Twitter review: Vibrant premise. Promising buildup. Crazy characters. Parallel worlds. Dry wit. Wet dreams. Anti-climactic climax.
Exciting setup: Ram is a product of soporific Shankar & voluptuous Parvati. A freak accident converts baby Ram into a murderer(!!), gets him newly coined as Ravan (to ward off the evil eye) and unwittingly links his life forever with Eddie, son of the ‘murdered’ Victor. Aha!
Parallel criss-cross lives: Ravan is coaxed towards Hinduism and Eddie towards Christianity. Instead, both rebel and trespass into other’s territory.
Ravan gets into Eklavya-mode and finds his tutor Dronacharya in a Taekwondo master. Eddie masters malla-khamb under a Hinduist tutor and gets fascinated with Mahabharata and Krishna. They even gravitate towards Shammi Kapoor & Elvis Presley respectively.
Hindu-Christian chawl: Ravan and Eddie are suitably juxtaposed on different floors of same chawl. This paves the way for ‘farcical, bawdy and self-deprecatory’ notes (in author’s own words) on bathing, praying, mourning, eating, dating customs. It makes for a fascinating cultural peek for outsiders and a cheeky comfort zone for insiders.
Chawl life is painted in broad strokes (They lived private lives in public spaces) with all its ensuing claustrophobia; visceral depictions of tap water battles (the water pipe went into epileptic spasm, vomited 17 drops of brown goo before it shuddered to shoot out venomous jet of water).
Post colonial Indian obsessions: are depicted precisely & faithfully. From fair skin (It is on par with virginity, is more precious than Nirvana or immortality), to English language (It’s absence turned the tables on Hindus, made them feel like untouchables) and silver screen Bollywood-Hollywood idols.
Teenage boys: There are massive homages to raging hormones, blowjobs, masturbations, incest, ragging, clandestine bathroom encounters and black magic boasts.
2 Mothers: Parvati and Violet are far more interesting than their respective titular sons.
I would have loved to know the secret behind Violet’s enigmatic refusal (The reasons are mine and mine alone) of suitable suitor in favor of dour Victor. Her smoldering resentment shows in ‘To her dying day, she would not stop mourning the man she could never forgive,’ but yet leaves her persona unexplained and unexplored.
Same with sweaty & sensuous Parvati. I really egged her on to out-trick Shankar’s mistress. Instead her final choice of weapons were 1} her ample, taut, towering breasts and 2} her sharp vili , a scythe like kitchen tool. So, why wait till page 305 to use the weapons she possessed since page 1?
Parvati uses her sensuality to save her home while Violet curbs her sensuality for the exact same reason – a study in contrasts?
I wish their sons had mirrored them better.
Verdict: 4 stars for whacky characters, evocative visual language, cheeky humor and heightened expectations. Minus 1 star for often derailing off the intended track and ending abruptly in no man’s land.
Much like a film screen that says ‘Interval’ rather than ‘The End’. Awaiting Part 2. I hope R&E grow up. On second thoughts, I hope they don’t grow up.