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Back Seat - A Mumbai Tale by Aditya Kripalani, is a romantic novel, involving an out-of-work bar dancer.
Summary Of The Book
In Back Seat - A Mumbai Tale, Aditya Kripalani tells the story of Asawari, a young girl growing up in a small town in Maharashtra. She adores her tall, handsome father, who works as a manager in a government guest house. She also loves the eight mango trees in her backyard, and the cow, Basanti.
Asawari has an idyllic life, playing with her friends, picking ripe mangoes, and enjoying her father’s company. At 15 years of age, she begins to realize that there is a certain attraction towards boys, She also makes plans for attending college.
Suddenly, her life takes an unexpected turn when her father dies in a drowning accident. She moves to Mumbai, and soon she gets trained as a bar dancer. Her name is changed to Nikita, and she starts with her new career.
But, bar dancing is suddenly banned in Mumbai, and Nikita is out of work. She meets a rich young playboy who offers her a large sum of money to spend a month with him, and she accepts.
Her life takes a twist again, as she finds herself falling for the young man’s chauffeur, Vijay. Vijay has his own back story. He is a young man from Bihar who was forced to give up his education and leave his house bacause of unexpected circumstances.
About Aditya Kripalani
Aditya Kripalani is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He has also taught screen writing and has been at the head of the script department of a major corporate film company for 3 years.
Back Seat - A Mumbai Tale is his debut novel.
Kripalani is interested in all forms of writing - short stories, screen plays, novels, writing magazine articles, and so on. His other passions and interests include Karate, fitness training, playing the guitar, and reading.
|Number of Pages||246 Pages|
I live in Singapore. But when I got into Aditya Kripalani's 'Back Seat’ I was transported to Mumbai. My Mumbai. I tell you, this is a ride worth taking’.
For the rainy Sunday afternoon, you could pick up an Indian, city bred author and read about some ‘elitist’ theme or Pop romance about pub hopping, OR pick up an Arundahti Roy or White Tiger and get into ‘poverty porn’, which is another form of elitism.
OR you could pick up Backseat - a refreshing breath of air that takes a real look at the intersection of the urban and rural. That gives you insight into the life of Mumbai in all its shades and hues, life in the hinterland – be it the coast of Konkan or the Hindi heartland. Using his remarkable observation and imagination, he weaves a tale that makes you live every moment of it.
Its probably a spoiler to tell you upfront that the guy was only 25 when he wrote this. You probably should know that only after you put the book down. And you will be amazed!
As you read, you get to know your driver, your watchman, the pan-wala, the madman on the road, the police sub-inspector of your area, a little more. You re-visit the same lanes in Andheri, Khar, Marine Drive and so on, that you still drive through daily, except that you are cussing at the traffic everyday, but when you snuggle up in the bed with Aditya’s book, you begin to walk through them, noticing every nuance, and enjoying it. At the same time, he takes you to the unfamiliar within the familiar city of ours (like the rooftop in Andheri East from where you can see the planes land) Aditya’s training as a screenwriter shows, when bang on page 10, crisis occurs (Nikita’s father drowns), and similarly how Nikita fools the sub-inspector into thinking she is giving him a blowjob. The Sindhi suppressed daughter-in-law is also structurally a classic sub-plot, from the field of screenwriting.
A real portrayal of women – not ‘real’ in monotone like ‘Slumdog’, the movie, in which basically everyone is negative – but a portrayal that shows you all the shades that women come in… from the battered mother of Vijay, to the suppressed Sindhi daughter-in-law, to Nikita herself, to her friends… and even some minor characters like the lady who opens the door to Vijay when he comes to Bombay for the first time … My favourite character was Vijay, more than Nikita. A classic underdog, who is pure of heart, and will run head on into dangerous situations, because he knows no other way.
Admittedly, from my perspective, there are areas for improvement (but then what on earth cannot be improved, and these are all subjective perspectives). While character development and choice of subject is remarkable, some parts could be edited somewhat – the experiences of the druggie, his interactions with his father, the sum total of pages devoted to descriptions of the locations (I enjoyed most location descriptions, individually, but as a sum total in the book, the total length devoted to these could perhaps be lesser).
Nevertheless, as I finished, I felt like a layer had been added to my life, and to my understanding of the people around me, in our beloved city, Aamchi Mumbai!
Backseat is a fantastic book. It's real, with a slight dash of well oiled tadka.If I were to give an awful analogy, I would say backseat is like a perfectly made glory-filled Punjabi dish. With the right amounts of masala, sweetness and raw
taste. (bear in mind, I'm south Indian, so my idea of punjabi khana might be a little different than yours.)
It drew me in extremely quick, Backseat did. Asawari, in her pristine, unspoilt town. Her 'ordinary' everyfamily. The parallel story of another young man going through his own set of troubles. Yet another one about the struggles of being almost parentless. Backseat made me smile, it made me frown, it made me angry, it disturbed me. Backseat made me feel it.
Mr.Aditya Kripalani's incredible knack of creating believable, full-rounded characters shows and how. I never once saw Nikita straying from being Asawari. And yet felt her need to forget her past. I felt Shashank's sense of negative freedom. For a change, I wasn't pissed off with the antagonist. I just felt sad for him. I wanted to reach out and give him a hug and it wasn't because he was cute.
The story with its many turns is often stark and shockingly real. Newspaper articles keep jumping at you. Certain areas do seem a little jarring, as a negative, but the cumulative product is a wholesome, even experience. One that will stay with you, long after you have put down the book. The research is extensive and Bombay, in all its glory, forms a major character.
Backseat, like I said, is a fantastic take on Bombay and it's a tale of innocence lost. One told with maturity, finesse, grit and poise. One can only eagerly await Aditya Kriplani's next.
Backseat is an amazing STORY.. It is a book which is UNPUTDOWNABLE.. Being busy with my exam preparations and daily chores then, I would read Backseat only at night.. I read Backseat over 3 nights before going off to sleep.. And every night I would read much more than the decided no. of pages.
What a beautiful story!! Lovely characterisations of Nikita, Vijay and Shashank and the most important, of Mumbai! The characters are so real that as a reader you actually feel ONE with all of them, though each of them is diametrically opposite of the other.. The author actually gives you a peek-a-boo into the mindsets of each of these central characters.. You know each of them and yet there is some mystery which makes reading BACKSEAT a wonderful experience.
At night in my dreams too I would be imagining what would happen next..
Strength of this book are: the REAL characters and detailed description of all the events. MUMBAI & ITS LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN DESCRIBED SO BEAUTIFULLY, so its a must read for all MUMBAIITES.
Weakness is only in terms of weak grammar and spelling mistakes, but if one could overlook that, then you can enjoy the most amazing STORY.
Lots of best wishes to the author and eagerly looking forward to his next book!
I really enjoyed reading Back Seat . It was one such book where I was so attached to the story that I felt like not putting it down and wanted to just keep reading it . I used to wait to get back to reading it & to know more about whats happening in Nikita & Vijay's life . It was like she had become a friend & I had to be there for her.
Once I finished the book I remember feeling a vacuum in my heart as though some very beautiful chapter in my life had come to an end or some really close friend had decided to move to a different country & I would not get to meet her again .
Aditya you have described every scene in the book so beautifully that one can actually visualize it and so the reading becomes more delightful.The description of Mumbai by the night is so surreal. I actually feel like I was a part of all those small & sweet experiences. And I have actually put them as my to-do list .
Back Seat is a crude & hard hitting story filled with memorable moments . Nikita is one protagonist whom you really love but really hate too at the same point . One person whom I think everyone can relate to at some or other in the book.
Thanks Aditya for such a lovely book & eagerly awaiting for your next one :-))
Backseat is a story that is as real as it gets. When I first starting reading it.. I was not too sure that i'd like it. But the book grows on you as you turn each page. The characters Nikita, Vijay and Shashank transition from fictional characters and become real people. I have smiled, cringed, laughed and felt sad and scared along with Nikita, Shashank and Vijay.
I remember jokingly telling Aditya(the author, a friend and a great guy!) that I might just learn to speak Marathi by the end of the book! It feels like that TV show that becomes part of your daily life and you just don't want it to end.
Aditya's been able to so beautifully and accurately capture Mumbai in words! If you are from Mumbai, the read becomes even more real because you can actually visualize the entire book as it unfolds! The roads, the hangouts, the locations..
I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Now waiting for the sequel.. Front Seat! Want to know where life's taking Nikita!
Good Luck Aditya! Love that you wrote a story you wanted to tell as opposed to a story that people might want to read!!!
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