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Friday, November 2, 2018

Anon By Bhavani Iyer

Title: Anon
Author: Bhavani Iyer 
Category: Fiction
Publisher:Fingerprint Publishers 
Price: Rs. 297(paperback)

Pages: 312

Snapshot: I have read many , many writers and my favourite ones are those who will use a thousand words to conclude the expression, always aiming away from the bulls eye and only hinting at it. I hunt for writers who could make me go deeper, challenge me to understand meaning of their words, their hanging sub-plots and unpredictable endings. Often I find a lot of what I seek in writers like Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Anita Desai, and yet I crave for a writer who would go further to incorporate and even exploit multiple elements in their writing. I rarely get the use of so many elements in one book, without the writer digressing, as I have found in Anon. 

Detailed Review: It all begins from the stark contrasts in two central characters, Urbish Sardar and Debottam Bhattacharya (Deb) who are so opposite and yet have intersection points wherein their lives amalgamate. Urbish as a bright child gets wary of the village school, overgrows it and wants a better education in the city and an extra-ordinary life for himself. He is talented and ready to toil. In his innocence of wanting the best for himself, he doesn't realize the extent his poor father goes to, just to remain a hero in his eyes, until one day when it costs him his life. It is in this moment young Urbish begins to realizes how deep ambition, the need for excellence and to be the best rubs within him. He becomes like a rock, achieving what he has to, but with a tough exterior. His inner-self both bright and dark, his emotions, expression all in turn take a hit, they become limited, well-defined, too perfect to be real. So does his writing. Success as a writer becomes his ambition and he ends up in Shantiniketan.

This is where he meets Deb, a character at the other end of the spectrum from Urbish. He loses his mother on his sixth birthday. A mother everyone labelled eccentric, but the only human he deeply connected with. This event changes something in him forever. The opposite of love is indifference and thy name becomes Deb. He has it all that Urbish want, the wealth, a respectable family name, comforts , etc. but his reaction to it all is "indifference". His greatest possession is his "gift" for writing. The freedom within him manifests itself beautifully when words flow out of his pen. At Shantiniketan when these two characters meet, a friendship begins. Urbish is the only friend Deb ever made, since childhood. It becomes clear in their assignments, that churning out an outstanding story for Deb is much more natural and simpler and his writing is like a river that never stops flowing. No matter how hard Urbish would work, Deb would still be better.

Deb, the ever generous, carefree soul, helps Urbish get as a published writers through his fathers contacts. He loves giving it all to his friend, with may be a moment of jealousy when his father dotes on Urbish instead of Deb. However, circumstances change as life spreads itself into crevices of their relationship, as if testing to see how firmly it stands. It is visible and envious to the world, their friendship but will a jealousy ever find place in there? What can complicate a friendship? How righteous can people be in relationships? Can people be the same in their most trying circumstances? Will it define or change their characters, their values and ultimately their destinies? Is any relationship forever? To know what happens next in their lives, read the book.

A writer seasons like the wine, introducing layers of subtext, complexity, undertone, meaning and only a seasoned writer can cater to the intoxications of a voracious reader. It is rare therefore to find the genius of multiple elements, coming together into one story. A serious contrast in characters, yet there is beauty in their friendship. A hint of jealousy, yet respect for the other. The life one wants, practically lived by the other and yet on these foundations a beautiful friendship blossoms. Then comes the central negative character "life" testing all that is built over the years, making one think what next. Every prediction I made of how it would end, fell flat. The ending is brilliant and very real. 

Lastly, I couldn't really find anything negative in the book. This story by a seasoned screenwriter but first attempt to a novel, is definitely a matured wine, which will surprise the reader  at many levels, as long as one is receptive to elements and layers within writing. The book also has very crisp editing, which makes it perfect.
I hope Bhavani Iyer will write many, many more books and later turn them into movies (may be).

RC Rating: 5/5. A beautifully written tale unravelling the complexity human character, emotions and relationships. A not to miss story. A great read for a beginner and a delight for the seasoned one. Highly recommended.



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