He was poor. He was a self-made man. He was shrewd and ruthless. He considered himself the modern-day Chanakya. He was Sethji.
She was ‘a woman’. She was married into a political family. She had no choice. Her body was her deadliest weapon. Her name was Amrita.
Shobhaa De, the author of “Sethji” weaves a tale around a political setup. As a reader, you can almost guess who she is pointing/referring at, if you are aware of our biggest reality show called ‘The Indian Politics’.
The author is well aware of the fact that in India (and outside too), Sex and Erotica sells, and she has made sure to add this masala in almost every chapter of the book. 55-56 chapters, so you can imagine how much!!
At some places, the masala seemed so invalid like how Bollywood adds songs in between two serious scenes of a movie. Something like:
Scene1: Heroine’s father/mother is serious and is struggling for life in an ICU.
Dream Song: The heroine is running wildly around the trees, not praying for her father’s/mother’s health but mockingly escaping from being groped by the hero.
Scene2: The hero is on his way to the hospital and meets with an accident as he was busy dreaming the song sequence while driving!
Point is: At some of the places in the plot, the masala write-up just wasn’t needed. Amrita has not just been exploited, but over-expoited, time and again!
The novel as such is a political drama, the storyline of which I will not divulge for the sake of those who would like to read ’Sethji’. All I can say is that, there is – pain, confusion, betrayal, assassination, infidelity, incest and too much of life ka drama.
The book is a good read, if you like – Indian Politics, Metaphorical Characterization (you will keep guessing as to which political/bollywood bigwig the author is talking about, throughout the length & breadth of the book!), the Masala (to an extent, who doesn’t?!) and Shobhaa De’s free flow (straight-talk) writing style.
IMHO – Shobhaa De’s much better & crisp when it comes to her shorter write ups (newspaper columns, blog posts, etc) than in her novels. A little more efforts in editing would have improved the end product (Found a few spelling typos myself!).
Note: If I’ve known Shobhaa De well, by reading her writings till now – I’d definitely NOT believe that the story of this novel to be entirely fictional, as she and Penguin (the publisher) puts it to be. 😉
Image courtesy: Penguin Books India.