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Just the facts, Sir

A VOICE to urban middle class, their attitudes, environs, vagaries and vicissitudes of metropolitan existence, if one wants to have a peep at it all, then "Just the Facts, Madamji" a-268-page novel by Sharmila Kantha that sees its release this Thursday at India International Centre, is just the right option. The novel is published by Indialog Publications and priced at Rs.195.

Penned in a hilarious style that constantly peeps into contemporary life in India, the 43-year-old debut novelist tells tale in a subtle way. Here is a detective who tries to solve the murder mystery of a senior bureaucrat who accumulates wealth beyond his means. In the process, the detective comes across a cross-section of society, from party to school, to bank, to bus to electricity department to environment concerns, et al. The search unveils a different genre of people, their vagaries, commercialism, insipid tastes and finally the hollowness.

Though written in a lighter mood, the novel is not lacking in seriousness. Sharmila jots down her experiences of lifestyles as observed in various parts of the country and abroad, be it Kathmandu, Beijing, Washington or Hong Kong.

"I have tried to bring to the readers the real picture of attitudes of different people in a typical metropolitan co-existence, it is not meant to teach or point out, just the facts," says the novelist who has earlier written picture books for children published by Children Book Trust.

Interestingly, "Just the Facts, Madamji" makes an enjoyable reading for its regular use of extracts from Hindi film songs to support the detective's thought.

A different manner?

"Hindi films songs are an integral part of an average Indian's life. Moreover, we have songs for all occasions. The songs only lighten some burden from the readers' mind when he tries to plunge into the real and deeper meanings in the book," reasons Sharmila.

With a slice of life, pregnant with humour, yet providing food for thought, it makes a healthy, light reading.

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