Sikandar by Binayak Banerjee

Sikandar, 10 Players, 68 Days by Binayak Banerjee translated from Bengali by Soma Ghosh is a fictionalized account of a reality show of Bengal's first ever reality show, Sikandar, where ten public personalities from different walks of life are thrown together in a house called Jatugriha and they have to live under the same roof for 68 days.

The milieu would be recorded and aired among millions of viewers to show what happens when people are not acting in accordance with the script but the story gets to be based on reality and the one, who manages to battle it out and survive the eliminations by the public emerges as the first Sikandar of Bengal and win Rs. 25 lakh as prize money.

Jatugriha houses personalities ranging from a hermit, Samyuktanand, Bengali superstar Kanishka Dasgupta, a opinionated actor who participates in the show just to get himself noticed by the lady he is infatuated to, feisty elocutionist Aindrila Roy Saxena, social activist Rangajaba Sanyal, widow of a slain radical who wanted to name her daughter ‘Telangana’, a determined teacher Elizabeth Mitra, famous politician Makhan Mandal to a prostitute, Lovely, who spent many intense nights warming the bed of yet another Sikandar contestant, industrialist Lalit Bajoria.

The game begins and the cameras monitors them 24 hours a day and seven days a week, while the characters talk in riddles and drench everything in philosophy and the viewers decide their fate of staying in the faithful house through SMS votes.

Interestingly most of the characters seem to be interrelated, and has a close relationship with each other, and that makes the passage all the more entertaining as we get a peek into each of the participant’s personal lives and their way of thinking, where we get to see the beauty of the complexity in human minds and where they delve from. The way we see on the face of the things may not be the same as in reality it is.

We may mask revolutionary movements as social evils but the men behind it may have some other compulsions to do it, when we find out the husband of one of the participants fighting and losing it out for the cause of her daughter’s life. One highlight of this book is it beautifully portrays how easily we love to stereotype things rather than going to the root of it.

The mounting tension that continues from the beginning, interactions and feelings between the characters along with the easy language used in this book, will make it difficult for you to stop reading till the very end. Overall a good and entertaining book full of rhythm in which you can’t wait to see how it ends.

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