Love and Politics in the Backdrop of Kashmir

When writing becomes a habit; you don’t need a reason to write.

My quote as above holds true for author Tuhin A Sinha, who, among other things, is a writer by habit. When the Chief Fell in Love is Tuhin’s tenth book. A prolific writer, he started his journey in 2006 and has written in different genres ranging from romance to socio–political thrillers, a non–fiction and even a book on parenting based on his own experiences as a father. Moreover, Tuhin has also been a screenwriter of several popular TV shows.

I decided to review his new book for three reasons: firstly, I’ve read two of his previous novels (both socio–political thrillers) and found them interesting; then one of my own poems features in this new book, so there’s a sense of ownership towards it; and lastly because it is categorised as a romantic fiction. My favourite genre as a reader. I also know Tuhin personally and find in him a sincere writer and friend.

My thoughts on the book

The story is neither completely a love story nor a breezy read as the title seems to suggest. Tuhin has attempted to weave a story that brings two different genres together in a happy union. It starts off as a love story, with politics as the backdrop and slowly turns into a political thriller and this time the deep love between the two protagonists’ acts as the backdrop. The book is divided into four parts. In the first part we are introduced to Vihaan Shastri – India’s youngest defence minister. Vihaan had a past which he had buried long back but had not been able to overcome. He had been madly in love with a girl Zaira Bhatt during his college days but their relationship had ended on a tragic note leaving him devastated. His memories are refreshed when he receives an invitation card from a publisher about a book release function, that of his ex–girlfriend, Zaira.

In the second part, Zaira Bhatt slowly unveils her side of the story to the readers. She also discloses how her life shaped up after she broke up with Vihaan, got married, and turned a writer. However, despite her seemingly busy schedule and extensive travels she has mostly been leading a reclusive life. Vihaan and Zaira stumble upon each other by chance and rekindle their affair but again destiny abruptly puts a stop to their hope of a future together. Part three also largely focuses on their relationship and how the two meet each other again, by chance. However, it is in the last part that we see Tuhin excelling in what he does best – building up suspense and ‘what–now’ situations one after the other. Will Vihaan be able to succeed in his difficult mission of capturing the dangerous and most – wanted separatist leader of Kashmir, who also happens to be Zaira’s father, and also win back his love is what the story all about.

Things that I enjoyed –

Tuhin’s strength as a writer lies in keeping the readers guessing about what will happen in the end. He is deft in handling politically tricky situations. The Kashmir conflict as the backdrop of the story could have fallen flat but because he is a mature writer and has an insight about the history and contemporary politics of the state he was able to present it in his writing effortlessly. Also, he managed to convey through this fictional story that a solution to the Kashmir problem can be found if there is a political will and consensus among the political actors and a strong administration to back them up.

Things that could have been avoided –

Well, I may be biased here but then I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. I was expecting a soft and mushy love story. I only got a glimpse of it. As mentioned earlier, I think Tuhin wanted to experiment with the format and style. If that is the case, he has partially succeeded in it.

My best wishes to the author.

Author(s): Tuhin A Sinha
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing
Release: February 2018
Genre: Fiction/Political/Romance
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Sujata Parashar is a novelist, poet, short story writer and social worker. She has written seven books so far. Her debut novel, In Pursuit of Infidelity (2009) was a bestseller. She also has a poetry book series to her credit, titled, Poetry Out and Loud. Her latest book is a collection of short - stories, titled, That Woman You See (2015). She has won awards for her first poetry book and her first short - story. She was conferred the Karamveer Chakra Award 2016- instituted by iCongo in association with the UN for her exemplary work in the social sector.

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