Review: BAAZ

An unputdownable, heroic and extremely well-researched story.

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Author: Anuja Chauhan

Publisher: Harper Collins India

Pages: 424

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

Anuja Chauhan is back with her latest novel, ‘Baaz’, that delivers more than it promises. Known for her highly relatable, swoon worthy and unconventional characters, Chauhan, has once again proved her worth as a writer who knows her craft. Set in the backdrop of the Bangladeshi War of 1971, BAAZ, is a story of Ishaan ‘Faujdaar’ from a village called Chakkahera, Haryana who is known as the top lad of IAF, flying the Gnat, a tiny fighter plane known to make heads turn and create havoc for the enemies.

Meet, Tehmina Dadyseth. A studentof Miranda House, Delhi, often misunderstood as an anti-national. She’s a pacifist. She believes in peace. Losing her brother Jimmy has been hard on her and her father more than makes up for her misery. When forced to marry, she runs. A fiesty, ambitious and a kind-hearted soul, Tehmina also known as Tinka, resorts to creating her own life by becoming a photo-journalist in the midst of war.

The story starts slowly, unfolding details that are meant to be absorbed till it reaches the mercury level and BAM. It’s fast paced, full of humour & fun smartly touching on several issues such as nationalism, social prejudices, refugees and the status of women in post-independent India. Add some fighter planes with goodlooking men clad in handsome uniforms; BAAZ makes for an exciting read.

Since Anuja Chauhan is an Army Brat herself having spent a considerable amount of time in cantonments, she described the life of the Army forces efficiently, where sorties take place in the blink of an eye, where manouevering a flying jet required more than learning lessons in class and where courage tops all the requirements. It is a well-researched book giving insight about our men in the Air Force.

Apart from the two main characters, Chauhan’s book, entails other deeply narrated characters who form a soft spot for every reader. Here, Raka and Maddy, Ishaan’s constant support from Air Force Flying College, Jodhpur, share a camaraderi that makes the novel what it is. Be it their endless bickering to offering support for each other’s love interests to being ready to lay down their lives, these three show their skills not just up in the air but prove their mettle when required to.

The themes of distraught parental relationship along with close sibling bond has been a central focus in BAAZ. If Ishaan struggles to impress his step-father, an orthodox, Haryanvi man, who considers his step-son nothing but a nuisance then Tehmina has to face her father who imposes his opinions on her. While Ishaan finds a home in Raka & Maddy, Tehmina confies in her aunt, Kung Fui.

The question therefore lingers; Do Ishaan & Tehmina find solace in each other? Will a patriot who would do anything for his country even if that means killing thousands be able to give his heart to a woman who is a pacifist, who believes fighting & killing is nothing but animal behaviour? The chemistry between our hero & heroine is nothing short of sizzling. It has an element of drama, laughter and romance that’s anything but cheesy.

From breath-taking air stunts to dropping missiles on enemy lines to falling hopelessly in love, Baaz is an engaging-page turner, that is hard to put down. Once you start reading, you’re going to dive ekdum BAAZ-maaphik, to find out what happens.