Review: How About a Sin Tonight?
By Novoneel Chakraborty. Grade B+
Most reviewers at VoB have come under fire for infamously trashing many of the young new writers. But Novoneel Chakraborty is a different story. He is the author who has managed to stand out. When I heard a friend describe his book as ‘a sinful cuisine’ and checked out the cover (oh, so gorgeous) I decided I couldn’t miss it.
An edge-of-the-seat thriller from the bestselling author of A Thing beyond Forever and That
Kiss in the Rain
In the biggest casting coup of the Hindi film industry, five top stars are signed up for a new movie: Shahraan—a living legend still lamenting the loss of his first love; Reva and Neev—newcomers allied in a common journey; Nishani—the celebrity kid who must avenge her father’s untimely death; and Kaash—the actor harbouring a secret love from his past. As their intimately intertwined personal stories take centre stage, the industry’s underbelly is left exposed for all to see. By the time the curtain draws to a close, the gossip-hungry media has enough fodder on its plate to last a lifetime.
Novoneel Chakraborty, bestselling author of A Thing beyond Forever and That Kiss in the Rain, unveils the grime behind the glitz, the insecurities and compromises, in a world where aspirants come prepared to strike a Faustian bargain. A beguiling tale of love, ambition, jealousy, and betrayal, How About a Sin Tonight? will leave you asking for more.
The book is about five stars who work in a movie together. The book starts with Shahraan, initially. He left home in order to become a superstar. But his life wasn’t that easy; for years he worked as a taxi driver, then moved onto the DA, got small roles to play and ultimately years later came his big break. Through this all, he had an equally important partner with him- Mehfil. A local prostitute, whom he had fallen in love with.
Mehfil was sold at the age of ten by her father and then transported to Begum- a pimp. Men came to her with weird quenches and used her to fulfill them. But she was a prostitute, not a respectable person. The story of Shahraan and Mehfil is heart-wrenching and encompasses a world of its own.
We also have Neev and Reva, and read how they came together and fulfilled their dream of the film industry. Then the fifth character is introduced (I admit, I found this village of characters a little tedious), Kaash, who is Nishani’s childhood friend. Nishani who? The daughter of Shekhar Rai, a former Bollywood star who was forgotten when he met an accident on the scenes which involved Shahraan. Nishani is the antagonist, a perfect femme fatale, turned on my revenge.
As I said, this village of characters takes some patience to go through. The author, thankfully, handled it with all the precision of a master, and craftily justified their existence.
For casual readers, the prose would not be easy to wade through. The language is cerebral, with liberal use of metaphors, symbolism and subtext. But aspiring writers and readers who appreciate good writing would find this delightful, and realize how much the author has grown from his first book.
The best part of the book were Mehfil and Shahraan. The story of Mehfil being sold in prostitution gives light to a leading problem facing the country these days. It makes people aware of the pain these people face, which the society has put a curtain on because it is ”indecent”. It helps us look from their eyes, empathize with them and teach the Gen Y against this.
Having said this, I would like to warn our prudish readers that this book is not for the faint of heart. The explicit sexual references would make most of the squeamish readers blanch, but holding back on that front would make the book lose some of its authenticity. Can you really have showbiz without the sex and the money?
1) If the apartment was a person, Reva wondered standing right outside it, it needed a birth- control pill. It looked fucked up from all sides.
2) (Nishani is telling this to her uncle when he tries to warn her about the life in Bollywood) If life is a horny bastard, I’m a bitch in heat.
3) (Nishani asks this to a man she is supposed to give a blow job to) ”Is your tool clean?
“I just washed it with Dettol in the toilet.”
To conclude, I would say that while there were some parts that were unnecessarily stretched and slow to complete, this book marks a new milestone in contemporary Indian writing, and all those who have a hankering for a good read backed up by strong characters would love this.