The Rape Trial: Book Review by Asha Seth

Author: Bidisha Ghosal | Genre: Crime Fiction | Pages: 548

Nearly a decade has passed since Rahul Satyabhagi, heir to the mega Satyabhagi business empire, had raped Avni Rambha, bested her in court, and gone on to become a men’s rights activist, and the who’s-who of Badrid Bay had breathed a sigh of relief that the sordid mess was over. But now a sting operation proves what many, the three friends included, had suspected all along – he’d been lying. Furious that he has been exposed, Rahul plans to sue the media as well as his long-suffering victim. Now, Rhea, Hitaishi and Amruta find themselves at a crossroad – can they carry on doing nothing? Who is the hunter, and who is the hunted? Can a story of hard questions and difficult choices have an easy resolution?

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The Rape Trial is the author’s attempt at focussing on an issue at large everywhere across the globe – the plight of raped women. In this book, the author has put together emotional and psychological nuances associated with the lives of those who suffer long after the crime is perpetrated. Avni was raped by Rahul of the bigshot Satyabhagi family. He gets away with it, and even after years leaves no chance to humiliate Avni and her family. This we see all the time how families of the victims are tortured, and the victims themselves cast to public embarrassment, forcing them to take drastic steps.

This debut novel highlights all this and a lot more. The detailed narrative on the topic sheds light on how the system struggles to subject the criminals to justice, especially when they are connected to high-places, or from honcho families. In such situations, people with high morals really put their lives on the line, and in most cases, it’s all in vain. As for common people, no one wants to talk about it because everyone is uncomfortable with just the mention of that word. We’ve been witness to this amply with either the Talvar or the Nirbhaya case, and many others.

In this book, all efforts to put Rahul Satyabhagi behind bars are brought forth, and it is not a simple exercise. While the title speaks of a rape trial, there’s certainly more to it. Even before one reaches the actual court room drama, a lot has transpired that gives a peek into the true dispositions of all the people involved in the crime, closely or distantly. Evidently, a trial is all those miserable efforts put together to convict a criminal even before he/she is brought to court.

As a reader, I felt the dialogues and narrative captured the plot in a way that isn’t easy and yet brilliantly written. Life isn’t easy for all the characters and their motives and actions string together the loose ends to give a picture of utter shock revealing it in just the right amount of surprise, extracting oohs and aahs, that mean it all makes perfect sense. Everyone of the richest families involved in here, do everything within their power to cover up notorious acts, and just how police always bend knees forth power is reminiscent of the headlines lining news every single day.

Judiciary is a puppet of the power-laden, and that I felt was at the core of this plot. In her simple yet captivating writing style, the author who is also a recipient of journalism awards, has managed to dissect that picture to pieces and just so rightly. That and the meticulous research done proves the author was serious and clear about what she went after.

The only drawback I can think of is the tedious number of pages that felt redundant by the end of it all, and obviously a keen editing eye could have corrected the plot by notches. That said, this vouches for a perfect story for a moving drama; not that it hasn’t been done before. This however, can be veiled behind the sheer opulence of literary finesse of this first attempt at a novel that hardly feels so.

Read ‘The Rape Trail’ for its meat that is truly moving, and adds much meaning to your understanding of how such atrocious crimes are overlooked and how a system struggles to bring criminals to justice.

Have you read ‘The Rape Trial’? How did you like it? Share your thoughts in comments below.

P.S: I received a review copy from the author but the review remains unbiased.

Happy reading till we meet next. Until then, carpe diem! 🙂

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