WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5
“In a leafy Mumbai suburb, on the very turn of a U bend, stood the handsome structure of Paradise Towers, a residential building, built in the late sixties, as the last word in modern convenience…. Nothing dramatic ever happened at Paradise Towers … or so you might think. Of course, appearances can be very deceptive.”
The year 2018 has seen a lot of Bollywood celebrities coming out with their books. At the beginning of the year came Soha Ali Khan’s The Perils of Being Moderately Famous, a book that I read and enjoyed. My next book from the world of Bollywood celebs was Twinkle Khanna’s Pyjamas Are Forgiving.
Not much time has passed since then. Now, the latest to join the bandwagon is Shweta Bachchan-Nanda’s Paradise Towers. Shweta isn’t your regular Bollywood celeb but I guess the legacy of the legendary Amitabh Bachchan does come with a certain status and it won’t be wrong to associate her with the glamorous world of Bollywood.
What to expect?
Paradise Towers isn’t your regular Indian fiction. Thank God! for that. In very simple terms, it can be best termed as a light drama which is ideal as a lazy afternoon read.
The book is different because unlike most other books, it doesn’t tell us the story of one or two protagonists but that of a society (neighbourhood) as a whole.
Along with a decent dose of family rivalries, cultural clashes, friendly animosities, clandestine affairs and emotional melodramas, the book has just the right kind of humour to add to the already spicy mix.
Let’s talk about the storyline
Paradise Towers, built in the sixties, is a quaint little apartment complex in Mumbai. Its residents, a mix of people from all walks of life and all parts of India, are a bunch of people who despite their differences manage to live their lives in harmony.
Gossips, gatherings, friendly banter are a part of their daily lives. To add another feather to this heterogeneous mix, the Singhs along with their three offspring decide to shift back to India from the USA.
To an outsider, life always takes a smooth and mundane path in the Paradise Towers. But only an insider knows what lurks behind its tough and commanding exteriors.
How good were the characters?
What I loved about the characters of this book is their diversity. They come from different parts of India and even the world. They reflect different cultures, different ideologies and customs. When all of these come together to interact in the potpourri that is Paradise Towers, chaos ensues. But this is the kind of chaos that amuses you as a reader.
In some sort of symbolic way, Paradise Towers also reflects the fabric of Mumbai, where people from all cultures assimilate and enrich its distinct cosmopolitan culture. Be it Bengalis or Gujaratis, Punjabis or Marathis, Parsis or Khans, they all have a home they can call their own in Paradise Towers.
Moving on to some critical aspects, when I look at each of the as an individual, they fail to shine. Together, they are like this beautiful string of pearls that embellish the narrative. But judged alone, none of them stands out.
All throughout the book, I had this nagging feeling that when it came to characters, something was amiss. They didn’t evoke empathy in me and I wasn’t really invested in them the way I should have been. There was a kind of detachment that I experienced that shouldn’t have been there.
What about the author’s writing style?
It will be unfair to compare the two but I find Shweta and Twinkle Khanna’s writing quite similar. This isn’t a question of who came first but rather a suggestion. So, if you enjoy Twinkle Khanna’s writing, you might also enjoy Shweta Bachchan’s Paradise Towers.
In this book, I like how the author zeroed in on a society as a protagonist. This was something very different and refreshing. Also, Shweta’s writing is crisp and her language is witty. Her humour is low-key and very subtle and that’s a good thing.
Talking about the plot, the book has a lot of subplots which do a good job of keeping the readers entertained and engaged. There is always something new happening in the lives of the residents of Paradise Towers. These are sometimes inter-related and sometimes exclusive but always fun to read about.
Let’s talk about the climax
The climax of the book is mediocre. It does give a necessary closure to the story of all residents and that’s pretty much it. For the lack of better words, it is safe to say that the climax was okay-ish but not great.
It all boils down to the entertainment quotient
I wouldn’t say that Paradise Towers is one of the best books that I have read this year but it will suffice to say that the book makes for an interesting and light read.
For readers who love their light dramas, it will be a good fit. Considering the fact that the book is a debut work, it is great and I am sure we will see some excellent books from Shweta’s kitty soon enough. All the best to the author and her writing !
Pick up the book if
- You are looking for some fresh writing
- You are someone who likes to discover and read new authors
- You enjoy easy and light reads
Skip the book if
- You don’t enjoy dramas
- You are looking for a literary read
- You are only looking for a 5-star read
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Paradise Towers from the link below.