Tag Archives: Rupa Publications

Mohini – The Enchantress : a beautiful ode to the Goddess of Beauty and Fertility

Namrata talks about Anuja Chandramouli’s latest book, Mohini: The Enchantress ( August, 2020) calling it an attempt to paint a fresh image of Mohini in the reader’s mind.

“Elusive as a fragment of a forgotten dream, fragile as a figment from fantasy, Mohini is perfection made possible.
Distilled from the essence of Vishnu, Mohini the Enchantress is a part of him and yet she revels in the autonomy and extraordinary powers of beauty, magic and enchantment that are hers to wield. She is loved and desired by all in existence and yet, she is elusive tantalizing temptress, traipsing her way across the topsy-turvy terrain of fable and myth.”

Anuja Chandramouli

Anuja Chandramouli’s Mohini is a beautiful ode to the Goddess of Beauty and Fertility. Considered to be the only female avatar of Vishnu, created by Vishnu and Shakti, this book traces her life through sands of time.

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Book Excerpt: Mohini by Anuja Chandramouli


A glimpse from Anuja Chandramouli’s Mohini – The Enchantress (Published by Rupa Publications India, 2020)

Prelude: A Hint of Hope Borne on a Dream 

The storytellers tended to go into raptures describing her sublime, flawless beauty, waxing eloquent about the perfection of her form and features, not to mention the heaviness of her bosom, supported as it was by an impossibly narrow waist. Captivating eyes with so much depth that most wanted nothing better than to plunge into those twin orbs, exploring the secrets within for the rest of time; lustrous tresses that cascaded in waves of silk, nearly caressing the earth over which she glided with effortless grace; luscious lips that mischievously promised endless delights and so on and so forth. 

Though they were mostly males who could not or did not want to look beyond the sumptuous perfection of her physical attributes, none of it was an exaggeration. For she was bewitching and her beauty had a power of its own, which could simply not be discounted. And yet, when it came right down to it, her beauty was almost beside the point. 

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Book Excerpt: Who Wants to Marry a Mamma’s Boy and Other stories by Manjula Pal

A glimpse from the ‘slice of life’ stories penned by Manjula Pal from her book Who wants to marry a mamma’s boy and other stories. (Published by Rupa Publications, 2019)

When Krishna Came to My House

Delhi experienced its first monsoon showers. It came as a big relief after days of sweltering heat.

It was evening. Streets that had been deserted were now abuzz with people coming out of their homes, seeking the fresh air, much relieved after their claustrophobic, air-conditioned confinement. The smoky smell of freshly picked soft corns roasting over charcoal and smeared with salt and lime, filled the air. Right from children to the adults, everyone was enjoying the roasted corn pods. The hawkers selling corns on pavements and on pulling carts were doing good business.

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Excerpts: Jaffna Street by Mir Khalid

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As I have mentioned earlier, prior to the branding of Jaffna Street, our area was notorious, constantly attracting search operations. In the summer of 1992 the security apparatus launched ‘Operation Tiger’, which achieved notoriety for allegedly bumping off insurgents rather than capturing them. The operation  was initiated from our Noor Bagh area and its first casualty was a local lad, a big fish, a much-wanted insurgent leader of the Al Umar insurgent group that controlled the entire downtown area. Earlier that same night, our next-door neighbour, Yusuf, an affable and mild-mannered artisan, died in a concomitant raid   by the Indian armed forces to trap a group of armed insurgents. Giving no heed to his or his parent’s protestations, the militants had forcibly entered his home to stay the night.

Weeks before, my sibling and I had finagled our way out of another army cordon using our exam slips. Allowed at first to leave, we were then detained along with a host of others at the Noor Bagh chowk. An autorickshaw driver who had inadvertently walked into the cordon had been forced to sit under a horse cart. Irate soldiers playfully made our release from the cordoned area  conditional on our setting the range plates of  their  AK 47  rifles to the correct measure; a sure way of self-implicating. In  the afternoon sun we watched in trepidation as the soldiers cursed and accused us of studying during the day and fighting them at night.

But afterwards, with the changing contours, even as foreign fighters started pouring into the Kashmir theatre of operations and Srinagar itself, the assassinations of former militants and people accused of snitching were regularly carried  out  by  a new insurgent crop. Ironically, though, the spate of extortions and carjacking that had been the norm ceased. The racketeer insurgent lot steered clear of our area for fear of being shot in broad daylight.

The increase in insurgent activity again led to an increased level of cordon and search operations and arrests by the paramilitaries and the military. Their lack of hard intelligence  led to indiscriminate and random arrests; many of my own friends and acquaintances were also taken in and had to weather vicious interrogation techniques in makeshift detention centres during the two- to three-day mopping operations. Many had to be carried home, so broken and battered, unable to even  stand. Many a times I thanked my stars for never having to go through these ordeals.

In June 1995, I stood in the large crowd in the main square on Nalamaar Road. My previous attendances in the cordon and search operations had left me with a sunburnt face and arms so    I was trying to find a place to perch and protect myself from    the summer sun, which in a few hours would attain a furious face, enough to melt the surface of the tarmac road.

What  I  hadn’t  considered  was  that  my  dandyish  though worn-out attire, complete with Lacoste and Levi’s components, would mark me out in the crowd. Within moments, a young officer in cammies wigwagged his fingers, signalling me to come forward. Ever the cocky person I was in those days, I blurted, ‘What am I supposed to do,’ in English. The officer retorted in   a serious tone, ‘I will let you  know.’

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Excerpts: The Essential Ambedkar by Bhalchandra Mungekar

ambedkarIntroduction

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the tempo of the world has been accelerating forward at a breathtaking speed. However, in India, an indigenously created caste-based segregation, our version of racism, a minute and comprehensive form of discrimination and oppression that has existed for millennia, has been at work with the same speed, but unfortunately in the opposite direction. For the section classified as the Depressed Classes, day-to-day life is in itself a grave struggle, a manifold fight for survival.

In every modern, democratic nation, people want to feel fully alive rather than merely survive. In order to for them to do so, the polity is required to imbibe a sense of socio-economic and political equality, as well as liberty. However, in India, this is not, and has never been, the case, and there is no way to know how long, in the ongoing civilizational process, this human greed for adoring and enjoying certain privileges over others is going to last. But as long as inequality and discrimination exist, a struggle to get rid of this yoke by the deprived masses will certainly continue to be part of the socio-political fight for generations to come.

The nature of the struggle by the sieged population fighting to annihilate these caste fortifications has always been defensive rather than offensive. The credit for this civility goes to  Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, one of the tallest, yet most neglected and often misunderstood intellectual-political leaders in the mainstream socio-political discourse of modern India. Perhaps because he fundamentally challenges the iniquitous Hindu social order, he has been rendered the most controversial of the mass political leaders in India. However, the fact remains that his key text, The Annihilation of Caste, contains persuasive arguments, heavily supported with solid facts, as well as a sophisticated, logical tone. This seminal book on the one hand depicts a rebellion against caste and untouchability and wants to destroy it; and on the other, it advocates non-enmity with coercion towards the tormentor, implicitly advising that there are always other practices available to push forward a struggle for justice responsibly rather than indulging in punitive violent measures. So the epoch-making approach Ambedkar adopts, though corrective and hence confrontational, is both a peacemaking as well as peacekeeping one.

Ambedkar  and Gandhi

Ambedkar was the pioneer intellectual in the study of caste and untouchability. He delved into such details that with all their possible and conceivable dimensions, he fought caste discrimination at all given levels: social, political, economic and educational. His Annihilation of Caste is both an illuminative as well as a redemptive text. Ambedkar used his writings and lectures to confront a world of indifference and betrayal in order to pursue his reformative agenda, equal in dimension to that of Gandhi’s. The power of his reason was such that Gandhi described him as a ‘challenge to Hinduism’. But unfortunately he did not receive the attention, the critical acclaim, or the adulation he deserves, the way Gandhi did. Ambedkar was of the view that political safeguards for Untouchables were necessary as the Untouchables constituted the largest minority, and that without these safeguards they would not be able to enjoy political and social freedom. This was viewed as a direct challenge to Gandhi’s unchallenged leadership and therefore the conflict between the two was inevitable.

Being a multifaceted personality—an economist, a sociologist, a barrister, an editor, a constitutionalist of the first rank, a professor, an able parliamentarian, an educationist and a commentator on Buddhism—Ambedkar was predestined to engage himself beyond personality conflicts and look into the problems of India from both a macro as well as micro perspective.

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The next big thing: Books to look forward to in 2017

What will be in, what will be out, what’s going to be hot and what’s not, experts tell us about books that threaten to stir a storm in 2017

R. Sivapriya, Executive Editor, Juggernaut Books

2017 looks like it will be the year of women writers. At Juggernaut, we are publishing impressive debuts by three young women — Anita Sivakumaran, Tashan Mehta and Devi Yesodharan. And the new novels of two of the most promising voices in the Indian literary landscape — Meena Kandasamy and Parvati Sharma.

And of course, 2017 will be the year of Arundhati Roy. I am hugely curious to read the new novel. It is certainly going to be the most talked about book of the year. Seriously, women writers are all set to own the year.

I am also looking forward to Ali Akbar Natiq’s first novel (in English from Urdu) and Aniruddan Vasudevan’s debut short story collection (in Tamil). I know they are both in work in progress and should be in print later this year. And I also can’t wait for the new China Mieville – The Last Days Of New Paris to reach India.

Kapish Mehra, Managing Director, Rupa

It’s hard to be crystal ball gazing, but I think 2017 will be an interesting year for Indian publishing. Among genres, I see that non-fiction will further consolidate in the market, as it has for the past few years even as fiction — both literary and commercial — continue to.

Children’s fiction too looks like it’s going to be a promising space in the coming year. We at Rupa are coming out with a series of Mighty Raju pictorial books, combining educational content with entertainment. Read more

Source: DNA India

Is fiction on the decline? Non-fiction found more takers in 2016

The tastes of the reading public in India seem to growing beyond fiction. In what is being seen as a major evolution in the Indian publishing space, 2016 witnessed a fast and booming shift to memoirs and non-fiction while fiction titles were subdued not only in terms of their numbers but also popularity among readers. Industry insiders say this is a cumulative result of the nation’s changing reading patterns.

Opening the year with a surprise was Anything But Khamosh, the authorised biography of Bollywood icon and politician Shatrughan Sinha, by Bharati Pradhan.

The book, which was launched at the Jaipur Lit Fest towards the end of January, went on to attract readers from all age groups and even the “Bihari Babu” left no stone unturned in its promotions, retracing the many “hurrahs and heartaches” of his life at promotional events. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times

Book review: Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kane

By Nilesh Mondal

lankaIt is no easy task to write an epic, but a job more difficult than that would be to attempt retelling one of the most complicated and incredible epics to ever have been written. Kavita Kane does exactly that, although to her credit, she already is an established name in terms of retelling Indian mythology. One can only assume it was this confidence that made her choose to venture into the retelling of the Ramayana, the exploits of the Prince of Ayodhya and his nemesis, the king of Lanka. A retelling of such an enormous, extensive and breath-taking epic can be a hit-or-miss situation, where on one end lies the risk of falling prey to clichés or getting lost in the convoluted plot of the original epic, and on the other, the befitting reward of satisfaction.

Kavita Kane tackles this opportunity head on, and fortunately ends up with something of high finesse and value.

Lanka’s Princess takes us through the life and times of Princess Meenakshi, the only daughter of Rishi Vishravas and sister to Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Vibhishan. Meenakshi, born in a family no stranger to war and dark secrets, is regularly neglected by her mother and brothers, and reprimanded by her father. Her chances at a happy life are cut short repeatedly, driving her into a corner where hatred and spite engulfs her soul. The way these circumstances mould her character and prepare her for her role in the battle between Ram and Ravan, are fascinating and suspenseful to watch unfold. The slow transformation of kind and compassionate Princess Meenakshi into the ruthless and vengeful Surpanakha is heart-breaking to follow, and imparts a well-founded depth to her character, which makes it inevitable for us to sympathise with this deeply troubled villainous protagonist.

Despite being a retelling, or rather reimagining of the mythological epic, this story handles other contemporary sensitive issues with profound understanding and space as well. This is a revelation for the readers, as we are made to realise that issues of feminism and prevalent gender discrimination, insecurity based on looks and skin colour, honour killing, taboo on sexuality, sexual violence, and many others were alive and well even in the times of Shree Ram. The writer however, tackles these issues subtly and with much tact, weaving them into the narrative and not making the whole story about one particular issue alone, or appearing outright judgemental at any point of the narration.

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Book Review: Feet in the Valley by Aswini Kumar Mishra

By Manisha Lakhe

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You don’t have to read the writer’s bio to figure out that the writer is a civil servant. The book, Feet in the Valley by Aswini Kumar Mishra, is an ode to the “sarkari daftar” and its ways and means of working less and making more money.

Somen, the protagonist of the book doesn’t start out as being likeable, because he fails his exams and generally seems to not care whether his family has to put up with hardships due to his “studies” late into the night. He takes it for granted that his parents and sister would be crammed into one room in order for him to study into the night. When he fails, you wonder if his mother’s love for him (she feeds him pakoras and samosas and cut fruit – by her own hand – at different points in the book) is deserved. He is 28 years old and seems to be self-centered and “useless”, and it seems to be a patriarchal setup because his sister Minati seems to have more brains than him.

Somen’s father works in the Railways, and the working ways of the booking office creates a fine picture of bribery and corruption. It is so beautifully written that you feel that you are standing in the booking queue, waiting for your turn, witnessing the way government offices work (or don’t). It is a record of frustrations with the system. Even the details in the offices of the Block Development Officer and the nexus between the different departments and the avarice of the people, with utter disregard to the welfare of the people they are meant to serve is wonderfully depicted in the book. You feel every bump in the road, and hear the music played by the crooked owner of Hotel Amar (where everyone goes, from the BDO to the contractors and the subcontractors and the Tehsildar and his cronies and anyone with money and interest in making money off the government).

“At times, it was discovered that Nanda’s motorcycle ran on the fuel supplied by Patnaik. When relatives arrived at the resident of Rath, another JE, Mishra the Sub-Contractor, provided the entertainment packages. As soon as the office opened, Patnaik would arrive, with folded hands to greet both Nanda and Rath.

‘Yes… Patnaik.’

‘Sir, namaste… My bills, sir.’

‘Not prepared yet, please come later.’

‘Sir… I badly need the money to pay my labourers.’

‘But the BDO is out of station.’

‘No, but he sure to return soon… Sir.’

‘Oh! You are so bothersome, as always.’

‘Sir, please.’

Patnaik laid a packet of cigars on Nanda’s table while suggesting the mode of preparation of the bill. Nanda, puffing a cigar from the pack, asked Patnaik to leave the room so he could go ahead with the present task. Patnaik left immediately. Nanda once again shouted at him, ‘Please ask for some coffee.’”

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