Blood on that Baisakhi

The Butcher of Amritsar On April 13, 1919, when General Reginald Dyer opened fire on a crowd gathered to hear political speeches at Jallianwala Bagh, not only was his action the worst atrocity perpetrated by the British in the 20th century but it also proved the moral bankruptcy of the Empire. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre marked the turning point of India’s struggle for freedom from British rule and became a watershed experience, often cited as an example of the bestiality of the foreign rulers. It also became a rallying point for the common people who were already feeling thwarted by the oppression unleashed by the rulers.
The Butcher of Amritsar by Nigel Collett (Rupa) offers a definitive account of the massacre in this biography of Gen Dyer. Excerpts:
IT seemed to Dyer when he rose early on the 13th that he and his force were being steadily and deliberately cut off from the outside world; rail and wires had again been torn up overnight all around Amritsar, and more railway track was destroyed on the line to Lahore during the day, derailing a goods train and forcing communications with Lahore to be maintained by aeroplane.

Dutt’s the way to live
Sunil DuttHe was much more than an actor. With an ear to the ground and a hand on the pulse of the people, Sunil Dutt lived by his convictions and led from the front.
V. Gangadhar recalls his association with the indefatigable marcher and Surendra Miglani recounts the less-known facts about Dutt Saab

Sunil Dutt, my best friend in the Hindi film industry, was always marching - to bring peace to the bleeding Punjab of the 1980s, to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, to commemorate the Dandi march, to protest against any kind of injustice.

Merchant of style
Ismail Merchant had a nose for great stories and knew exactly how they were to be told and sold, writes Saibal Chatterjee
Ismail Merchant, Indian at heart but world citizen by disposition, was a man of immense charm and tenacity. Both these attributes of his personality imbued the nearly 50 films that he produced in a career spanning well over four decades.

A city frozen in time
Sudha Jhunjhunwala on Bruges, which retains its medieval touch and old-world charm with its museums and tapestries
ruges is fondly called the Venice of the North. It may be a feeble comparison, yet it is such a charming, totally medieval city, easily navigable by foot. A 45-minute train journey from Brussels brought us to Bruges.

Quick-change artistes
Bollywood actresses are shedding their glam-doll look in the hope of getting awards.
Bipasha Basu hasn’t only shed oodles of weight, she’s also ready to do away with her oomphy image. In Prakash Jha’s Apharan, Bipasha stars as a salwar kameez clad-girl next door.



Television: Reality bites

art & soul:  Ways of seeing
by B.N. Goswamy

garden life: Over the hedge
by Kiran Narain

CONSUMER RIGHTS: Admission alert
by Pushpa Girimaji

FOOD TALK: Straight from the tawa
by Pushpesh Pant

HOLLYWOOD HUES: New light on the Crusades
by Ervell E. Menezes

ULTA PULTA: Power trip
by Jaspal Bhatti

by David Bird


Challenges to India’s security
V. N. Datta
Will the Iron Fence Save A Tree
Hollowed by Termites?
Defence Imperatives Beyond the Military.
by Arun Shourie. Rupa. Pages 587. Rs 595.

Closer to light
A.J. Philip
The Spiral Staircase: A Memoir
Karen Armstrong
HarperCollins, Pages 342 £13.50

Simple, not simplistic
Jaswant Singh
No, My Lord: A Window on India’s Realpolitik
by Hari Jai Singh; Siddharth Publications, Pages 531; Rs. 600.

A woman’s place
Kumool Abbi
Gendered citizenship: Historical and Conceptual Explorations
by Anupama Roy. Orient Longman. Pages viii+291. Rs 550.

A life among stars
Kanchan Mehta
Cilla Black: What’s it All About?
by Cilla Black. Ebury Press, London. Pages 406. £ 3.95.

Pearls of the Orient
Jaswant Singh
The Mortal Moon
translated by Chanda Atwal. Kapoor Investments Ltd, Canada. Pages 207.

Signs and signatures
The Shakespeare effect on Keats
Darshan Singh Maini

HINDI Review
Easy Marx
Harbans Singh
Aalochak Ke Mukh Se – Namwar Singh
Ed. Khagendra Thakur; Rajkamal Prakashan, Pages 107, Rs. 125

Short Takes
Upbeat about India
Randeep Wadehra
Envisioning Empowered Nation
by A P J Abdul Kalam with A. Sivathanu Pillai. Tata-McGraw-Hill, New Delhi. Pages: xxiv+255. Price: not stated.

Black Rose & other stories
by Anjali Khandwalla (Translation: Pradip Khandwalla). Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi. Pages: 152. Rs. 150

Ambient Leaves
by Prof Mohan Singh ‘Mahir’ (Translation: Dr. Raghbir S. Basi). Five Rivers Publishers Inc., Jalandhar. Pages: 111. Rs. 150

Books received: English