The title could easily mislead you. If what you seek is an updated version of the ancient Hindu text on human sexual behaviour, this is not the book to choose. But even for such people who have accidentally stumbled upon this book, The Revised Kama Sutra promises to be a delightful read.
“It’s actually an ironic and subversive title. As a joke, the book quotes the Kama Sutra in certain chapters. It’s not entirely out of context either, because it is making fun of the idea that India is the land of the Kama Sutra,” says Richard Crasta, the author.
The book, first published in 1993, is all set to return to bookshelves. Many reviewers noted at the time of its first publication that the book is less about sex, more about sexual frustration. But have sexual mores changed in the nearly two decades since its first publication? Will the books still strike a chord? How relevant is this comic sexual odyssey?
“There is no expiry date on truth. There’s no expiry date on human experience. You can read Charles Dickens even today and still enjoy the story,” says Crasta.
Ultimately, every reader decides for himself whether this is a good piece of writing or not, he says. Praise for The Revised Kama Sutra covers the first few pages of the book. Khushwant Singh writes of the book: “A craftsman of letters. Hilarious. Almost read it non-stop.”
The review in Debonair called the book: “333 pages of pure fun… A Pickwickian comedy.” The Independent, UK, wrote: “There is little actual sex in Richard Crasta’s novel, but an enormous amount of sexual frustration. Sometimes it’s even funny.”
Yet, if Richard Crasta had to pick the weirdest criticism for his book, it would be what a Chennai-based newspaper, New Leader, wrote immediately after the book hit the stands.
“The paper advised youngsters against reading this book,” says Crasta. The reason for the ban call could have been anything from the explosive title itself to the ideas of free sexual expression described in the journey of its protagonist, Vijay Prabhu.
“This is no secret, iconoclastic book. It may have to do with the humour in the book. It’s more subversive; it makes the authorities uncomfortable. Isn’t that the very function of humour – to deflate the pompous?” says Crasta.
The erotic longing and sexual frustration that run through the narrative threading together the many episodes in Vijay Prabhu’s life holds up a mirror to Indian society.
“We were a repressed society 20 years ago. Today, there are
sections that have become liberated. But large sections continue to remain repressed,” he says.
The book has also offered its author some unique lessons. Crasta said that he regretted some decisions he made years ago.
“The book was taken off the market partly because I took the rights back. It was a mistake I made which cost me 13 years of the book. I was a naive idealist,” Crasta admits candidly.
The book received rave reviews at the time of its first launch, and Crasta was keen to let it see the light of day again. The result is this re-launch, all set for Thursday.
Lokayukta Santosh Hegde will release the book along with the author, at 6.30 pm on Thursday at Reliance TimeOut, Cunningham Road.