My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The year was 2009. It was Republic Day. I was window shopping at a quaint bookstore opposite Navina, waiting for the matinee show of a Hindi horror movie to begin. Casually strolling across aisles, one book cover caught my attention. I flipped through the pages, was hooked to the plot, and immediately bought the book. It was ‘The Zoya Factor’. I became a fan of Anuja Chauhan.
Then came the tale of Thakur girls of Hailey Road (I still pay a visit to 16, Hailey Road, everytime I visit Delhi) and my love for Anuja’s works grew even stronger. Not to forget Baaz and Battle for Bittora in between. So, when ‘Club You To Death’ was available for pre-booking on Amazon, I did not waste a second. And boy, was it a good decision to buy the book.
True to her style, Anuja Chauhan transports us to a world of the high-end Delhi elites, who live in their sweet cocoons, unruffled by the upheavals in the society around them. All that keeps them busy are the occasional wine-sipping, bitching sessions at their favourite club, or their Zumba class where the ladies swoon over the instructor, or shaping up the business, which makes them feel important and worthwhile.
The ‘happy’ mundane lives of these club-hopping rich people is thrown into a spin when the gym instructor is found dead in mysterious circumstances and the investigation reveals deep, dark secrets everyone has been trying to brush under the carpet (or should we say, bury deep into the ground?).
That a murder-mystery can be so fun and comical was surely beyond my imagination. Whether it is the typical snobbish aunties (Roshni and Cookie) or the retired Army General (Behra Mehra) or the ‘cool’ Dadi of the Dogra family, every character has been sketched with such perfection, that one must tip their hats off to Anuja. The dialogues are witty (written in true Anuja Chauhan style, with spellings altered the way many Indians pronounce words), the story moves at a brisk pace, and the climax will keep your jaws wide open.
One cannot help but also read between the lines, and applaud Anuja for speaking truth to the power, with small sub-plots strewn across the book. It takes courage to pen down satire, in this age of hashtag activism and cancel-culture.
And of course. Just like Dylan, Samar or Nikhil in her earlier works, Anuja gifts are charming and effusive Kashi (Akash) Dogra in this book. A lawyer who gets embroiled in the murder investigation, his broodiness, inner conflict and boyish charm, are enough to swoon over him.
Overall, Club You To Death is definitely a good binge-read on a weekend, the book will not disappoint.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
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Whenever I get the opportunity to read a book penned by Anuja Chandramouli I never let go of it. She is not only a bestselling author but has added a unique touch to retelling tales from Indian mythology. I have been her fan ever since I read her debut novel ‘Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince’.
The most striking facet of her books is the mainstreaming of lesser known characters – whether it is Kamadeva or Yama’s Lieutenant, Ganga or now Mohini. Anuja always gives a voice to the marginalised. And after the feminist touch in Shakti, and Ganga, Anuja brings us a forgotten LGBT character from the mythology – Mohini.
We are all aware of the legend of ‘Samudra Manthan’ and how ‘Amrit’ emerged from the sea. The Devas and Asuras were on the verge of another war over it, when Vishnu took the form of an enchantress and hoodwinked the Asuras. Set against this celestial quest for immortality, Anuja Chandramouli brings to life the tale of Mohini.
Mohini – the name itself means enchantress. We all imagine her as a seductive woman, blessed with extraordinary charm. She is a part of Vishnu, and yet she is independent in her meanderings. She enjoys her autonomy. With her beauty, she can easily enchant the mightiest of kings. She is desired by all, yet she is elusive.
With her lyrical prose, Anuja takes us on a journey of love, lust, desire. She explores the binaries of gender, bringing to light hitherto lesser known tales, which had got lost in the sands of time. Through her magical imagery, we get a fresh glimpse at stories, which we were all so acquainted with. One can always enrich their vocabulary while reading Anuja’s works.
Overall, ‘Mohini – The Enchantress’ is a fitting addition to the rich series of Indian mythological fiction that Anuja Chandramouli has created. It is worthwhile to revisit our rich culture, sans the dogmatic approach, and enjoy soaking in the tales of strong, independent characters, who refuse to be reduced to mere bystanders in the grand scheme of events.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
DISCLAIMER: The Review Copy of the book was provided to me by the author