Book Review: 'Impeachment' by Anjali Deshpande
By Parvathi Ramkumar - Bangalore
23rd July 2012 12:00 AM
The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the central theme of Anjali Deshpande’s novel Impeachment. The subsequent Supreme Court verdict allowing Union Carbide to pay a total sum of $470 million to the victims is the focal point of the story. The numerous characters, from the fiery Mukta to the good natured Hally, have one objective in mind — to help, as much as they can, and as far as they can, the victims of the disaster.
The novel moves from character to character, revealing their thoughts and actions, the hardships they face, and the happiness they come across. While Avidha, the journalist with a passionate interest in the Bhopal tragedy, can be classified as the protagonist, others too play a central role in the book. Together, they form the Friends of Bhopal, to aid and support the victims. Between them, they bicker and argue, keep secrets, form and break friendships and relationships. They seek the impeachment of the Justices of the Supreme Court who allowed a paltry sum to be given to the gas victims, in return for the court’s alleged impeachment of justice.
There are several characters in Impeachment. Some of them are better fleshed out than the others. Avidha, for one, is confused when she finds herself the victim of a broken relationship — but her strength of mind helps her pull through the worst. Mukta is short tempered, further infuriated by the docile Vineeta. Nirmala is career oriented and cold, at least on the surface.
Part of the problem with the multiple characters is that they are introduced all at once, and it is difficult to discern who they are. The book reveals the personal histories of its characters later. And while that is a fine technique in general, Impeachment attempts to portray far too much in a limited space. Character personalities at times seem a little forced. Interestingly, there are also a large number of hook-ups in the book.
Using the Bhopal Gas Tragedy as a foundation for a novel is an idea worth exploring. Until the sheer volume of other issues begins to make the narrative heavy. Far too many points are raised during the course of the story. In addition to bringing to life some of the aspects of Indian Law, the corruption, the shenanigans of the ‘ruling party’, the rise of a ‘Supreme Challenger’, the Bhopal victims themselves, protests, domestic quarrels, mentions of the caste system, old world prejudice are all included in the novel.
These are real issues, but put together in a single volume, they tend to get overwhelming. Sections dealing with the law and the court’s order, with characters bickering back and forth at times, are far from lucid and use language better suited to an article or essay. Focus on fewer central characters would have helped.
The horrors of the Bhopal tragedy are expressed through the anger of its victims, and that is effective. However, better pacing and fewer characters would have improved the book ■
- India's poor need more purchasing power, not doles
- Japan support sought for Vision 2023
- Rahul aide to pick Nellore MP candidate
- Kerala: PSC guidelines put candidates in a fix
- Dead son's education loan: Bank seeks its pound of flesh
- With Advani visit, Modi begins charm offensive
- Social media goes martial over High Court's marital ruling
- Slum removal scheme tweaked to make it more effective
- Indian Coast Guards help rescue 26 crew from shipwreck near Yemen
- Thousands missing near Kedarnath shrine
- Tata Motors unveils 8 upgraded models of passenger vehicles
- Flaws in Koodankulam plant
- Army Major captures 'UFO' in Kerala
- Prices of 348 drugs to come down drastically from May 15
- 60 killed in Nigerian village attacks
- Callgate: Doctors were prime target for Biju, Saritha Nair