Dreams in Prussian Blue by Paritosh Uttam
The biographies of all great artists would tell you that they could pursue their creativity only because someone else was shouldering all the burdens for them. Someone else was sacrificing their lives for them. And they were shamelessly and insensitively taking from these pillars through their lives. Interestingly enough they also get these people in their lives on a platter who were more than willing to do anything to see them succeed.
I am not sure if the author had this perspective when he wrote this book Dreams in Prussian Blue. But this is the central theme as I could read it. It is a story of a young couple, Michael, and Naina. Both art school dropouts. Michael is the typical painter with an artistic temperament. All that he wants to do is painting. Naina is someone he likes, probably loves. But she comes only after his paintings. Naina, on the other hand, is someone who believes in Michael. And is willing to be the bread earner for both of them. Not realizing that it means paying for all the expenses including the art supplies. And also dealing with the heady artist’s moods and tantrums.
Just when she decides to walk away from the relationship, an accident turns around her decision. And she becomes the caretaker of Michael which includes helping him sell his first set of paintings. In the process, she loses everything she had financially, emotionally, physically. And also becomes a liar and cheats not out of choice but out of circumstantial events. But when Michael fails to forgive her for not being fair to his paintings, the story takes a natural turn. Though written primarily with Naina as the protagonist, there is an attempt to give Michael’s perspective as well.
I liked the way the author has chosen the names of the characters, playing with the spellings and the way he has chosen colors to convey the essence of the story, giving a whole new dimension to the blue. There is a non-obvious satire on the art world. Where an artwork is sold on perceptions: real or artificially created and where not even the dealers of art can put a value on art. There is a good peep into the world of live-in couples who have to literally live without any family support. And can become victims of situations in the absence of such a support.
But for the last chapter, the story remains gloomy throughout, with only 2 main and 2 supporting characters, which at times makes the story a bit boring. Dreams in Prussian Blue writing style is smooth and you can enjoy the story that initially moves back and forth and then linearly. The language is simple and hence does not demand any special attention. The print is very light, so you would need extra light to read it. And if this is an experiment by Penguin, I would suggest them to keep the print dark so that it is less straining to the eyes. The cover design is good along with red on the sides which till now I had seen only on intensely religious books.
I never knew the color Prussian blue, so that is a takeaway from this book Dreams in Prussian Blue. A series of lists on author’s website gives you a hint of where he is aiming to be.
Released as part of Metro Read series, I think it is meant to be a light and fast read. Light it is not, as you keep feeling sorry for the protagonist Naina throughout the story, fast it is as you can sit and read it in one go. Yes; You choose if you want to read it.