Showing posts from June, 2007
Temptations of the West: How to be modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond
By Pankaj Mishra
In many ways, this is an uncomfortable book. For English-speaking Indians used to the ‘India Shining’ story streaming out of newspapers, magazines and TV channels, it is disquieting to come across someone who holds a mirror to what can only be called the failures of the Indian state. That is what Mishra does with his latest book. Yes, he has an agenda – a liberal, left-leaning, anti-West one, and that can colour a lot of what he says. And one does get the sneaking suspicion that this is a book meant for the West, and not the South Asians he writes about. Yet, it is thought-provoking and interesting and worthy of note.

The book is Mishra’s take on how traditional societies in South Asia are coping with the Western version of ‘modernisation’ – of closed economies suddenly coming face to face with a globalised world; of free market economics coming into play in areas that are extremely poor; of Western …

Shell-shocked. That was what I was after watching the biggest film of the year. What really was that? A man, a superman, a ghost, a god? Rajnikanth does have that kind of an effect on you. Especially if you are not a Tamilian, or you haven’t seen a film of his for over 20 years.Rajni is a phenomenon – we’ve all heard that. He probably deserves a couple of hundred theses written on him. It still might not explain his incredible sway over audiences, apparently the world over. In Sivaji, he plays nothing but himself – El Mariachi, Neo, Superman, Stephen Chow in Kung Fu Hustle, all rolled into one. There is seemingly nothing he cannot do. Halt a bullet in its trajectory, beat up a hundred goons single-handedly, fly into the air a la Matrix, die and then come back to life. As Indians we are used to exaggeration – we are familiar with macho heroes, be it AB or MGR, beating up the villains to a pulp. We watch it in all seriousness, suspending disbelief. The difference here is, I am tru…