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Book Review: Dvarca by Madhav Mathur

Dvarca is an Indian dystopian novel by the author Madhav Mathur. The novel is all about India which has been renamed as Dvarca and the time is around the end of twenty first century. The founders of Dvarca believe that one nation with one religion instilling one way of life is safe and futuristic for the citizens. Thus, the population is divided into many segments or, say, clans like Nakuls, Sahdevs, Samyuktas, Sanjeevs, Miras, Vidurs and many more. According to these segments, people work, earn and live. However they are constantly under the vigilance of the state through DD (Distant Directives). So running away from the duties or state is almost impossible. People have no freedom but their lives are tech rich and highly calculated, even their rations.

Amid such regimentation, one family of Dvarca where one Gandharva, a low-level bureaucrat, and one Jyoti, who works in a factory, find themselves unable to cope up with the day-to-day life prescribed by the state. Gandharva makes his life hell by following his heart instead the state instructions; he prefers to go walking to V-lab instead of taking the bus. Imagine how strict the state’s protocols are. To err is human but in Dvarca a mistake can lead an individual to death.

Though they are a couple but ironically their two growing-up children aren’t born by them. In Dvarca females get inseminated by the state authorities and marriage means only companionship, devoid of all sorts of intimacy. Their son – who was an experiment – is a superior Nakul by the ways of qualities and capabilities. At the age of eleven, he excels at school and obtains advanced arms training. Impressed by his overall performance, one of his teachers presents him the book of Shastriji – a president-like figure for the people of Dvarca. Nakul is so much influenced by him that the degree of nationalism culminates within him and he wished to be a martyr for his nation. Then comes the event of ‘The Hour of Honour’, where Nakul is to be awarded as The Pupil of the Year. In the event, while receiving the award he tightly hugs Shastriji. Out of nowhere Nakul feels an erection and the friction between them causes Shastriji to suspect him of carrying a gun or bomb to kill him. He throws Nakul in sheer fear and the security folks beat, grab and unclad his clothes to confirm the dubious activity. Nakul has brought shame to the nation, as well to his parents. He runs away, breaks his DD and escapes the police and patrolling team. After some days his mother receives a message most likely from pariahs that Nakul is with them and he may come back but with a different name and purpose. 
Parallel to the state beliefs run an underground team that struggles hard to communicate to the people the real intentions of Dvarca. Jyoti clandestinely works for them, believes them and in their proofs. She witnesses the bombing of an industrial complex by the state security people. The reason behind terrorism is to keep people united in fear. Dvarca in the guise of oneness is an authoritarian state but there is no one who can take the task to challenge them and those who try to do get suppressed brutally. The novel is a good read but at places lacks intensity and many things either go unaccounted or unexplained. The novel can be taken as a peek into the future where terrorism and excessive hedonism can work collectively to underpin the moral values of civilizations. The message of the book is clear: the world needs peace above anything else. Thankfully Madhav Mathur isn’t into writing warts and all love stories, he is a promising talent.


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