“It’s becoming clear that the Sabres are in a loose circuit pattern, taking turns to strafe the troops below. They are slipping in and out of sight, between small patches of cloud, even as the diminutive Gnats dart above, pursuing gun-firing positions in the rear quadrants of the Sabres.”
Probably one of Anuja Chauhan’s most well informed and well researched works, BAAZ features stories which may be similar to the ones that actually happened in the 1971 liberation war to which most of the generation today is seemingly unaware of.
Flying officer Ishaan Faujdar nicknamed Baaz (because he would scoop on the enemies ‘Baaz-ke-maphik’) is the uniformed hero in the IAF, any woman would dream of. A photographer and Miranda House Alumni, Tehmina Dadyseth is the Nation’s crush after her Freesia soap ad went viral.
The story of Baaz is what hundreds of other books and films depend upon; a handsome hero, a clumsy heroine and a love story set in tragic times. The plot is set so well versed in our minds in the beginning itself that by the time it reaches its ‘second half’ in Dhaka the book loses steam. It increasingly becomes unrelatable and the reader is detached from the plot.
The only thing which saves Chauhan is her writing; her occasional usage of ‘Hinglish’ and strong female characters. The opinions of both the protagonists, though contrary to each other, can be deemed as correct and rightly in their own different ways. Tehmina, a pacifist believes in ditching war for a peaceful agreement while Shaanu the typical disciplined military man is ready to die for the country or whatever his seniors tell him to do.
With all the debate around hyper-nationalism and war in current times, Baaz is a must read to understand life in the army in a light and fun manner. By this rib crackling funny, mushy romantic and utterly captivating book, Anuja Chauhan has (spoiler alert but in popular opinion: sans the ending) has stolen the show.
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