How horribly wrong can a boy’s dream of owning a pair of full pants go? Set in 1986, in a small town in Andhra Pradesh, Ranga Half-Pants is a breathtaking, coming-of-age tale of love, courage and friendship.
Ranganathan aka Ranga, 14, goes to school after Dasara holidays to discover that he is the only boy in his class still wearing half-pants. All the other boys have moved on to full trousers making Ranga the butt of cruel jokes and bullying. Things hit a real low when his arch-nemesis Joel becomes friends with Ranga’s best friend Kaivalya.
Prasad, 24, is a man forced to live by the sword. Now he wants to give it all up for the love of his life, Tabassum. His rivals, however, have other plans for him.
The worlds of Ranga and Prasad clash on a fateful, violent night. Will Ranga get his full pants? Will Prasad outwit his foes?
Thoughts : Oh this book was such fun to read! It isn’t literary fiction, let me tell you that, it’s more like a cross between an Indian YA coming of age story and a commercial book. In fact it is perfect to make into a movie (Desperately tweets Nivin Pauly). The story is about a Tamil Iyengar boy, Ranga (Ranganathan Srinivasan), settled in Chitoor and his greatest trouble in life; the fact that he is the last boy in school wearing half pants.
If you aren’t aware of the school uniform codes here, boys wear half pants till they are considered adolescents and then they were full pants. Girls wear a skirt and then graduate to a Kurta(tunic) with a dupatta(scarf). So Ranga being the last boy wearing half pants in his school leaves him embarrassed and desperate to get himself a pair. Alas, his parents aren’t wealthy and it’s not exactly easy to get a pair of pants at the drop of a hat. To top it off he is from a Brahmin family, which means every single expense will be vetoed by the elders with some excuse or the other.
Add to this mix a brave boy who’s stood up to the local rowdy and somehow replaced him, a best friend who is slowly blossoming into a crush, an annoying villain who’s a politician’s nephew and you’ve got yourself a perfect story based in Andhra. This might seem like an unrealistic story but trust me, it isn’t. And it is also a perfect story to make into a movie (which is why I’m going to tweet this book to all my favourite actors).
The only negative is the ending and the lack of female main characters, while there is a portion where we get a female characters POV the rest of it is just men and it got a little sausage festy for me. But since this was placed in a time period and social class where women and men didn’t really spend much time together, it was reasonably forgivable. I’ve heard how difficult it was for people to talk then (I don’t know. I wasn’t alive yet in 1986)
Perfectly paced and smooth flowing, Ranga Half pants is a story that will pull you in with its 80s nostalgia and the childlike thoughts of the main characters. He’s a silly selfish boy who doesn’t really mean any harm but somehow manages to screw up all the time. A delight to read. I’ll definitely be picking up Suman Kumar’s next book the second it comes out. I gave it 4.5 stars.
I received a copy from the publisher fro review, but thoughts are my own.