Live Large or Die Trying

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Romantic Bouncers – 4 stars

Millions of Indian teenagers dream of putting on the jersey of Indian Cricket team but only the brightest of all gets the chance. Rabin is one the dreamers with a shining girlfriend, a few friends of the same feather and a father in Narcotics Control hell bent on him having a traditional and safe ‘naukri-wala’ life. But little do people know when drug and corruption slip in ever-day lives and dig their claws in the flesh of innocence. A story of a ambitious dreamer’s struggle to lurch out of the dark alleys of Kolkata and stepping in the limelight of playing for a cricket crazy nation.

Let me take a moment to talk about current status of Indian novels. A huge portion of Indian writings are now done by bored out IIT/IIM passouts or Bankers whose products can be simply put as “less than 200 hundred pages of funny/romantic things done by young and horny people whose lives suddenly take nice turns within last 30 pages”. It is a sad dark time for Indian novels where reading a third book feels repeat full of same old funny/romance cliche with sex thrown in to make it crispy. And then come authors like Ram Vignesh who not only breaks free of these ‘setups’ but also takes daring risky steps of writing books which digs deeper in to the psychology and dark corners of human mind.

Frankly, I don’t read romantic novels. For me, “Romantic Bouncers” was a cringe-worthy name but somehow the premise at the backcover promising an unique blend of Cricket and Narcotics felt appealing. Although the name sounds like a book of love and even though the book contains the love life of our hero, Romantic Bouncer is not a romantic book at all. It is dark, deep, realistic and sometimes raw. But the strongest is the narration – abrupt, discreet and complex with going back and forth. I am not saying that it’s never seen before but it felt incredible to hear an Indian voice finally taking things up a notch. Our protagonist Rabin feels like the-boy-across-the street from the start and we can all relate easily to his struggles. But even before I knew, I had completed the first half of the book and realized that the book had sunk me like a quicksand. And damn those pages about drug lords and streets of Kolkata! When we watch/read foreign TV shows or crime thrillers we all somehow feel that “those type of things are too much for our alleys”. Ram Vignesh has excelled at that part. His descriptions are neither over the top, nor lousy. And apart from being a little cinematic at some places, they are tight, hard and as real as our knuckles.

I will not get into the story much to avoid the risk of spoiling anything but one thing is for sure that Ram Vignesh is one author to keep an eye out for. I recommend this to any romance, fiction or crime fiction lovers and request to welcome this new wave of Indian writing.
P.S. A warm thanks to Mr Vignesh for providing a copy to review.

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