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The invitation card to the Penguin Annual Lecture by Amit­abh Bachchan came with a separate terms and conditions sheet, with 26 points...

Points To B With

The Penguin Annual Lecture by Amit­abh Bachchan in Delhi’s Thiagaraja stadium was a big hit, but only the few with nerves of steel even made an atte­mpt to attend it. The invitation card came with a separate terms and conditions sheet, which had 26 points. Point number four said in big, bold letters: ‘Parking will not be available at/or around the venue’. Sea­ting began at 6.30 pm for a lecture starting at 8. There was another curious condition, saying you shouldn’t mind if you were shown on TV as part of the audience. But the brave who fulfilled the terms were treated to an eloquent speech by the inimitable Big B, where he spoke about gender bias, infanticide, and quoted from his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s works.

Loving Beauty

Vinod Mehta’s biography of Meena Kumari has gone into reprint within two months of publication. HarperCollins is ple­asantly surprised that a film book, that too a reissue (first published in 1972), has found readers in the Twitter age. This time around, Mehta doesn’t have to worry his book will ever be out of bookstores—there wasn’t a single copy of the original available when the publishers showed interest in reissuing it.

Up Against Vanity

Manu Joseph, whose Serious Men won the Hindu Prize last year, is in this year’s shortlist too, with The Illicit Happiness of Other People. But he has tough competition. There is Outlook contributor Manjul Bajaj’s Another Man’s Wife and Other Stories, Sonora Jha’s Foreign, Aman­deep Sandhu’s Roll of Honour and Anees Salim’s Vanity Bagh. The winner of the Rs 5 lakh prize will be announced at the Hindu Lit for Life festival in Chennai in mid-January.

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