this adiga "piece of literature"(did i hear you snort?),has no
equal.you heard right.it's that insipid.ever had a taste of any
exotic dish in some fancy fine dine resto,that,due the
description of the ingredients,sounds juicily tantalizing,but
when you actually eat it,comes across as a cryptic waste of fine
ingredients,not to mention your time?..i guess you get the
drift.if you read the introduction of the book,you'd be fooled
into believing that the book is some sort of suspense/drama with
a backdrop of a phenomenon called redevelopment that some manic
depressive genius thrust upon the hapless sensiblities of the
very optimistic,mumbai city denizens,fulfilled a few
aspirations,crushed a ton more and is now,the bread-earner for
"legal eagles" whose sole mode of survival is the multi-pronged
legal issues spawned out of the disputes resulting from a set of
laws that systematically contradict each other.but as the
story,if any unfolds,you realise it coudn't be more off.
the book starts of with a summary of who lives where in a fictional society in a non-fictional neighbourhood amongst one of mumbai's many suburbs.(the heavily christian dominated,area of vakola).the protagonist,if you will,in this book is a recently bereaved senior citizen called yogesh murthy while the plot cenres around a particular "confidence group" sending a redevelopment proposal to the two wings of vishram society,and how the various characters react to his proposal.
first things first.either aravinda adiga's research is inadequate,or it just might be delibrate on adiga's part to have chosen to feature a mode of redevlopmentthat is actually the least prominent.in the book mr shah(the developer),prosposes that the residents of vishram society,leave the premises for a one time outight payment which exceeds the prevailent market rate per squre foot for that area.the most popular mode of redevlopment is one where the residents of any place are housed either in the same building that builder would develop leaving him with ample extra fsi with which to earn his profits or in another building in the same vicinity for the simple reason that the market conditions and do not allow for y developer to sink in gargantuan amounts of money into a single project with no real of returns.
and so you delve into murky world of the characters of the book.there's an old christian couple who have kids abroad an who,having retired,simply live off the returns of an fd that they have invested ages ago.there's a lady,mrs.rego,with two kids who's been abandoned by her husband an who's now a social worker.a woman who has a differently abled son of eighteen and who'd on the cusp of a mid-life crisis and is-depressive about life having passed her by.a broker who's had a none too illustrious career.a cyber cafe owner who too has nothing to show for the life he's lived.all in all a collection of motley individuals purportedly perfect for a potboiler.
adiga starts off introducing you to yogesh murthy's psyche,and the contortions that go through his brain when a the appartment next door is rented out to a young ournalist.apparently ,yogesh murthy is a celebrated teacher some of whose ex-students have managed to turn into success stories.at the fag end of his career,yogesh murthy,or masterji,as he is referred to in the book,trie to get a grip on the fragments of his life which include a son that embodies the now proliferated stere type of the apathetic son,popularised throughout the 90s through various tearjerkers of tv serials,a daughter he'd lost to the general apathy that the mumbai city slickers mistake for normal behaviour,and a wife,possibly the only person who'd cared for him whom too he loses,to cancer.after the builder,one confidence group(here,it's hard to pinpoint which real life developer,if at all it is an allusion to..)puts forth his proposal,the story degenerates into a very predictable pattern of loqacious blather about how the onset of money changes character or rather,reveals it.
so the confidence man(the developer) makes the residents of vishram an offer they can't refuse.the offer comprises a square feet rate several thousand inr above the prevailent market rate,which,due to some of the residents,residing in close to 1000 square feet homes,works out to more than a crore,a sum still respectable even after the deterioration of the indian currency,financial market et al.
here's where the plot is lost.instead of a righteous man's fight for what he believes in,it then becomes a deranged man's fight for something he doesn't himself know whether he believes in,for,believe it or faint,masterji doesn't really know why it is exactly that he is oppsosing the redevelopment.so as the scenes progress masterji's door is plastered with the son of the differently abled son of another member,masterji attempts a futile resistance by way of a an advocate's consultation,and loses all his friends an is frowned upon by friends and foes alike.towards the end of the book,adiga seemingly re-asserts that in his books,there really isn't the usual white vs black for all the characters are various shades of grey.the misplaced jibes,the very lacklustre and shallow research,and a to-the-point,writing style that at the start of the book seems alright but tends to work against the narrative towards the end,as the work never really grips you,make for a below par combination,something that doesn't even measure up to his earlier book.