08 March, 2016

#SpecialFeature :: Meet the men and women of substance

*** Special Feature - March 2016 ***

Meet the men and women of substance

Whenever I go to a bookshop—be it in a mall or in any of the airports —I look for books by Indian authors. And I don’t get disappointed. I get the best in non-fiction—retired bureaucrats, army men and politicians writing their memoirs, successful businessmen sharing their secrets, management gurus detailing the best practices, historians sparring over Aryan invasion, Mughal rule or Asoka. Books that are no inferior to those of international authors in terms of contents and research.

But what do I get in fiction?

Shelves full of school/college romance, extra-marital affairs, sex starved wives, over hyped feminism. Recently I read 3 best sellers of a leading female author. Novel after novel, the heroine despises her husband of arranged marriage and craves to unite with her love of school days. Another thriller by a budding author starts with a four letter abusive word. The heroine uses the word 78 times throughout the novel!

Not that these are not worthy of writing. But is it fair to overwhelm the reader with a skewed version of the modern day woman? Are these what define the woman of the day? Is she not above the material pleasures of life? 

Are women not of substance like Mythili?

Mythili, who? 

Wife the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mythili is an amazing mix of childish enthusiasm and sober maturity. Sounds like a paradox? Hear this. When the High Court acquits her husband Sesha in a hate crime case, she pulls him out of a lecture in Anna University, gives the security guys the slip and takes him out on a late-night romantic drive.  But when a charge of sexual harassment surfaces against Sesha, when her daughter calls Sesha vile and walks out of the house, what does she do? Does it shake her unassailable faith in her husband? It is her response to this challenge that sets her apart from the heroines of contemporary novels.
Photo Courtesy Madan R flickr.com

Mythili may not be the most beautiful woman on Earth, but she has grace, a smiling face and an amiable nature that put people at ease and encourage them to strike a conversation. She may not make everyone give her a second look, but anyone who speaks to her for a few minutes is likely to remember her for a long time.

Does Sesha deserve Mythili? After all, he is a politician. And what is the impression one gets of a politician from Bollywood movies? A believer in God who wears a tilak and sports a thick moustache, a politician is generally illiterate and represents everything that is evil. How does Sesha fare against this definition? Believer? Yes. Illiterate? No way. He is a bright chartered accountant. He heads the investment arm of a multinational bank before landing in politics. Represents evil? Well, Tamil Nadu witnesses phenomenal development during his tenure; he becomes extremely popular among the masses. But then, why does he get embroiled in criminal cases one after another. Are the differences only in external appearance? In substance, is he just another Bollywood politician? Or is he innocent?

             Photo Courtesy Google Images 

How could he be? After all, it is Zarina— the renowned human rights activist who has spent two decades of her life championing the cause of the deprived— who levels the charges against him. At 44, she looks amazingly young. She generally leaves her hair loose. Unless viewed very closely, the dark tan lipstick would not be visible at all. Her brown eyes, a rare phenomenon among Tamils, display a steely resolve to bring the bad elements, however popular they may be, to book. 

Will Sesha survive the charges levelled against him? Is Mythili with him in this fight?

Having learnt all the above, I’m sure you will find it difficult to resist the urge to read Surpanakha

Photo Courtesy Google Images                             

About the Author:
Hariharan is a finance professional by default and a writer by choice. Not content with just a rewarding corporate job, he took to writing a couple of years ago. He blogged on media and current affairs for a year at valadyviews.blogspot.com before hitting on the idea for this novel. 
Strangely, he got the idea for his first novel while reading the balance sheets of a few NGOs and corporates! An idea so powerful that it convinced the accountant in him that he could put together not just a balance sheet but an intriguing political thriller as well. Indian cinema over the last many decades has created many stereotypes— ‘Media crusades against anything bad’, ‘netas are, without a doubt, evil’ and ‘human rights activists are God’s gift to earth’ to name a few. What if any of these stereotypes is wrong— What if a human rights activist, consumed by personal frustration, tries to bring down an elected government? What if media plays the role of pliable ally? What if a politician is a victim of circumstances? 
Answers to these what ifs, his wife’s challenge to write a novel out of them and about nine months’ of labour produced Surpanakha.
Hariharan lives with his wife in Dar es Salaam while his two sons are pursuing their ambitions in India. 
Contact Hariharan:
Facebook |Twitter | Blog 

About the Book
Educated, young, no-nonsense bearing, able administrator—these are the qualities that won Sesha the loyalties of the people after three years of rule as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. An allegation that he was the mastermind behind the murder of 73 Kannadigas threatens to bring him down but he is miraculously saved in the 11th hour.

Even before he can relish his victory, Sesha is slapped with the charge of sexually offending a young nurse. This time round, the case is strong and his supporters are uncertain. Worse, his teenage daughter calls him 'vile' and walks out of the house. While Mythili, his wife promises her full support, her secretive activities—undertaken with the help of a retired cop—is a cause of concern for Sesha.

Will Zarina, the human-rights activist, succeed in bringing him down? What about the insinuations of a celebrity lawyer that he is casteist and anti-minorities? When the young nurse is found dead, the case becomes even more complex. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And who is the mastermind?   

Buy Links:
Links for downloading e-books: Amazon India | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Links for ordering paperbacks: Amazon India | Flipkart

Expected Date of Release:

March 15, 2016

One Amazon gift voucher for Rs. 500 
One Papeback Copy of Surpanakha
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