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Book Review: The Last Color by Vikas Khanna

Author: Vikas Khanna
Format: Hardback (224 Pages)
Publisher: Bloomsbury India (2018)
Language: English

Blurb: It's Holi, 2012, the Hindu festival of spring, and back in Varanasi after twenty years, a young advocate is celebrating a nation-wide Supreme Court order against an age-old tradition of social injustice meted out to the destitute widows of India - to whom even the simple joys of color were denied.

It was in this city that, twenty years ago, Choti, a sassy, tight-rope walker befriends an old widow, Noor. As a member of the ashram, she lives a life of complete abstinence, but her young friend's innocent exuberance and joy of life fills her with renewed hope.
The two form an unlikely bond, with Noor looking out for Choti, inspiring her to 'fly high' by seeking an education and fighting for her rights with dignity. Choti listens enraptured by the memories her friend shares: of playing Holi dressed as Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna, and flinging great bursts of her favorite pink-colored gulal into the sky. Choti promises her that they will play the next Holi together.
But then, one night, another friend of Choti's, Anarkali, is murdered by the heinous police chief and his goons. Being the only witness to her murder, Choti is imprisoned on the eve of Holi. Everything falls apart in the ensuing chaos.
Will Choti be able to keep her promise of playing Holi with Noor?
Pitting the smoke rising from the funeral pyres of Manikarnika Ghat, against the joyous color-bursts of Holi celebrations, Vikas Khanna's marvellously layered story of the survival of a delicate friendship, is brilliantly told and poignantly life-affirming.

Review: I think that the blurb gives away enough information about the central theme of the book and its characters. So, I will just review the writing style here and what I loved about the book. The Last Color is Vikas Khanna's debut fiction book and it is a heartwarming tale of love, friendship, promises and of overcoming social taboos. The book keeps you hooked right from the prologue! Page after page, the world of Choti unfolds before your eyes. The characterisation is so strong that some of the characters give you goosebumps, like the Woman in Yellow Saree. 

The language used is easy yet effective, the imagery is vivid and profound. With minor details, each character comes to life before your eyes, one after the other. I love the way chapters have been titled. The Last Color reflects how closely Vikas Khanna observes life; certain people, things and situations which other people often overlook in their life. 
The Last Color takes you on a journey through the alleys of Varanasi drenched in the vibrant colors of Holi. Even if you have never visited Varanasi before, you won't feel like you haven't after visiting it through the eyes and words of Vikas Khanna.

Choti, the rope-walker; Chintu, her partner; Anarkali, the transgender; Noor, the widow; and Raja, the heartless cop, they all are the major characters of the book. If you have been following Vikas Khanna since long and know him good enough, you will find traces of him and his passion for food and nature's beauty in Choti.

The Last Color revolves around society's major issues. Anarkali's flashback is the most heartbreaking part of the book (at least for me) but Noor's backstory is no less. However, the book balances all these heartwrenching sequences with Choti's innocent humour and her friendship with Anarkali and Noor. The title 'The Last Color'... I never understood the meaning/reason behind it until the middle of the book and it was as beautiful as the characterisation of the story. One thing I didn't like about the book is that we didn't get to see what became of Choti and Chintu's friendship at the end. I really wanted to see them rekindle their friendship.

When Choti learns about the colorless lives of the widows, she promises to play Holi with Noor. Will she be able to fulfil her promise? Will she able be bring justice to all the widows who are devoid of colors? You so got to read the book.
Overall it was a heartwarming and touching read. I am sure the movie will be amazing as well. 

You may buy your copy from Amazon: Click Here


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