PLOT: 3/5 CHARACTERS: 3.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5 CLIMAX: 2.5/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 3.5/5
“For a moment, Chandru felt like Shahrukh Khan who, in 1994, won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in both the popular choice and critics’ choice categories. Shahrukh Khan’s on-screen characters typically eloped with other people’s girlfriends and fiancées. Chandru considered such a possibility when he walked back to join Lauren.”
Krish Gangadharan, A Rogue’s Love Diary
In the last couple of years, I have come across a great many romances that have left an ever-lasting impact on me. Books like Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners, Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage, Satya Vyas’s Chaurasi, and Meg Cabot’s No Judgements immediately come to my mind.
I recently had the opportunity to read a different kind of romance cum drama that incorporates many social themes as well. Read on to know more about my thoughts on Krish Gangadharan’s A Rogue’s Love Story.
Full points to the title and the by-line for immediately drawing the attention of the reader. The cover is as enigmatic as they come. The retro vibe of the 80s and 90s style Bollywood movie posters lends it an interesting appeal. From the anguish reflected in the protagonist’s eyes, one can sense an undying love and a calamitous tragedy. The blurb is short and crisp, promising a salacious saga full of drama, love, and raw passion.
Who can read?
The book makes use of rich language but is written in a manner that will appeal to beginners and intermediate readers. The story, context, and characters are best suited for these categories of readers.
Who shouldn’t read?
A Rogue’s Love Diary has a lot of sex and sex-related scenes. Obscene language and crass commentary are used to raise the oomph factor. Sometimes they even overpower the story. Keeping that in mind, I would advise reader discretion while strictly not recommending this book to underage readers.
Chandran Ramachandran aka Chandru is a seemingly innocent middle-class young man who falls head over heels in love with the college sweetheart Devi. Devi is dainty, sincere, and warm, the daughter of yet another middle-class family who has high ambitions and hopes from life. She is the perfect antidote to Chandru’s fiery side.
Though Chandru is ambitious and studious as predicted by an astrologer, he has a dark side. A side that, if indulged in, will only lead him on the path of destruction. The more he realizes this, the faster he plummets down the rabbit hole.
A Rogue’s Love Diary is the story of Chandru, a simple man of immense promise who gets trapped into a life of betrayals, debauchery, and vices that lead him away from everything he once held dear – love, parents, siblings, and friends.
The author makes use of a 3rd person voice to narrate the story of Chandru. If I have to use one phrase to summarize the style, it would be – Bollywood Drama. Like a characteristic Bollywood movie, the book has it all – college masti, memorable friendships, first love, romance, a generous dose of passion and sex, topped with coarse language and raunchy acts, tragedy, action, betrayal, etc.
The introduction of characters
Whether it is the main characters (Chandru and Devi) or side characters (Kushal, Ajay, Radha, Peter) or even mere embellishments like Shri Thimappa Gowda (the chief guest at the college cultural events day), the author makes all the characters stand out and grab attention. Forget about the prominent ones, even the most unimportant ones get such interesting intros that it immediately catches the reader’s fancy.
Use of wit and sarcasm
One of the best things about A Rogue’s Love Diary is its characteristic humor. Throughout the book, the humor and witty commentaries never fail to amuse the reader. The versatility that the author projects while using humor is also noteworthy.
While, on one hand, you have what one calls typical college humor, on the other hand, dark and often caustic humor is served without inhibition. This humor is also laced with social commentaries.
For example, when talking about a politician at a cultural event in college, the narrator describes him so.
Neatly laid out chronology
While many books have jumbled timelines, A Rogue’s Love Diary has all its chapters neatly laid out. The chapters are not just assembled chronologically but are also named so. Thus, chapter one is titled June 1996, chapter 2 is named July 1996 to June 1997, and so on, until the last chapter which is June 2016.
A generous use of hooks
I love it when a book gives me mysterious hooks to hang on to. We all know that a cliffhanger works very well for a book series, but it also adds immense value to the reading experience when cleverly used at chapter and section ends. I would like to quote a few examples that the author has judiciously used at various section ends to keep the reader on her toes and leave her anticipating.
“It was only a matter of time before he would derail.”
“Little did they know that their friendship would be tested by a pretty young woman.”
College nostalgia hits you hard
To me, the initial part of the book was like a reminder of my college days. The friendly banter, innocent fights, daily hangouts, and the general camaraderie – they all bring back memories of a carefree past. Together Radha, Ajay, Chandru, Devi, and Nadeem provide both entertainment and nostalgia.
In addition to the use of hooks and cliffhangers throughout the book, the author also inserts some episodes that bring out the mystery quotient well. The foreshadowing in certain parts is designed to lure the reader and keep those pages turning. One specific part that I recall is when the astrologer warns Chandru of dire consequences should he choose to neglect his advice and fall in “love or any such kind of nonsense”.
Many characters, many stories
For a book that almost makes it to 300 pages, the reader must be provided with enough entertainment to justify the length. In A Rogue’s Love Diary, this is achieved with the help of multiple plots. The reader is acquainted with many characters whose stories are running parallel to the main plot. The chief amongst these are those of Chandru’s parents and siblings, all of which are seamlessly woven alongside the main plot.
References to popular culture
Whether it is the cricketing season of 1996 or the Filmfare Awards of 1994, the evergreen classic Notting Hill or literary stalwarts like Daphne Du Maurier and Jane Austen, Bollywood movie references like Saudagar and Namak Halal or filmy character names like Raj Kumar and Dilip Kumar, the book makes generous use of popular cultural icons from a wide range of era and geography. This lends it a particular flavor and works to the story’s advantage.
What I didn’t like?
Though great attention to detail has been paid while penning the book, certain instances seem too hasty or too convenient. Not enough time and space has been given for these to seem natural to the reader. The whole restaurant takeover and loss of property maneuver were both hasty and difficult to believe.
What didn’t work?
Leaving out the raunchy parts, the lovemaking and the general romance between the main characters were a tad mechanical. For a love that seems to transcend nations and decades, the romance was fiery, but it lacked warmth. It lacked that softness, that tenderness that makes one go mushy; that makes one think of their favorite romance movies.
What could have been better?
Though there is a decent amount of mystery in the narration, I believe it could have been explored more effectively. The timeline could have been jumbled, switching between the present and the past to give the book a more contemporary and faster-paced feel.
Also, an alternate plotline that told Devi’s story vis-à-vis Chandru’s should have been explored. Devi remains absent for a considerable part, only to make a dramatic but short appearance in the end. Narrating Devi’s story in detail would have lent the book much more substance.
Social commentaries abound
A major chunk of humor in the book derives inspiration from social stalemates and social tapestries. In addition to that, sometimes a much somber tone is used to convey the many struggles and challenges of middle-class Indians. Other social phenomena such as blind faith in religious leaders, brain drain to developed nations, exploitation by the rich, the class and caste struggle, the racial bias against brown skin, reverse racism, etc., have also been given importance.
A doorway into an international student’s life
Through Chandru’s life, we see the problems faced by Indian immigrants especially students who have to make do with the minimum, while battling issues like financial insecurity, cultural apathy, masked and sometimes even unabashed racism.
An unsteady pace
The first part of the book is much pacier than the latter. There is much more action and also deliberate attention to the quality that characterizes the first half. On the other hand, the latter half feels rushed, with many important side plots concluded hastily.
How good is the climax?
The climax is partly predictable and partly unpredictable. While the general outcome is known, the when, how, where, and why remain a mystery till the end.
In the end
In the end, A Rogue’s Love Diary is a decent entertainer that provides wholesome entertainment via a heady concoction of romance, drama, humor, and sex.
The final verdict
Can be read.
Pick the book if
- You are looking for an easy-to-read romance cum drama.
- You enjoy books that read like Bollywood masala dramas.
Skip the book if
- You cannot stand vulgar language.
- You are looking for a passionate and feel-good romance.
- You are a voracious reader of romance and romantic tragedies.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of A Rogue’s Love Diary using the link below.