Long before Beatrix Kiddo, there was Karate Kavita. And like all good Amazons, our girl — like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill — wore tight pants. She had muscle power, brains and breasts. Her creator, Pushpa Thangadorai, understood the audience well so he let her have some help while chasing thieves: a mustachioed steady who rescues her after villains tear open her shirt, with long delays, to chat her up.
“Chee, don’t you come close.” (Kavitha).
“You still mad, honey?” (Villain).
The writers of the stories seem to be feminists. At least, of the sort that feel women are winning if they can take some of the games. The heroes are found wanting in love and lust and putty in the hands of female gold-diggers and ghosts.
The reader shouldn’t complain. In many ways, all this is familiar territory. The make-believe world of mainstream Indian movies and the crossing over of class in porn fantasies (driver servicing the mistress etc) feed into this fiction.
‘In Sacrilege To Love’, a brother beats back potential boyfriends of his sister for being drivers and shopkeepers. When she gets serious, it is with a man who runs a computer centre. Of course, she gets him. No, she doesn’t. Confused? This is a story where one ending comes for free. There’s an ending for diehard romantics, another one for those who are not.
Another gem is ‘The Bungalow by the River’, in which a man who gets killed for having an affair with his boss’s wife, returns as ghost to take revenge on the guests of his boss’ son. Mode of retribution — whisky-induced rape.
“Padma, my beautiful goddess…my golden flower…” (Ghost whispering into Padma’s ear). She (Padma) could only gape… Pritham K Chakravarthy — she translated the first anthology too — and editor Rakesh Khanna need to be thanked for this book. A book like this demands that you spare the ‘comments.’ Go with the flow.