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Book Review: The 9PM Debate by Vivek Chandran

The 9PM Debate by Vivek Chandran is a fascinating contemporary novel that sheds light on one of the heinous crimes of our society: rape. Backdropped against the bustling Mumbai city, The 9PM Debate novel will not only shake you with its context but also nudge you for a revolution against the rapes of women in our nation.

As the title suggests, it is about debate, well not the ordinary one. A rape victim and her perpetrators go live on a TV debate. Before the story could settle with its protagonists and antagonists, the author literally takes readers on the cultural tour of Mumbai. Not shinning with all aspects, the city is a gruesome chaos with its transit, traffic jams, shanties, and crime rate. The special coverage is about Mumbai’s local trains and the lurking danger for women commuters.

The story is about Mumbai-Virar gang rape case of Sujata aka Durga. Radhika, an ace TV journalist with ABTV (Akhil Bharat Television) can be considered the protagonist. She is all stubborn to bring a change in the society with her powers. She runs through her contacts, meets people of authority in police and law. On her show, she will bring the rape victim and rapists face-to-face. One of its kind and first in the nation…such a debate can bring a transformation in the society. How does she arrange all, is a struggle worth appreciation?

When Sujata and her four rapists Mahavir, Bimal, Sukhdev, and Riyaz are face-to-face live, many others join the momentum to cash on the opportunity. Ironically, things didn’t turn out in their favour. Inspector Tariq Khan is badly immolated, he loses his job. The home minister is trapped subtly for her outsmarting behavior. The novel swirls the story from as many as possible angles. The author did a brilliant job by painting the working mechanism of a TV debate – he takes us through their meetings, agendas, TRP, and much more.

Once the debate is live – many participants, opinion holders give their wart-and-all palaver. Readers might feel, specifically in the first part, that the novel is limited up to debate only. However, as one chugs ahead, its real veracity could be felt. The story has some major twists as it gallops to the finish line. The police system that supposed to work in favour of rape victims isn’t holistic, it needs to be exposed and many other allied social elements. The rudimentary base of society is challenged with this story, people’s perception towards rape must change for the betterment of all. Another gem is that TV channels can work in the favour of people and society, instead of just focusing on their ulterior TRP motives. Have you ever thought as why TV people don’t cover a rape case, well why they always look for a breaking and sensational gang rape?

“A normal rape is too commonplace to get any attention. A brutal gang rape makes headline news.”

The novel has a strong message for society and the people who work for it in various roles. Vivek’s ability to craft such an intelligent tale of justice is superbly done. He writes with good usage of words and his narration comprehensible. All is great about this novel, except its length. Read it and bring the change in the society.

Buy it from Amazon/Kindle.


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