Title : Sikandar
Author : Binayak Banerjee (Translated By Soma Ghosh)
Pubisher : Westland
The one feeling which will remain with the readers after having read the complete book, is that of utter confusion. The book begins by introducing the ten characters who are part of the reality show on the format of Big Boss or Big Brother. I was paying extra attention to the part where the characters were introduced but despite all eyes, other senses and mind into the book, I lost track of the characters soon after the fourth one entered the scene.
In the times when a whole deluge of reality shows are dished out to the viewers through multitude of channels, it is not difficult to understand the background of the story. 10 contestants have to spend 68 days together in a house – Jatugriha. The motto of the reality show is ‘Jo Jita Wohi Sikandar’( the person who wins will be the Sikandar). The winner has to survive all eliminations which are executed by public voting system. No doubt, the story demanded the character sketches of the ten participants but one thing is sure, unveiling them back to back did not help. With each passing chapter, the confusion keeps building up to such an extent that at one point I felt, the words mouthed by one character could easily have been uttered by another. The characters got all mixed up barring 2-3. Desperate attempts have been made to reach under the skin of the characters who hail from very diverse backgrounds and different walks of life – a teacher, an actor, a hermit, a prostitute, an industrialist, a politician and some more.
The author has tried to put all participants on the driver seat one by one to take the journey forward, but Kanishka Sengupta, the actor and Lovely, the prostitute – hog maximum spotlight. As the show progresses, some old skeletons leave the closets and come out in the public, some hidden secrets are bared while true love kindles in the hearts of two inmates. Another major put off was overdose of philosophical conversations happening in the house.
I am sure the story could have been salvaged somewhere but it leaves the readers completely cheated and me questioning, why would I not watch a Big Boss episode instead of taking the burden to read through this book?
In my opinion, the good books are not the ones which make the readers wreck their brains in trying to make sense out of the story. Unfortunately the story of Sikandar does not go anywhere and the readers keep waiting and wondering – what is the point behind writing this book. Are such books written to just test the patience of readers – whether they can finish reading it from cover to cover? Cannot seem to find a single reason why any one should read it even once. As a book reviewer, I do feel happy that I am actually doing a service to people in my own humble way - dissuading them from some not so readable literature.