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Monday, March 29, 2010

Arrack in the afternoon

Reviewing a book is a tricky thing. The trickiness deepens when you know the author! However, here is a book that needs mention. Arrack in the Afternoon is a novel by Mathew Vincent Menacherry and Mathew has done a good job for a debutant.

Mixing Mumbai, bollywood, business, politicians, godmen, sex, pimps and the unwavering partner - alcohol, Mathew cooks up a heady concoction that stares you right in the eye. The novel explores the life of Verghese Konnikara from the verge of a suicide to a powerful god man till it comes to a full circle. How people fall to opportunities, ignore what they values in life, change over time making the wrong choices only to realize that what they wanted and set out for was different is covered beautifully. The expletives used in the novel make it look real and conversational. Each character is described too well that you feel you know the person like your neighbor.

The protagonist, Varghese, is an average guy with extraordinary dreams, passions acts as a perfect fit to Karan, who I would call a transformer or a good marketer and changes him into a god man, Vargi baba. Mathew takes us through a journey from the streets of Mumbai to the palaces, king-size rooms, beds, cars, money, glitter and shows how vulnerable people are and how the sadness and emptiness in life is covered up with things we call pleasures. Not to give away too much about the story, it is worth a read and kept aside, much better to watch on the screen and then go back to reading it. Arrack exposes the dirty underbelly that is present but is tucked away behind money, fame, wealth and melancholy. Arrack can teach a lesson or two on the use of dark humor.

There are few things in the novel that could have been avoided. Like the repetitive mention of few words and detailed explanation. You would enjoy the details if you have an eye for it and would actually see the plot play before you. Though a bit lengthy, Vargi baba would keep you engrossed while quite a few characters in the novel would remind you of the real ones. An excellent plot for the celluloid, am waiting. Good luck Mat.

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