Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: 'Never Mind Yaar' by K. Mathur

First of all, a big thanks to BlogAdda for providing me a wonderful opportunity to review this book.


Background:

As the back cover proclaims -

The title is an attitude - our tendency to feel defeated by the scale and nature of certain problems. Rather than meet them head on, we circumvent them with a sigh and a consoling "never mind, yaar".

When longtime friends Binaifer Desai and Louella D'Costa meet Shalini Dayal at Gyan Shakti College, a true friendship that transcends cultural and religious backgrounds is born. Louella is a Christian, Binaifer, a Parsi and Shalini, a Hindu.

The novel's main plotline surrounds Shalini who has fallen for an impetuous student activist, Bhagu. Where does his desire to help the less fortunate lead him? The challenges are many - Shalini's tradition bound family, the couple's youth and inexperience and the travails of life in Mumbai, a city the girls love but know, is fraught with communal tension.


Characters:

Three friends - Lou, Binny and Shali, along with the latter's love interest, Bhagu, form the major characters of this novel. But major lead is given to Shali undoubtedly. The three friends hail from different cultures yet form similar notions about Bombay and life in general. Bhagu's character has shades of a social activist. The only other well-etched character is of Shali's grandmother Mem, who feels her traditional birthright to run everything according to her wishes in their household. The canteen owner, Chacha, and Dr. Naakwaa, a professor at Gyan Shakti College are the only important among the novel's minor characters.


Story:

The novel, set in late 80s and early 90s, begins with the first day at one of the most reputed colleges of Bombay, Gyan Shakti College. It is the start of a strong and inseparable friendship between Lou, Binny and Shali. Bonds strengthen between them as the usual affairs of college start, particularly the heavy lectures and the college canteen, which is the only place to liking of every student, offering carefree environment to hang out at amidst snacks and beverages.

And as it happens, a love angle starts between Shali and her class fellow Bhagu. They seem to develop a strong infatuation for each other as the time passes, but clearly oblivious to others as neither of them takes any step forward to initiate the talk. This is where rest of the gang, i.e., Lou and Binny, after careful observation start plotting how to bring the two face to face in the name of extra-curricular activities on the campus. Lou and Binny successfully play cupid while Shalini and Bhagu start getting to know each other for the better.

Amidst all this, cameos are played by the city's big secular (and cracking?) umbrella, and early 1990s bomb blasts which shook the city to the core, as well as the 'spirit of Bombay'. But the major draws are the big time feminine friendships and the efficient portrayal of ineffable flames of first love. Throw in a nice climax and a pleasing ending mixed with a tinge of contradictory emotions, and you get the feel of the author's journey into this debut novel of hers.

Will the lovers be able to dream of cooking up life together? What happens to the threesome friendship when one of the gang gets involved in romantic endeavour with an outsider? Read the novel to find our more.




Likes:

Ineffable flames of first love... beautifully depicted - quarreling emotions, over-the-head reasoning with oneself.

Carefree attitude powered by special bonding among the gals.

Writing is good; the choice of words clearly shows the effort of the author and some phrases really catch reader's attention.


Dislikes / Expectations:

Not many effective subplots to offer, besides friendship and love story.

Editing could have been crispier; the sentences frequently jump back from first person to second person to third person, not necessarily in that order.

The title could have been chosen more aptly, thus justifying the story as a whole and not only a particular segment of the main plot.

The blurb claims the story evolves around the big events happening in Bombay at the time the story is set, but in reality those backdrops remain only backdrops, and there is no evolution of the story particularly based on these incidents; they just become casual discussion topics among the protagonists, and then disappear.


My Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5


P.S. -- This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
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