Trending in Love by Pankaj Dubey
Publisher: Penguin Metro Reads
Price: Rs. 199 INR(Paperback), Rs. 150 INR(Kindle Edition)
Buy here: https://amzn.to/2VQXAs5
Sanam is a carefree, but headstrong young girl. A spat with a politician’s son pushes her take up a big challenge-to become an IAS. At the same time, a small-town boy, Aamir, is nudged into studying for the civil services too. Their hard work pays off when both become rank holders.
And soon their lives come together at the IAS Training Academy, Mussoorie. Love blossoms, but when they decide to spend their lives together, all hell breaks loose. Their religious difference become a reason for clashes between the two communities, social media explodes and things take a dangerous turn.
It seems hate has triumphed over love. What will be Sanam and Aamir’s fate?
A heady mix of dreams and desire, this is a story of undying love in the face of our society’s most dangerous beliefs.
About the author:
Pankaj Dubey is a bestselling bilingual novelist and film-maker. Both his books, What a Loser! and Ishqiyapa: To Hell With Love, published by Penguin India, have been written by him in Hindi as well. He accentuates the socio-political undercurrents with quirks and humour in his style of writing. He has been a journalist with the BBC World Service in London. He was also selected for the prestigious Writers’ Residency in the Seoul Art Space, Yeonhui, Seoul, South Korea, amongst three novelists from Asia in 2016.
My take on the book:
Sanam a bright, young girl has a nasty experience at a pub with a politician’s clout and the next thing on her mind is to reach a powerful position to counter such people. The immediate option she finds is to prepare for the IAS entrance exam. Aamir from Kupwara, Kashmir is happy working a desk job in a hotel but the Major who own the place motivates Aamir to prepare for the IAS entrance, to bring a change in lives of his people in the valley. As fate would have, Sanam tops the entrance, followed by Aamir at second place and both end up at the training academy.
What destiny has in store for these two individuals who are from varied backgrounds and as different as chalk and cheese, and with their own expectations from life? Can love blossom between them and sustain amidst their religious backgrounds, the judging eyes and the social media drama in current days forms rest of the story.
The story starts with Sanam and Aamir finding their own reasons to aspire to become IAS officers and the subsequent run-up of them topping the exam and becoming media sensations overnight. The story picks pace once they reach the academy in Mussoorie and keep bumping into each other on various occasions. The gradual friendship and eventual love between two opposite individuals have been portrayed well by the author. Since the protagonists meet towards the second half of the story, I found the narration more gripping in the later part.
Aamir is the major reason to hold on the reader’s attention with his mysterious charisma, extremely like-able persona and by being different from the average male protagonists we usually come across. His sensible response towards situations, grounded attitude will instantly attract the reader, coupled with his angst for his native land. The way Aamir expresses his ideologies and emotions in simple yet effective prose is how the author gradually builds his character graph.
However, I cannot say the same about Sanam as she comes across as naive, judgmental, insensible and shallow. While the author must have designed her character to be a stark contrast to Aamir, I couldn’t relate to Sanam for most of the story. Aamir’s strong presence however makes up for the lack of depth that Sanam displays. The author also keeps the narrative around Kashmir going subtly all through the book without preaching or taking sides, but rather by showing the practical side of the place and how the residents are caught within the crossfire.
Pick this one to read an interesting contemporary love story, which though melodramatic at places is bound to touch a chord, majorly for its male protagonist.