This book grabs you by the collar to get your attention on the very first page. “It was fifteen years since Ricky had last had anything shoved up his anus, but the memory of the brutal buggering he’d received from the senior boys at Eton remained fresh.” Scandal Point is off and running and there is no stopping Fahad Samar, the author of this witty, often very funny, debut novel.
Eton would have been an unlikely choice of school for a son of a Bollywood star, but let’s not quibble too much. Readers with delicate sensibilities are warned; there are profanities aplenty! Unlike most Indian writers, Samar also has a fair talent for describing kinky activities in bedrooms.
The story moves briskly from Mumbai to Delhi and then to London, with an unhealthy mix of characters from Bollywood and Page Three. Ricky Kumar, a Bandra boy, is enamoured with the daughter of a diamond merchant who may or may not be his half-sister. His bete noir is Gautam Goyal, the drug-addled son of a wealthy Marwari living in London who has got himself a knighthood by enriching the coffers of the Tory party. His sister is a lesbian who has a sex change to better his/her inheritance prospects. In the middle of all this is the starlet, Meneka Kansal, who is clueless as to the paternity of the child she is carrying.
Many of Samar’s characters are cheekily based on real people, cleverly camouflaged. Is that supposed to be Juhi Chawla or is it Mumtaz, you wonder, who marries a rich Gujarati businessman? A Bengali music director lifts melodies from Africa, the Middle East and Abba classics. Could that be R.D. Burman or, more likely, Bappi Lahiri? This one is easy: “The history of Indian civil aviation is replete with tales of how some of the wealthiest men in the country ended up marrying stewardesses...from airhostess to society hostesses, from the trolley to the lolly.”
The novel is a jolly roller-coaster ride. In right hands, this social satire can make a terrific movie.