It’s Holi, 2012, the Hindu festival of spring, and back in Varanasi after twenty years, a young advocate is celebrating a nation-wide Supreme Court order against an age-old tradition of social injustice meted out to the destitute widows of India – to whom even the simple joys of color were denied.
It was in this city that, twenty years ago, Choti, a sassy, tight-rope walker befriends an old widow, Noor. As a member of the ashram, she lives a life of complete abstinence, but her young friend’s innocent exuberance and joy of life fills her with renewed hope.
The two form an unlikely bond, with Noor looking out for Choti, inspiring her to ‘fly high’ by seeking an education and fighting for her rights with dignity. Choti listens enraptured by the memories her friend shares: of playing Holi dressed as Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna, and flinging great bursts of her favorite pink-colored gulal into the sky. Choti promises her that they will play the next Holi together.
But then, one night, another friend of Choti’s, Anarkali, is murdered by the heinous police chief and his goons. Being the only witness to her murder, Choti is imprisoned on the eve of Holi. Everything falls apart in the ensuing chaos.
Will Choti be able to keep her promise of playing Holi with Noor?
Pitting the smoke rising from the funeral pyres of Manikarnika Ghat, against the joyous color-bursts of Holi celebrations, Vikas Khanna’s marvellously layered story of the survival of a delicate friendship, is brilliantly told and poignantly life-affirming.
Disclaimer: I was provided with an ARC by Bloomsbury India in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
The Last Color is the debut novel of Vikas Khanna and already has been made into a movie; so definitely the expectations from this one was quite high for me – even though I am not a fan of Mr. Khanna personally – nothing against him; I am just not a fan of cooking 😛
The premise of the plot is quite different of course – with the brilliant back roads of Varanasi & with the main character being a Widow of Varanasi; the book expecting to tackle more social issues and taboos of Indian Society – I wanted this book to be freaking amazing & exhilarating!!
The Last Color tackles so many social issues – the abandonment of the girl child, the restrictions imposed on widows in our society & not to mention the way widows of some families are left behind to fend for themselves in Varanasi despite their age or health!
The story though takes it pace quite slow; and for someone who likes her plotlines to move a bit more smoothly when called for (& Last Color definitely called for it!). The writing is quite simplistic; and yet at times dragged down the story a bit (could use a bit of polishing!). But it is a different concept; a concept that was given its due by the author, which I definitely respect!
But I do believe this is a book that will be better enjoyed as a movie – a cinematic concept of the plot; that can be brought beautifully to the big screen!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .5