April 19, 2018

Book Review: Hush A Bye Baby


Deepanjana Pal's recently launched 'Hush A Bye Baby' is a fast-paced book with an interesting plot to boot. This work of fiction investigates the allegations of sex-selective abortions laid upon Mumbai's top gynecologist Nandita Rai. Over its course, the book explores many contemporary issues like corruption, female foeticide in India, state of women in society, power politics, etc.

The plot is probably the strongest suit of the book. Nandita Rai is a famous gynecologist, revered by patients and lauded by society as the crusader of women. When one of her patients accuses her of performing sex-selective abortion, her world comes tumbling down. The police are at her heels, the gossip mongers are spreading rumours and her nursing home gets shut. The cunning Manohar Hadpude leads the case and is ably assisted by the smooth-talking Lad and geeky techie Reshma Gabuji. Battling foul senior officers, dark secrets, mysterious cults and tight-lipped patients, the three persevere to find evidence that can nail Rai down. An engrossing read, the reader is engaged with the investigation throughout.

While I barely encountered a boring moment in the book, the writing style left a lot to be desired. The dialogues are more suitable for a movie script rather than a tome since it indulges the syntax of spoken instead of written language. A lot of Hindi words are scattered across the book; probably intended to validate the setting. However, this proved jarring and did not appeal to me. Much of the book had a very cinematic quality, owing to the dramatic situations and the writing style it employs. I am pretty sure Bollywood will lap this book up real soon for an adaptation.

When the investigation drew to a close, it left me a bit puzzled and jaded. I wish Pal had elaborated a bit on how exactly the verdict was arrived upon –  Did the CBI use Reshma's evidence at all? What happened to the Kalisthenics angle in the investigation? Were the other crimes they'd perpetrated to be investigated? Who were caught and why were the others pardoned/not in trouble? What happened to the assistant, Dr. Suman Sengupta? Was Esther found or murdered? I was left with more questions than answers.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the way the book ended - with Reshma joining Kalisthenics. It left me wondering if she was moving over to the dark side or simply using this as a way to get back at them with more evidence. I am sure there is a sequel lurking somewhere!

Verdict: ★★★☆☆
Not literary writing but a gripping and light travel read. 

DISCLAIMER: The book was given to me as part of the Juggernaut Reader's Program. However, all opinions expressed above are my own.

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