The essence of train journeys is making friends that you would never meet again. But this debut fiction book by Swayam Ganguly defies this one irrefutable logic of India. This book is about following your dreams and pursuing your passions. It focuses on the three main passions of today’s generation: love, movies and music. Set in the City of Joy (Kolkata), the book is a one-time, breezy read.
Sunil, Sam and Dipsy are on the same compartment in a train from Jamshedpur to Kolkata and by the rules of Indian train journeys, become friends. Each has his own agenda: Sunil wants to cut it big in the Bengali movie industry, Sameer, a software professional working in USA wants to get married and Dipsy wants to pursue his passion for music. The book chronicles this changing period in the three boys lives. The title describes the book as Sunil finds peace in films, Sameer in love and Dipsy in rock and roll.
The most compelling tale is Dipsy’s, maybe because of the multiplicity of issues surrounding his life, or maybe because he is living every teenager’s wet dream: the rock n’ roll musician. His interest in the Baul music genre is very interesting. In contrast, Sameer’s story emerges as the weakest, but still has strong undertones about the sensibility of today’s youth when it comes to picking life-partners. More than Sunil’s story, it is Sunil’s personality that captured my attention. He comes across as the most sensible of the three.
The book shows the transition from the carefree college days to the working days, which most authors ignore today. It draws various comparisons between the two periods of life. The Bengali setting is quite strong in the book, with many lines in Bengali. This, I believe adds to the charm of the book and makes it more relate-able to Indian audiences. The references to Satyajit Ray movies are definitely plus point, as are the jokes (with hidden serious commentaries) about the Indian movie industry. The difficulties in forming a band are well-presented with a great mix of oddballs as the band members. The home-sickness of American life is a topic that is shunned and considered unimportant. The author puts much importance on this and plays it up well.
The book is witty and short. It doesn’t concentrate on just one issue and caters to the multitasking mind of today. But it lacks finesse in the writing department and in the editing. The book is littered with editing mistakes and often feels like the first draft and not the published material. The amateurism of the author comes through as the style is unrefined.
All-in-all, the book makes for a quick and fun read, possibly on a train. Though it means well, the sloppy writing may get to you.
Overall Rating: 7/10
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