How About A Sin Tonight?, by Novoneel Chakraborty

How About A Sin Tonight? by Novoneel ChakrabortyWhen I started this book, I did not have any expectations. In fact, within a few pages, I had rated it a 1.5 or 2 out of 5. But ratings change as stories proceed!
The summary: The story of four individuals (five, if you count Mehfil, who has a short, but strong presence in the story) and how their lives are brought together in a geometrically-shaped love/hate story.
The characters: Shahraan – the ruling “superstar” of Bollywood. Rags-to-riches story, that is neither completely bewildering nor truly believable. Pretty easy on the mind, you believe it for the sake of continuing the story. Mehfil – Shahraan’s one true love; the one whom he could never forget, no matter how hard he tried. He tried to replace her (with Reva), but failed. And that’s what’s special about falling in love at twenty-one or twenty-two. The innocence of it, which overlooks religion, financial standing, professions, gives it a shade of depth that love at no other age can give. Reva – weak, star-struck. The one character in this book that I was totally indifferent towards. Neev – the typical Indian male, with his own set of ideas of right and wrong, that are different for men and women. Nishani – she is one lovable character! Strong head on her shoulders, ambitious. Focused in a nearly self-destructive way. Intelligent, but vulnerable due to some innocence. Complex, but deceptively simple. And Kaash – the formerly fat kid who grows up to be a movie star (for some reason, I kept picturing Matthew Lewis while reading about Kaash!)
The technique: The prose is pretty straightforward. It is set in the present times, so there is not much you can do to make it better. Some metaphors could have been avoided simply because they make no sense. Also, instead of dividing the book into 3 parts based on the year the events took place, with the first (1986-2010) being exceedingly long, the author could have divided the book into parts character-wise. All the main characters are introduced in the first part, serially, which leads us to travel back in time with the introduction of each new character. Somewhere, we lose track of the timelines in the lives of the individual characters when the rest of the story takes place.
While the female characters seem well thought out, letting the reader assume that they all have background stories, nearly all the male characters have shades of Neev. They all have character-traits that bear an uncanny resemblance to each other, be it Vishal, Rehaan, or even Rakesh. Kaash is an exception to this rule. His love for Nishani is so heartbreaking that the reader wants him, at some point or the other, to confess his love. But some things are better left unspoken. Vishwas was one character, who could have been edited off and no one would have missed him. I did not see a point of having in him in the story. My assumption is that the author had a lot of thoughts to share and he obviously did not want them to be shared via a monologue by Nishani.
Overall it was a good read. Some insightful thoughts on love and life – truths we all know, but don’t recognize unless someone takes the pains to put it in print! 3/5!
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