The Zoya Factor

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Caution: the following post is about the film not the book.

I’m like Zoya who isn’t a fan of the gentleman’s game but unlike her I kept it a secret. For years. It’s a big deal because I’m a natural blabbermouth. When the girls from my colony played cricket I gritted my teeth and did the bowling (and the batting?) like I was interested. To admit to not liking something when everyone around you loves it requires standing out and being comfortable in your own skin. I was an unsure 10 year old, so I went along with the charade.

I went in blind (read without seeing or reading a review) to watch The Zoya Factor (thanks to Cinepolis points). And I was disappointed. The book was dramatic but cheeky in a different way but the film is over the top.

Sonam Kapoor sadly isn’t Zoya for me. She never truly came to life. Where are the cheeks of Gaalu my mind cried. Fans of the book will know what I’m talking about. I had the book Zoya stuck in my mind – an imperfect idiot, ditzy but lovable, misguided but loyal. If you say that about the titular character, you’d think it’s all downhill from there but there’s reason to cheer. Two words – Dulquer Salmaan. Not a single false note by DQ. I was impressed with his acting prowess when I had seen Karwaan but now I’m star struck. The man has an earthiness and undeniable charm which makes him immensely likeable. Our Bollywood actors could take a leaf out of his book on keeping it real.

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Book review – Baaz

In the past Anuja Chauhan has tackled topics such as cricket and politics in her novels, The Zoya Factor and the Battle for Bittora respectively. I like her writing but I’m not what you would call a fan. Anuja Chauhan is known for witty romances nestled in good, if sometimes unbelievable plots. I was skeptical going in when I heard Baaz was about war, the Indo-Pak 1971 war no less. Baaz offers us a behind the scenes view into the lives of everyone associated with air force.  The multitude of things the air force men worry about, knowing their future is uncertain. How their wives and girlfriends deal with the stresses of their men being in combat.

Baaz opens in 1957 newly independent India. 10 year old Ishaan ‘Baaz’ Faujdaar is standing in front of an incoming train to get his adrenaline kick, to get that dhook-dhookk-dhoookk feeling, as he calls it. Ishaan or Shaanu, as he’s fondly known, is a thrill seeker. Motherless, his stepfather isn’t too fond of him but his five siblings hero-worship him. His Nanaji gives Ishaan the idea of becoming a pilot so that he could get the thrill he craves for. And there is no looking back.

10 years later, Ishaan gets through the exam and joins the  Indian Air Force (IAF). Here he meets Rakesh Aggarwal (Raka) and Madan Subbiah (Maddy) who were in NDA corps together. Initially they make fun of him but soon become his good friends. Ishaan takes never having known his father, coming from a humble background and not knowing English, lightly. His faith in himself (read cocksure) tides him over.

Ishaan meets Tehmina Dadyseth (Tinka) when he’s on duty and she’s fleeing her marriage. They appear to have some kind of a connection which they realize when their paths cross again. She doesn’t believe in hyper-patriotism and hates the idea of war whereas for Ishaan the country comes first, and everything is black and white. Their backgrounds are vastly different and so is the way they view the world, but they do have something in common. The chemistry was sizzling but there was something missing.

Tinka, the motherless daughter of Major General Ardisher Dadyseth, was born to challenge the status quo.  She is unafraid to go where very few women have gone. From studying photography to becoming a war correspondent in Dacca, she is undeterred once she has made up her mind.

Caste is very much in the air though caste system has been abolished. Pakistanis and Muslims were viewed with the same suspicious lens. The society then was regressive and not to mention conservative – not ready to accept independent free thinking men or women who deviate from the norm. So it was heartening to have many strong female characters in the book, who defied convention in their own way.

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