The Madras Affair
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Rating: Four stars
You are in for a surprise for Sundari Venkatraman’s, ‘The Madras Affair’ releases today.The author who displays effortless finesse in narrating romance stories pushes up the bar higher this time and successfully experiments with a new genre. Yes! It is romance but successfully explore the condition of a woman, a divorcee, her sexuality, struggle from an unsuccessful marriage, in a ultra conservative family firmed in stone aged values around which her whose life revolves and her destiny, meeting the man of her life and her success as head of an NGO. The result is bang on. The author should be credited for exploring the dark side of life, not overdoing it and toning down with the flow ensuring that it’s not heavy. It’s simply a superb read, crafted with lyrical words and perfect take on social conditions of woman, sexuality and romance enmeshed in sync each other with the right dose. The Madras Affair is one book that will touch your heart and soul. Mesmerizing, enticing and simply superb. It belongs to all the women struggling and leading a successful life.
Sangita, head of Penn Urimai – an NGO for downtrodden, homeless and abused women – was not always this successful and confident… Born and brought up in the city of Madras and widowed at just twenty, Sangita builds an iron wall around herself till she meets Gautam who makes her aware of her sensuousness and charms. But Sangita not only has to fight her family’s orthodox and outdated rules, but also her own inhibitions and hesitations before she can walk into the future with her blue-eyed lover. Will Gautam be able to solve Sangita’s dilemma or will she be forever trapped in her past?
credit: Amazon India
Sundari Venkatrman has a natural ability to connect with her readers and the chemistry she shares with them is palatable. It’s a mirror in the world of Sangeeta, her pain, angst as she injects in the character, a degree of complexity that is very well-defined. Sangeeta’s misery never ends when she thinks she earned respite. It’s touching when the cop knocks on the door of Sangeeta to inform about the ‘bad news’ and she feels liberated looking at her only son, Sandeep. The latter is a character that will melt your heart, the innocence of a child wanting a Daddy. It’s scripted in a sensitive manner and gently touches the heart of a child and its imagination. The author makes Sandeep one of the pivotal character in the book, adding charm and spark to ignite the romance between Sangeeta and Gautam.
What I like with Sundari Venkatraman is that she always introduces charming and endearing characters, be it the young child Sandeep and the pet Butter Scotch as well as Sandeep’s lovable grand parents. It’s the clash of ideologies in a civilized society with good grand parents and Sangeeta’s evil parents.
She paints her characters with a human streak be it Gautam’s who is depicted with anger and Sangeeta’s, bottled emotions that is unleashed from time to time. The Madras Affair delves into the conditions of a woman whose soul is insulted and as the character develops, she is expected to bear the mental agony showcasing her difficult sexuality. A woman unsure of herself where her confidence has gone for a toss. She discovers herself in this journey where Sundari Venkatraman touches the sexual tension in a powerful yet sensitive manner. What grip she has on her subject. Simply mesmerizing!
The author explores the hypocrisy in our society, showcasing the double-standard of Sangeeta’s brother Rakesh, remote controlled by the parents. The metaphor used in the narrative in lyrical pose adds nectar to the sensitive subject when Gautam tells his would-be-bride, ‘You look beautiful,like a fresh, dewy rose bud in the early morning sunlight.’ Or, when Gautam’s thoughts perfectly summarize Sangeeta’ character and the woes that left some scars, ‘The beautiful woman didn’t understand her own body.’
The Madras Affair is a novel set against the backdrop of a woman, brutalized by society which almost made her like an abandoned stone with tears stopped in its track. The character is unsure of her self and lives an asexual life, if I have the liberty to say so. It’s a stupendous effort by Sundari Venkatraman in sending a strong message to open our eyes to a hypocrite society, blinded by obsolete beliefs. Having said that, The Madras Affair is not a dark novel but a light, engaging read, crisply narrated with the refreshing and light moments. One particular line is, “Gautam, please. What are you doing on my road?….”Your road? I thought it belonged to the Corporation of Madras.” Simply mesmerizing lines.
The nuances in the characters, Gautam and Sangeeta is visible through the impact made, in particular the tension built in instances of name calling and trust where streak of anger is expressed. Very well built tension that hooks the readers. Sundari Venkatraman has set a new standard in story-telling.
No! The Madras Affair doesn’t lose steam but engages the readers from start to finish. However, I feel that the book could have ended after Gautam and Sangeeta got married and may be, after the honeymoon as Sandeep gets a complete and ideal family. The book enters a lot of detailing into family life, adding an angle of jealousy. Also, the jealousy part with a blink-and-eye appearance of Shobhita should have come earlier with more space before the couple is united. Having said that, the minuses doesn’t take away the charm of The Madras Affair, which is one of the most brilliant books of Sundari Venkatraman.
The Madras Affair couldn’t come at a more perfect time: It’s released on Women’s Equality Day, August 26. It’s a book that will touch your heart for sure, tapping the plight of a woman,combining her emotions, angst, pain and sexuality in her path of self-discovery. The best thing is that Sundari Venkatraman makes Sangeeta and her world an important part of your life. Brilliant, mesmerizing and simply superb. It’s a gem and sure-shot winner.