A Handful of Stories

Reportage on health, science and politics. And some meditations on film

Tag: Anushka Sharma

The Courtesan, the Sportsperson and the Desires of the Nation

The courtesan, a long-time fascination of Hindi cinema, is being replaced by the sportsperson. Corporeal labour and the art of sports is the kind of performance that the politics of post-2000 India celebrates. The courtesan represents women in pre-modern India, the sportsperson represents the ideal citizen of contemporary India. In particular, the sportswoman In the book Dancing with the Nation,…

The Class of Kaira, Shyra and Shanaya in Bollywood

Kaira, Shyra, Akira, Kia, Tia, Sia. Shanaya. These are Bollywood’s cool new names, broadly classified into the “ya” or “ra” nomenclature. The Poojas, Nishas, Anjalis and Nehas of the 1990s are déclassé. These new names carry an unmistakable aspiration to be global.They are unrooted to place, community or any kind of identity except class. They are almost never longer than three syllables and easy to pronounce. They float on coolness and lightness. An ex-colleague memorably christened them “First-World Yoga Names—FWYN”.

Sari and I

The sari in the urban office space is a message: see, I can handle this extravagant, ancient garment without zippers and stitches and convenient buttons. I can wrap it round and tuck it in strategic places without looking absurd. I can walk around, climb up stairs, carrying yards and yards of excess fabric on my person, without tripping. I can…