Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Review: #IAm16ICanRape by Kirtida Gautam

Book Review: #IAm16ICanRape by Kirtida Gautam
Book Review: #IAm16ICanRape

Book Details. . .

·         Title: #IAm16ICanRape
·         Author: Kirtida Gautam
·         Genre: Thriller/Social
·         Publisher: Read Out Loud Publishing (2015)
·         ISBN: 978-8193136027
·         Pages: 593 Pages
·         Rating: 3.25/5

Behind The Book. . .

To destroy great EVIL, GOOD has to shed tears of blood.

Rudransh Kashyap is a self-made billionaire and man of high moral fiber. His life is shattered when he returns home one day to find that his prodigy, his 16-year-old grandson, Aarush, has been arrested and accused of a brutal gang rape. It is easy to say, “Kill the Rapist” but what if the accused is your child?

This case takes an unprecedented turn when Aarush’s identity is made public on social media. Rudransh finds himself living a nightmare as he fights against tremendous odds to get justice for Aarush, to save him and to bring him back home… But what if the unthinkable is true? Can Rudransh save his grandson, or will he end up fighting a different battle altogether?

Book Synopsis. . .

“Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.” ~ Jessica Valenti

One cannot, perhaps, more aptly describe the irony and agony of the rape victim. The absolute truth as stated above often gets curbed and covered by the misnomers and people actually skirt around the issue without tackling the real cause of one of the most brutal, loathed and (perhaps the most) trivialized act of crime which the mankind (especially the women) is currently struggling with - Rape. Kirtida Gautam’s offering #IAm16ICanRape attempts to explore the same and does much more trying to dwell deep into the psychological aspect of the crime and the criminal.

The book narrates the story of a prestigious but dysfunctional Kashyap family enjoying great stature in the society. The head of the family Rudransh Kashyap is a man of repute and principles who has carved out a name for himself & owns a successful coaching institute. He lives with his wife Gayatri and grandson Aarush in a posh bungalow accompanied by some domestic helpers and maids. Gayatri is a homely and religious lady who considers serving the husband and managing the home as sole motives of life - apart from showering unconditional love on his grandson. His son and daughter in law live in the United States.

Aarush Kashyap, the grandson, is portrayed as the ever captivating and intellect guy with a genius IQ level, someone who can make anyone drool over him basis his demi-god like looks and near perfect intelligence. He has the privilege of having best of the upbringing both in terms of the materialistic pleasures (looks, money and all material comforts) and aesthetic delights (immense love of grandparents, stature in the society and discerning intelligence). He lives with his grandparents and is the apple of their eye; he doesn’t have much liking for his parents who are settled abroad. His father, Mrigank, is depicted as someone who stays loser throughout the life. He doesn’t have much say in most of the matters that happen in and around him. The people around him, including his father and wife remain unsatisfied with him & he remains playing second fiddle for each of them. Aarush’s mother Ananya, on the contrary, is an intelligent and practical lady who is favored by her father in law for being his brightest student. Aarush’s hate for her mother stems from the fact she wanted to abort Aarush because he was conceived before she married Aarush's father.

Each of the characters in the family has its own sets of apprehensions about the relationships, ideologies and life which become evident as the story proceeds and each of them confronts each other. The family receives the shock of their life when Aarush is accused of brutally raping a girl on the eve of his sixteenth birthday celebration. A teenage girl, Shubhangi Tyagi, accuses Aarush and a bartender, for allegedly raping her. As the family makes an attempt to come to the terms of the case, the events as they unfold stuns each of them with the truth which bare all about the intricacies of this heinous act. The whole of the family find themselves in the fix as it becomes a nightmare for them to believe that their kid can do such a heinous act.

The dark side of Aarush gradually is revealed when he masterminds and manipulates with almost all of his kins and mates including his grandparents, parents and lawyer. He also takes advantages of the daughter of their domestic maid, Pihu, who loves him from the bottom of her heart. The story finally explores various facets of the crime and the criminal and also stresses high on revisiting and repealing the provisions juvenile law in the country.

The book also has spate of other characters as well like domestic maid’s daughter Pihu (who loves Aarush), Shubhangi’s room-mate and friend Taz, Aarush’s lawyer Meghna, some TV journos covering the case etc.

Has Aarush really committed the crime? How does Rudransh reconcile with the fact that his ‘champ’ Aarush (that’s what he fondly refers him as) has been involved in such a flagitious crime? Does he stand by his principles and ethics when his own kid is under trial? How does the family reconcile with the fact? Is Aarush able to escape the punishment under the juvenile laws of the country? What happens to Shubhangi, the girl who was raped? What happens to Pihu, the girl who truly loved Aarush? What finally happens to Aarush, the man who commits and manipulates?

Grab a copy of the book to unearth answers of the above and also to be a part of the most vital yet neglected debate about the juvenile provisions of the Indian law.

I have received the copy of this book from the authoress for the feedback / review. I thank her for giving me this opportunity to offer my opinion about the book.

My Thoughts. . .

Having recently reviewed another piece of literature on child abuse, I wasn’t really sceptical when the authoress approached me with a request to review the book. As Kirtida mentioned, ‘It's a book that questions the Juvenile Justice System of India and raises the voice against growing rape culture’, I couldn’t arrest my mind and thoughts to ramble back to the horrors and agony of the Nirbhaya case – something which made me ashamed of being a part of the sterner sex!!!

Before I dwell further on my opinion about the book, I offer my heartiest appreciation and admiration for Kirtida for choosing such a grave and sensitive topic for her first book. It actually would have demanded a great amount of physical and mental toiling on her part to carve out this fictionalized version taking cue from Nirbhaya case – indeed a noble attempt Kirtida, for the intent with which it has been attempted!!!

Coming back to the book, it is a great piece of psychological thriller penned by the first time authoress highlighting the lapses and loopholes in the current legal provisions of Indian law with regard to rape and juvenile rapist. The story is intriguing with adequate twists and turns to keep the readers completely hooked. Instead on harping on a melodramatic description about the rape victim condition per se, the book goes beyond and explores the psychology of the rapist and people around.

Being a psychologist, Kirtida makes an attempt to take this one beyond a normal piece of fiction and offers her reader a piece of the mind of the rapist which prompts him to commit the crime. It also offers advice and insights to some of the vital aspects of parenting. The book has been written in the first person by various characters turn by turn giving it a completely different take on the thriller genre. The meritorious manner in which the chapters have been written aptly reflects the command of the authoress over her principal characters (guess her professional skills helped in her bit). Each chapter gives the reader an insight into the character’s mind and thoughts, as to what each of them is thinking about a particular juncture in the story. These have been skilfully woven to take the story further so that nowhere the construct of chapters defy the intent of the story teller. The book starts off with Aarush accused of raping a girl and is due for trial and creating a perfect pedestal for the story to move igniting the curiosity meter of the reader with regard to what’s, why’s and how’s of the story. The non-sequential chapter numbering with an interesting flowchart given at the beginning is an innovative way of putting across the story.

The book hits hard on the preconceived silos and notions breathing in our society demarking the acts and deeds of the girl responsible for the rape. I don’t think anything can be more obnoxious than the fact that there are people in the society who prefer creating flutter by accusing the victim rather than holding the accused responsible and seek severe punishment for him.

The best part of the book remains that it does what it is intended to do. It bares all about the ‘rape’ questioning the age-old adages and beliefs while raising grace marks on the legal provisions of our country which allows a juvenile rapist to escape the punishment overlooking the magnitude of the crime he has committed and ignoring the gravity of the intent and mental state with which the crime is committed, giving weight age to only one thing – his age. As the strings of the story are unveiled, the reader is suo moto compelled to look beyond the age of the perpetrator to his acts and deeds. It presents a strong case for the regulator to revisit and reframe the age old laws and make an exception to the provision making the punishment of the crime in consonance with the brutality of the crime. 

However, there were minor glitches which were noticed by me during the course of reading the book. The story boasts of too many characters which didn’t go well with me especially when many of them stay redundant and not keenly developed even till the end of the book. The characterization of the principal characters has been done quite wonderfully but when it comes to some of the secondary ones, I feel it would have been just great if those would have avoided. Alternatively, if the chapters having their ‘point of view’ could be removed, that would have done wonders for the book. Proper editing of the ensuing editions of the book is suggested which will transform this work into a masterpiece.

Another mild observation of mine is regarding the narration of the book which I found quite naïve at places. Maybe it was a deliberate attempt on the part of authoress so that to keep the flow of such a long book intact (something in which she succeeds), but for me, it would have been great if it had adequate amount description as well which would have provided further thrust to the matter dealt with. There were some minor grammatical / typo errors but these weren’t too scratchy to impact the overall reading experience.

The cover page of the book is appealing with the picture of the juvenile sitting holding his head as if sitting in distress for the crime he had committed. The title of the book is apt as it conveys and raises the question on the proclaimed affirmation of the juveniles to rape on the pretext of relaxed laws in this regard. In the backdrop, various phrases are written linked directly with the title of the book. A special word of appreciation about the print, font and word spacing in the book which is more than decent to grant a comfortable read.
The Final Word. . .

A commendable task of fictionalizing a non-fictional topic which kindles the strings within to strive for the change which still awaits the dawn of the day. Under the pretext of the fictional thriller, Kirtida Gautam touches some of the most controversial aspects about rape and the rapist and also about the age old stale legal juvenile provisions which instead of curbing and deterring the crime silently protects the criminals.

A brave and well-researched piece of literature which has its heart at the right place. Surely recommended for the sheer intent and the promise of a better world it attempts to create.

Rating: 3.25/5

Five Favorite Quotes. . .

1.      It might seem that rape is a feminist issue. It is not, it is a battle for masculine which females are forced to fight against.
2.      This is the idiotic judicial system of my country. When a person of a certain age commits a crime, they overlook the nature of the crime and the competence of the criminal to focus only on a single biological fact – age.
3.      And I am not a victim, I am a survivor. I was not raped because I am who I am. I was raped because he is who he is.
4.      I want people to know that I am a real person who exists in a real world. I am not a raped girl or victim. I had a life before that evening and I will continue to have a life. What happened with me that night will stay with me but if it has not killed me, it has made me stronger.
5.      Whatever I fed to his mind, thinking it was nutrition was, in fact, poison. No matter how much a person likes or craves sugar, he should not be raised on the diet of only sugar.

About the Author. . .

Kirtida is a clinical psychologist turned screenplay writer who completed her education from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, India. Her passion for psychology and writing inspired her into writing psychological thrillers. While the readers are reading this introduction, the next thriller is in the making. You can explore he world more by visiting her website

Where to grab a copy. . .

Please click here to buy the book from Amazon

Please click here to buy the book from Flipkart

~ Shubh Life . . . OM Sai Ram 

© 2015 Manish Purohit (Reserved)

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