“Never judge a book by its cover”
I think this saying should be printed on each and every copy of ” A splash of Love” as a statuary warning! I have never ever come across a book which deserves this saying more than the novel under review.
If you are wondering “Why”, have a look at the cover page and tell me what would your initial reaction be, on seeing a couple engaged in a passionate kiss under the title “A Splash of Love A Kiss of Infatuation”.
Well, as an ordinary mortal, I believed it to be a mushy mushy love story, with lots of pure love, innocent infatuation and pretty distractions. In short, a delectable sweet little romance with a liberal dash of attractions and passions.
But, I couldn’t be more wrong. The moment I opened the book, I was in for a shock. Contrary to all my expectations, the story opened in a small East Indian village, with a rustic boy talking about his friends, family and home in nostalgic terms. It is evident that something tragic has happened in his village, which was once bountiful in youth, beauty and money.
However, the reason for tragedy is not loss of love, as one would expect in a typical romance, but is something much more practical and real. The pseudo socialism of ‘Red Brigade’ has destroyed the peace and serenity of this small village, predictably located in one of the lesser known parts of Bihar. The administration has been overtaken by the self acclaimed revolutionaries, creating chaos and total collapse of system, in the beloved motherland of our unusual hero.
The unfortunate circumstances coupled with the loss of a dear friend scar him for life. Alienated from his birth place, he is forced to change his loyalties and to become a snobbish city youth, who looks down upon anything from the far lands of East India as below par and inferior.
And, thus begins the journey of Arunoday, the hero and the charismatic narrator of Rajeev Ranjan’s debut novel, “A Splash of Love, A Kiss of Infatuation” published by Diamond Pocket Books, that I received a few days back for review.
With an unusual beginning and its clever way to trap the curiosity of the readers, I just loved the novel for its unique plot and immaculate structure. In the beginning itself, Rajeev emphasized upon the rustic humble background of Arun, a young lad, who strives to create a worthy image of himself in this ruthless world. The head strong romance and desperate attempts to woo as many ladies as possible, appear to be a part of Arun’s strategy pf proving himself superior to his friends and adversaries.
Arunoday nurses a dream of becoming a Horse riding army officer, with shining medals on his shoulder. However, fate denies him his dream, and, he reluctantly joins Delhi University as a Post Graduate student of Physics. Despite his wayward nature, he is lucky to find true love in Sanjana, who is ready to leave all her morals for the sake of Arun.
Soon, the novel gets true to its name. The simple, unsure boy transforms into a handsome hunk, and is not only able to make Sanjana fall in love with himself, but is also able to romance another attractive student Anjali.
He seems to be on top of the world and is seen juggling with two beauties at the same time, trying hard to please both of them and to derive maximum pleasure out of his sojourns.
However as the novel progressed, I got the feeling of reading a print version of the movie ‘Garam Masala’, with goofy Akshay skilfully dividing his time between his girlfriends. The novel appeared to be a male version of chick lit, written by a man, out to play his male fantasies in the most charming ways and an eye catcher, for his not-so-lucky counterparts, who can relish their deep desires being enacted on screen.
However, soon, I was proved wrong once again. The smart author does know how to change tracks and before I could even guess, Arun has lost all his love and is stranded on the empty beaches of Mumbai.
In Mumbai, he undergoes another transformation, after first hand experience of love without passion and the strange phone-love-story of Vishal, he is able to overcome his own derision of his village folks and like a true blue man of earth, begins to work towards the betterment of his village and country.
This huge change left me panting to keep pace with Rajeev’s unique notions and rapidly changing moralities and ideas. I had tough time imagining that self less Arun of later chapters is the same love lorn hyper excited DU student Arunoday. The transition was massive, unbelievable, and yet pleasant. It changed the novel from just being a romance, to an endless journey of a man, who strives to change his world for the better.
During the last few chapters, I had a feeling that the earlier romantic Arun was just a fallacy, a juxtaposition, added to deal with the pretext that only love/lust sells. The real Arun is someone depicted only at the end, a true patriotic, self sacrificing young man.
Kudos to Rajeev for writing such an unusual love story, which rises above the mundane lust and settles only for the higher nuances of true love.
I simply loved the easy conversational style Rajeev employed, to tell a mesmerizing tale. Another good thing, is that he divided the narrative in small chapters, with each chapter beginning with a small intro, setting the tone of the story about to be unfolded, very much in the manner of a typical Indian story teller.
Another feather in his cap, is his unusual style of highlighting the name of the characters, by putting the names in inverted commas. Since, he has written this story in first person, the name of the Hero/narrator Arunoday is not mentioned till the fifth chapter, yet, I felt as if I know him as well as an old friend. All this was possible only due to Rajeev’s unparalleled strength of good narration. In short, whatever I missed in Gopal’s mature Refuge, I found it in Rajeev’s immature love.
However, I did find a few flaws. First of all, I did not like the way Arun takes the fairer sex for granted, thinking as if they are only there to be swept off their feet, by a lanky, careless man. The woman in me, could not accept him as real and found the other Arun, the thinking man to be much better and grounded to reality. Though, in my opinion, Rajeev could have reduced the sermon like lecturing he indulges in the 28th and 29th chapters. All of us as fellow Indians are aware of the complexes and problems faced by some of the less fortunate parts of our great country. Highlighting the plights again and again, just make them more vulnerable, and somewhere down the line, make the reader bored and apathetic to the story.
All said and done, “A Splash of Love” is a wonderful first creation of a debutant writer. Despite its unbelievable self inflated super male ego, it is definitely, worth a read.
Book : A Splash of Love A kiss of infatuation
Author : Rajeev Ranjan
Published by : Diamond Pocket Books
Edition : 2011 (Paperback)
No. of Pages : 212
Cost : Rs. 100/-