Book#8

Set among the power corridors of India’s capital is the book ‘The Honest Season’,a political thriller by Kota Neelima for which this  review is being written.

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A Story about Conscience,Truth and Consciousness

The title ‘The Honest Season’ becomes quite compelling as ‘Honesty and Politics’ do not gel together in today’s scenario.The  book is a political thriller, as suggested by the blurb below:

“2 political rivals fighting for power

1 journalist caught in the battle

6 tapes secretly recorded in Parliament

1 government with a lot to hide

Sikander Bansi, an unlikely political heir in Delhi, secretly records politicians in Parliament as they haggle to become cabinet ministers, bag defence contracts, dodge criminal charges and collect corporate largesse. Among them is a rising leader of the People’s Party, Nalan Malik, whose success has come through unscrupulous means.

When Sikander suddenly disappears, Mira Mouli, a newspaper journalist with an unusual gift for knowing people’s thoughts, receives the controversial Parliament tapes along with clues to find him. She is attracted to Sikander’s principles and is wary of Nalan’s deceit. But her powers of knowing tell her a different story, one that she can unravel only at the cost of her life”

The book cover is apt and fits the story: the tall-closed gates coloured in black n white and the flying doves are symbolic of the inaccessibility of the temple of ‘Democracy and Freedom’- and its actual happenings to the general public. I was reminded of how black n white complement each other and are interdependent though opposites!

The story deals with a ‘know journalist’-Mira, caught amidst the release of scandalous tapes set to reveal the truth behind the various Government deals and decisions that are finalised on the pretext of public welfare,economic growth and a country’s development(One needs to read the book to know more about the ‘know’journalist concept). Sikander comes across as a rebel to his own father and political party. He is in a similar situation like Mira wherein he does not see any one around who is his own.The characterization of Sikander is interesting as he is so unlike the politician we all know! On the other hand Nalan comes across as a witty politician who does not mind trampling on whoever comes in between him and the chair of power. Yet both these characters are bound and driven by ‘Mira’ who can interpret their thoughts and decisions.

The language used by the writer is simple yet effective, especially the paragraphs- which reveal the tapes, talks about the fate of girls and Mira’s past. The line ‘There are no homes for girls in this country;girls are tenants everywhere’ specifically stands out as it hits hard and drives home the general apathy towards Women. The metaphors used particularly to describe the contents of the tape, rain and the mood in the story,are commendable and beautiful. Metaphors like ‘Effigies running the Parliament’ is a veiled assault over our parliamentarians who stray away from their responsibilities.

Neelima has been both critical and appreciative of the media through the delusions and apprehensions of the character- Munshi, the proprietor of the media house in which Mira works in the story. As a reader, one cannot brush off the various issues and scams raised in the parliamentary tapes of the story as fiction! Neelima having been a journalist for 20years herself, has brought about an authenticity to the details mentioned in the tapes and one is compelled to believe that indeed politics is murkier than what we expect it to be! Be it the Kim Sharma tape which reminds one of the Radia gate or the Lochan Reddy tape reminding of the bitter truth that Andhra Pradesh has been bifurcated for political and corporate benefits, the thin line between fiction and reality in this story is blurred. The unfortunate Farmer suicide episode in one of the newest political party’s rally and reading about what went behind the scenes, stirred a churn in my stomach!

I found the character of Mira- a personification of truth who is being pulled apart by her conscience:Sikander and her consciousness:Nalan, on either sides. The ‘rain’ symbolic of the wonderful journey of life is the only constant companion of Mira in the story. Mira’s life can be demarcated and described in a nutshell as resembling the epithet ‘Sat-chit-ananda'(described in the Bhagavadh Gita) Sat- existence , chit- reflect upon, ananda-bliss. One cannot miss many more such similarities between Gita and ‘The Honest Season’ and symbolically Gita does play a part in this book. To know how and why, one must read the book as it forms the crux.

While reading the book, I wished it to be a little fast paced and 20-30 pages short, which stopped me from showering an extra star on this book. Also, a strong character like Mira succumbing to her weakness often,casts a doubt on the characterisation of the protagonist.

However the writer deserves the credit for keeping the reader on tenterhooks till the very end as the character sketch of the actual ‘Antagonist’ keeps changing over the chapters. Mira resembles ‘Arjuna’ of the Mahabharata being guided by Krishna as well as Chanakya on either sides, till the last page!

This book is an insightful journey into the darker as well as the brighter sides (if any) of Political parties and power corridors! In the recent past, when citizens are often seen questioning the role played by journalists and the consequences of the various media trials happening around, this story might provide the much needed solace of knowing that Journalism is still an honest profession and it is indeed a powerful tool to revolutinise a society and make the wrong doers culpable ‘If and only if’ used in the Right way! Do grab a copy to get an insight into how the political parties function and to unmask many of the politicians who have a great following…A must read!

I give this book a rating of 4 / 5 !

Title               :       The Honest Season

Author          :       Kota Neelima

Total Pages  :       364

Genre            :       Fiction/ Political Thriller

Publishers   :       Random House India

Courtesy       :      WritersMelon

I received this book from WritersMelon in exchange for an honest review.

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