“A lot of promise, not much of deliverance”


Don’s Wife by Vinod Pande


The Blurb
Lethality of beauty and inner radiance brutally felled, after several dastardly attempts on her life in different cities of the world, Kamini, the firebrand leader of the emerging new party, the icon of the youth, the idol of the world of glitter and glamour, the revered social reformer, the enigmatic wife of the dreaded underworld Don Harsh Jadhav, assassinated by unidentified gunmen at the unlikeliest of places, right at the front door in the porch of her own house. With mere two mortal shots, death had snatched her from life and what a life! She could launch a million ships, both with her beauty and her exceptional brilliance. A fulsome life but a born rebel. Defiantly left all this to marry a man she loved, a man, she was to learn rather late in the day, was the son of one of the most feared mobsters in the country. A woman who went beyond, beyond the societal mores in her passionate relationships. Then, then the world did not remain the same. A saga began. A saga of revenge and hope, of aspirations and betrayals, of human tragedies and triumphs. A story of tall men and even taller women where heroes are not only heroes and villains are not only villains. Story of Kamini, more powerful in death than even in life
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Any thriller is a wonderful joy to read through, especially if it involves gangsters. Even though am not very well-versed in the normal lore behind mobsters and their partners, I do enjoy the occasional movie on the subject.

Finding “Don’s Wife” excited me to no limit. It was bound to be an enticing read. The story of a woman who is the wife of a Don, the Indian climate the title and the blurb all contributed to my excitement. You could say that this was one of those books fated to be a best-seller. What’s more was that the book was over 500 pages long, which meant that it would be an excellent whole-night-read on my computer as I took breaks from my studies.

Vinod Pande in his debut novel explores the life of Kamini, a character who finds herself in between the mob family initially led by RD and then by her husband Harsh. It traces around her affair with a bodyguard and the political life that she leads. Categorically though, the genre is given as a thriller, it reads more like something in the General fiction category with Thriller elements.

Some things strike as wrong in the first few chapters alone. In Chapter 6, and the nearby chapter, the author often goes into a lengthy narration that renders some events ineffective. There is a point in the story where Harsh’s mood swings are referenced to, which particularly screams out for a scene that would elicit the point.

There are also points of great distress where the scenes seem etched out in a hurry, an effect also used in “Mockingjay”, which does not work well in here. Some parts like Kamini’s relationship with her own daughter could do with some scenes too.

While, some parts need a few more scenes for illustration, some parts seem to be added just for the sake of it. The numerous sex scenes do not seem appealing at the end of the day and do nothing to further the story.
The scene where Harsh takes up a whipping for the children he mistakenly had killed is alluring when a reader first reads through but, by the end of the book it becomes a useless prop of a scene.

Some characters are very well-handled and some seem to be executed rather poorly. Kamini is an excellent example in character writing with her tour-de-force emotions and captivating presence. Whenever she is in a scene, she commands it, to the point that one might even fall in love with her. Same goes for RD, the jovial old man seems far from the usual Don’s image we have in mind however, his presence is something quite beautiful.

However, coming to characters one must also reflect upon Harsh, he is a great character in theory but, practically he falls a bit short to the promise. The conflicting roles that are referenced to are not really showcased in the story. There seem to be three Harshs is the story, the first, the Don, the cold minded killer, the second is the scholar who writes papers and the third and the predominant one seems to be a person who is budding with insecurity. The problem is, while we can appreciate a Don having problems, there seems to be little reason and scenes given so that he could find a voice. Mostly, the voice we find is of a man who seeks revenge, which would be delightful if his revenge actually added to his character. Personally speaking, the multiple personalities seem more like lazy writing than something that adds to the character.

The same goes with Kamini’s bodyguard Jayant. He seems to be defined only by his love for Kamini. Though, a past is hinted at it is never explored. It can be argued that a person who loves changes a lot for the loved one, however, it is doubtful that even a person completely enamored with his lover would lose any touch of personality. Jayant becomes an entity without a personal voice; just as Harsh is an entity with voices that contradict each other.

There is a reference point in the story Jayant says that he belonged to the NAVY Seals, to my knowledge no unit off that particular name exists in Indian Army. Also he describes himself as a killer in the water with regards to the profession. This particularly is a research problem, even a quick internet search gives that NAVY Seals perform not only in water but, also cover other terrains in their missions.

Finally, maybe because of the way the events are shown, the book is not much of a page turner. It becomes rather bland after some pages because of the various fallacies in the way it is written. This book just promises itself as a lot more and does not deliver.

I think every book review comes down to the final question of whether one should pick it up out of the other books of the same genre. Here, I cannot speak for the reader. If you love reading stories about strong women who are brave and vulnerable at the same time, this is the book for you. However, this book also contains a lot of fallacies which might obstruct your chance of enjoying this book.

  • Verdict : A lot of promise, not much of deliverance
Meet the Author
Vinod Pande is a producer, writer, editor and award winning director whose body of work includes films such as Ek Baar Phir (1979), Yeh Nazdikeeyan (1982) and Sins (2005) among many others. He has also made popular TV shows such as Airhostess (1985-86) and Reporter (1992-97). He worked as programming head for Sahara TV (1997-2000). “The Don’s Wife” marks his debut as a published author. 
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