Come with caution: Tales of twisted and lethal sex (Book Review)
Title: Wet; Author: Tanveer Bookwala; Publisher: Penguin Random House India; Pages: 189; Price: Rs 299
In our fast-paced modern world where few things are what they appear to be, many relationships fleeting and treacherous and tastes unprecedented, some manifestations of sex can be instinctive, irresistible and intense — but lethal too.
This can be seen from this collection where a charlatan doctor, a hustling business executive, a bereaved girlfriend, a successful but domineering woman author, two students trying to celebrate a Valentine’s Day with a difference and others learn that some unimaginably wild but satisfying sex may involve a price that nearly no one would be keen to pay.
These seven steamy but savage stories “set in a sexually active world of voyeurism, fetish, fantasy, the supernatural and wild consensual sex”, but with unexpected and usually shocking twists, are by Bookwala, formerly ex-chief creative officer at Balaji Motion Pictures where, among other things, he was involved in penning “horror erotica” hit “Ragini MMS2”.
A self-confessed Bollywood junkie, American TV fanatic, passionate foodie, and comic book obsessed, the author hits the ground running from the very first line of the very first story “The Clinic”, with a scene of almost ferocious sex — in the presence of a hapless bystander.
But this merely sets the stage for the unethical capers of Dr Patel, who runs a sex clinic promising “Rogi ko Bhogi Bana de”, where he dispenses his “miraculous” oils to patients, while taking a “hands-on” approach to the women he fancies among them. One rainy night as he is closing up, comes a strikingly beautiful woman in dire need of his treatment, and acquiescing to all he does without question — but what deadly dangerous secret is she hiding?
On similar lines, and equally dark, is “The Hunt” about a mother and daughter who share much more than an emotional bond.
Arun, attending an Anti-Valentine’s Day party in Bangalore, meets the woman of his dreams, and accompanies her home for a wild time. The morning after is even better — initially — as he comes across another desirable woman in the same house, who also promises to indulge him. But the real situation as it unfolds will be something very different — and dangerous.
“The Porn Addict” deals with exactly what its name implies and the cost it exacts on marital as well as daily life as it unrolls the imaginative but sad life of its victim-protagonist, while “The Servant” an incendiary cocktail of gender and economic roles, the price of celebrity and domination of various kinds, and “Dial S” a story of phone sex with a difference.
Enticing and enigmatic is “Tipping the Velvet” about a young woman, still to come to terms with her boyfriend’s death in a road accident, who sneaks into her exclusive club after-hours, meets an alluring woman and has a passionate night al fresco. But her escapade is detected by the management and she is confronted with some surprising video footage. What actually happened that thundery (in more ways than one) night?
Equally unsettling is “The 3 a.m. Show” where a pair of students aiming to make out use an old movie theatre where a special, solitary show of a pornographic movie can be arranged for them. Little do they realise they are the show, but a single casual act by one of them will even scores — with a vengeance.
Finally, there is an epilogue where most of the characters run into each other before the time frame of their own individual stories or at least their dramatic denouements, leaving us further unsettled.
A black tribute to the sex drive, which can make most people lose their judgement and engage in hazardous activities and using the settings of the anonymous metropolises, rainy weather and the unforgiving night to great effect, these stories will terrify the reader as much as they will titillate. But they are engrossing and it can only be hoped that Bookwala will soon indulge us with more.
(Vikas Datta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)