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REVIEW

Books

The mean, tough war machine and its complex course

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Their entire story, which dates from much before they first trundled on to the battlefield in World War I -- as this book shows -- hinges on the development and interplay of these attributes: Mobility, protection, firepower and communication.

Non-cooperation, revenge and WMDs in 1920s Calcutta

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Captain Sam Wyndham of the city CID finds himself tasked with dealing with all three matters in the third installment of Abir Mukherjee's thrilling and well-researched historical crime series.

Monkey business and more: Proving intelligence in animals

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Beginning with his own experiences of watching a female chimpanzee transport her bedding outside and an other one taught to raise an orphan - a time-consuming affair - say goodbye to the others before heading for her "duty", he however notes that there are still those who would question the mental capability of animals, despite the experiences and experiments of scientists studying the matter.

AI, analytics not the fiefdom of a few businesses

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On the face of it, only a few tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon seem to be ready to maximise the adoption of analytics and AI and reap their benefits.

Feynman: A practical joking physicist, a paradigm of science

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While his scientific contribution may be too complex for many of us, it explains why he is considered one of the 20th century's top three theoretical physicists along with Albert Einstein and the recently-deceased Stephen Hawking, so let us focus on Feynman the person and the teacher to understand his real relevance.

The ignored, inconvenient truth about the Islamic State

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It is accounts of interactions with some of these people -- spread over Egypt, Japan, Australia, the Philippines' Mindanao, Britain, the US, including in Dallas (a short distance from the author's own childhood home), and spanning an Egyptian tailor, who once worked in New York and stitched a suit for Paul Newman, an Italian-origin Australian who is now the top Islamist firebrand Down Under, a mild Japanese academician, a British IS apologist -- though with no intention of travelling to its territory, among others, he uses in his bid to explain the IS phenomenon.

'Return to Jammu' : A coming of age novel with autobiographical interludes

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"Return to Jammu" is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story

Fascism: Recognising the beast and what it feeds on

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Fascism existed even in the traditional homelands of democracy, where it still could come out most unexpectedly -- as the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump shows, contends former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in this book.

A murder most foul in the Delhi Durbar - but royal too?

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With the British monarch arriving the day after the next, the authorities have limited time to find solve the crime, and more importantly, ascertain if it portends any threat to his life. Involving police seems the obvious step, but in light of the simmering discontent and fear of the incident leaking and casting a scandalous shadow over the grand event, they take a gamble.

Truth, torture, Trump and more: James Comey's eventful career

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This is Comey's memoir with the parts on Clinton and Trump the highlights, but the good lawyer he is, he builds up to them, showing why he acted the way he did by detailing his formative influences and his career.

Movies

'Soorma': Unassumingly inspiring, heart-warming

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Narrated from Harpreet Kaur's point of view, the film captures Sandeep's early life in Shahabad, Haryana, where every young person's goal in life is to play hockey for "India." Not sure about the patriotic aspect, but surely for the fringe benefits of a secure job and a bright future that come along with the selection.

'Sanju': A heart-warming tale, brilliantly portrayed

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It is no denying that Raj Kumar Hirani is an auteur with a flair for storytelling, He effectively manages to keep the audience engrossed with the simple narrative, which is a journey of emotional upheavals, shocking revelations and tender moments.

'Incredibles 2': Incredibly warm, endearing experience

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The plot, for those who came in late, has to do with a family with super powers in a country that has banned superheroes for political reasons. Bob Parr and Helen Parr (voiced fabulously by Craig T Nelson and Holly Hunter), the couple with superhero powers are asked to lie low in their illegal status. But you really can't keep a family of infinite do-gooders down.

'Veere Di Wedding' sparkles with The Mojo Of Muliebrity

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"Veere Di Wedding" makes us forgive the failures. These are people who don't seem to take themselves seriously. There is laughter and sunshine, and who are we to complain about the constant noise of partying floating in from their plush homes?

'Khajoor Pe Atke': Hits the right notes but lacks big screen lustre

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The film opens in Lucknow with Jeetendra Sharma (Manoj Pahwa) receiving a call from his nephew Alok (Vicky Arora) informing him that his dad, Jeetendra's older brother Devender's condition has deteriorated and he is now is in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital, in Mumbai.

'Raazi': Alia Bhatt thrills with her performance

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Set in the early 1970s just before the India-Pakistan war and inspired from real events, "Raazi" is the tale of a Kashmiri girl, Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhatt) whose life changes after she gets to know her dying father's last wish. As a dutiful daughter, she can do little but surrender to his passion and patriotism and follow the path he has so planned for her.

'102 Not Out': A heart-warming celebration of life

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Slowly and delicately drawing attention and care from the audience, "102 Not Out", comes to us as a simple story about one family matter. Never disrupting its slow, but steady pace throughout its 102 minutes of run time, it gives us a real slice of life through its intimate human drama filled with over-the-top characters. And, there are many scenes deeply resonating with empathy and understanding behind its composed but caring attitude.

'Nanu Ki Jaanu': An amusing redemption tale

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The film's director, Faraz Haider, understands that real laughter grows from characters and he establishes them with comical demeanour and enriches them with funny lines. He has a rich start with Nanu and his click of goons, prominent among them are Dabbu (Manu Rishi Chaddha) and Promilla (Reshma Khan), they are established as characters with funny traits. But what keeps the plot engrossing is the slapstick and situational comedy and comedy derived from stereotypes. The paranormal activities add to the light vein of the narration.

'Beyond the Clouds': Visually appealing but lacks soul

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Full of emotional turmoil, these moments are not a "surprise" in the sense of a plot twist, but a different perspective. It's the kind of shift you find in the sudden insight of life. It's about how you look at someone and realise that you have never really known them.

'Hichki': An emotionally inspiring film

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The film reveals how as a student she was expelled from twelve schools before finally being accepted whole heartedly at St. Notker's High School. The same school later accepts her as a teacher, mid-term, not because of her brilliant academic credentials but because of a crisis situation. She is hired to teach a class of underprivileged, reluctant misfits. How she wins everyone's hearts, forms the crux of the tale.

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