Friday, 30 October 2015

SHE: Ekla Cholo Re by Dr. Shayan Haq & Santosh Avvannavar: Book Review

(The video embedded above is the official book trailer)

He wanted to play with dolls while he was forced to play with cars.
He fancied being Debu's girlfriend while he was seen as his younger brother.
He loved draping his mom's Tant saree privately while he had to wear what a boy would, publicly. 
When everything that he felt within, contradicted with what others expected from him, 
he realized becoming a SHE from a he is a lonely path and it's best to tread this path alone -
Ekla Cholo Re!

SHE: Ekla Cholo Re is the story of Kusum who suffers a gender identity disorder since childhood. Through Kusum's conversation over a long drive with a stranger, the authors have brought out the subtle feelings that Kusum undergoes during each phase of her life. 

If not for the original poet, Rabindranath Tagore, you must be familiar with the song 'Ekla Cholo Re' (which means 'walk alone, my friend), through Amitabh Bachchan's Kahaani. Tagore's words in this particular song has been a source of inspiration to many, our authors being two among them. The character of Kusum too derives her inspiration to raise above the social stigmas, through the song 'Ekla Cholo Re'. 

The design of the title is interesting for two reasons; one that the 'S' in SHE appears inverted, signifying the gender issue of the main character in the book and two, the image of Howrah bridge is embedded within SHE, symbolically representing the Bengali origin of the theme song.

A touching love story, subtly wound around Kusum's internal conflicts, holds the grip of the events. Contrary to the general perception that transsexuals lack romantic relationships, Kusum is portrayed as one who makes not one but two male characters to fall in love with her, instantly. As a matter of fact, SHE doesn't intend to sympathetically highlight the emotional and psychological disturbances that transsexuals experience; rather it emphatically reiterates the fact that they are normal people too of great self-respect and admiration, just that outwardly, their gender doesn't fall into the two categories, pre-fixed by society. 

SHE gives hope and strength to people like Kusum, justly, by encouraging them to move on and remain deaf to the indifference shown by the society. One of the characters, Maria, plays a supportive role to Kusum in her career and academics. Maria is certainly a reminder to all of us to refine our perceptions towards them. 

To those of us who have never come in close association with the life of a transsexual, Kusum's story shall give a new understanding of a unique kind of human emotion. Through Kusum's story, let's be enlightened that it's first the family they expect acceptance from, the society being only secondary. 

SHE is a quick read that would take less than an hour. And I recommend readers to spread this genuine social message far and wide. The psychology and poetical references quoted in the narration are not to be missed. And the twist at the end was a classic one.

Reviewed for the Author

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a complimentary copy from the Author in exchange for a honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Title: SHE: Ekla Cholo Re
Authors: Dr. Shayan Haq & Santosh Avvannavar
Publisher: Hoffen Publishers
Pages: 58

Author Connect

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About the Book

Set in the backdrop of 1990 Calcutta, She is a story about finding one’s own identity in spite of all odds. The story spins around the life of Kusum, a brave heart whose identity is often untitled and blurred; it does not belong anywhere, definitely not under the ‘he’ or ‘she’ bracket, thanks to our social conditioning. Will she be successful in her mission? Find out in She, an utterly absorbing read that derives inspiration from Tagore’s “Ekla Cholo Re” song, which urges everyone to move on despite the fear of abandonment from others.

About the Authors

Dr. Shayan Haq: Shayan is a medical doctor and cosmetologist by profession working at Bijapur, Karnataka. He is born at Gaya, Bihar and spent his quality time at West Bengal and Bihar before he moved for higher education. In his free time he loves to drive,
read, watch and discuss on movies, and a gadget freak.

Santosh Avvannavar: Santosh started his career as a consultant and Soft Skills Trainer. After his college education from NITK, Surathkal, he worked as a researcher at University of Eindhoven, University of Twente, and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He was also the Placement President while working at IISC, Bangalore. He has over twenty-five publications of mostly research documents in national and international journals. He has also authored sixteen conference papers and regularly writes articles for a national and worldwide daily paper. He also works as an advisor for different organisations.

He also dabbles in fiction writing and is the author of Adhuri Prem Kahaniya; Dear Wife, Your Husband is not a Superhero, Second Heart and Get a Job WITHOUT an Interview; Be A B.A.; Surrogate Author; Title is Untitled; Black, Grey and White; The Departing Point; God’s Table and Umbilical Cord.

He likes to devote his personal time in writing for a website, namely the Amrita Foundation for HRD ( He has conducted seminars and training sessions for more than 45,000 people in India and abroad over the last seven years.

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