Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another Chance by Ahmed Faiyaz- A Review

"At the end of love there is unloving, when you can engage in the ceaseless hunt for all those things to be taken out, and somehow discarded, when you can fight against the new roads and try, futilely, to return to what you were before." -Page 180, Another Chance.
Much thought goes into deciding the title for a book. No matter what genre, what subject, what type a book, a title is supposed to provide just enough peek into a book's soul, without revealing too much about it. It is your first impression of the book, and in case of novels, fiction novels such as the one I am attempting to review, the title of the book is supposed to hold the story together, even guide the reader when he feels lost about the direction the book will take after the next turn in the story. Ahmed Faiyaz's Another Chance boasts of a title which is precise and perfect. It encapsulates the very essence of the book in a mere two words- Another Chance. To a romantic's heart (read:me) these two words are almost a philosophy. In Ahmed's novel, they are a simple expression of the desire which harries many a unlucky-but-still-in-love hearts. The Desire For Another Chance.

The plot of the book revolves around a single girl-Ruheen Oberoi, described by the author as a depressingly gorgeous woman in the prelude to the novel. She is a hep, free spirited girl, sought after girl, brought up by an indulging grandfather, who lost her parents when young. Aditya Sharma, Ruheen's enduring lover, a young corporate trying to make his mark, is the second protagonist in this novel. His commitment to Ruheen is almost dreamlike- but much comes in the way of consummation of their love. A string of men enter Ruheen's life at successive junctures- A politician's son and Ruheen's obsessive stalker-Vishal, Ruheen's childhood friend with feelings for her-Varun, and then Ruheen's good-for-nothing, abusive husband-Rohan. Luck, as is guessable, does not favor Ruheen's relationship with any. At a young age, battered by the chicaneries of life, Ruheen gives up hope for finding love and comfort in a man's arms, when Aditya re-enters her life. However, love, as we know it, is not a simple road to tread on. It comes with its own complications, its own compulsions, its own tests. Will Ruheen finally find happiness? Does love deserve a second chance? Is the human heart, with all its weaknesses, a sound guide to consult while making life altering decisions? All this, and more, you ponder as you flip through the pages of Another Chance.

After Love, Life & All That Jazz... it is the second book by Ahmed Faiyaz that I am reading. Like the earlier one, this too has done a decent job of providing me a good, entertaining, and moving story which is not too heavy and easy to relate with. Having read these two books, I can conveniently say, that Ahmed does fabulously when it comes to painting close-to-home, real life characters. While in the last book, what could have been three independent stories were intertwined in the narrative, here it helps to have just one rather simple story to follow and focus attention on. Simple, but replete with exciting twists and turns.

It took me about quarter to four hours to read the book, and I am by no means a fast reader. It is much like a bollywood romance, which engages, touches, entertains, and leaves you with happy tears in the end. Do not pick this book to satisfy the literary critic in you. Pick this book for catching some fresh air, a simple break from your otherwise ridden-with-anxieties life. As I said, not heavy duty stuff in this book. An easy, light read, whose climax builds up like that of a mushy, romantic flick. When during the course of the book you start sharing the agony of the character and get desperate for them to achieve happiness, you know that the writer has succeeded in casting his spell on you- in binding you together with the narrative. I have a proclivity towards falling for nicely narrated romances. This one gets 3 on 5 stars from me for primarily two reasons. First is its ending- they way it builds up, gives you hope, then perturbs you, then leaves you with fond tears. Second is for the author's handling of human emotions- their gullibility and resilience- and for his treatment of the dynamics of a new age, urban relationship. The narrative of the books shifts between many locations, Indian and foreign- and the screenplay like storytelling makes it conveniently possible to imagine vividly the characters and their setting. If you read with as much passion as I do, you'll lose yourself to the story. And in my view, that is how one should read to draw maximum satisfaction from a book.

I cannot end this review without mentioning the brilliant cover portrait of Bruna Abdullah which almost brings Ruheen's character alive in front of your eyes. Her expression on the cover was the first thing that made me want this book. For all of you wanting to a read a little mature and not an utterly cheesy romance with no load, do remember to pick this up on your next trip to a book shop.