The Other Man
Farhad J. Dadyburjor
Lake Union Publishing 2021
Farhad J. Dadyburjor’s novel, “The Other Man,” details the struggles of Ved Mehra, a closet-gay man living in India, before India’s supreme court decriminalized same-sex relationships in 2018. Mehra meanwhile, for financial reasons, succumbs to an arranged marriage by his traditional parents.
… the novel is significant as a window into India’s cultural and legal views on same sex-relationships.
Mehra is heir to a multimillion-mega business enterprise, and he fears if he is “outed” it would ruin everything his parents had worked to achieve. He’s also suffering from a breakup with an another man who chose an arranged marriage and expected Ved to remain as his secret lover — a common practice in India’s society, according to the author.
Shortly after Ved himself agrees to an arranged marriage, he meets Carlos, an American doing business in Mumbai. The novel tracks weeks of preparation for an elaborate engagement party and the story follows Ved’s and Carlos’ flourishing relationship. The drama centers on Ved’s inability to be truthful and conflicts with his loyalty to his parents and to his new relationship. All could be lost if his true life is revealed.
The key players in the novel are surrounded by wealth, including Ved’s fiancee, a gorgeous fashion designer whose family oozes money. While everyone is busy sending out wedding invitations to the most elite (The families are so important that one of the invited guests was Lady Gaga.) Val and Carlos are secretly enjoying time together at a private golf club. Everybody seems primarily concerned with maintaining wealth, even the arranged marriage was designed as a very favorable financial arrangement for the families.
Apparently in India hostilities and harassment against gays differs among social and economic classes, so the novel is significant as a window into India’s cultural and legal views on same sex-relationships. But Dadyburjor’s presentation is wearisome because the characters are superficial. And the seriousness of his subject is toned down to more of a comical skit.