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On writing and politcs: A chat with author Vinay Sitapti

How long was the research process for the book?

This took me three years. But I was also teaching during this period.


Why this subject in particular?

I am a child of the 1990s, and the two biggest political trends of that decade was liberalisation and the rise of the BJP. My first book, on P.V. Narasimha Rao, was a response to this first political trend. This book was motivated by the second trend — the political rise of Hindu nationalism — that I remember from my childhood.


What has been the most rewarding experience about writing this book?

Front cover of Jugalbandi
Jugalbandi || Vinay Sitapati

While writing the book, I immersed myself in the world of Hindu nationalism — talking to people, reading books and articles, going through archives — over its 100 year period. Then suddenly I began to see patterns and trends, for instance their 100 year focus on organisational unity. It was almost as if my vision had suddenly changed from blurred to focussed.

Any criticism experienced? How about any encouraging instances/incidents?

The most encouraging feeling is that even though the topic is so polarising, the book has not been slotted as ‘left’ or ‘right’. The book has not provoked anger, rather I think it has spurred understanding. That’s a lovely feeling. It means that scholarship, if done right, can bring people together. There have of course been criticisms — that I have been unduly harsh on Vajpayee for instance. I only request that the reader looks at my evidence and asks whether my conclusions flow from it.


What should we look forward from you, next?

I haven’t yet decided on what next. But I enjoyed not just the popular reception to Jugalbandi, but also the process of writing it. So whatever else I work on next must not just be interesting to the reader, it should be interesting to me.


7 Quotes by Famous Authors That Will Make You Reminisce Your Childhood

As life brings with it moments of laughter and hardships in equal measures, the memory of childhood slowly begins to fade away. Or does it? Well, some of our favourite writers and personalities from history would beg to differ.
This Children’s Day, get inspired to grow ‘down’, because where’s the novelty in growing up?

The golden days of childhood were glorious, weren’t they?

Celebrating Cinema: 5 Reasons You Should Know About this Pioneer of New Wave

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, a name synonymous with revolutionising not just Malayalam cinema, but Indian cinema, was born in Kerala’s Travancore on July 3, 1941. Gopalakrishnan is a Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan awardee, a Dadasaheb Phalke recipient, 16 times winner of the National Award, 17 times winner of the Kerala State Film Awards, a recipient of Legion of Honour by the French government, and many more.
Here are five more things to learn about the contributions made by this pioneer of New Wave to cinema:
Adoor Gopalakrishnan is an alumnus of the Pune Film Institute (now known as the Film and Television Institute of India). He applied for the ‘screenplay writing and direction’ course in the year 1962.
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The filmmaker’s growing passion for cinema urged him to start a film society. In the year 1966, the fifth ‘All India Writers’ Conference’ held in Kerala’s Alwaye gave him the perfect opportunity to establish a film society.
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Koodiyattam is the oldest living theatre in the world (2000 years old). Gopalakrishnan fought hard to gain access to the inner sanctums of the koothambalam or the premises of Koodiyattam’s performance to ultimately make a three-hour long documentary on this art form.
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Adoor Gopalakrishnan has experimented with sound and silence in his films in ways that were unthinkable. Gopalakrishnan writes a separate script for sound, he would record natural sounds from different sources, like the train tracks, chatter of young college goers, the pouring rain to be used in his films.
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Adoor Gopalakrishnan is known to include animals and birds as characters in his films. Our friends from the wild are not the ones to be directed and this, Gopalakrishnan treats, as a creative challenge. In his film Elippathayam, rats play an important and parallel role to the protagonist and his family.
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Fascinated by the facts? Read more about the legend of cinema in Gautaman Bhaskaran’s Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema.

5 Books To Gift Your Dad This Father’s Day

Fathers have been our first superheroes, first teachers, and best friends.
So what do you say to a man who leaves you speechless with his actions and immense love? If you too find it difficult to articulate your feelings in words, here are five books that will do the job for you and will make for the perfect gift this Fathers’ Day:

The Digital Matrix

FDBooks 2.jpgVenkat Venkatraman simplifies industrial and digital companies. It is a management framework that will help you understand the forces that influence your business. If your father is also your best advisor, Digital Matrix will give you the opportunity to discuss the new coming of age business landscape with him and will make for a great gift!

Small-Town Sea

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Anees Salim’s book is a tale of a thirteen year old boy who is uprooted from a bustling city and is planted in his father’s home town. Small-Town Sea captures his adventures with a new friend, settling in a new life and once again being unsettled by his father’s death. The book is sharply hilarious and painfully sad, it is everything your father would love to read on a relaxed afternoon.


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Zahir Dehlvi’s memoir chronicles the fading glory of the Mughal court and describes the horrifying account of the 1857 revolt. Dastan-e-Ghadar is a compelling read by the poet who lived through the revolt of 1857, known for changing the course of history. Translated in English for the first time, the book is gripping, moving and rich in insight. For a father who is a history buff!

Friend of My Youth

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A writer in the search of a city he grew up in, and barely knows. Friend of My Youth, is an observation on the power of memory, a brilliant writing expressing the interference of childhood with adult life.  Your first friend, your father will definitely appreciate this tale of friendship and life.

Marching With A Billion

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Do you also enjoy sitting down with your dad and discussing politics? Marching With A Billion, a book that analyses Modi Government’s three year in power is an interesting read about key areas of governance like infrastructure, power, and social sector. Uday Mahurkar gives answers to all such questions about Modi’s test of governance.
So, what is going to be your dad’s Fathers’ Day gift? Tell us.

7 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Alice in Wonderland

Today, on the birthday of one of the greatest writers of all time, Lewis Carroll, we bring to you some facts you might not have heard of the book that gave him legendary status.
Alice in Wonderland came out in 1865 and was an instant success. The book is widely credited with changing the landscape of children’s literature, adding nonsensical fun to what had been a genre obsessed with moralizing.
1. The illustrator and the first edition.2Prominent English illustrator John Tenniel was commissioned to create the accompanying art for the story. When he saw an early copy of the book, Tenniel was upset with how badly his drawings had been reproduced forcing Carroll to spend almost half of his annual salary to get it reprinted. Luckily, once it was published, Alice in Wonderland was an instant success. The rejected printings were later sold in the U.S.
2. The real Alice.1Alice was the name of the daughter of Henry Liddell, the dean of Christ Church College at Oxford, where Carroll taught mathematics. Carroll met the dean and Alice’s older brother first and that was how he came to know the entire family.
3. Alice’s Hour in Elfland.3Carroll was inspired to write the story when he was coming up with a story for the young Alice Liddell on a boating trip. He tried out a few different titles for his novel, the original – presented to the 10-year-old Liddell was ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground.’ When it was picked up he decided to call it Alice’s Hour in Elfland. Another rejected idea was ‘Alice Among the Fairies’.
4. Carroll and the newfangled mathematical theories.7Carroll was a very conservative mathematician and he detested the new forms of math emerging at the time compared to the algebra and Euclidian geometry he favoured. Mathematicians say that riddles like the one the Mad Hatter asks Alice about a raven being like a writing desk, were a reflection on the increasing abstraction that was going on in mathematics in the mid-1800s.
5. The original manuscript.4The original manuscript – the hand-written and illustrated version, belongs to the British Library and it rarely leaves London. When New York City’s Morgan Library managed to get hold of it for an exhibition, here’s what The New York Times had to say about it:
[I]t is accompanied by security measures whose details are cloaked in obfuscation befitting Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Jamie Andrews, the head of cultural engagement for the British Library, said that it was not checked on the flight over (‘We don’t freight things like that’), but he would not say exactly where it was on the plane or who exactly was with it
 It did cause a minor stir at the airport. “I showed the customs form to the customs guy at J. F. K.,” Mr. Andrews said. The man looked at the declared value of the manuscript, a number Mr. Andrews would not divulge. “And he said, ‘Jeez, son, what have you got in there, the crown jewels?’ And in a sense it is our crown jewels.”
6. Alice and brand licensing.5Carroll was one of the first authors to work with manufacturers to bring out related products. This is one of the main reasons why Alice’s tale is so popular, even amongst people who haven’t read it. He understood the importance of tie-ins, designed a postage stamp case decorated with images of Alice and allowed her image to adorn cookie tins and other products.
For fans eager to learn more about the origins of Alice’s tale, he produced a facsimile of the original manuscript, a rare move for an author of his day. Later, he even created a shorter version of the book for toddlers.
7. Alice in Wonderland has never been out of print…6..It has also been translated into 176 languages. The sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, sold out within seven weeks of its publication.


The popularity of Alice in Wonderland, even after more than 150 years, reminds us that Lewis Carroll’s magnum opus has passed the test of time. We hope these facts serve to make you admire him more.

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