Bhaskar Parichha discusses Flawed, a book that unravels the mystery surrounding Nirav Modi, the financial scandal and the man behind it all.

When the story of a fugitive diamantaire fills the pages of a book, it is bound to evince more than average interest. ‘Flawed: The Rise and Fall of India’s Diamond Mogul Nirav Modi‘ does exactly that. The book written by journalist-author Pavan C Lall sheds light on one of the biggest financial scandals in India, and profiles the man allegedly behind it.

 

Flawed-final front

 

Title: FLAWED: The Rise and Fall of India’s Diamond Mogul Nirav Modi

Author: Pavan C. Lall

Publisher: Hachette India, 2019

Links : Amazon 

 

 

 

A BILLIONAIRE FROM NOWHERE: The Creation of a Diamond Mogul

 Nirav Modi did not leave Belgium as a successful entrepreneur, nor did he have any kind of work experience with top Western jewellery houses. While it’s not clear what he intended to do when he returned to India, what is certain is that by around 1999 Nirav Modi had arrived in Mumbai and begun his tutelage under Mehul Choksi. Why did he not, instead, join hands with his other uncle, Chetan Choksi, who was already in Europe? The answer is that there wasn’t much love lost between him and Chetan. Aside from his rapport with Mehul, another factor may have motivated his return. India was at a crossroads after the liberalization of its economy. The future was wide open and for a young entrepreneurial expatriate who had returned to start with the support of an entrenched player, India was a land of endless opportunities.

Once the die was cast, Modi learned how gems and jewellery worked in India. What he learned he would, in turn, pass on to his brother Nishal, including how to work within tight budgets and how to buddy up to midlevel employees in factories by sipping on cutting chai with them during breaks.

 

Modi has claimed that he had always planned for a luxury brand, but during the years that he was with his uncle, and shortly after, he was building up businesses of the diamond supply chain that were of lower-value and that included polishing and trading. But it was fluting, essentially the manual bagging of diamonds for other manufacturers, that gave his company the launch pad it needed, or so Modi would declare publicly. Modi first called his company Firestone, but then changed it to Firestar in 1999 because the former sounded too much like the automotive tyre company. In Modi’s own words, the company gave him consistent profits for the better part of five or six years and, by 2004, Firestar’s revenues crossed `400 crore.

Suralakshmi Villa

Title: Suralakshmi Villa

Author: Aruna Chakravarti

Publisher: Macmillan

Year of publication: 2020

Pages : 313pages

Price : Rs 650

Links : Amazon

About: Suralakshmi Choudhury, a gynaecologist based in Delhi, falls in love at the age of thirty-one, marries and has a son. Suddenly, five years after his birth, she abandons everything including the house gifted to her by her father and her flourishing medical career, to travel to an obscure village in Bengal and open a free clinic for women and children. She leaves her son behind but takes along a poor Muslim girl, she has adopted. What makes her take this strange decision? Suralakshmi’s actions confound her relatives and it is from their accounts of the incidents, letters, memoirs, and flashbacks – from a more distant past – that the story comes together and the layers and nuances in the enigmatic character of Suralakshmi are brought to light.

In Suralakshmi Villa, Aruna Chakravarti blends the narrative of the novel with history, legend, music, religion, folklore, rituals and culinary practices of both Hindus and Muslims, and creates a fascinating tapestry which reveals the syncretic nature of Bengal and her people.

 

FrontCover-forebook

Title: Calling Elvis: Conversations with Some of Music’s Greatest: A Personal History

Author: Shantanu Datta

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 230

Price: INR 399

Links: Speaking Tiger 

About: Shantanu Datta’s career as a journalist placed him at the forefront of music reportage in India for much of the past three decades, and therefore gave him unprecedented access to the greatest performers from around the world who played in the South Asian subcontinent. This book compiles, for the first time, the detailed interviews he conducted with seminal artistes like Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Ian Anderson and Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and many others including Dr L. Subramaniam, John McLaughlin, Sting, Jean-Luc Ponty, Carlos Santana and Amyt Datta. His candid, informed conversations with these enduring legends provide a rare glimpse into the minds of those trailblazers who influenced entire generations with their music. Datta’s own life too emerges in vignettes throughout the book, as he deftly weaves together his professional life with the personal through shared threads of melody and song.

Written with an exceptional depth of knowledge, Calling Elvis is an absolute treat for musicians and music-lovers everywhere.

By Dr. Rajan Kaushal

9789350095683

Emperor Chandragupta by Adity Kay is a well-researched novel based on the life of Chandragupta Maurya. Published by Hachette India, the novel has shades of Walter Scott’s historical novels with an Indian flavour. The subtitle “Can One Man Build an Empire” suggests that it was not just Chandragupta who founded such a great empire but there was somebody else too. It was his political Guru and strategist Chanakya who chose a boy called Moriya, raised by a tribe of peacock tamers and christened him as Chandragupta. As he wanted to take revenge against the ruthless ruler of Magadha, he trained Chandragupta and helped him emerge as a great leader under his tutelage. Most of the time, youngsters are taught to develop leadership qualities but an example is never presented in front of them. This book delineates lucidly the rise of a leader because he was willing, and learnt to be a leader.

Every page in the novel creates a mystery, as if the author is going to whisper a secret into the ears of the readers soon, and this very fact makes the novel gripping. The book presents a stimulating tale of how, despite many obstacles, the protagonist fights to overcome them and faces all the challenges in his life. The very first page illustrates the positions of various empires like Magadha, Kashi, Anga and Vanga etc. and sets the tone and setting for the readers to go on an odyssey into the unexplored annals of Indian history. The book has been divided into three parts, the first, “The Lost Prince of Magadha”, the second, “The Warrior King of Magadha”, the third, “Dharma”.

The first part, “The Lost Prince of Magadha” has been further divided into ten sections narrating the story of Moriya, a mere teenaged boy becoming Chandragupta, the great warrior and emperor. It is a story which inspires and motivates youngsters, and tells them that it is not because of destiny but because of hard work, the will to excel and rock-hard determination that one becomes an emperor. It is his vision for the future that makes him different from others. It is his demeanor that converts a ferocious lion and bandits into his allies.

9789351950929 Prologue

There were no stars in the sky. There was no moon. Just the wet cold seeping through thick cloth and bone, and the fog slowly smothering the night.

Every once in a while, a truck would grope forward over the broken road. Sometimes a long-distance bus would rumble by, but no sooner would its headlights pass than the fog would flow back denser than ever before.

Milte hain dil yahaan, milke bichadne ko

Kishore Kumar’s voice floated from the direction of the ramshackle bamboo structure that lay fifty yards to the side of the road, perceptible through the fog only because of a Hasag lantern that was hung to its front, illuminating a sign that read ‘Exide Batteries’. fte small shop, one of the few that still operated on this side of the highway, sold batteries, torches, kerosene, hot tea, pakoras and, if you knew what to say and how much to pay, desi hooch. It was closed now, the coal ashed, and the front covered with tarpaulin.

But it was not empty.

On a charpoy, at the front of the shop, sat two men, one hunched slightly forward and the other leaning back and looking up at the sky, holding in his right hand a small transistor radio.

‘Why don’t you turn the radio off? Or at least change the channel. I hate Kishore Kumar.’

‘It’s my radio. It plays what I want it to.’

fte first man pulled his monkey cap closer to his skull and clenched tightly the two thick shawls draped over his body.

‘Tell me why you like Kishore Kumar again,’ he said, tapping the ground rapidly with his feet in a desperate attempt to stay warm. ‘Because he has a great voice.’ In sharp contrast to his companion, the man with the transistor had on, as his  shield against the numbing cold, only a flimsy grey sweater.

‘Because he has a great voice? That’s it? I mean that’s all you can say about the great Kishore Kumar? A ten-year-old would give that answer! Tell me the reasons why you like him, explain it to me.’

The man with the transistor said nothing.

majumdar-firebirdThe theatre stood in the neighborhood where Beadon Street cut through Central Avenue, a place where the dust of the city mixed with something…a breezy fragrance, something strange and sweet. It was a place he passed daily on his way to school, a place barely off the main street and close to his home, less than five minutes on the school bus if the traffic flowed easily. Marking the streets were aged tracks along which doddering trams clanged their way west, all the way to Howrah station and the river at the edge of the city. But that was not why the neighborhood felt strange.

Evening hung over the place, though it was not yet six. The darkness did not scare him. He was eager to get to the theatre around the corner. This was, he knew, the evening for the full rehearsal, with costumes and music and everything. His mother never took him along to full rehearsals. But he had wandered from the park where he played in the evening. With quiet determination, he had drifted through the snarl of the traffic. He knew these lanes a little – once, he had come here with his mother and her friends in a car which had left them right in front of the theatre. Today, as he walked on, he caught a whiff of flowers.

He looked around and realized what was different about these roadside stalls selling cigarettes and paan leaves. They all sold flowers. Stems of roses and thin garlands of white evening bloomers, jasmine, tuberoses – cold, moist, exquisitely formed blossoms that one saw in weddings as well as funerals. Music played from the tiny transistor radios hidden under the stacks of flowers and chewing tobacco, love songs from Hindi movies, many of them from many, many years ago, crackling on the airwaves in slow, nasal tones.