I attended the launch of Om Shanti Babe in England and I have to admit, it was brilliant. There was Indian food, Indian dance, and Indian ambiance. All in all it was a very ‘Bollywood’ evening and the funny part is that the author is British!
Helen Limon made a presentation about her visit to India and how her perceptions changed. Her state of mind is very noticeable in the main protagonist of the book, Cassia, who has set foot on the shores of the Indian Ocean for the first time as she gets off the plane with her mother in Trivandrum.
Even though this book is written for younger readers, I was totally engrossed from the beginning because I wanted to know what it was that Cassia had done to anger her friends in England that forced her to drop out that year and come to India. Also the main problem of the construction of a big Hotel that threatened the village was very current and relevant.
I felt myself getting close to the characters, the spoilt brat Priyanka and the charming Dev. Cassia’s eccentric mother and Priyanka’s productive one make a very cool duo of friends who make wonderful role models for each others’ daughters. Mr. Vikram though gets really annoying for Cassia and in turn to the reader because of his constant meddling and weird ways which are very foreign to Cassia but not so for an Indian reader. He is that ‘uncle’ who think he can scold you because he knows your parents.
Limon very successfully uses the voice of a thirteen-year-old Cassia to unfold the story and so the reader can see India through the eyes of a young English girl on a journey. Cassia’s awe at how different India was from all the movies she had seen, yet how similar is absolutely adorable. Being an Indian, it was very funny for me to read what foreigners actually have in mind when they think about our country.
A charming tale with two budding romances, an urban mystery, a rock concert, an elusive villain, a strong group of heros, music and dancing; this book has all the making of a typical ‘Masala’ fiction!
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
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