Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of 'The Mine' By Arnab Ray

Disclaimer: I'm a friend of the author. Much to my dismay, he hasn't promised me anything to write this.

If I were a Bollywood hero, at this time I should've been in India, trying to trace the author in one of his many book launch events, with the sole purpose of avenging the trauma his book caused my wife. But hero, I'm not. So, I'm at my laptop at quarter past two in the morning, writing this review, while my wife is sleeping next to me, perhaps being haunted by images from the same book in her nightmares. Shameful.

Actually the only word that truly describes the book is repulsive. Perhaps revolting also fits the bill. Yes, the famous humour blogger and author of MIHYAP has come up with the kind of stuff that leaves a terrible stench in the mouth. And from what I understand, that, precisely is what he set out to do in this makeover second book.

'The Mine' is a horror story, but not along the lines of 'Zee Horror Show' or 'Andheri Raat Mein Diya Tere Haath Mein', which of course you'll perhaps associate more with the author. However, in this book Arnab almost makes it a point to not have a single line that can make you smile, leave alone laugh. Through the story of an assorted cast of characters with a past, brought together at 'The Mine', where funny things are going on, we are brought face to face with a different kind of horror, that lies deep within ourselves. The kind that we can't even dare to accept while introspecting. In case I give an impression that it's a philosophical novel which asks you to look into your heart and listen to your parents (I love K3G) I am doing it completely wrong. Think of any sort of macabre grossness and you will find it in the pages of 'The Mine'. Some parts of the book are so explicit in its gory details that I felt uncomfortable to talk to him after reading the book knowing what his fertile imagination is capable of cooking up! If you're thinking of sweeping that girl you've been fancying for sometime by gifting a copy of this on the day of Saint Valentine's feast, consider yourself warned.

I personally have always felt that Arnab is a far superior writer while tackling serious issues and topics and his thorough research for so many of his blog posts have helped me and others to understand many complicated world issues in a very personalized and descriptive fashion. 'The Mine' is the epitome of his serious, focused, researched and nuanced writing. 

I don't want to give away any part of the story, even inadvertently, because I feel the very essence of the book is in facing the unexpected and is best enjoyed by going in with no preconceived notion, besides being ready to bear some very hard hitting ideas. [Plug: The Mine is available here, here and here among others]

It takes immense courage to present oneself, so early in one's career, in a completely different shade from what the audience expects and then to shock them with the kind of negativity and gore as is there in the book. I will perhaps even go to the extent of comparing this book to Sir's (SRK for the uninitiated) anti-hero roles during the early 90s. And I don't compare people or works to Sir very often or very lightly.
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