Boy­hood Blues

This novel on the thrills of grow­ing up is pow­ered by a heavy dose of male hor­mones and fool­ish­ness

India Today - - LEISURE - By An­var Alikhan

BE­TWEEN THE COV­ERS It is a story of three B-school bud­dies whom we first en­counter rid­ing a de­crepit scooter in the mid­dle of the night. The book goes on to re­count their adventures—and mis­ad­ven­tures.

Acoun­try’s lit­er­a­ture, not sur­pris­ingly, of­ten re­sem­bles the macro­cosm in more ways than one. If In­dia’s democ­racy, for ex­am­ple, can be de­scribed as “vi­brant, noisy and colour­ful”, so, too, can its fic­tion in­dus­try. And, like the macro­cosm, the In­dian fic­tion in­dus­try also has its own Ra­jya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The for­mer is peo­pled by the likes of Amitav Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri, but the pop­u­lar­ity and clout, of course, be­longs to the mem­bers of the literary Lok Sabha—peo­ple like Chetan Bha­gat, Amish Tri­pathi and Anuja Chauhan. Now Amitav Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri, like the good Dr Man­mo­han Singh or Arun Jait­ley, are all very well, but the thing is they will never ever win a pop­u­lar elec­tion. The Chetan Bha­gats, on the other hand, are the rul­ing Mu­layam Singhs and Jay­alalithaas of the literary world, sim­ply be­cause they are the ones who res­onate with the vot­ing/buy­ing pub­lic. Vipul Mit­tra is a re­cent en­trant to this literary Lok Sabha. His The Dream Chasers is the story of three B-school bud­dies, Vi­raat, Sandy and Karan, whom we first en­counter rid­ing a de­crepit scooter in the mid­dle of the night, clad only in dirty, per­fo­rated chad­dis, on their way to Omi’s dhaaba for a din­ner of leath­ery parathas. The book goes on to re­count their adventures—and mis­ad­ven­tures—pro­pelled by a mix of male hor­mones, fool­ish­ness, dope, angst and a com­mon ado­ra­tion of the gor­geous Mal­lika Mat­too.

This could have been the recipe for a won­der­ful comin­gof- age novel, but you re­alise pretty early on that it’s not go­ing to be that. There are no real in­sights into that ache­ful, yet mag­i­cal, stage of life which the book sets out to ex­plore, none of the bit­ter­sweet­ness of tran­si­tion. In­stead, what we get is a dreary pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with breasts and bras, whether in situ, or hang­ing on clothes­lines, in­ter­spersed with low- al­ti­tude hu­mour and scat­o­log­i­cal ob­ser­va­tions of things like third- class rail­way lava­to­ries and as­sorted der­ma­to­log­i­cal af­flic­tions. The plot is too pre­dictable, the char­ac­ters too un­formed, the style too adolescent. It is a book, ul­ti­mately, for 17-year-old males. It will, no doubt, get eas­ily elected to the bois­ter­ous Lok Sabha of In­dian fic­tion.


by Vipul Mit­tra Ran­dom House Price: RS 199 Pages: 284

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