Title: Tamasha in Bandargaon
Author: Navneet Jagannathan
Price: INR 295/- (Paperback)
Bandargaon, a fictional suburb of Mumbai, is full of a large variety of characters. There a politicians and entreprenuers, shopkeepers and journalists, builders and building society members. Some people dream and some people scheme and Bandargaon has plenty of both.
The book is divided in to thirteen chapters each of which are little stories in themselves. However, they are interconnected by some common characters. There is also an ongoing story of the battle of wits between Chagan and Vinayak to win the hand of Shalini. Another ongoing story the attempt by Sajjanpur to win the local elections.
With great subtlety it deals ¬†the very present realities of life in Mumbai: the struggle of the poor,the filth of the slum and their lack of basic services like water, rampant corruption, the hypocrisy of politicians, the sensationalism of the press etc. The author has managed to bring all this out with humor and without hurting any sentiments.
The book is reminiscent of the much-loved ¬†television serial¬†Nukkad¬†in tracing the stories of different characters. Some days they win, and some days they lose but they keep plodding on and accept their lot much like the people of Mumbai.
I loved the colorful cover of the book – its cartoon like look with attention to details made me quite eager to read it.
Navneet Jagannathan had me very early on with this line:¬†Chagan lay hunched on a plastic chair at Jinias Chai House – Bhavani Nagar’s one-stop source of refreshment and disease.¬†This is just the kind of wry humor I love.
The author uses simple language but very effectively. Here is an example of a sentences I found very interesting:¬†Her mother blamed her for falling in love with a rogue. But it wasn’t the rogue she was in love with. She love the gentleman inside the rogue.
There was just one place where I found a problem with language usage. Lakshmibai and Santra breathed easy. Terror was still writ large on their faces. The two sentences seem to contradict each other. It might appear that the author didn’t really understand the phrase ‘breathe easy’.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a whole host of characters in the book. I felt that some of these were not developed as well as the others. Just as one was beginning to understand a character, s/he was ‘done away with’. I felt that Geetha too disappears unceremoniously from the scene.
I felt that the author has set up some unfinished stories for a sequel. One such story is the interest of the politician Sajjanpur in a single lady, Geetha. The other story is about the debt that Shimpi owes to Chagan.
However, Tamasha in Bandargaon kept me entertained and engaged. There were several unexpected outcomes so there was a constant element of surprise in the narrative.¬†The¬†characterization¬†too is excellent. Living in Mumbai as I do I can find¬†parallels¬†from real life in many of the characters.
Overall, the book is humorous and¬†highly¬†entertaining to an Indian audience. It is well worth a read.
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Thanks, Blogadda – I enjoyed this!