Author : Vikas Datta


Love’s tortured course in Cold War

Love’s tortured course in Cold War

Feb 19,2017 , 12:51 AM IST | Hans
Truth is the first casualty in wars, but so is romance. The conflict doesn't even need to be a shooting war - even undeclared conflicts like the Cold War can be daunting and hazardous for lovers - particularly if they are on opposing sides.
Fairytale that launched India's literary renaissance

Fairytale that launched India's literary renaissance

Feb 12,2017 , 01:48 AM IST | Hans
A whirlwind tale of romance, adventure and magic, it is no ordinary fable – and not due to its genre. The first Indian prose fiction, or even the first novel, ‘Bagh-o-Bahaar’ is a largely neglected pioneer of what is now a thriving, multi-lingual literary tradition, but it still holds prominence due to its language and motifs of loss, mortality, courage, faith, hope and redemption.
Partisans and observers

Partisans and observers

Feb 05,2017 , 01:36 AM IST | Hans
It seems ironically heartless, but somehow the best literary creativity is inspired by tragedy, especially those in conflict situations, and can reflect its nuances and effects better. 
A forbear of legacy

A forbear of legacy

Jan 22,2017 , 01:40 AM IST | Hans
Among the outstanding American statesmen (and one stateswoman) to never become President, Daniel Webster never let ambition, pride or popularity deflect him from his inalienable political principle: his country's preservation, even by tactical compromises over policies that might be personally detestable, and negotiations over force. But he is chiefly remembered as a polished, powerful and persuas
Altruistic Arabian prince & his legendary quests

Altruistic Arabian prince & his legendary quests

Jan 08,2017 , 01:05 AM IST | Hans
In our contemporary, high-tech world where a range of inventions and devices once thought magical are common, it is easy to understand why fairy tales have gone out of fashion. 
Solving crime the Scotland Yard way

Solving crime the Scotland Yard way

Dec 11,2016 , 02:08 AM IST | Hans
The London policeman, a member of the modern world's first professional law and order enforcement force, has long been a model for his counterparts and a subject for crime novelists. 
A humorous insight

A humorous insight

Dec 04,2016 , 02:05 AM IST | Hans
Exuberant Americans, reserved Englishmen, orderly Germans, fatalistic Russians, unorganised Italians, charming and chic French, impenetrable Japanese, laidback Australians, gregarious and feckless Irish... are these descriptions a valid guide to these nationalities, and are there any such universal national characteristics at all? Do they just stem from personal, subjective experience or are mere
The Soviet spy who foxed Nazis

The Soviet spy who foxed Nazis

Nov 20,2016 , 02:55 AM IST | Hans
Spy fiction we have been used to for years had Soviet/Russian agents as the bad, ruthless guys. Though there were exceptions - the KGB chief in Frederick Forsyth's ‘The Negotiator’, in some James Bond films, Ilya Kurakin in ‘The Man from UNCLE’ and even Vladimir Putin (initially), they were in supporting roles. 
A different perspective of life

A different perspective of life

Nov 13,2016 , 01:36 AM IST | Hans
All religions are based on fate, or some divine design and control over humans, and so are some philosophies (the universe conspiring to help you attain something you want, as Paulo Coelho says in ‘The Alchemist’). 
A heroic tale

A heroic tale

Oct 30,2016 , 01:32 AM IST | Hans
It is a rare country that remembers all its heroes, let alone recognises their contribution – even war heroes, otherwise lionised for political benefit and as a conveniently vicarious symbol of service and sacrifice.
A toast to the original creator of Superman

A toast to the original creator of Superman

Oct 23,2016 , 02:22 AM IST | Hans
Humankind's capacity to comprehend pales before its ability to misinterpret or misappropriate – and neither prophet nor philosopher is immune. For the latter, none can beat this lonely, tragic but most misunderstood philosopher, sought to be owned by both extremes of the political spectrum (and many others), but still going on to influence a large swathe of the cultural and intellectual history to
Love in shadow of Nirbhaya episode

Love in shadow of Nirbhaya episode

Oct 16,2016 , 01:53 AM IST | Hans
Love, the most mysterious of human emotions, can be immensely uplifting or devastatingly destructive, but never static. As times change, so do its contours, and expected roles and responsibilities in a love story can be most fluid and unexpected. 
The Saint and the Pope

The Saint and the Pope

Oct 09,2016 , 12:30 AM IST | Hans
The venerable sages of India, the Buddha, Jesus, Prophet Muhammad, Guru Nanak – the founders of all major religions – were all known to spurn material comfort and stress compassion for the weak and safeguarding nature, but not many of their followers emulated them. 
Rising to power

Rising to power

Sep 25,2016 , 01:04 AM IST | Hans
There is one country that has militarily defeated the US and that too on its own soil – stolen a march on both the US and USSR in space travel, severely dented American capitalists' confidence in their own capability, and finally saved the Western world in the aftermath of the 1970s energy crisis. But the name of Grand Fenwick doesn't occur in any history book, or show up in any atlas, unless it a
One last bright spark of glorious tradition

One last bright spark of glorious tradition

Sep 18,2016 , 12:58 AM IST | Hans
Any literary tradition demonstrates its virtuosity and vitality in how even its last proponents keep up its standards, even as the style itself is declining due to changes in the political and social millieu and norms. The Lucknow School of Urdu Poetry was no exception. But even as we acknowledge change in times and tastes, is inevitable, it seems unfortunate for a promising poet so eclipsed.
The plight of former soldiers

The plight of former soldiers

Sep 11,2016 , 12:50 AM IST | Hans
The memorial at the Kohima War Cemetery, where lie dead of a World War II battle termed "Stalingrad of the East", asks us: "When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today." It's no less true for soldiers now, but do we consider it in our attitudes to them in peace and to ex-servicemen? And it is an old poet, now deemed a standard-bearer of imperialism, who can draw ou
Lucknow’s shining star

Lucknow’s shining star

Sep 04,2016 , 01:00 AM IST | Hans
Do you have to be born in a place renowned as a cradle of poetry to be considered a part of its tradition, or is its ethos so strong and pervasive that it can encompass even those who settle there? The second seems more likely going by the example of this gifted representative of the Lucknow school of Urdu poetry who could even enshrine life's small things in polished language in his memorable ver
The suave anti hero

The suave anti hero

Aug 28,2016 , 12:59 AM IST | Hans
Stories we are used to when young have clearly discernible heroes and villains but this may change up as we grow – particularly in adolescence, or when exposed to the real world's less clear-cut distinctions and imperfections. Then a less-than-noble, rule-breaking hero or the anti-hero may be more to our taste – and has been for years – James Bond, 'Godfathers' Vito and Michael Corleone, or for us
Tales of the Caribbean

Tales of the Caribbean

Aug 06,2016 , 11:44 PM IST | Hans
The Caribbean, for most of us, brings to the mind a once invincible cricket team, holiday cruises, voodoo, pirate yarns, rum, reggae, Rastafarians – and these days, tax havens. But there is more to this arc of islands stretching between the American continent and forming an eastward boundary to the Caribbean Sea
Lost in translation

Lost in translation

Jul 31,2016 , 12:31 AM IST | Hans
English speakers have long had an advantage for there are few classics from other literary traditions, which are not available in the language.
Comic theatre of the absurd?

Comic theatre of the absurd?

Jul 24,2016 , 12:11 AM IST | Hans
Occurrence of the unexpected and the unlikely doesn't only work for literary genres like horror, and mystery, let alone fantasy and science fiction, but comedy too. Although much of comedy's effect is from the commonplace represented in a way that evokes humour, sometimes something startlingly incongruous works wonders - a comic 'Theatre of the Absurd', where certainties disappear, and the sublime
A rare view

A rare view

Apr 24,2016 , 12:27 AM IST | Hans
What do we make of the Raj's storytellers? Should we simply view them through anti-colonialism's uncompromising prism and unceremoniously dismiss them as standard-bearers of discredited imperialism? 
The Cat astrophe in literature

The Cat astrophe in literature

Apr 17,2016 , 12:39 AM IST | Hans
From the Neolithic age to the internet era, no other animal species has had such a major presence in human culture, spanning religions, proverbs, fairytales, literature, cartoons, musicals, science and even social media, as this small, furry, charming but independent-minded mammal. And cats have even left man's best (animal) friend behind. 
Spirited investigations

Spirited investigations

Apr 10,2016 , 12:38 AM IST | Sunday Hans
Remember ‘Ghostbusters’? The 1984 film about three parapsychologists taking on supernatural phenomenon in New York sparked off a whole universe of spin-offs across various media - a reboot version comes out in July with women replacing the original male cast. But the occult detective fiction genre has always been popular and enduring too, having been around for over a century and half now,