25 September 2011

The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay

Read 25 July 2011

Author Siddharth Dhanwant Sanghvi warmed my heart with his first book ‘The Last Song of the Dusk’. I wanted more of him but was scared what if it fails to recreate the same magic. Then I read that he only wrote one book post that and has now retired from the writing world. I wondered what could be the reason for such a talented and soulful writer that some negative criticism would lead to him giving up the love of his life – WRITING. Surely I had to read the book. 

The first 50 pages of the book were what I love Siddharth for, for breathing in his soul and attitude and clever conversations. His love for Bombay was loud and clear showing parts of Bombay which do not feature in any travel guides but only a true Bombay lover knows the beach of Sewri and the flamingos, chor bazaar and the mysterious Bombay fornicator, Ban ganga and the famous music festival, Borivali national park and the maze of kanheri caves. I loved the way he went about discovering and photographing his muse Bombay like Ghalib would describe his lover – dark and beautiful. I even enjoyed the tete-a-tete of Page 3 parties and Bollywood socialites – oozing of attitude tongue in cheek conversations. Siddharth again emphasis the mysticism of music & its power to transform humans.

But despite all this after the first 50 pages the book turns into a racy thriller – with death scandal similar to Jassica Lal. Along with the mish mash of media, politics, activists, there was bollywood too along with the gay-straight moral and righteous debate. So basically from a soulful novel from Siddharth it became a Jassica Lal based book, means how cliched it can be. After reading it in newspapers, watching movies and TV shows, and multiple works of fiction – I just could not understand how it could be that one thing he wanted to write about. In a way it was nothing but his own interpretation of the case thrown in with an extra marital affair, gay relationships, page 3 parties and age old power struggle between Bombay and Delhi. There were also repetitive sad accidents like his previous book – a child dyeing in a fall, right in front of the mother’s eyes and people dealing with death either as an end to life leaving their muse and abandoning all joys or as if nothing happened.

Finally my one question to Siddhartha why his protagonists just leave their passions one fine day – the one thing they ever wanted to do – the one thing they lived for – and for what - for nothing – one small failure – one small disappointment - for wasting away their lives. Why did Samar leave piano and music? Why Karan left photography? Why Zaira wanted to leave acting? And why did he leave writing?

Some of the remarkable lines from the book, only Siddarth can write!!

'I love you because you’re deep enough to be shallow. And smart enough to know the difference between the two.'
'She had so many opinions, she no longer had any room for common sense.'
'So this is Bombay, monster muse, part witch, part clown, always absurd, often charming – my rogue ballad; this is Bombay, meri jaan.'
'He secretly regarded novels as quaint, irrelevant oddities – complex, imaginative enterprises produced by people who needed to dignify interminability of their idleness.'

Final verdict: Actually 2.5 stars, I had much more expectations from it.


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