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Paperback Pickings

Lights,media, action

THE SHEENA BORA CASE (Roli, Rs 395) by Manish Pachouly offers a gripping account of one of the most sensational crimes in recent history - the Sheena Bora murder case. In August 2015, the country went into a tizzy upon learning that a mother - a media tycoon and socialite at that - had killed the daughter from her first marriage with the help of her second husband and her driver and had managed to keep the deed under wraps for three years. The book is meticulous in its detailing: it goes to great lengths to untangle the convoluted chronology of events leading to Bora's murder and what followed after. Pachouly also reveals several lesser-known facts - Mikhail Bora's close escape from a fate similar to that of his sister being one such. Surprisingly, the confession of the driver, Rai - it is of critical importance to the case - has not been fleshed out adequately. On the whole, the book provides a roadmap to understand a case that continues to be mired in controversy.

DANCING WITH THE NATION: COURTESANS IN BOMBAY CINEMA (Speaking Tiger, Rs 450) by Ruth Vanita discusses how Bombay cinema - as opposed to Bollywood - has portrayed the character of the 'courtesan'; a term that Vanita uses to refer to all women who earned their livelihood by singing and dancing, challenging conventional family arrangements in the process. Drawing her 'sample' from a wide variety of films, Vanita examines the tradition of equating the courtesan with the sex-worker, a common practice in the Hindi film industry. She reveals that such an idea emerged only after the tumult of 1857. The author also brings out the linkages among the ideas of nationalism, family, religion and the courtesan. Well-researched and observant, the book is important for its contribution to the study of popular culture.

VIDEOCRACY: HOW YOUTUBE IS CHANGING THE WORLD... WITH DOUBLE RAINBOWS, SINGING FOXES, AND OTHER TRENDS WE CAN'T STOP WATCHING (Bloomsbury, Rs 499) by Kevin Allocca explores the influence that YouTube - the largest video-sharing site - exerts on global cultural patterns today. Allocca, the company's head of culture and trends, takes the readers on a tour of how some videos - Gangnam Style by PSY is a case in point - became the rage that they are today. He also looks at the power that videos harness: political leaders are often their targets. Allocca's wit coupled with his fluid prose throws up interesting facets about YouTube, which is central to modern life and culture.

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