Book Title: Faceless-The Only Way Out.
Author: Tapan Ghosh.
Publishing House: Frog Books.
Price: Rs 145/-
It seems like somebody misguided the author with the not-so-secret formula for a B grade hindi flick---characters singing songs at the drop of a hat, trashy hindi dialogues and lots and lots of sex scenes...
...thus "Faceless-The Only Way Out" came into being.
Embarrassed about mistaking a vibrator for a bomb, the anti terror squad go looking for its owner and this is how the story begins.
It then proceeds to introduce each of the characters in quite a crisp and novel manner giving the reader the feeling of a well planned plot ahead.Here, we are introduced to Swapna, Natasha and Sara other than Khush and Shom.
Now coming to Khush and Shom, these are the two of the three (the third being Raima) lead protagonists in the story---successful businessmen in their 40's with families and responsibilities of their own..best friends since childhood.
Although the book blurb introduces Shom as reticent and Khush as the flamboyant one in the duo, one cannot help but feel throughout the book, that both the forty plus men with their swinging life style can be best described by just one colloquial word---"tharkee" (Well,I presumed that overwhelming usage of hindi slang in the book gives the reviewer the privilege to use at least one apt word from the vocabulary, doesn't it?).
Also you cannot help but wonder time and again, whether the character sketch of Khush and Shom would have been more apt for two 23 year old (with raging hormones) college dropouts, instead.
About Khush in his hey days---
"His idea of a gigolo was quite a noble one.He wanted his manhood to be put to use to service a woman in need"
About Shom, the 'reticent' one---
"Shom was a very responsible family man and while he had needs he made sure he satisfied them discreetly."
Raima who is supposedly the 'soul' of the book is a young girl half of shom's age, a part time architect and a part time escort who has an ailing mother to take care of.
As the story unfurls,
---Shom and Raima meet over face book.
---Raima begins to flirt with him on the first chat its self and after a couple of such chats expresses the strong desire to meet up with him.
The notion she harbours about Shom being a genuine man with a great heart and how she falls madly in love with him even when Shom treats her as nothing but a high class escort--throwing money for her services every now and then (with the excuse of staying detached) and making her sign 'no commitments' contracts, is something which is beyond my understanding.But nevermind that.
Raima and Shom (with their differences in age, wealth and background) get along like a house on fire.
---One meeting leads to another and they end up indulging in wild sex every chance they get (which is apparently claimed to be 'sensual' and 'spiritual' though I don't see how since what follows is pages of unplugged passion and corny BB conversations (emoticons et al) which (according to me) qualifies for poor literature-almost bordering on the line of crude porn, which to a limit is acceptable (and if used wisely can add to a good story but not make up for one).
To top it all, Shom's 'butt classification---tori spherical, ellipsoidal, hemispherical yada yada yada' (which he somehow manages to make seem like some kind of well studied rocket science) and Raima's agreement to be a sex toy (all ready to gain weight to look older and at par with Shom and adhering to his advice on butt exercises according to his whims and fancies) rendered her a kind of slutty image and made me cringe and wonder if its the writer's lack of creativity or the male chauvinist in him that is making him stoop to levels like these in the name of 'unconditional' love.
Dialogues like "If you can buy as much as you want of the best quality milk in the market, why do you need a cow?" and
"I think Salman Rushdie has a fascination for shemalesWhy else do you see him with girls who are taller and stronger than him?Look at his ex wives." left me open mouthed at their audacity.
The expletives by Khush and Shom, the topics they discuss and the pick up lines they try further emphasise that perhaps in the bodies of these two 40 plus year old's sugar daddies lie trapped two 'I wannabe a cool stud' ultra desperate retards.
As the story progresses with accounts of escapades in 'The Land Yatcht' and BB conversations, one encounters various exaggerated and half baked explanations clearly overpowering the almost-believable parts which are too few and far in between.
The end is hurried and left loose at the seams.
There are a few instances wherein the author has tried to justify the title of the book.But they fall short to meet the motive.
The plot is clumsy and makes a little sense towards the end with just mention of past life connections, terror attack associations and soul mates---making the reader feel that they are just being used to help make up for the loopholes in an otherwise inadequate script.
The numbers that the characters keep crooning decreases the sensitivity and seriousness of the situation and the 'soul mates' philosophy also seems far from the mark. (If Mr Ghosh wants to use the term 'soul mates', he should back it up with a lot more than just sexual energy between the protagonists.)
Sara, Swapna, Natasha and Aneesha are apparently forgotten along the way and Shoms wife Shantu seems more reticent (read 'daft') than Shom for she is hardly mentioned nor given much thought to.
While the author tries hard to justify why 'prostitution' should be legalised, one cannot help wonder how that would defend the infidel nature of cheating husbands or partners. (Even though legalising prostitution might help decrease the crime rate, it would with equal intensity continue to crumble the hearts and homes of those who indulge in it--on the sly or not.)
The 'Aruna' angle to the story did catch my interest and had the ending been more elaborate than just a mad rush to fix the missing pieces, it would have made much better sense.
The 'soul mate' connection had much more potential and should have been handled with fragility...and so should have the terror attacks.
The one good thing about 'Faceless' is that its a super fast read.The language is easy though the writing is way below the line.
However there is an autobiographical element in the book.With the backdrop being South Mumbai, one manages to catch glimpses of familiarity in the random happenings---a tact which Tapan has used quite interestingly.
The intriguing cover page and book title would definitely attract the reader into buying this book.How far it succeeds in carving a niche, is entirely upto the reader.
As far as I am concerned, I expect better from a book and would personally rate 'Faceless' to be a tad bit disappointing.
However the writing has potential and this being a first attempt, there is surely scope for improvement.
About the author: Tapan Ghosh is an engineer by profession and an adventurous man at heart who has lived life on his own terms.
This is his first attempt outside the field of science and technology.
His website: www.tapanghosh.in
Rating: 1 out of 5