Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Friend Sancho

Read this book by former journalist and avid blogger Amit Varma. It is an extremely likeable book in spite of some flaws. The first thing you notice is that uses everyday language and is not pretentious as wannabe on the Booker long-list next season.

It tells the story of Abir Ganguly, a 23 years old journalist covering crime for an afternoon tabloid in Mumbai. Abir comes as a happy-go-lucky guy with an acidic sense of humour, which almost lands him in a soup every time he uses it. Later we realise that we are privy to his thoughts as this is first person narrative (giving the reader a schizophrenic feel as the narrator himself maybe feeling).

As for the tale; Abir becomes a hapless witness of Police killing an innocent person by suspecting him to be a gangster, and as fate would have it he become the protector of the victim’s teenaged daughter (doing B Com) for the next few days. To complicate matters further he starts to fall in love with her. Above all, she is a Muslim named Muneeza (nicknamed Sancho). So, what happens when she comes to know that he was an embedded journalist waiting outside her house (with a photographer) for the Police to arrest him and bring him outside, then silently going away knowing that Police has botched up by killing her father?

The story flows smoothly as Abir tries his best to make the most out of the complicated situation. On the one hand, he is supposed to write a sympathetic profile of Muneeza’s slain dad. And, when he is half way through, he is ordered to include a similar piece on the Officer who shot him.

The writing does become heavy in between as Abir philosophises on various issues that he has to tackle, about his love for Muneeza and lot of other things that makes us doubt whether the protagonist is really 23 or he is 32?

Another slight blemish is the promotion of author’s blog by Abir, which makes us doubt if Amit Varma is a fan of Yash Raj Films as they have become the masters of self-reference in recent times.

I’ve no idea if there is any subtext in the use of Sancho in the title as I’m not very familiar with the Spanish classic from which it is derived.

You can find two cohesive reviews of the book here and


Amrita said...

Seems like a very interesting read.And your good review arouses my desire to read it . I will if I can get my hands on it.

I used to read Amit Varma 's blog - India Uncut. its very good.

But I just can 't keep up with too many websites.

He writes for The Sunday Indian, which i find is better than India Today and Outlook.

I want to read The Great Indian Novel by (you know who) Shashi Tharoor. Have you read it?

I guess Amit Varma called the Muslim gorl Sancho for the title 's sake, otherwise they seem to be worlds apart

Have you read The White Tiger by Adiga?

Pavithra Srinivasan said...

Hi - a nice review. I used to read Amit Varma's blog too. Looks like a good read. Thanks for the heads up!

Praveen said...

Read this book...and loved it..
much like his blog :D
though as u mentioned me too hated that shameless self promotion that appears too many times in the book

Wanda said...

Hi ~~ Thanks for stopping by my blog and the nice wishes for our 48th Anniversary.

I was reading your blog on Assessibility ~~ and felt your frustration, as our youngest daughter when 18 was in a horrible car accident and spent a lot of time in a wheel chair... we found it very difficult to get in and out of a lot of places...

Today she is fine, but walks with a cane....much easier.

Thanks again for your kind words
God Bless
A new friend
Wanda from Brushstrokes

John Matthew said...

You can also find another review of the same book here:, under the title "how to write annoying fiction". Try it : )

rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read My Friend Sancho by Amit Varma. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.