I have been an admirer of Shobhaa De for long. I say so unabashedly. I follow her blog where I particularly like her tongue in cheek comments on anything and everything, especially celebrities in India and she knows more of them than most.
It was very eagerly therefore that I took up her latest novel, “Sethji.” The blurb on the cover says, ” When power becomes the ultimate aphrodisiac…” and the back cover copy has,” The book that does to politics what Starry Nights did to Bollywood- here is Shobhaa De at her sizzling best.”
The fact that I could whiz through the 290 pages speaks of her lucid style and easy to read content. It has all the trademarks of what we have come to expect from a Shobhaa De novel, the Hinglish thrown in from time to time, the Bambaya Hindi and lots of local colour of India and her characters that only a shrewd and seasoned observer like her catches so effortlessly. I have of course not spoken of the sex, which is a given!
If you have a pre-conceived idea of what politicians in India are like, you will relate very easily to Sethji. He is slimy, crafty, ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. On top of all that he plays the ‘supporter of the poor and downtrodden’ role to perfection.
I liked, as always, her characters. Be it Sethji himself, the glamorous and enigmatic Amrita or the powerful “Bhau” the man who owns Mumbai, they are so well-crafted. The descriptions in the book again speak of the author’s ability to observe and graphically describe all that we see around us. The story itself is entirely believable.
The plot left me rather disappointed. It was too much along expected lines, with no twists and turns one would have liked to see. Overall a good read, if you like Shobhaa’s writing. Otherwise, you might find it shallow and tacky. But that’s what politics in India today is largely about, I am afraid.