Screen Presencehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/screen-presence-9/

Screen Presence

A fantastic caricature of the genius,artistic Bengali boss everyone in media both wishes and dreads to have.

Book: Scandal Point

Author: Fahad Samar

PublisherHa: rper Collins

Price: Rs 250

Pages: 288

Some Bollywood biggie is going to read this book,shout eureka!,and run naked from his sunken bath,scattering assorted concubines in his wake,in his bid to grab the rights for the celluloid version. Scandal Point,Fahad Samar’s debut novel,is awash with characters who fit every Bollywood cliché,from randy fathers with dark secrets in their past,to wayward sons,questions of paternity,mistresses and long-suffering wives, family honour and feuds,and,more to the point,enough sex and scandals to keep the reader in a voyeuristic frenzy from start to end. Samar (a columnist with this paper) has a film background,lives in Mumbai,is married to actor Simone Singh,and moves in Bollywood/Page 3 circles,so it is no surprise that many of the real-life scandals we have read about are tweaked and given new life,as is the case with the characters.

The author admits that his being part of the film industry was the reason he chose to make it the integral thread of the plot,but that also becomes its biggest drawback; familiarity breeds contempt and his treatment of subject and characters turns Bollywood into a cruel caricature. There’s a thin line between what we all know from scandal sheets and gossip columns over the years and what appears in this book. For all that,there are some hilarious passages and the writer has the ability to turn a clever phrase. This really qualifies as

what the trade calls an airport novel,a quickie read with enough twists,turns,sex and scandal to keep you entertained till your

flight takes off.

A Dark Shade of Grey

Book: End of Story?

Author: nArjun Shekhar

Publisher: Hachette

Price: Rs 350

Pages: 325

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Shurukat Ali is in a jam. The Supreme Court has banned all forms of electronic advertising across the country,causing TV channels,bereft of their lifeblood,to shut down. This has a significantly adverse effect on Ali,an anchor at the “tabloid” news channel,Khulasa. If that wasn’t enough,he’s been summoned to testify in the murder trial of his former boss,Satya Saachi Sengupta,and knows a lot more about the case than a witness ideally should. It probably doesn’t help that Sengupta is in all probability involved in the subliminal messaging,which was introduced into advertisements,leading to their ban in the first place. In the throes of a moral conundrum,Ali imagines a conversation with the prosecuting counsel,recounting his tale of woe.

And thus begins End of Story?,an engaging read,not least because its narrator,who is witty without being arrogant,whose observations of everyday urban life turns Delhi into a microcosm of contemporary metropolitan India. The writing is cynical in intent,while optimistic in nature and the book,while not quite a black comedy,is a pretty dark shade of grey. Slightly schmaltzy at some turns,it nevertheless manages to grab the reader,specially because of its characters. Ali is a less-than-devout Muslim (see his ever-at-hand chhota Gold Flake box and conveniently located flask) with a penchant for the Hare Krishna chant,a habit thoroughly disapproved of by his militantly secular Hindu wife,Siyahi. And of course,there is Satya Saachi Sengupta (or “Shotti Shachi Shengupto”),a fantastic caricature of the genius,artistic Bengali boss everyone in media both wishes and dreads to have.

All in all,an arresting read.