Every ardent Anuja fan, will vouch that the wait between her books is the hardest to surmount, but once her book is in hand, that wait seems worthwhile. These were my sentiments when I lay my hands on Baaz.
She begins the novel by transporting us to post–Independence India’s Chakkahera, whose blue eyed boy, or in this case, kota grey eyed boy is Ishaan Foujdaar, tall in all respects except height, Ishaan or Shaanu, perennially in search of something that will make his heart go dhuk dhuk, goes on to become a fighter – pilot in the IAF. The only other way he experiences dhuk dhuk is by long jumping over wells and trains.
The author provides a perfect background to the story, the 1971, India–Pakistan war. With war, come dog fights, scuffles among the Gnats, MIGs and Sabres. Our hero. like his nickname Baaz (falcon) is known for swooping down on the enemy planes.
Anuja draws the reader into the hitherto reserved and super exclusive world of the army households, she explores the underlying psyche of the army wives and families through colourful and memorable characters like Mrs Pomfret ( her husband is both pompous and fretful), Mrs Carvalho (spouse of good old Kuch Bhi Carvalho), Juhi Aggarwal and others.
Not everything is about war though, Anuja in her trademark style, starts a parallel love story between Shaanu, our heart-stopper, and Tehmina Daddyseth or Tell me na Daddyseth or Tinka as she is fondly called. Tinka is bold, opinionated and having felt the consequences of war, first hand despises war and army men. They seem like the most unlikely of pairs, but that’s what makes it work all the more. Their conversations provide food for thought and many a long discussion on war, nationalism and hyper-nationalism.
Another strong emotional theme that runs through the novel is that of friendship. The bond between Shaanu, Maddy and Raka is something you wish, you share with your BFF. They are the coolest cats in town and they know it.
Like all Anuja novels, this one too has a bunch of characters and scenes, that will come back to you, in the middle of a long working day and bring out a hearty laugh. Only a writer like Ms Chauhan, can take a serious event and still make you smile while narrating it, without underplaying the emotions attached to it. She deserves credit for it.
Baaz is a wonderful mix of heady romance, side-busting comedy and heart stopping action. All in all, a perfect read. I am sure to remain Shaanu fan for life.
Reviewed by : Anusha D’souza
Author(s): Anuja Chauhan
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release: April 2017
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