I received the book Rasia: The dance of desire by Koral Dasgupta as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications and am thankful to them for the same. When I read the blurb of this book, I remembered a famous Indian team of dancers, I would not like to take their names, but the main lead is a trio.
Two women wait for him at two different ends of the crossroads. He knows which path is his, but he can’t walk that path till he has attended to the other.
One Perfect Couple. An Obsessed Seductress. A Bharatanatyam Show in Manhattan. One Hell of a Love Story.
Raj Shekhar Subramanian and Manasi, both Bharatanatyam dancers, are made for each other. Till an obsessed fan, Vatsala Pandit, enters their lives, testing the man’s character and his wife’s patience. But then why does Manasi invite Vatsala to her Bharatanatyam show, for a dance of passion with her husband—the very man Vatsala wants to take from her? Why did Shekhar agree to take in Vatsala as his student in the first place?
This singular love story deftly explores the many facets of love—mutual trust, obsessiveness, the arrogance of passion, the need for self-fulfillment, the yearning for the beloved and the complexity of modern relationships.
It narrates the captivating journey of a self-made and self-assured protagonist, behind whose success lie the contributions of two very different women- one who makes his home, and the other who believes no one else can complement him better on the stage.
The book begins in 2016 in Manhattan when a journalist, Brian Herrett, meets Raj Shekhar Subramanian after his show in New York and Shekhar tells him that he is ready for a biography as he wants to unburden himself. Brian has known Shekhar for eight years and is surprised at Shekhar’s decision. And then the book moves back and forth between the past and the present.
Shekhar grew up in an orphanage on the outskirts of Thiruvanantapuram. He was an outstanding student, did his BTech from IIT-Madras and landed up a job in 1998. On the day of his interview, in Kolkata, he saw Manasi and decides she is the one he wants to marry. So he approahes her family, tells her that he wants to take up Bharatanatyam full-time in some years, and marries her with their blessings.
In the seventeen years of their marriage, Shekhar has taught Manasi, the dance, and she is his best and most prominent testimonial as a coach.
They live in Mumbai and their dance troupe is Kala Mandir. Manasi is soft motherly and empathetic and has always kept Shekhar’s priorities ahead of her own wishes. Shekhar does not delegate anything completely, tries to keep a watch on everything he is involved in. He keeps a strict vigil on everything, every member of his dance team.
During one of their shows in Manhattan, New York, Vatsala Pandit, a half Indian, half British girl, who works for an advertising agency and rehearses with her ballet group in the evenings, decides that she wants to learn the dance form from none other than Shekhar himself. She is obsessed with him and follows their YouTube videos regularly and keeps herself informed with everything that Kala Mandir was upto. Then she approaches him and he tells her that whenever Kala Mandir comes to the US, she would be his first student. She decides that she needs to feature in the scheme of things and gets the Department of Cultural Affairs, New York make him an offer he cannot refuse.
And Kala Mandir is all set to open its gates in New York. And Shekhar moves to New Kala Mandir start to get the show gets ready.
Once he comes to Manhattan, Vatsala comes to him and tells him that she is there to learn from him. She is one person whom people want to avoid but is like a force difficult to resist. She is passionate about her love for Shekhar and wants a public acknowledgement of his affections in a place that is a temple for him- the stage. And aspires to be with him on the stage. She refers to Shekhar as The Dancer.
The story moves back and forth between the past and the present. It has been written in first person from the point of view of Shekhar, Manasi, Vatsala, Brian and the Voice, Manasi’s father. The flow is smooth and the story has been written in a way that I could not put it down.I really wanted to know what happens next.
The book has excellent descriptions and is well researched.
The characters are realistic and the author has beautifully portrayed the backgroung of the secondary characters. The relationship between the characters has been illustrated beautifully.
The language is beautiful.
I loved the book.
DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.