Thursday, July 30, 2009

Talking Films

Author: Nasreen Munni Kabir
Published: 1999
Publisher : Oxford University Press
Amazon Link: Click Here

The byline of the book - Conversations on Hindi Cinema with Javed Akhtar - aptly sums up what this book is all about. Javed Akhtar the well known lyricist, screenplay , dialogue writer narrates incidents from his personal and professional life to the author. We get to know about his childhood, his entry into Bollywood scene, his collaborative works with Salim (actor Salman Khan's father) and many behind the scene stories about the dialogs and lyrics he wrote. This book also provides insights about his working style. Quite an interesting book for Bollywood movie buffs, but does not have anything much for other readers. Rather overpriced at Rs 175 (USD 3.5) for the content it offers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Naked Leader Experience

Author: David Taylor
Published: 2004
Publisher: Transworld Publishers

This is a sequel to the author's book "The Naked Leader" which I have not read. As per the author , Naked Leadership means "an approach to leadership that strips away the hype, applies the most powerful, proven tools and techniques to real life without any inherent mystery" and apply everything that works into day-to-day realities for most of the people.
The underlying theme in this book is - the fear of failure prevents us from being the best we already are. So in 37 inspirations (i.e. chapters) the author provides tips on how to overcome this fear and fulfill one's dream and ambitions. The tips are well supported by anecdotes, quotes and jokes.

The book has three parts (called books by the author !).

Book One - Reclaim Your Birthright. It is about realizing that you are the best. Titles of some chapters in this part - Long Live Dreams, Are You a Hero or a Trailer ?, The A-Z of Being a Naked Leader ...

Book Two - Reignite Your Relationships. It is about how to truly connect with others. Titles of some chapters in this part - Business Brilliance, Loyalty - Release the Leaders Within, Impress Your Boss !, One Team - One Vision.

Book Three - Reinvent Your Organization. It is about unleashing the potential within you and your team. Titles of some chapters in this part - The Business of Passion, Change Leadership, Your Customers Hate..., Murders and Acquisitions, IT's Time to Deliver

In my opinion Book Three is the best part of the book.

A couple of interesting facts about this book.
The chapters in this book were not written by the in the order they appear in the print. An appendix called "The Author's Journey" lists the order in which the author wrote the chapters. This may help in following author's thought process, however I preferred to read it in a conventional way.
Chapter 15 - How to lose weight , comprises of just three lines. Read the book to find out what it is ! I would rather not give the secret away, since author requests the reader not to do so.

On the whole a very interesting and enjoyable book to read.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Complete Adventures of Feluda - Volume 2

Author: Satyajit Ray
Published: 2000
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Amazon Link: Click Here

Satyajit Ray is world renowned as a film director. But few people know that he was also a very popular detective fiction writer in Bengali. He created the character Feluda a Kolkatta based private investigator. Feluda's character was inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
This volume comprises of 19 cases which were successfully investigated by Feluda. The cases - mostly murder mysteries - are narrated by his nephew Topshe ( an equivalent of Watson in Sherlock Holmes mysteries) who assisted him in these cases . They are also accompanied by their friend a quaint, comical character called Jatayu who is a thriller fiction writer.
Almost all the stories follow a predictable pattern, yet they are very enjoyable and hold your interest. I am not able to pick my favorite ones since all are equally good.
Ray wrote these stories in Bengali for a teenage magazine Sandesh. Gopa Majumdar and Chitrita Banerji have done an excellent job in translating them into English.
The stories are set in modern times yet not modern enough. It spans the period mid 1960s to early 1990s. So the present generation having grown up in the era of internet and mobile phones may wonder why Feluda did not make use of such technologies.
I highly recommend anybody interested in detective stories in classic mould of Sherlock Holmes's cases to read this book. I could get hold of only Volume 2 in the library. So look forward to read Volume 1 also.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Values - The Key to a Meaningful Life

Author: Various
Published: 1996
Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai

Values are strong beliefs which guide us in leading a meaningful and ethical life in equilibrium with the society we live in. Each profession has its own set of values which one must abide by. What are these values ?
This is what this book is all about. It is an anthology of short articles by twenty-six select men and women from all walks of life. They share their views, perceptions, insights concerning values in the fields they are actively associated with.
Diverse fields are covered - Society, Family, Education, Administration, Law, Law Enforcement, Music, Cinema, Journalism, Literature, Medicine, Science and Technology, Industry, Business and Sports.
The anthology includes articles by H.H. Dalai Lama (needs no introduction), Nani Palkhivala (an eminent constitutional lawyer) , Julio Riberio ( who as a D.G. of Punjab Police brought the menace of terrorism in Punjab under control), Rajkumar Bharathi ( a well-known Carnatic Classical singer and descendant of famous poet-revolutionary Subramnya Bharathi) among others.
Since I work in the Technology area the article "Values in Science and Technology" by Prof. N.V.C. Swamy a former Director - IIT, Madras was of most relevance to me. When I was pursuing my Ph.D in IIT Madras, I had a privilege of attending Prof. Swamy's lectures both in academic (Fluid Dynamics !) and non-academic (Vedanta !) areas and found them very educative and interesting. I can say the same for his article in this book. Prof. Swamy explains in a very elegant manner with interesting examples how four principal values - Universalism, Communalism, Disinterestedness and Organized Scepticism applies to scientists and technologists.
Most of the articles in this book are easy to understand and will help anyone who would like to create a personal value system capable of facing challenges in day to day life and making him or her a better person.
The articles in this book appeared in 1995 issue of the journal The Vedanta Kesari published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. So some of the articles sound outdated when they discuss values in context with the events impacting the society. This is the only limitation of this book. It would be nice if the publishers bring out a sequel to this book in which the contributors discuss the values in the light of events post-1995.
The book is economically priced (Rs 45 (less than 1 USD) ) and can be ordered online from the publisher.