20 January, 2021


Rich plot, but dull rendering

IF you want to be kind to Sanjay Nigam's first novel, read it as a fable. Sonalal, self-proclaimed snake charmer par excellence at Delhi's Humayun tomb, is having an extraordinarily lucrative day. What with an international sports tournament opening, the city's monuments are thronged by foreign and Indian tourists alike—a day of easy pickings for Sonalal and his ilk, and a long day at that. Indeed, as he beguiles his increasingly fatigued cobra Raju with music so enchanting that it almost warrants him a place in history, ten, fifty and hundred rupee notes shower thick and fast.

Which, of course, turns out to be Sonalal's undoing. Distracted by the currency downpour, his been strikes a false note. A split second that changes his destiny as Raju, his companion of 15 years, leap ups and bites him—an affront Sonalal repays in full measure by biting Raju into two. Even as Sonalal tries to make peace with this despicable act of fratricide, his quaint tale is instantly blown up on the front pages of newspapers. An uncomfortable hero, for the first time he is taken...



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