Book review: Baaz by Anuja Chauhan
Blue skies, eye candy
Anuja Chauhan`s latest offering doesn’t stray too far from her template: feisty heroine, gorgeous hero, as much external conflict as internal (maybe more of the former here, given that the backdrop here is the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War), much toe-curling passion, a very interesting gaggle who make up the supporting cast and healthy dollops of humour, all unspooling at a rapid clip.
No, scratch that last one, here the mise- en- scene is set up slowly, deliberately. Everything goes swimmingly but steadily for a long while. Until bham! it`s time for action to get a hand in. From then on, it`s action all the way to the breathless finale.
Our hero, Ishaan Faujdaar aka Baaz, is a fighter pilot from Haryana who is rapidly shucking off his rustic Jatness and pulling in all the suaveness and hotness he can manage; his cuteness is validated not just by the women around the air force station of Kalaiganga or Kolkata but even across in Dacca. Our heroine, Tehmina Dadyseth, is a Bawi who is torn between her inner pacifist and her fast spinning out of control feelings for the Gnat-borne Baaz.
This then, is where trains khata-khat, where everyone across the board asks `aise kaise,` and closes an argument with `then what.` It`s a war story but the attendant patriotism is handled deftly, easily and the tale is all the better for the light touch. Of course, the depredations of war too, is given the butterfly treatment, horror lite as it were, but maybe that’s just how Chauhan`s constituency would have it.
So. It`s 400 pages of a smooth run, with shades of Top Gun and Govind Nihalani`s Vijeta. There is as much derring-do by Baaz as by his girl, `Tell-me-na.` And it`s clear that much research went into the book. Chauhan steers the reader through sorties, dogfights up in the air, planes brought down, men brought down, the winds of anger, intolerance and cruelty that blow through West Bengal and the former East Pakistan, realpolitik as practiced by Pakistan, USA, the USSR, the Mukti Bahini, and more.
And the reader takes in just what they want to: the futility of war, the courage of the armed forces, love in flak jackets, and above all, a sweet ode to the IAF.
Baaz; Anuja Chauhan, HarperCollins, ₹399.
This ran in THE HINDU LITERARY REVIEW of 14 May 2017.