Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Flutter In The Colony - Review

In 1956, the Senguptas travel from Calcutta to rural Malaya to start afresh. In their new hamlet of anonymity, the couple gradually forget past troubles and form new ties. But this second home is not entirely free and gentle. A complex, racially charged society, it is on the brink of independence even as communist insurgents hover on the periphery. How much should a newcomer meddle before it starts to destroy him? Shuttling in time and temper between the rubber plantations of Malaya and the anguish-filled years of pre-Partition Bengal, between the Malayan Emergency and Direct Action Day, between indifference and lust, A Flutter in the Colony is a tender, resonant chronicle of a family struggling to remain together in the twilight of Empire in Asia.

About the Author

Sandeep Ray was born off the Straits of Malacca, on the edge of a rubber plantation. Educated in India and in the United States, he began his career as a film-maker, travelling widely and producing award-winning documentaries. A historian now, he explores woven pasts in A Flutter in the Colony, his first novel.




‘A Flutter In The Colony’ is a work of fiction based across significant historical events in time. The story starts in 1956 in Malaya, which is at a doldrums owing to the Malayan Emergency and the struggle of the natives, and often jumps back to the 1940s in the era of Pre-Partitioned Bengal, the Indian Independence struggle, and the political uprisings in the state. Sandeep Ray, being a noted historian, uses his vast array of knowledge to bring out the pictures clear in the mind of the readers.

The male protagonist of the story has not been named in the book. Rather, he has been referred to as ‘Young Man’ throughout. This felt odd to me. Perhaps, the author had planned to keep his protagonist unnamed, so that the readers could own the character and give him an identity as they wished; or maybe the author wanted to refer to a larger community who had faced the hardships of those struggling time, and didn’t want to confine the story to that of a single person.

The character of Maloti, the protagonist’s wife, has been sketched in a manner that it would evoke a feeling of serenity and love among the readers. Maloti is caring and binds the household. Even before her marriage, she had become a prime figure in the Sengupta family, her importance reverberating throughout the pages, making her presence essential in the life of the Young Man, as well as in the story.

Other characters too make their presence felt in Calcutta and Malaya. The writer makes an honest attempt to bind the two different time zones, and bring out the pathos of the commoners. Some of the chapters are well written. However, there are some dialogues in local dialect which I found hard to comprehend. Though it provided a sense of authenticity, I personally didn’t like it. Also, the characterization of the Young Man could have been more powerful. I did not find any quote or dialogue from the book worth noting down, which again was a sort of disappointment to me.

I, however, recommend this book to all lovers of history. The details of places are descriptive and picturesque, and the readers wouldn’t feel left out in an unknown land.

Title: A Flutter In The Colony
Authors: Sandeep Ray
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Publication Year: 2019
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Action & Adventure
No. of Pages: 344
Price: Rs 499
My Rating: 3/5