Fiction Reviews

Blue skies, eye candy

Baaz; Anuja Chauhan, HarperCollins, ₹399.

Baaz; Anuja Chauhan, HarperCollins, ₹399.  

Love in flak jackets and a sweet ode to the IAF

Anuja Chauhan’s latest 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 is the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War), much toe-curling passion, an 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 bam! it’s time for some action. 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’.

Shades of Top Gun

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 practised by Pakistan, the US the former 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.

The writer is a manuscript editor and author based in Bengaluru.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:03:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/blue-skies-eye-candy/article18435889.ece

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