The Lit List: Books and Movies

Books and movies can transport you into a different world. Allow you to live different lives. While few would want you to escape into their world when you’re having a hard day, others could stimulate your mind and give you talking points to whip out at oh-so-boring parties. We’re a month into the New Year already, and 2018 promises to unleash a wave of pop culture upon the world. The year will see a slew of authors bringing out books, from political analyses to autobiographies. Followed by literary fiction, which will see some exciting releases, whether it’s Indian politician and author Shashi Tharoor’s next novel, Why I am a Hindu? or James Dashner’s science fiction The Death Cure. From disc overing a new Avengers movie and Rani Mukerji’s latest project to lots of lesser-known but perhaps even more exciting options. Take a deep breath: Below, You & I takes you through books and movies you should keep an eye — and ear — out for over the next 11 months. Read ahead as we’ll give you the lowdown on 2018 releases.    

It's Showtime

Few things bring moviegoers joy quite like spending a long evening in a movie theatre, devouring the latest blockbuster. Though the biggest question will always remain, “How exactly does one choose what to watch?” Well, that’s where You & I come in. Obviously, there will be certain films that will feel like a must-watch just because everyone is talking about them. However, if you want to be a more discerning cinephile, you can go through our cheat sheet. Here’s what we’re looking forward to in 2018.

Release date: March 2

Reason to be excited: A new film by Anushka Sharma is always an event, and this looks intriguing. Starring Parambrata Chatterjee and Rajat Kapoor, Pari is Sharma’s third production with Clean Slate Films, her production house. After playing a friendly ghost in Phillauri, the 29-year-old actress is going to portray an intense role of a blue-eyed girl in her latest venture. Plus, the gripping posters of the movie have given fans some serious haunting vibes. While in one, Anushka is seen lying on the floor with a bruise on her right foot, staring at the ceiling with her earphones on; the other is a powerful portrait of a de-glam Sharma. Set to release on March 2; expect good things from this supernatural thriller.

Release Date: February 23

Reason to be excited: This new film from Sidharth P. Malhotra is understood to portray a woman, who despite being challenged by Tourette’s Syndrome, turns her biggest weakness into her biggest strength. An adaptation of the 2008 film Front of the Class– which itself was based on the book by Brad Cohen, Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had –stars Rani Mukerji in the lead role.

The movie presents a positive and inspiring story of Naina Mathur, a talented teacher who even though is challenged with a speech defect defies all odds to become a gifted teacher. In the movie, Naina is given 14 economically underprivileged students in an elite school, whom the school was forced to enrol as part of Right to Education. From the trailers which look pretty funny and unique, Hichki presents the disorder sensitively but, more importantly, realistically.

Release date: April 27

Reason to be excited: Krish Jagarlamudi has been quiet since winning the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for period war drama, Kanche; so, it’s excellent news that the Indian filmmaker is back. This time, he’s gone for an epic biographical film that talks about the life of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, played by Kangana Ranaut, and her war against the British East India Company in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Produced by Zee Studios in association with Kamal Jain Co., the script is by Baahubali: The Beginning and Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s K. Vijayendra Prasad. The historical drama that is touted to be the actress’ most ambitious project, has been in the news for the battle scene pictures that have been making their way onto social networking sites. Possibly, it is time for Kangana to start practicing those Award speeches.

Release date: May 18

Reason to be excited: The Merc with a Mouth is back, and how! Based on the Marvel Comics anti-hero, The Untitled Deadpool Sequel, also referred to as Deadpool 2 is a sequel to the 2016 Deadpool and eleventh instalment in the X-Men film series. From what little footage that’s been released,  David Leitch’s movie looks hilarious.  The bizarre trailer shows Reynolds as Deadpool impersonating Bob Ross, recreating Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” with Cable (Josh Brolin,) and joking about loving cocaine. Our hopes are pretty high. Starring Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, and Stefan Kapičić, the project should only further cement Reynolds reputation as an actor with tremendous depth and variety. This Fantasy/Action thriller has added Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, and Jack Kesy. The more the merrier.

Release date: December 21

Reason to be excited: Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma must really make a great team! The pair’s at it again, starring in Anand L. Rai’s latest, Zero, along with Katrina Kaif. The film garnered a great deal of interest even before the title was announced because SRK was rumoured to play a dwarf in it. Now that the trailer and posters have been released, it appears that the rumours are true. The romantic drama focuses on SRK who falls in love with an alcoholic superstar played by Kaif, while Anushka portrays a character with an intellectual disability.

Like King Khan’s other movies, this too will have cameos by a string of actresses such as Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Deepika Padukone, and a special number with Salman Khan. Written by Himanshu Sharma, the film was conceived by Rai in 2012, announced in 2016, and produced along with Red Chillies Entertainment’s Gauri Khan. Whether it’s a hit or a bomb, Zero stands out as one of the more interesting gambles of the year.

Release date: June 15

Reason to be excited: You’re ready for another, right? 14 years after the original film, Incredibles 2 is on its way. Arguably, one of the most anticipated animated movies in a long time, Brad Bird’s movie reveals that the youngest member of the superhuman family, Jack-Jack Parr, has truckloads of power, which includes shooting lasers out of his eyes, fire-making, shape-shifting, and phasing powers.
Taking place immediately after the first film, the official synopsis reveals how the Parr family struggles to maintain normal lives. While Bob Parr, also known as Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), remains at home facing his greatest challenge yet – watching their children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and dealing with Jack-Jack’s still-emerging powers. His wife, Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), also known as Elastigirl, is the star of this new story. Fighting crime and springing into action to save the day, Helen is called to change the public perception of the Incredibles. Meanwhile, they also, along with Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), will have to battle a new villain and his brilliant and dangerous plot that only the Incredibles can overcome together.

Release Date: May 4

Reason to be excited: Ever since The Avengers in 2012, Marvel pulled off something never before attempted in cinema: it seamlessly and successfully wove together the narrative strands of multiple superhero sub-franchises in a single frame. The trailer of the third instalment, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, gives us our first look at the extended Avengers team.

The trailer gives us a look at Captain America (Chris Evans) sporting a beard. You can also see Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is getting that tingling Spidey-sense. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is now sporting a new blond haircut. Thor’s nemesis Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is holding the Tesseract. There’s an all-out assault on Black Panther’s (Chadwick Boseman) Kingdom of Wakanda. Plus, there’s the Guardians of the Galaxy along with Thor (Chris Hemsworth); and Teenage Groot. We need Teenage Groot.

Release date: December 25

Reason to be excited: From Chicago, and Memoirs of a Geisha to Nine, Into the Woods, director Rob Marshall has consistently delivered movies that are just a `great time’.  The trailer of the musical sequel – which takes place 25 years after the events of the original Mary Poppins movie – shows magical nanny Poppins (Emily Blunt) having fun while on a joyride with Georgie (Joel Dawson).
Set in 1930s London, Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) are now grown-up, with Michael still living in the house on Cherry Tree Lane. He lives there with his three children, Annabel, John, and Georgie, and the housekeeper named Ellen. After Michael and Jane suffer a personal loss and need the help of their former nanny, Mary Poppins joins forces with street lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda,) and eccentric cousin Topsy Poppins, played by Meryl Streep. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love the songs and everything about it!

Release date: November 16

Reason to be excited: David Yates reunites with his stars, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Katherine Waterston as Porpentina Goldstein, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski and Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, in the extension of the Harry Potter universe. Like its prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald follows the adventures of magizoologist, Newt Scamander. In a perfect bit of casting, with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Vinda Rosier, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, and Ezra Miller, the movie is destined to be a blockbuster hit!

The new tale will continue in London and Paris, soon after the powerful dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) at the end of the first film. Once Grindelwald escapes from the prison and sets about gathering followers, he starts raising pure-blood wizards to rule over the non-magical world. In an effort to thwart this plan, the young Professor Albus Dumbledore (Law) recruits his former student, Scamander.

Books to watch out for in 2018

Years will come and years will go but avid readers will always have their cups full!

In a world that is plagued with chronic divisions in the strata of societies, and farcical politics that get filtered through fake news reporting, a selection of books in both non-fiction and fiction category might just be the shot in the arm for deep thinking and conscientious readers. This combination will help them understand their contemporary reality in a better way. Reading breathes life into concepts that are intangible. Readers manage to get a deeper insight into the authors’ views and they can journey through a track with combination of events and facts that help in enhancing their own knowledge. It is exciting for readers to discover new writers along their reading path and to soak in their unique perspectives.

This week, You & I gives you a glimpse of those books that you can watch out for this year between your cooking and shopping schedules and even between your kitty parties and socialising programs. Happy reading!

No One Ever Taught Me How to Learn:
How to Unlock Your Learning Potential and Become
Unstoppable - I.C. Robledo
[Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited]

This book will turn you from being a poor learner to becoming a professional learner without being affected by the prevailing myths. There has always been a way that existed for you to enhance your ability to learn so that you are able to move towards your goals at a faster pace. Think about what may happen if you didn’t have to struggle that much to get the desired results in your life. I.C. Robledo, an internationally bestselling writer, has collected valuable information from a vast range of sources to bring to you what you have to know about the art of learning. After reading this book, you will realise that learning is one skill that you can certainly improve on. When you master such a skill, it will help you make rapid progress in key disciplines in your life.

In this book, you will come across effective learning techniques that are used by many students. You will realise that you cannot underestimate slow learners because there are times that they will surpass the expectations of many. People also tend to ignore the fact that they can learn a lot from the curiosity and fun that children bring to the art of learning. Go ahead! Grab the book from the stands and take advantage of the techniques it brings to you to master the art of learning!

Fire and Fury:
Inside the Trump White House
Michael Wolff [Henry Holt and Co.]

The book covers the initial nine months of Trump’s term in the White House. This period was a stormy and an outrageous one for the President. Readers are likely to be mesmerised by this account. Michael Wolff has told a story with a rivetting narrative, thanks to his smart access to the West Wing of the White House. This account reveals how Donald Trump launched his tenure as a fiery and a volatile President. It is slated to be a political bomb and many readers expect it to be explosive, with a wealth of some stunning details about the chaos which prevailed in the Oval Office. Among several revelations, readers will be treated here to what the White House staff really think of Donald Trump and what actually inspired him to feel that he was wire-tapped by the former President, Obama. You will also learn about why James Comey, the FBI Director, was fired and why Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon couldn’t be in the same room, together. The book goes on to talk about who is really behind the strategies in the Trump Administration in the wake of Bannon getting fired. A Presidency has never divided the American people like this, before. This book by Wolff reports lucidly on why Trump has become an icon of disunion and discord within the United States of America.


Why I am a Hindu?
Shashi Tharoor [Aleph Book Company]

This is a personal account from one of India’s finest writers and public intellectuals. It will open up the readers to a profound understanding of one the world’s oldest religions—Hinduism. Tharoor has started the book with a close scrutiny of his own beliefs about Hinduism. He has ranged far and wide in his study of this religion and has spoken about great personalities such as Patanjali, Adi Shankara, Swami Vivekananda, Ramanuja, and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

The book examines important Hindu schools of thought, deeply. Examples of such schools of thought are Advaita Vedanta and Bhakti. It goes on to summarise, in a masterful way, the lessons derived from Bhagavad Gita and from writings of Swami Vivekananda. Tharoor has sympathetically explored `Hinduism of habit’ as practiced by ordinary and fanatical believers. He is unsparing when he criticises all radical and extreme followers and points out that they are not part of what makes India a unique and a great cultural nation. He feels that the country is exposed to high risk if religious fundamentalists are given an upper hand by the government. This work is likely to cause quite a stir among the readers and could be one of the potential political bombs of this year!

Rose McGowan [Harper One]

This book is a revealing memoir from an actress. It is a voice for the current generation of Hollywood dreamers. “My life, as you will read, has taken me from one cult to another. Brave is the story of how I fought my way out of these cults and reclaimed my life. I want to help you do the same,” said Rose McGowan. She was born in one cult and came of age in another, a more visible cult in the form of Hollywood. As an actress, she grew up in a bizarre world where she was always meant to be on display. Stardom turned into a personal nightmare of sexualisation and constant exposure for her. Each little detail of her private life became public, and the truths of a sexist industry came to the fore with every script she got. The Hollywood marketing machine sold her as a package and presented her as a sexualised bombshell. Her image was hijacked and her identity was marketed for the sake of profit. She had to escape into the inner world of her own mind and went on to create some high profile relationships. The big shots from Hollywood expected her to remain silent and wanted her to cooperate by staying her path, but fortunately she came out of her shackles and rebelled, asserting her voice and her true identity. She has re-emerged courageous, unscripted, angry but victorious.

The Death Cure
James Dashner {Book Three from the
Maze Runner Series} [Delacorte Press]

This is a much-awaited release from the bestselling Maze Runner series. The book will also be turned into a motion picture later this year. The plot is a riveting one. For those familiar with the previous two Maze Runner editions, the Wicked Organisation has snatched everything from Thomas – his life, his memories and even his friend. It is finally over…the trials have been completed after a long and final test. What people at Wicked are not aware of is that Thomas remembers far more than they assume. It is sufficient to prove that he cannot believe a single word of what they tell him.

Thomas beat the maze and he survived the scorch; now, he will risk anything in order to save his remaining friends. The truth might be what will end it all. The time for telling lies and listening to them is now over. Earlier books by Dashner, The Maze Runner and the Scorch Trials were also turned into are # 1 blockbuster movies, worldwide and they feature Dylan O’Brien, the star of MTV’s `Teen Wolf’.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Sara Barnard [Simon Pulse]
This narrative is about a 16-year-old girl, Steffi, who is selectively mute; she finds it next to impossible when she has to speak in public. She is diagnosed with a range of communication and anxiety disorders. She has only one childhood friend, Tem, who has to leave her when she switches schools. Steffi is a determined girl and she goes through cognitive behavioural therapy along with oral medication. She wants to speak in front of a large gathering in her school before the year is out. One of her teachers at school introduces her to a new boy, Rhys. He is deaf and can only speak through British Sign Language. Their friendship develops into a good bond and the novel is successful in its romantic coming-of-age expression; it covers perception of disability, family support, and perspectives on disability among a racially diverse community.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober:
Discovering Happy, Healthy, Wealthy Alcohol-Free Life [Aster]

Catherine Gray was a victim of socialised alcoholism and a resultant hellish whirlpool. She made some horrible decisions in her life and many of her days ended in hangovers. She also had her fair share of `drunken tank’ prison cells and misadventures of a topless-in-a-hot-tub kind. This book takes you beyond those blackouts and binges and makes you plunge into an uncharted territory.
The book covers the big question of what happens after you decide to quit drinking. This is a witty and a gripping account that takes you into a rabbit hole of an alternative reality. It makes you realise that life is so pleasant with no hangovers and takes you on a journey that involves sober weddings, Christmas celebrations, sex, and breakups. Catherine Gray throws light on the drink-pushing tendencies in today’s modern societies and she talks to top psychologists and neuroscientists about why people like to indulge in drinking bouts. The book delves into the science behind what alcoholism does to the brain and the body. This is much more than just a narrative from the netherworld of drinking and addiction; it is more an exploration of escape from that addiction and why a sober life can be more intoxicating that people ever imagined.

The Child
Fiona Barton [Berkley]

This narrative is told from the perspective of four separate women. It is a thriller with a mysterious story woven within it about suffering of loss. Journalist Kate Waters is waiting for the right subject to come by for her next story when the remains of a baby are found on a deserted construction site. She starts investigating and learns about the mysterious disappearance of a baby from a maternity ward in 1970. This case moves well beyond her coverage and she has to explore questions about a family that has been grieving for their loss for over four decades.

This is an intriguing tale by Fiona Barton and it makes the readers revisit that protagonist from her earlier bestseller, The Widow. This book is one of the most highly awaited thrillers of this year. It is going to be an ideal blend of a book club and a beach read selection. This is a page-turning whodunit and the novel is fast-paced while being thought provoking. It will keep the readers guessing, right to its end. As you embrace the New Year, this lot of exciting books is waiting for you to pick them up. They are sure to get you sufficiently pumped up for reading!