste, middle-class majority (why blame the rightwing?), as pointed out by M. They should, it is argued eloquently, sort out their "own mess". Even a well-known newspaper editor went on to argue recently how secular, liberal Hindus can no longer defend the credentials of the Muslims. And so on and so forth for Dalits, Tribals, and the "others", following a similar logic. Reminds me of Martin Niemöller's lines!

Postscript: In the very last portion of New York, the 'self-absolved' Muslims (the government-appointed one who has helped terrorists see the path of nonviolence and 'we-are-globalized-type oneness' through his own experience of interrogation, torture, and killing, and the independent one who had probably seen the path, but couldn't quite get on to the globalization fast track fast enough because his girl was taken away, because he had to kill, etc.) keep fawning upon the orphan kid (the dead terrorist's child) as the "new Muslim" kid laden with virtues like love for eating pasta, excelling in American football, tolerance etc. Made me laugh. Where did Bollywood get the notion that this "breed" is breeding only NOW, after thorough 'self-absolving' by the older offenders? Talk about belief systems and a sense of historicity!


tanuj solanki said...

shitty movie... no insight into anything... no imagination... no intelligence... if the people who make such movies were handed anything even slightly more serious to deal with, the world would be even worse off - thanks God they just make movies!

Tim Buck said...

Small band of murderers commit a big atrocity. Not only do we go after em like the galaxy had been invaded by millions of 10-foot-tall Terminators, but then all the "thinkers" start thinking till they turn their brains inside-out. As if the whole of Islam must be tossed on the psycho couch and analyzed till it screams.

A despicable thing: slimy vested interests, from the corporate to the elite intellectual class, turn the sickening crime into a yahoo, money-making, ego-boosting frenzy.

It was a narrow, particular crime event, perpetrated by soulless, resentful people. WW3? -- gimme a big break. Islam to blame? -- gimme another break.

Tim Buck said...

Oops...we're talkin' about a Bollywood movie. And I went off into another dimension. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

Karim - Positive thinking

fleuve-souterrain said...

Tim, you're on the right track, not to worry... Because this movie spins off on 9/11, there's so much it needs to think about which obviously it hasn't. Clueless, I'd say.

TS, yes quite disappointing.

Karim, do encourage your friends to read this post. Long comments are welcome too!