Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book Review: Zoon by Selina Sen

© Written by Tarang Sinha





Na pooch ehd-e ulfat, ek khwaab pareshan tha
Do not ask of the time of love, it was a bewildering dream

Faiz Ahmed Faiz


Set in the Kashmir valley, Zoon by Selina Sen (Westland Books) is a long journey of film making. It's also about love (two love stories both set in Kashmir but in different era), loss and betrayal.

Joya Banerjee gets an opportunity to work with Shantanu Rai, a reputed filmmaker who is planning his dream movie, Zoon that's based on a 16th century Kashmiri poet and musician, Habba Khatoon. With the progress of Zoon, Joya's relationship with Rashid, a Kashmiri Historian (who is also working on the project) progresses too, slowly and passionately.

A shocking incident brings the shooting to a halt. Brimming with guilt and a deep sense of loss, Joya returns to the valley after 10 years, to complete the movie, Zoon. How would she manage to create the same effect after 10 long years? Would she be able to complete the film despite the adverse working conditions in the valley? And, what about Rashid and their lost love?

Read this book to know the answers.

Humko maloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin
Dil ko khush rakhne ko Ghalib ye khayal achha hai

Zoon has an intriguing plot. Who wouldn't want to read two different love stories rolled into one with a mesmerizing backdrop of Kashmir? But, this book lacks the passion and beauty that are required for such a story line. 

The first part of the book is painfully slow and dull. It reads more factual than fictional and imaginative. Overall, it seems like 'the making of Zoon'. It takes more than 160 pages to happen something shocking and significant (Had it not been for review, I would have left this book unfinished). No doubt, after that incident, the book picks up the pace and turns really interesting and gripping (So, the patience was fruitful).

Still, there's something amiss about the storytelling and the setting even though the language is good. The situations and characters are underdeveloped. There's no spark between Joya and Rashid. There's no expression of their feeling. The title character, Zoon aka Habba Khatoon hasn't got any exposure. I wanted to know more about her. I liked the character of Rashid but again this one is a half-baked character. Joya is the main protagonist, but she fails to mark any impression. Nothing concrete reflects from her personality. 

Also, the story covers the time-frame of 1989-1999, but the timeline is confusing. I really liked the starting chapter, maybe prologue of the book. The valley and its life are very well described in the second half. Poems by Habba Khatoon are nice but not sparkling. I did not like the cover. I mean why would anyone design such a boring cover for this intense story set in Kashmir valley? 

I picked this book with a lot of expectations, so for me, this was a disappointing read. You may pick this book if you are looking for a different plot, you like History and intense reads.




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