Baaz, Anuja Chauhan

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.

1971. The USSR-backed India-Mukti Bahini alliance is on the brink of war against the America-aided Pakistani forces. As the Cold War threatens to turn red hot, handsome, laughing Ishaan Faujdaar, a farm boy from Chakkahera, Haryana, is elated to be in the IAF, flying the Gnat, a tiny fighter plane nicknamed Sabre Slayer for the devastation it has wrecked in the ranks of Pakistan s F-86 Sabre Squadrons.

Flanked by his buddies Raks, a MiG-21 Fighter, Maddy, a transport pilot who flies a Caribou, and fellow Gnatties Jana, Gana and Mana, Shaanu has nothing on his mind but glory and adventure until he encounters Tehmina Dadyseth, famed bathing beauty and sister of a dead fauji, who makes him question the very concept of nationalism and whose eyes fill with disillusioned scorn whenever people wax eloquent about patriotism and war…

Pulsating with love, laughter and courage, Baaz is Anuja Chauhan’s tribute to our men in uniform

The incident addressed in this book is the Indo – Pak War of 1971, a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war of East Pakistan, marking the formation of a new nation of Bangladesh.

When you read the synopsis, it sounds rather serious but let me assure you that Anuja Chauhan has taken up an incident of historical importance and presented it as an easy, simple and enjoyable read.

The story centers around the lives of three IAF officers. Ishaan Faujdaar (Shaanu), the protagonist, is a farm boy from Chakkahera, Haryana. He has always loved the adrenaline(dhookk-dhookk feeling). It all starts when he was young. One day his Nanaji recommends that the Air Force would be a great platform for him to channelize this dhookky feeling into something constructive. So joining IAF and serving the country was his childhood dream.

Shaanu and his two best friends, Rakesh Aggarwal(Raka) and Madan Subbiah (Maddy), share a very special bond. Their friendship is portrayed so beautifully. The way they care for each other and never give up is just amazing. The story has a kickass female character. Tehmina or Tell-me-na is a strong girl and she believes in pacifism. She has her own reasons for feeling that way. She doesn’t believe in war and wants to put an end to it. Their paths cross and of course, opposites attract. She opens his eyes to things that he wishes he could unsee and then things get a little complicated between them. They disagree on a lot on things but always find their way back to each other. The romance is in such a way that it doesn’t overpower the story.

The ‘mind-voice’ bits of Shaanu when he meets Tehmina and how he introduces himself, the way Sneha fights with his brother about a dance and almost every conversation that Shaanu, Raka and Maddy have; make you laugh out loud. I really enjoyed each and every character (Special mention – Juhi). The writing is so beautiful that you believe they are real. There’s a lot of drama and action towards the end but nothing overpowering.

Overall it was so much fun and a great tribute to our men in uniform. Thanks Anuja Chauhan for such an amazing and enjoyable read.

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