The Edge of Desire

Sudeshna Koka talks about how ‘The Edge of Desire’ demo­nstrates the pain, sadness, ang­er, frustration, betrayal a wom­an goes through before she realizes the immense strength and power she possesses.

Can a woman’s humiliation change the destiny of a nation? It did in the Ma­habharata. And it does, once again, in the lawless Bihar of the 1990s. The Edge of Desire is a very feministic book by Tuhin A Sinha, who talks about the life of an ex-journalist Shruti Ranjan, who finds her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. Hurt at being deceived, she moves back to her hometown with her parents. Giving into parental pressure, she agrees for an arranged marriage with Rohit Verma, the deputy commissioner of Kishanganj, Bihar. Little did she know that this marriage would change the course of her life giving it a completely new direction.

While she is just trying to find her bearings with marriage, a horrific incident puts all stops to her dreams. She is brutally raped by a local goon, Salim Yada. She decides to fight back but her attempts at getting justice are crushed by a corrupt and complicit state government. That’s when the charismatic Sharad Malviya, a leading member of the opposition party, offers her an unlikely solution: his party’s ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections. The Edge of Desire

While fighting for personal justice, she becomes a deputy minister working for women welfare. Soon she becomes the CM and handles bigger issues like Naxalism, terrorism and the country’s security issues. She goes through several role reversals. However, in this battle she loses her family. Her husband, Rohit, who was once her support system, abandons her — leaving her to fight alone.The novel is a great blend of politics and human emotions. Each character is brilliantly carved and this comes only with intricate research. This is where Tuhin scores over others. His writing is clean and well-plotted.

The Edge of Desire shows the different challenges a women faces in our country. It demonstrates the pain, sadness, anger, frustration, betrayal a women goes through due to constant commodification and discrimination. However, the author who constantly keeps drawing reference to mythological characters also shows that a woman can fight and stand against all odd. And indeed when a woman stands up for herself, she realises the immense strength and hidden power she possesses.


The Edge of Desire

Sarita Thakore, who currently works at the Centre for Environment Education, and is engaged in education and communication towards sustainable development; says The Edge of Desire is proof that print enables imagination and can make a person really relate to the book and its characters.

The title aptly suits the portrayal of the lead character, Shruti Ranjan. It is said that print enables imagination. The same happens when you read this novel. The writing brings out the deeper feelings of a woman, and the inner turmoil that she goes through. While she is not too ambitious about her career and becoming a politician is probably the last thing on her mind; once she gets embroiled into politics, she realizes both, its power and its cost. Her nature of not being in denial about the circumstances she finds herself in, and accepting the consequences to face them bravely, makes her character powerful.

Nowhere does the author say that Shruti is a powerful woman, yet the fact that her journey is rife with pain and she has no option but to grow, informs the reader about her path of self realization and the grit and strength with which she walks on it. Throughout the novel, she remains sensitive to the needs of her family and at the same time she also remains sensitive to her own needs; that is something every woman should learn and practice.

The Edge of Desire

The human weaknesses and vulnerabilities have also been depicted gracefully by the author. Shruti not only realizes her own weaknesses, but is also capable enough to understand the weaknesses of those close to her. Without offending anyone, she chooses to work upon her weaknesses and this makes her character a very graceful and relatable one.

While reading, it feels like these instances are happening in day to day life, and Tuhin has effectively weaved words to make the novel seem like a real-life case that the reader immediately feels connected to.

The appropriate end of the novel—Shruti and Rhea realizing each others’needs and strengths; and coming together to make it clear that the journey goes on.

To students of the Gender Studies course…this is a book you ought not to miss! Read it and you will surely not be at a loss!

 K Ananthakrishnan talks about how “The Edge of Desire” has managed to deliver that it is not only a fictionally an interesting read but also serves as an account that serves as a testimony that represents the state of present day women.

The evolution of womanhood has been, to say the least, tumultuous. Many accounts deal with this subject – The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir, The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer are the ones that spring to mind. From mythological times to contemporary society, from the times when women were deified as gods to times when they were treated as slaves, from times when they played a sacred role in society to times when the ascendancy of patrimony left them clinging to the lower rung of society, women have always had to battle to assert their equanimity. The dedication in Tuhin Sinha’s The Edge of Desire –  ” to every woman who has been a victim of gender crimes in this country that deifies umpteen goddesses ” – makes it abundantly clear as to the leaning of this book.

The Edge of Desire

 A quick summary of the plot – Shruti Ranjan is a journalist in Delhi, leading the typical modernist life, a 5 year long live-in relationship with her boyfriend Abhay. Abhay then does the quintessential male thing – he gets caught in bed with Shruti’s best friend. Shaken and stirred, Shruti leaves Delhi to live with her parents. Excessive pressure from her parents to get married sees Shruti eventually succumb and get wedded to Rohit, the Deputy Commissioner of Kishanganj, Bihar. The marriage is a little strained at first but the couple slowly find their feet and things seem to be settling down with Shruti getting pregnant when life goes downhill when she is brutally raped. The rapist being politically sheltered, Shruti’s valiant attempts at justice is all in vain leaving her totally disillusioned and desultory. It is in this state of despair that Shruti is given a chance to avenge the crime – she is offered a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections, the deal brokered by the charismatic Sharad Malviya, the Opposition leader. What started out as a ploy to extract revenge ends up with Shruti being plummeted deep into the dark world of politics – new relationships form while old ones strain further, conspiracies abound and it all culminates into a decent climax.

Enough said about the story this book does have its strengths. For starters, Tuhin’s writing style is impressive. Terse and succinct, the language employed here is simple and to the point making way for a fast paced narrative – this one is to be devoured in one straight sitting. The characters etched are strong and quite believable – they play out well enough for the author to evoke a love-hate relationship between some of its characters and the reader, a point in favour of Tuhin. The relationship between Shruti and Rohit is etched well – the initial misgivings of marriage slowly steadying into an understanding that is then ripped apart by the rape. Things go more astray when Shruti’s path to justice takes her further and further away from her marriage right up to the point of no return. The rich backdrop of politics is also well used – multi faceted personalities each with their own axe to grind, multiple players conspiring against one another and all of this to be faced by Shruti, a novice in this murky world. The politics scene and issues being portrayed in the story is in fact a reflection of the contemporary India – issues that are relevant and prevalent today form the sub plots that help our tyro politician further her career. Peppered here and there in the novel are refreshing ruminations involving history and mythology – a nice touch that adds a certain authenticity to the turmoil being envisaged and presented.

Something that was always at the back of my mind while reading was that the voice of the protagonist is female (in the book) though it is being voiced by a male author. Is it ironical that a book with such a strong feminist inclination is actually penned by a male – I don’t think that does have any bearing really but it is of a nice note. The journey that is The Edge of Desire is not without its share of falls albeit minute – the meteoric rise of Shruti’s political career almost makes this a fantasy story, sometimes the plot unravels like a cliched Bollywood drama (is it possible to mean this in a good way ??!!, I think not!!) but the one that was primarily stuck in my head was Shruti herself. The portrayal sometimes was quite contradictory – at times she comes across as the strong, feminine character that she is supposed to be, intrepid and inspiring but at other times she is left so wallowing in self-doubt that it is pretty difficult to relate the two to one single character. Mind you these are typical ‘reviewer bellyaches’ – they do not detract you from the riveting plot that this book is.

In Edge of Desire, author Tuhin Sinha has managed to deliver a book that is not only fictionally an interesting read but also serves as an account that serves as a testimony that represents the state of present day women. It is a book that does not fear from delving deep into the cloudy and dark edges of not only politics but also relationships that are contained therein. A certainly deserving read, the Edge of Desire does leave a strong after taste in the reader – now that smacks of a well crafted novel.

The Edge of Desire
Parul Thakur from the Adroits…. talks about why ‘The Edge of Desire’ is a well written, concise, straight forward, powerful, deep, a bit controversial but a wonderful piece worth a read.
 A girl, betrayed after being loyal to a 5-year relationship, married to an unknown guy, gets brutally raped in a politically sick world. Shattered in all her senses and depth of soul, she rises up to fight the injustice and raises her voice against all odds. Yes, it’s ‘The Edge of Desire’ by Tuhin A. Sinha.
 “A well written, concise, straight forward, powerful, deep, a bit controversial but a wonderful piece worth a read.”
A woman-centric novel that would make you travel, through loads of emotions of love, life, betrayal, anguish, loyalty, strength, dedication and what not so…!!! After a bunch of novels on Love Stories and Campus/College Life, this book is sure the change needed. It reveals the the darker side of life and the pain of the protagonist can be felt in every turn of page.
  •        Still women are treated with ‘drive in’ attitude…
  •        The darker and dirty side of politics would let you end-up nowhere…
  •        Chained dreams of a broken heart cries for justice and all are turned deaf ears…
  •        There’s much more to life than living in a well built home and leading a protected one…
Curtaining-up of these painful and bitter truths of life is dealt in a very powerful and appealing manner.Writing style gives an incredible strength to the protagonist Shruti’s (an ex-journalist) voice for her justice. In every step, she has an unexpected and more difficult challenge to face. Clear and pin-pointed framing of sentences leaves a non-erasable mark on the readers.
The Edge of Desire
From the ages of Mahabharata and Ramayana, politics has been a sinful and gritty part of our lives. Author has dealt with this side of politics, which is an appreciable effort. The common thread between the central character of novel and ‘Draupadi’ from Mahabharata has proved effective to me. Use of quotes from the epic gives a deep and somewhat unique touch.
The most inspiring part to me remains the self-discovery of a woman, who, from being a rape victim becomes a known face of politics and shows the infinitive strength that a woman can hold within herself. It’s been said in Hindi ‘Doobte ko tinke ka sahara kaafi hota hai’. This support is shown by a political leader (Sharad Malviya).The undefined but special relation between Shruti and Sharad is one if its kind and a very different aspect of relationships in life.With this, another aspect of life unfolds that there always are people as gods in the world of devils. That’s life. Though highly connective, but I did face a bit of distraction and loss in connection somewhere after reading 60% of the book. The appeal is regained soon from chapter 12 and from thereon I was fully engrossed in every pain and changing situations.
If you are a person to visualize a society free from social evils this book is a Must Read for you.
Have it and feel it…soon you’ll have a new strength and zeal towards life.

The Edge of Desire

Vibina Venugopal, who calls herself a person with a zest for life; and has the time of her life while reading, scribbling, and dreaming; describes why ‘The Edge of Desire’ was a good read and how she enjoyed its delve into politics.

Its a tale of Shruthi Ranjan who leaves Delhi  resigning her job as a journalist discovering her boy friend with a common friend.. She is utterly devasted at the indifference of her boyfriend’s attitude..Living with her parents she is subjected to constant pressure of marriage ,enters Rohit Verma, Deputy commissoner of Kishanganj in Bihar..Lawless is in every aspect of life in Kishanganj..Her life turns upside down when she is raped and justice is denied ..When justice is nearly denied she grabs the oppurtunity provided by Sharad Malviya Charismatic politician to become an elected member of Lok sabha to fight her case..What follows is the roller coaster ride of Shruthi life  where is a constant subject of mockery that even earns her the name Draupadi..

The subject  and the treatment of the story-line is so good that the you start to admire the protagonist Shruthi..Shruthi is a strong, straight-forward and a girl next door whose fate gives little choice to remain so making her shrewd, ambitious and politically correct personality..This novel explores every aspect of Indian politics and the so called democracy that is at stake..The kind of experience that shruthi goes through is an everyday news that we come across in new paper  so often that nobody is surprised by them .Its as though they have all  become a part of life ..In spite of all these reading the book one can feel the emotional trauma that Shruthi is subjected to.. At one point life itself turns unfair to her not letting her do what she desires but life itself takes her in its flow..She is all by herself to deal with things with no backup from her family or her friends…She finds strength in herself and from enigmatic Sharad Malviya..

The Edge of Desire

Time and again as per plot characters are put in reference to the characters in epic of Mahabharata, Ramayana and other famous personalities of India like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru..When Shruthi is being dragged into every newspaper portraying as a girl with no moral values rather than sympathizing with her situation , anger , anger and more anger is what I felt at the media judiciary and the people of society.. Every time she had go through this and her family too not sparing her I felt she was raped more than what she had to undergo during her physical abuse …

The book is  fast paced that blows on to a  full toss as it ends..Overdose of politics is the best part of it..The apt portrayal of a woman’s struggle in all man’s territory couldn’t have been better told..I shared my part of surprise and wonder with Shruthi, when she was offered a seat to contest election.. I wondered  Lok sabha ticket for being raped!!!

Tuhin Sinha is quiet different from other Indian writer and thats the best and refreshing part of his writing ..He has indeed niche a mark for himself..The topic is boiling and explosive and  justice has been done to it..The honestly of the state of the country and people where a relationship between a man and woman is most often  blown out of proportion for wrong reasons is highlighted well…Yes of course you may not read it over and over but its worth for that single read leaving Shruthi in you mind for sometime…

Did Nehru’s romanticism make him a more pragmatic politician? And romanticism here; refers, not to the artistic movement that flourished in Europe in the eighteenth century; but to Nehru’s nature of being open in heart and mind; choosing not to stop his philandering ways and indulging in relationships that were definitely not within the framework of acceptable social norms during the times he lived in.

To claim that his philandering nature made Nehru more pragmatic, might seem a bit far-fetched; but Tuhin Sinha, author with a keen interest and insight in politics and its dynamics, believes it is true beyond doubt.

When questioned about the same he says, “Yes. I do believe that what you are as a person also affects what you are as a politician. Be it in accepting new ideas, exploring romantic relationships that went beyond norms or moving on with times, Nehru was a very open-minded person; whereas Gandhi on the other hand was closed and also rigid about his decisions and opinions. And this difference clearly reflected itself in the manner with which Nehru readily accepted new policies but Gandhi was apprehensive.”

The Edge of Desire

Some historical instances like forming a socialist party within the Congress party,  forming linguistic states though being personally opposed to the idea, etc. prove that Nehru yielded to majority even if it went against his views; while Gandhi on the other hand is known to have gone on fasts and protests in order to get things done in a manner he envisaged to be right and appropriate.

These facts give credence to Tuhin’s opinion about the personal disposition of an individual affecting his political inclinations and decision; but to attribute Nehru’s pragmatism to his philandering ways is something Nehru’s followers are not going to take very kindly to.

Tuhin though, has chosen to stand by his views. And has even dedicated a section of his recent novel, ‘The Edge of Desire’ to a very insightful comparison of the difference in Gandhi and Nehru’s attitudes towards women and their impact on the way they approached life, relationships and politics. Here is an excerpt:

Gandhi, with a view to re-integrate our virtuous past into the present and future used the symbol of Sita to motivate Indian women during our freedom struggle. Sita stood for chastity, sacrifice and her selflessness towards her husband Rama. As a firm believer in a woman’s homemaking abilities, Gandhi encouraged their participation in politics with certain parameters. By inference, thus, Gandhi expected a strong woman to support her husband and provide him the strength to rise up and perform greater deeds for his country.

By contrast, Nehru’s idea of a woman was inspired by Tagore’s Chitrangada, the intrepid Manipuri princess who fought convention and epitomized equality. Talking about his deceased wife Kamala, Nehru wrote in his book, Discovery of India, ‘Like Chitra in Tagore’s plays she (Kamala) seemed to say to me: I am Chitra. No goddess to be worshipped, nor yet the object of common pity to be brushed aside. If you design to keep me by your side in the path of danger and daring, if you allow me to share the great duties of your life, then you will know my self…’

The Edge of Desire

People have already started reacting to the book. While some laud Tuhin for his uncommon perspective and courage to express it; some of Nehru’s followers trash his claims and vehemently continue to deny that Nehru was a philanderer; claiming his relationship with Edwina Mountbatten was purely platonic irrespective of what historians and biographers have to say about it. Whether you choose to agree with Tuhin, or disagree, it’s definitely a good idea to read what he says before you take a stand! Buy a copy of ‘The Edge of Desire’.

 The Edge of Desire
Shriya Garg; author, reviewer, and web-designer; currently managing ‘The-Vault’, one of the biggest book reviewing websites; expresses why she couldn’t relate to Tuhin’s protagonist inspite of the book being really good and Tuhin being one of the better Indian authors.

This is perhaps the bestselling novelist’s most anticipated release. We have seen him steadily trying his hand at radically different – and difficult – plots, from That Thing Called Love to The Captain and later, Of Love and Politics. Naturally, I too was undeniably eager for this one, and the blurb proved fodder to my imagination.

Shruti Ranjan is a gutsy journalist in Delhi who has been dumped by her boyfriend of five years. Shaken and in need of security, she flees Delhi to return to her parents’ home. Her parents, like most other parents, try to warm her up towards the idea of arranged marriages. Almost despite herself, she agrees and finds herself the wife of Rohit, an IAS officer from Patna. They like each other but still don’t know enough to develop trust, or fall in love. Circumstances improve a little then. She becomes pregnant and a tentative bond begins developing between the husband and wife. However, on one fateful night, she is raped brutally in Kishanganj by a politically-sheltered local goon and loses her baby. The media casts aspersions on her character, plays it into a scandal, and the goon who performed the deed remains untouched. Even her husband begins doubting her integrity. Just when it looks like her life has come to another impasse, a leading member of the Opposition party offers her an unlikely solution: the ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections and get justice meted out.

Shruti agrees, but only to see to it that her rapist is put behind the bars and justice is delivered. However, fate has other plans and when it looks like her initial purpose is complete, she is offered the post of the chairperson of the National Commission of Women. Under the tutelage of her charismatic mentor, Sharad Malviya, she is almost immediately elevated to the post of Deputy Home Minister. Rohit, who is having trouble bridging the geographical gap between Kishanganj and Delhi, wants her to resign and come back home. She chooses being MP over being a wife, and finds herself increasingly attracted to the brilliant Home Minister, Sharad Malviya – an attraction which is certainly reciprocated.

The Edge of Desire

Tuhin Sinha is certainly one of the better writers we have. His writing style is easy and to the point. The author also knows his politics, and often makes liberal use of mythology and history to drive home his point, an aspect I found very interesting. It is also commendable that he explored some different topics with The Edge of Desire through a woman’s point of view and succeeded, to a certain extent.

My main problem was Shruti Ranjan. I couldn’t warm up to her, I just could not. Not only her rapid ascent in politics left me aghast, I also couldn’t understand what Sharad – or for that matter other readers who loved her – saw in her. Most of her displays of “guts” were off-stage, and we never got to see exactly what was in her that made her deserving of everything she got. She is not a public speaker, her mind is indecisive and cluttered, and I failed to see one iota of leadership in her. Everything that she got was because Sharad had a soft spot for her.

The author perhaps noted this and has shown Shruti to ask herself the very same question: do I deserve it? The answer is no, but does she do anything about it? No, she continues just as she was and eventually starts coming across as an excessively passive woman who was incapable of taking charge of her life.

“The man who basically made me an MP insulted me? Fine, I won’t go to office for the next three days. Because that is the sort of faithful government employee I am.”  

“My husband is upset because he thinks I am having an affair with my boss? Such an idiot. After all, I have only stayed away from him for ninety percent of the duration of our marriage and spend just the entire day and evening with my boss…every day. He doesn’t trust me, so I wouldn’t bother with him or his family either.”

Am I nitpicking? Yes, because believe me, the book isn’t that bad. My friend read it and the thoughts I just mentioned never entered her head. She thought that the author had portrayed her wonderfully, and has shown all the sides of a woman. I am sorry but I couldn’t swallow it. The scene of the rape, which moved many readers, also failed to evoke much of a response. I regularly read Women’s Fiction and have scene much better narration. It was so much more telling than showing and read like a news report.

Overall, I would accept that the book’s good and will certainly please the Indian public but nit-pickers like me will be disappointed. Perhaps my hope with the author were too high…I guess we’ll never know.

P.S. The trailer is excellent!