A Straight Gay Love Story (Book Review) by G Swaminathan SignUp
A Straight Gay Love Story
(Book Review)
G Swaminathan Bookmark and Share

‘Hostel Room 131’ R Raj Rao, Penguin, pp 228, Rs. 250

If the reader thinks this racy homo erotic novel is going to give a revolutionary end to the gay life in India, he will not only be disillusioned but also shocked. Coming from the bold and irreverent writer R Raj Rao ‘Hostel Room 131’ is surprisingly just another typical Indian love story but setting the love story with two males primarily bonded by sex. The surprise is the protagonist finally succumbs to the pressure of his ‘beloved’ and the ‘society’ so that their union is accepted. Their decision to migrate the USA after undergoing sex change of one of lovers is nothing but highly ridiculous and superfluous.

Siddharth meets Sudhir in the Hostel Room 131 quite accidentally and at the first meeting itself seduces him; and continues to enjoy sex with him using a host of excuses. At one point the parents of Sudhir comes to know of their son’s promiscuity and perverted way of life with his friend and prevents him from meeting Sid. What follows is the one similar in any hetero love story. The obsessed lover tries to meet his lover in vain, wanders all over like a mad man to get the ‘man’ he wants finally as a ‘woman’. It is equally painful to read the depiction of Sudhir more feminine than masculine which altogether gives a different shade to the socalled gay love story because that goes with the general depiction of a gay in the conservative Indian society through the media constantly.

The narration follows the typical Raj Rao style with derisive, rude comments and sick observations of the seamy sides of Indian life that stinks without any artifice. The love scenes are transparent. The descriptions of the places and characters are vivid and painfully realistic. The humor is either deadpan or ribald.

It is true that the pages of this love story races through the college hostel, railway stations, trains and buses, roads, lanes and bylanes of Pune, Mumbai and Belgaum. But finally the story falls flat when Sudhir demands for a sex change surgery and his lover Siddharth’s meek acceptance for the same. It ultimately boils down to the love between two souls and not man-man. Probably that is what the author tries to drive home at.

It is a bitter fact but true that being a gay couple in India is a difficult proposition and generally lacks integrity. But the same story depicts the characters of Gaurav and Vivek who are bold and honest enough to accept their sexuality and live happily within the Indian contexts.

In Siddharth’s case it definitely creats a doubt. Will he be happy with the sex changed Su? If he is gay he should not; if he is straight he will not. Who is Siddharth?

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Thank you Mr Harish Kumar. I will surely send a mail to you. Please do read my other reviews also. The recent one is on the book 'Flimsy Frontiers'

02/02/2014 06:38 AM

Comment I haven't read the book, but have gone through the plot here. It is a bold and a step to write a gay love story in India. I am a gay man myself out to my family but closeted to the society, under the guise of spirituality. I live in a small town and my life is just another story of a gay man. Loneliness, pain, tears... I had my own love which ended up in a seperation (he was a bisexual guy) after his marriage to a girl. I hate this kind of a dichotomy which is self imposed.. when will our country see the light of equal human rights. Leave aside accepting us, worse.... they are branding us as Criminals. I want to be the person I am... the human being whom God has created with the same Love and emotions brimming in my heart. Will my generation of Gays see that day.... will we live to breathe an air of equality in the World's largest democracy. I really don't think so...Mr Swaminathan.. Plz do contact me..I would like to share my story with the readers. My email id is hkumar_bestfriend@yahoo.com

Harish Kumar
02/02/2014 05:20 AM

Comment Thanks Mr Animesh Halder, the writer or the reviewer gets a sort of fillip when he gets a response like yours be it praise of brickbats..it is nice of you to record your opinion..wish other readers also follow this..

03/25/2011 22:51 PM

Comment very nice..and nice concept of portraying a gay love story.

Animesh Halder
03/25/2011 22:32 PM

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