Originally published: April 2017
Author: Anuja Chauhan
Publication: Harper Collins
No. of Pages: 432
‘Why do they call you Baaz?’ ‘It means falcon,’ he replies solemnly. ‘Or bird of prey. Because I swoop down on the enemy planes just like a Baaz would.’ Then he grins. The grey eyes sparkle. ‘It’s also short for bastard.’
This year I discovered Anuja Chauhan who has many best-selling books to her credit. She has a distinct writing style, quite different from the current crop of Indian writers. After reading ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ and ‘The House that BJ Built’, I have decided to read all the books by Anuja Chauhan. Yes, she is witty, she is entertaining and she has a brilliant way of telling stories.
All her books have a female protagonist except ‘Baaz’. Baaz is the nickname given to the handsome air force officer with steel grey eyes, fearless attitude and insufferable cockiness, Ishaan Faujdaar a.k.a Shaanu. A village boy from Chakkahera, Ishaan realizes his childhood dream of joining the IAF and during the training, meets his best friends for life- Maddy and Raka. After the training, he is assigned to fly the Gnat and is considered undoubtedly the best. With his fellow Gnatties Jana, Gana and Mana, they make an incredible team. Raka, a MiG-21 Fighter and Maddy, a transport pilot who flies a Caribou are with him through thick and thin. Adrenal loving Ishaan thinks of nothing but glory and adventure till he meets the budding photojournalist Tehmina Dadyseth a.k.a Tinka, the feisty daughter of a retd. General, sister of a dead armyman and the famed bathing beauty who has caught the fancy of the nation with her steaming freesia ad. Amidst the impending war between the USSR-backed India-Mukti Bahini alliance and the America-aided Pakistani forces, the love story blossoms. Tinka is disillusioned with war and believes that people matter more than borders and, thus challenging Ishaan’s notions of patriotism. Soon the war breaks out complicating the things further.
The book seems like a blockbuster movie- jaw dropping war sequences, witty one liners, star-crossed lovers and unexpected twists in the plot. Ishaan is an endearing protagonist and you can’t help falling in love with him. Tinka as his romantic interest perfectly fits the bill. Aunt Kung Fui is one hilarious character who adds up to the humour quotient of the book. Maddy, Raka and Juhi reminds one of the beautiful times spent with a loving friend. The 1971 war and its ramifications on the civilians are well-depicted.
One would have expected a book based on war to be serious and grim but Anuja Chauhan has weaved her magic in spinning a delightful read. And she manages to retain the seriousness of war and the charm of IAF intact. The book falters a bit after Ishaan’s plane crashes in Dhaka and I felt that the story turns unbelievably dramatic after that. In fact, it was so filmy and illogical that it made me cringe. I honestly wish that the story should have ended there and then!
Anuja has a unique writing style. She liberally uses Hinglish and the usages of desi words add to the charm of her story telling as it creates an authentic Indian atmosphere. The book is fast-paced with adorable characters and a gripping plot. Pulsating with love, action, emotions, courage and romance, Anuja Chauhan has penned a beautiful tribute to our men in uniform. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a delightful read or is fond of reading chick lit.
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