A hydelpower project in the remote Himalayas. Three people brought together by fate. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love of his dear ones and the traditional kalari code of revenge. Khusru, a boy displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot threatening to blow up the dam, working as a labourer at the site. Rekha, a Kathak dancer in heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru. A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs.
All throng the campsite like moths to a flame, some escape untouched, successful; some, miss a step, and perish. Each has a story to tell and a dream to realise. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is about the aspirations of these people with their cares and worries woven into the site life. The fury of nature and the hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead. Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk life and limb in a quest to fulfill their dreams.
Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is a combination of thriller and technical fictionI really like the theme of the story. The story of each character is different and remarkable in its own way.
There are many characters, and each has been given space to familiarize the readers with their stories. Sadly, that didn’t work out for me. The focus is shifted from the main characters - Nanda, Khusru, and Rekha and divided into all the others who don’t have a major role to play in the story.
Till the time I had read 90% of the book (literally, because I kept track on my kindle) the following was happening - new characters being introduced with each chapter and no character development taking place. The characters are totally unaffected by anything happening around them. They are scared of only one thing which has affected their lives and remain to be so throughout. None of the characters is able to leave a lasting impact on the reader.
The author has been able to create a very vivid picture of life at a Dam Construction site. Tension, fun, fight for pay, poor working conditions, and the technicality of the project, are all discussed with utmost sincerity.
But a story is created by the characters and their actions and reactions to everything happening around them. While creating a brilliant background story for each character, the author somewhere failed to connect them well. They stood out as individuals not supporting characters.
The ending was rushed in the last 10% of the book. Well, not only rushed it also did not justify the story. Something which has been the center of the story in the entire book was naively done away with.
Use of other language is interesting, but in this book, there were way too many references of Hindi, Kannada, and Frech words and phrases which didn’t work really well.
There were some parts of the book which continued in a single paragraph through more than one page. These kinds of lengthy paragraphs suck the energy out of a reader and make it less fun and more strenuous.
The idea behind the story was unique but could have been executed in a better way.