In the middle of a chaotic last month the only read I could get my hands on was this new book by author “Hitesha Deshpande” (I earlier read and reviewed her first book “Knots and No Crosses” in December last year), the book is titled “Horseshoe Garage“.
The first thing that intrigued me was a nicely done cover page (unlike her earlier book). The cover design is impressive and gives you a clue that there is something related to cars inside the book. And that is often enough to excite us Males (besides the usual off course).
As I mentioned above that mention of car is more than enough so the prologue mentioning about having sex the first time etc. was kinda cheesy and not required.
The book begins with two good friends Sarvesh and Rags (author’s fascination with short and weird names continues in this book too and my dislike for them too). Both friends are engineers working in automobile manufacturing company and dreams about Neo Racing (think of it as a mini F1 racing or the likes).
They find out that Neo Racing is coming to India and they want to be a part of it and participate as racers. After a little back and forth Sarvesh gets Rags to agree on being part of it and pool all the resources for building a car and a team to race. Rags move in with his girlfriend Kam to Sarvesh’s flat so that they can save for the racing.
Neo Racing needs a team of 17 along with a well designed car and the guys have little money. They start to assemble a team of puncture wallahas and mechanics to be a part of their Neo racing team and alongside they try to come up with a car design and money to build that car.
During the search for team members they meet a girl mechanic named “Naaz” and as it happens in every Bollywood movie our hero Sarvesh falls in love with this girl in “Pehli Nazar”, the first look.
Naaz is an exceptional mechanic (the one that you would have never heard of and never will) and no prizes for guessing that her dream is also Neo Racing. She designs an excellent car, Sarvesh becomes and excellent driver in a short while and wins the local qualifying round for Neo Racing.
Along comes and angle of conspiracy, Sarvesh’s previous employer Grant motors sponsors the team only to deceit them and ‘steal’ their excellent (out of world) designed car. Undeterred from this they build another world-class car within 5 days along with the help of friends & family ( yes you read it right, family) to win the Nationals of Neo Racing.
Among all this the love story of Sarvesh and Naaz continues, Initially Naaz was very reserved then suddenly she falls in love with Sarvesh then within a couple of days Sarvesh tells Naaz he can’t continue relationship with her (due to her mother not agreeing). The orphan girl’s heart is broken and then in rest of the book Sarvesh is trying to mend fences and win her back by trying to win the race for her.
And then there are a few more angles to the story with the author even going ahead and making them win the international Neo Racing competition in Australia defeating 7 times champions, etc.
Let me put it this way, I would consider this as a far better attempt than author’s earlier book “Knots and No Crosses”. For a woman writer to write anything about cars with such flair is rare. She does a pretty decent job of explaining about Neo Racing, about the internals of car and car manufacturing and what goes in, etc. And that keeps you hooked onto the first part of the book.
But there are several unnecessary passages, stories, incidents mixed into it to create a Masala story (apparently to sell) which takes away all the excitement/interest from the book and you continue the book just to finish it although you already know what the end would be.
Think of it in this manner that if you are sitting and watching (and expecting) a F1 race, how would you feel if there is a mix of soap operas, Yashraj film sequences, melodrama dished out to you in between? This is exactly what happens with this book.
Sure I understand that the book is a work of fiction but then give me fiction and not any sort of randomness, you need to base the story and characters as close to reality as possible or at least give a valid explanation for their actions.
How come savings of two individuals who are in their teens enough to build a racing car which costs like crores of rupees? How come a guy who is so independent and have totally different views from his parents breaks the relationship with a girl just because his mother doesn’t agree? How on earth a racing car is built within 5 days with friends and family members? etc.
The biggest question in the entire book that begs the answer is how can anyone even fathom making a race winning car with illiterates and puncture wallahs and road side mechanics, that is better than the ones companies are building with years of expertise and R&D. Is your character “Naaz” a mechanic or a superwoman or a witch (in which case I would have no complaint)? If not then you need to explain the actions with proper reasoning. The racing enthusiast or car lovers will not settle for any BS.
The author tries to handle so many issues within one book that the reader is confused about what the book is all about. Is this book about racing? Is it a love story? Story of friends? Orphan girls story or team building or what. And believe me one book can’t be about all of the aspects. It might have shades of a few elements but then story can be about only one element and that theme should take precedence in the entire book.
If this book would have been even 150-200 pages and all about racing it would have done the job for me.
I am sure that their is an audience for this type of book and might even sell good (for sure it is better than literary trash floating in the market) but then that’s a decision the author has to make as to what genre she wants to belong to and what type of audience she wants to cater to.