Skin Deep by Ajay Monga

51LlstqJpcL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI receive the book Skin Deep by Ajay Monga as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications and am thankful to them for the same. The story is mostly set in Mumbai.

The blurb:

When combined with youth, beauty is a heady concoction. It possesses everyone, and everyone wants to possess it. But can beauty be possessed? A fiery news reporter, Simran went undercover as a contestant in a pageant to expose the dark underbelly of the beauty business. But little did she know that she was being used as a pawn in a much bigger game. A seemingly acquiescent girl, Sania fought against patriarchal forces within her family and community to fulfil her dream of becoming a model. A media baron’s daughter, Sunidhi was at a vantage point in life but she frittered it all away with her entitlement. On the other hand, Shikha, who came from a humble background, used her body as a currency to get ahead. In a world that has commoditized femininity and idealized only one body type, Skin Deep is the story of four girls with diametrically different views about beauty and how their lives get inextricably enmeshed. They all get a rude awakening when a shocking incident reveals how the big bad world of ‘glamour in the buds’ breeds cradle snatchers, who are ready to devour anything. Inspired by true incidents, Skin Deep shines a light on the ugly truth behind the facade of beauty and glamour…

The story:

Twenty five girls, one title, INDIA BEAUTY QUEEN.

How would they get through the days that would lead to the title and who would win?

This story looks deeply into the lives of four girls who are contesting win the title: Simran, Shikha, Sania and Sunidhi.

Simran Thapar is a TV anchor/ news reporter from Mumbai. Her mother lives in New Zealand. She wants to perform a sting operation with the help of her TV Channel, her boyfriend and their boss because she wants to expose the truth behind these contests. Because she hopes to make a mark in investigative journalism someday.

Shikha Azgaonkar from Pune wants to win the title at all costs and is even ready to break the rules. She is the oldest of three sisters and their mother is the sole breadwinner. In order to fulfil all her needs and requirements, she has a boyfriend in every city and she also has Sania.

Sania Ahmed from Aurangabad, belongs to an orthodox Muslim family where girls are not supposed to be outgoing. Her father dotes on her, her mother and younger brother support her, but her older brother and Uncle are against it, so is her Uncle’s son.

Sunidhi Karmakar, 24, is the only daughter of media magnate, Karmakar, the main sponsor of the pageant. She wants to win the contest and tells her father to pull all the strings so that she can win it. Her boyfriend, Jai, covers all her tracks and is always there for her.

My take:

This book uncovers what goes on behind the scenes in the world of glamour. It is divided into two parts, one before and the other after the contest.

The language is simple and easily understandable and the story is fast paced.

Initially, the author introduces the main characters and then the story begins. The characters have been etched in detail and it was easy to imagine them.

Initially, on the road leading up to the contest, things were predictable and simple, but once we reach the post contest phase, the story is on a rollercoaster with unpredictable twists and turns.

But somewhere, there are a few loose ends. I really wanted to know as to what happened to Jai? And more about the relationship between Gaurav and Sania.

Read with caution, once you are done with page 60, you will not be able to put it down.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

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