Book Review: A book that graces the bookshelves
Book Review: A book that graces the bookshelves
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Book: Words, Sounds, Images: A history of media and entertainment in India

Author: Amit Khanna

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 850

Price: Rs 1499

There's a beautiful idiom in English: Admirable Crichton, a person who excels in all kinds of studies and pursuits, or who's noted for supreme competence. The expression is even a notch above the word 'polymath’. Without a semblance of hesitation or exaggeration, let me bestow this idiom (admirable Crichton) upon Amit Khanna, who's perhaps the only media professional who has worked across every segment in the field: print, radio, television, films, stage, live entertainment and digital media.

When one's so well-ensconced in all departments and aspects like him, it's obvious that the knowledge and understanding of the person has to be profound and irreproachable. Whether you're a media-man or a master of this field or a keen observer of cinema of all genres, Amit's book is a veritable Bible for you. It's indeed an encyclopedia of media and entertainment in India.

Book Review: A book that graces the bookshelves

An average Indian is weaned on cinema, songs (film songs) and also cinematic anecdotes. In other words, cinema is in an Indian's DNA. Amit Khanna has highlighted this facet with facts. While writing a research book based on facts and findings, objectivity is a must. You cannot let your subjectivity butt in. With the gimlet eyes of an observer having a ringside view of cinema, media and entertainment in India, Khanna has chronicled the cavalcade of an audio-visual sojourn.

Reading this book, one feels that the author has sunk himself into the vortex of media industry in India. No personality from print and visual media, cinema, theatre or music has been left out. When the Nobel Committee conferred the Nobel Prize for Literature upon the Chilean great Pablo Neruda in 1971, it stated, 'Neruda's spectrum of poetry begins from alpha and ends with omega and his gamut of expressions carries myriad moods.' The same can be said about Amit Khanna's brilliant book.

Diverse luminaries like Muhammad Rafi and Purna Das Baul; refinement and rusticity; seamlessly appear in the book. Satyajit Ray's polished cinematic creations are juxtaposed with Ritwik Ghatak's realistic movies. Ages and eras create a mosaic of creativity sans any corrugation. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Rais Khan share the same dais. This shows Amit's diligence and his ability to pick up all and sundry and weave them into a fine tapestry of historical relevance.

Facts and fallacies co-exist, especially in the media and entertainment sphere. Amit has sifted facts from fallacies and falsifications and presented them in a matter of fact manner. The author's Na kaahu se dosti, na kaahu se bair (no friends, no foes) approach to writing this tome manifests itself from the first page to the last one.

Nearly one thousand pages of this book are a testament to Amit's genuine love for the field/s he has been integral to for so many years. Seldom does one come across such a well-written and also well-researched book that can equally appeal to scholars and dilettantes. Every media institute must have this book and every student belonging to this field must buy a copy to benefit from its mine of facts, information and knowledge. In fine, it's a book that graces the bookshelves.

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