The Indo-Pak war of 1971 with the liberation war in East Pakistan and the fall of Dacca serves as the very important backdrop for the dalliance between Ishaan Faujdar and Tehmina Dedyseth in the 2017 HarperCollins published ‘Baaz’ by Anuja Chauhan.
Ishaan with his catchy ‘kota chock’ gets into the IAF so as to give the ‘dhookh dhookh’ of his heart a new altitude.
Our Baaz with his never faltering self confidence and the best flying skills gets to fly the second best gnats because he had helped the then stranger daughter of an ex fauji, Tehmina ‘Tell-me-na’ Dedyseth to elope.
After the initial introductions, where the author effortlessly portraits the characters into reality and the reader settles in, the war breaks. Thereafter the story flies swiftly as it becomes hard to control the anticipation.
In between modelling in a bikini and becoming a war photographer, Tehmina aka Tinka becomes Shaan’s ‘one and only’.
As Ishaan gets more and more involved in the war with his best mates Maddy lost and Raka fighting death in the hospital, Tinka instills in him the idea of humanity over war.
Peeks into the government of both countries and the involvement of the Mukti bahini makes the story all the more exciting, while making these participations utterly necessary.
The book talks vividly about some very strong female characters involved both directly and indirectly in the war.
Chauhan promises entertainment in every line of ‘Baaz’ with the use of Indianized English to make it all the more relatable. Apart from the extremely realistic main characters, other important characters of Harry Rose, Macho da, Nikka Khan, Jana-Gana-Mana have also been portrayed with paramount detailing.
This extravaganza doesn’t forget family drama as it concerns the grumpy Chimman and a whole gang of stepsisters; the story of the death of a very loving brother, an understanding yet overprotective Kainaz Dedyseth, the least understanding father; and the shatterproof friendship between Maddy, Raka, Baaz and Juhi.
Chauhan’s thorough knowledge of the IAF also helps the reader know some actual fascinating facts about the Indian Air Force- from the kind of fighter jets and transport planes to the kinds of bombs used; and what real destruction was caused during the liberation war of East Pakistan; from the camps of Kaliaganga to the secret quarters in Dacca.
All in all ‘Baaz’ pretty much establishes the fact why Chauhan is considered one of the most entertaining Indian contemporary writers. It won’t come as a surprise if the book is made into a movie as it constantly keeps on playing like a film inside the mind of the reader all the whole time- from the improvised ‘Baaz ke maaphik’ loops in the sky to a helicopter poking inside a hotel. To sum it up, the story is no less flamboyant than Ishaan Faujdar, the story’s Baaz in his IAF overalls.