Story-telling at its best!

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Edge of Desire

Madhav Ajgaonkar, a music composer from Mumbai talks about what works and what doesn’t work for ‘The Edge of Desire’

The very first thing that gripped me was the language of the book. It is indeed impressive the way Tuhin has developed as a writer. Here, by language, I do not mean the class of grammar or the choice of words. Here, plain and simple, I mean the way a writer connects with the reader. I think Tuhin has acquired that rare quality which eludes many authors for years…the power of conversing with the reader. Talking to him! Taking him to the innermost thoughts…not of the author, but of the character. You actually start thinking like the protagonist…in this case, Shruti Ranjan.

Again, it is amazing the way Tuhin, in spite of being a man, writes in the first person narrative from a woman’s point of view. What is even more commendable is the way he takes the reader on a journey in Shruti’s mind when she is a young journalist with rebelling thoughts, to when she becomes the wife of a dignified but a bit conservative IAS officer in a remote Bihar village, to the helpless rape victim of a local goon, to a lady who sets out to take her own revenge by being a part of the system, to being in a position where she actually decides about the nation and its issues. The span, as one can see is phenomenal, and Tuhin scores at every stage. The journey spanning the thoughts of a bubbly young journalist to a matured deputy home minister of India is something which gradually shows her growing into a strong lady who refuses to break down in the worst of adversities and takes life head on under the guidance of her mentor Sharad Malviya. Identifying with the innermost thoughts of Shruti Ranjan makes it very naturally believable when she effortlessly shifts her role from a student to a guide when her mentor is in need of a solid support in his hour of crisis.

Tuhin A Sinha intelligently weaves the plot without making the reader realize that Shruti is changing in her thinking as she matures. That is a point that very few writers can achieve – what I did call “story-telling at its best”.

The Edge of Desire

Again, while making us aware of the stand of Shruti Ranjan, the author also succeeds in establishing the characters of the men in her life. Her first love Abhay comes forth as a selfish person who believes in personal gains, but does have a wee bit amount of conscience in his heart. Her husband, Rohit evolves as a person with a strong male ego, who, though basically a hard worker and a principled man, finds it hard to come to terms with life after his wife’s meteoric rise from a hapless rape victim to the home minister of the country. By and far, the most suave and impressive remains without doubt the third man in her life, Sharad Malviya, who gives her a chance to shape her own destiny and helps her in all the challenges without actually interfering. His character, though fantastic by Indian political standards, is definitely something a common educated Indian would love to see out of the pages of the book! A person who believes in taking fearless steps for the betterment of the country, at times even stepping out of the legal boundaries so as to achieve his goals. He is an ambitious politician who thankfully does not believe in selfish gains over the nation. As a mentor, he comes forward as a guide and a friend whenever Shruti needs him, without actually acting like God! He gives her her own space, and influences her thoughts rather than her decisions.

Characters done, that brings us to the plot! The plot, as is evident from the review till now, is the life story of Shruti Ranjan, who puts it in a story form while awaiting her verdict in the prison, for using her position as the deputy home minister to stage a fake encounter of alleged terrorists. In the book, she actually confesses her role in the drama, but in the process, leaves it to the reader to decide the rights and wrongs of it! When the story starts with a young journalist who has typical dreams of a girl her age, it is difficult to guess that it will take the reader through a series of emotions and political dramas. The story covers a range of topics, right from Kashmir to Kerala, from the Naxalites to the Dalit atrocities, right from the local criminals of Bihar to the high power games in the capital. It is an interesting tale of tragedies and triumphs of a simple girl who believes in the concept of Karma. The way the author has used references from the Mahabharat, especially the Krishna-Draupadi angle, to explain the relation between Sharad and Shruti, is remarkable. After passing through rigmarole of emotions, the book leaves you thinking as you turn the last page!

Having said all things, now for the most important part of a review – the cons! Honestly, there were very few. Some relationships were not very believable, especially between Shruti and Sharad’s daughter Rhea. It started off on a very promising note when they meet in trying circumstances in the hospital where Sharad is being operated for bullet wounds. Rhea’s attitude towards Shruti seems very convincing, as she very naturally blames Shruti for being a kind of wall between her and her father. What does not seem believable is the way Shruti readily agrees to talk to Rhea on Sharad’s request, especially when she knows the kind of cold vibes that exist between the two. It is very surprising, and more so, when Rhea suddenly forgets all her animosity and actually talks of Shruti and Sharad getting together. That part seemed really non-realistic. Ideally a person in Rhea’s position would be very non receptive towards Shruti’s advances and would not leave a single chance of insulting her, leave aside thinking of accepting her in the family.

Secondly, Shruti does not seem like a person who would completely ignore her parents which seems to be the case in the latter half of the story, even if that is not what the author intended.

Lastly, the political scenario seems too fantastic. It seems as if Sharad Malviya is the whole and soul of the party and the PM does not seem to have any strong characteristics which need to be there in a person to reach that position. He seems too timid. It also seems unbelievable that any politicians of India would think of living in at the time of elections, when a major part of their vote bank stays in an orthodox rural India. I would have loved to see them talking and deciding to stay apart for the sake of elections, which would show them as being progressive in their thoughts but being sensible enough to plan their campaigning as per the voters’ psyche.

But all said and done, the book is definitely worth a read, it is a book which invariably makes one strong declaration – Tuhin A Sinha is here to stay!

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