Know the Emperor of Hindi Novels: Munshi Premchand

Munshi Premchand was born on this day in 1880. He is the first writer who made realistic Hindi fiction so accessible to readers. Some of his famous works include Gaban, Seva Sadan and Godaan.

Twelve Facts About One of the Greatest Authors India has Produced

  1. His real name was Dhanpat Rai Srivastava.
  2. His first pen name was Nawab Rai; Premchand came later.
  3. He is called Upanyas Samrat– Emperor of Novels.
  4. One of the characters who makes a repeated appearance in his novels is that of the stepmother.
  5. His first novel has disappeared.
  6. He married too young. The marriage soured quickly and he married a child widow later on. This was revolutionary at the time.
  7. Premchand initially wrote in Urdu- he began writing in Hindi later on in his career.
  8. Premchand was an enthusiastic reader of classics in other languages, and translated several of these works in Hindi.
  9. In 1923, he established a printing press and publishing house in Benares called Saraswati Press but he was unable to run the press owing to financial issues.
  10. Premchand did a cameo as the leader of laborers in the film Mazdoor that he wrote the script for- the film never hit the screens as some influential businessmen were against it.
  11. He wrote largely about social injustices, choosing themes like dowry, widow remarriage, corruption and the freedom struggle.
  12. In 1977, Satyajit Ray made a film based on Premchand’s short story Shatranj ke Khiladi, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. Watch the movie here.

Which Premchand story do you love?

Books on the Kargil War on Kargil Vijay Diwas 2021

Kargil Vijay Diwas observed on 26 July commemorates the victory of the Indian soldiers over the infiltrating Pakistani troops. On the 22nd anniversary of this landmark day, we have identified a couple of books that deal with the Kargil War and patriotism.

Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by [Rachna Bisht Rawat]Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by Rachna Bisht Rawat

Rachna Bisht Rawat interviews Kargil war survivors and martyrs’ families. Her earlier books chronicle war as well but in this book, since Kargil is so close to home, she is able to provide a crystal clear picture of the captains, grenadiers and brave soldiers who participated in the war effort. The book is a testimony to the bravery of our troops and provides a bird’s eye view of conflict.

Kargil: From Surprise To Victory by General V. P. Malik

General V.P. Malik, former Chief of the Army Staff, analyses enemy action and surveillance hiccups in the mountainous Kargil region.  His detailed account throws light on war strategy and the heroism of the Indian Army.

“Neglect of the military history of the nation reflects a weak strategic culture and a lack of military confidence.”

A Ridge Too Far: War in the Kargil Heights, 1999 by Amarinder Singh 

A deep dive into the battles that were fought in the Kargil Heights and a military analysis of what actually happened in the mountains in 1999, starting from what led to the conflict, the build-up of the Army for the offensive and the battles fought by ten heroic infantry battalions in extremely hostile terrain.

Kargil: Turning the Tide by Lt. General Mohinder Patel

An objective account of the operations of 8 Mountain Division in their efforts to evict the enemy from the Drass-Mushkoh Sector during Op Vijay. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Mohinder Puri led the division during the operations and is the author. The Kargil war had a high casualty count and multiple gallantry awards were distributed.

The Kargil Girl: An Autobiography by Gunjan Saxena

Gunjan Saxena was part of the Operation Safed Sagar launched by the Indian Air Force. She  informed the army of key enemy positions, even narrowly missing a rocket missile attack.

 

 

We identified a couple of military narratives at the Pothi.com Store that you could check out.

Vikram Chandra: India’s Trailblazing Scribe

Vikram Chandra was born on this day in 1961. He studied in the US and today lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.

His first book Red Earth and Pouring Rain revolved around James Skinner, an Anglo-Indian soldier. This was the beginning of accolades. He won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. He was also recognized for his short story collection Love and Longing in Bombay. He always had his pulse on the plot and worked on film scripts in Bollywood too.

What Vikram Chandra is loved for is his voluminous work Sacred Games featuring the Mumbai underworld and peopled by characters like Sartaj Singh and his Ganesh Gaitonde who jump of the page. His magnum opus is about Mumbai and the layers of possibilities that it has laid on its characters. Sacred Games took Chandra eight years to write and it was later adapted as a popular web television series by Netflix. His non-fiction book Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty  was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

He’s also the founder of Granthika, a great author resource. Since Chandra faced many hurdles while trying to keep track of his characters and their complicated timelines in a setting like Mumbai, an almost living entity, he wanted to find an easier way to digitize narration and simplify the author’s work.

Happy b’day Vikram Chandra!

8 Cookbooks for Chefs and Hungry Readers Alike

Today being Personal Chef’s Day, we browsed through a couple of books that chefs would benefit greatly from. Some of the books on the list are from the Pothi.com Store too- we have a great many titles under the cooking category at the store.

When we interviewed Bridget White-Kumar, author of several cookbooks, we asked her about some pointers while writing a cookbook.

“Writing a recipe book isn’t easy,” she said. “A lot of hard work goes into it since one has to get the recipe right after many, many trials and errors. Once a recipe is written, it will be the guide to be followed by many. Only when one has mastered the dish, can a foolproof recipe be written.”

Cookbooks to Nibble on:

Mastering the Pakodas: The Snack for all Seasons by Sangeeta Khanna

Come monsoon and there is the desire to indulge in pakodas and adrak (ginger) chai. The author of Mastering the Pakodas is a botanist and microbiologist and a hardcore home-made food believer.

 

An Indian Sense of Salad by Tara Deshpande Tennebaum

Many of us see salads as a purely Western concept but the local produce in India offers a green mine when it comes to potential salad ingredients. Tennebaum deconstructs the Indian vegetable and adds a splash of additional nutrition to the Indian meal.

The Dal Cookbook by [Krishna Dutta]The Dal Cookbook by Krishna Dutta

Dal is the staple diet of most Indians. Krishna Dutta examines the different dishes where lentils can be used including khichari, dosas, vadas, pappadam.

 

 

660 curries by Raghavan Iyer660 Curries by [Raghavan Iyer]

This book is an exhaustive compendium of cooking styles from across India. Feast on curries, appetizers, traditional cuisines, biryanis, breads, blends, you name it.

 

Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation by [Madhur Jaffrey]Quick & Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey 

70 easy-to-prepare recipes by India’s favorite cook Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes are great for newbies too. Watch Madhur Jaffrey talk about Indian cuisine and the history of Indian cooking here.

 

Cookbooks at the Pothi.com store

Indian Grandmas' Secret RecipesIndian Grandmas’ Secret Recipes

25 vegetarian recipes by 16 cooks in the age range of 70-95. The recipes span different parts of India.

 

 

Amader Barir Khawa Dawa: Bengali Recipes From My Mother's KitchenAmader Barir Khawa Dawa: Bengali Recipes From My Mother’s Kitchen by Ratna Mukherjee

The author collects a 100 of her mother’s incredible recipes of traditional Bengali dishes- day-to-day fare and festive occasions.

 

ANGLO-INDIAN DELICACIESAnglo-Indian Delicacies by Bridget White-Kumar

An easy and unpretentious guide to delectable Anglo-Indian Cuisine. The author has won the ‘Best Culinary History Book’ awarded by Gourmand International Spain, World Cookbook awards, 2012.

 

Which cookbooks have you indulged in? Do mention in the comments.

Remembering Manohar Malgonkar, the Prolific Writer Everyone Forgot

One contemporary of the writer Mulk Raj Anand we know little about is a writer who was born on this day in a village in Karnataka – Manohar Malgonkar. He donned many roles-army officer rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, columnist, civil servant, game hunter, mine owner at Jagalbet and farmer.

His experience in various spheres reflected in his prolific output of short stories, essays and fiction and non-fiction novels and those who have read his work (few and far between) know that his stories focus on India during British colonization (The Princes, A Bend in the Ganges) and India post-independence (Distant Drum). His novel A Spy in Amber was adapted into the Hindi film Shalimar.

He lived in ‘Burbusa Bungalow’  in Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka and he passed away in 2010.

Visual Friday: Writers of India – Chitra Divakurani

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Visual Friday: Writers of India – Amitav Ghosh

 

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Visual Friday: Writers of India – Ruskin Bond

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Visual Friday: Writers of India – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

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Visual Friday: Writers of India – Anita Desai

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