April 10, 2020
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Munnabhai? No

For a book that puts so much freight on Bombay's rains and lasses, it doesn't lyrically describe either

Munnabhai? No
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls
By Anirban Bose
HarperCollins Pages: 464; Rs. 195
The desi varsity novel is still stuck in the minutiae of undergrad life: love, exams, politics and fellowship. It has not yet evolved into satire. Anirban Bose’s debut novel is a chronicle of the cockups and triumphs of Adityaman Bhatt (Adi), a Ranchi lad doing the straight and narrow in Grant Medical College, Bombay. Adi arrives in Bombay for his admission, much in the fashion of a ’70s Bombay film. He is demonstrably self-righteous, doesn’t smoke or drink, is not a Chlamydia catcher or masturbator or a slacker. Clearly, he’s not a humorist.

There are the staple bits about ragging (which was infinitely more imaginative in the mofussil medical college I attended), lecture hall merriment and heartbreak. The strike by MARD (Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors) features centrally and leads (by accidents of fate) to a journey into the Northeast.

Medical undergrads and postgrads inhabit a world of great perversities and action. Its minutiae should make for great literature. If only someone would write their own half decent, roman a clef (with some back-handed wryness). I keep thinking of what Upamanyu Chatterjee would have done with latinate polysyllabic medical jargon and the anatomy dissection hall.

One last thing: for a book that puts so much freight on Bombay’s rains and lasses, it doesn’t lyrically describe either.

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