Book Review: ‘The Tatas, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas’ by Coomi Kapoor

Unveiling Parsi Heritage: Stories of Resilience, Triumphs, and Diversity


Book Title: The Tatas, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas
Author: Coomi Kapoor
Publisher: Penguin
Number of Pages: 401
ISBN: 978-0143459811
Date Published: Apr. 24, 2023
Price: INR 368

The Tatas, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas by Coomi Kapoor Book Cover

Book Review

The Tatas, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas” is a book that explores the history of the Parsi community, written by senior journalist and columnist Coomi Kapoor, who is herself a Parsi. The book covers a detailed history of the community, its origins, and its progress over the past few centuries.

One of the most striking things about the Parsis is their business success. The Tata Group, founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, is one of the largest conglomerates in India. Other Parsi-owned businesses include Godrej, Wadia, and Forbes Marshall. The Parsis are also well-represented in the professions, with many Parsis becoming doctors, lawyers, and engineers. In addition to their business acumen, the Parsis are known for their contributions to the arts and sciences. Homi Bhabha was a Parsi, the father of India’s nuclear program. So was Farrokh Bulsara, better known as Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen. Other Parsis who have made a mark on the world include Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian elected to the British Parliament; Dinshaw Petit, a leading industrialist and philanthropist; and Zubin Mehta, the world-renowned conductor.

This book stands as a testament to meticulous research. Kapoor diligently explores the depths of the Parsi community, unraveling its origins, the journey of migration to India, and the significant contributions made by Parsis across various fields. The extensive research is evident throughout the narrative.

Within these pages lies a captivating narrative that effortlessly ensnares readers, rendering the book an enchanting and approachable reading experience. Incorporating enthralling anecdotes and tales showcasing Parsi figures from various domains—from arts, sciences, and business to politics—ensures an immersive engagement. Kapoor’s writing exudes vibrancy and charisma, effectively breathing life into the Parsis while adeptly balancing the book’s positive and negative facets.

Kapoor deftly confronts the Parsis’ triumphs and tribulations, fearlessly addressing instances of discrimination and persecution that have marred their history. Amidst these shadowed chapters, she skillfully highlights the community’s unwavering resilience and indomitable spirit. By interweaving personal accounts of individual Parsis with the broader historical context, Kapoor elevates the book’s allure and relatability. Her laudable approach to navigating complex themes, including the Parsis’ adversities, contributes to a more comprehensive and nuanced perspective. Kapoor’s meticulous research is evident throughout the well-crafted narrative, underscoring her dedicated efforts in curating and presenting substantial material.

While “The Tatas, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas” offers a comprehensive view of the Parsi community in India, its scope is confined primarily to this region. The book does not delve into the extensive Parsi diaspora in other parts of the world, leaving an opportunity for broader exploration.

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Though the book provides a wealth of information about the Parsi community, it occasionally falls short in delving deeply into specific subjects. Certain topics, while introduced, could benefit from more comprehensive exploration and analysis.

In conclusion, “The Tatas, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas” is an intriguing and educational literary work that unveils the intricate tapestry of the Parsi community’s history and culture. Kapoor’s thorough research and engaging writing style make this book enlightening for anyone seeking to understand more about this captivating community.

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