Saturday, Oct 01, 2022
Outlook.com
Review

Downside Up!

Like the best of authors, Kesavan peels the layers of our tired old world and reinvents it afresh

Downside Up!
Downside Up!
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Kesavan is a historian, cricket-lover, cineaste and political thinker who writes with lively enthusiasm regardless of subject, from buffalo carcasses to veiled women, from Hindutva and hedgehogs to ugly film heroes and amorous wallabies. What distinguishes this collection of essays (and a handful of poems) from the typical compendium of tedious also-rans is that even the lightest of them includes a roguish edge of politics. Kesavan belongs to that smallest of minorities, an Indian who still believes in the "India" of the heady post-Independence era. Whatever he writes about carries within it the germ of his political beliefs which include, of course, the notion that it is right and proper for writers to express their opinions vigorously and fearlessly; that this has not yet ceased to be a nation where it is possible to do so without being fearful about the consequences. He believes in justice and the importance of being able to debate the most serious and provocative issues in the open. And he allows us to believe that it is not yet passe to hope that there are enough others who agree with him to make it worthwhile to keep the lines of communication open.

The essays in this book have been published elsewhere either as articles in magazines and newspapers or in other collections. The material is organised under headings—Looking, Reading, Travelling and Politics—but in one sense they are all about the same thing: being sentient. Whether he is enjoying the pleasures of a traditional Turkish hamam in Istanbul or watching a cricket match or marvelling at Australia’s Ayer’s Rock—Uluru, as it is known by native Australians—the little red "record" button on Kesavan’s personal input device is always assaying, comparing, savouring, analysing and providing spot information.

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