Looking for Love?

October 2, 2011

Book Review - 48 : All and Nothing

Author: Raksha Bharadia
Publisher: Rupa Publications

All and nothing tells the tale of five individuals. Tina is a talented artist, desperately in love with the successful careerist Aditya. But he cannot let go of his past. Their marriage sours and Tina teeters on the edge. Kriya is a fashion designer, chic and successful- but tormented; Poorvi, is a socialite and feminist - but discontented; Manas is a struggling copyrighter, besotted with Gayatri - but plagued; Upasna is a willing victim of domestic violence. Then one day, Tina summons her friends to share their stories from the beginning.

All and nothing is a story about relationships - how they grow, how they nurture, how they break up and how they can be saved. The style and the tone of the book is contemporary, with short and crisp chapters the narrative is almost never stagnated. Flitting between the past and the present, the author exposes us to the various intricacies of the protagonist lives. Aditya and Tina's relationship take the most space and all other stories happen to be in the background. Others provide almost a voyeuristic description of their lives, spilling out their dirty secrets in the public....making you feel their pain and the dilemmas.

Aditya's relationship with Antara is explored to the T and their sexual flirtations are well captured. Both these grey characters hold your attention because you know they are doing wrong, yet you never feel sympathetic towards them. Some may feel Aditya got off easily in the end, but then redemption of his love life is something what fascinated me the most. In fact, even all other loose ends are tied up pretty well in the climax. There is no closure for couple of characters, which personally i found intriguing.

On the downside, there is an over-usage of vernacular language in Bengali. The situations mostly remains grim and serious, which may irk a few readers. There are certain portions, told in flashback, which stays on for a little too long and does not provide enough justification for the protagonist readers. The plot is not unique, but by crisp editing and refreshing approach....the book works, almost.

I am going with 3/5 for Raksha Bharadia's 'All and Nothing'.It is a quick read, one you can finish in 2 hours or so and will leave you with a goody-good feeling. Read it with an open mind, it is not extraordinary but a story told with simplicity. Sometimes, even that is a big task for writers.

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