Book: The Last Dance
Author: Anmol Arora
Publisher: Speaking Tree
Price: Rs 324
In this debut novel The Last Dance, the world created by Anmol Arora reads like a film and yet is very much a novel with its own twists and turns. Very much Indian despite a non-Indian leading lady, any global reader might connect with its theme and emotions. A dilemma between creating one’s identity, battling expectations and having ambitions becomes more complex here.
Eleven-year-old Ayla, an ethnic Kurd from Turkey, leaves her country in 1991 when her father is accused of being anti-national. After taking refuge in Delhi, a chance prophecy takes Ayla to a dance school run by taskmaster Chandrashekhar. Though a natural, his refusal for her arangetram till she is perfect means a fallout and she joins his rival. Life takes a harsh twist when on the eve of her arangetram; her life gets destroyed in an unimaginable way. How she gets back to her beloved dance, life and with Chandrashekhar as a mentor is what the novel is all about.
The narrative might agree with those looking for light reading. But the seemingly intense topic is neither a proper political drama nor it covers the dance drama section of ambitions of modern thoughts versus traditional task master. It is at best an outward mix of a tale of two diverse thoughts passing through their own journeys to achieve their goals.
It is as much Ayla’s tale filled with ambition but cannot rightly channel it leading to her descent into troubles. Chandrasekhar deals with his own time-honoured concepts of dance. His traditions conflicts with Ayla’s modern ambitions. Also the novel does not delve deep into the issues that matter to the characters like dance in general, the Kurdish-Turkish conflicts, Ayla’s refugee struggles, Chandrashekhar’s own battles with regards dance, family or love, and more. Despite enjoying the book, you don’t take it with you after reading it.
Anmol Arora’s The Last Dance is engaging, but fails to acquire the story’s beautiful complexities.