The Boyfriend: R. Raj Rao

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Mumbai is a city that has got more homosexuals than Paris and London. But, it’s gay subculture is a secret that has been well-kept throughout the ages. However, The Boyfriend, a book by R. Raj Rao, tells it as it is. In his 40s, Yudi, a gay man and Nalla Sopara freelance journalist, has come to the conclusion that having sex with strangers doesn’t do it for him anymore.
While different parks, trains, and other areas are public places, after reading this book, they will stop being what they were once and you will get a view of what they really are: spaces of busy homosexual activity where men of all walks of life; the rich, the poor, thieves, and beggars come to meet other men. Some of them are seasoned, some are exploring, and a couple of many others are married men that are taking a short detour before they go back home to their families, wives, and other responsibilities.
The boyfriend narrates a picture of a Mumbai that’s cruel, wild, and a labyrinth as it follows Yudi through his life in his editor’s offices, disgusting toilets, and art openings. The city appears to be psychologically and physically chock-full of class conflict, chaos, and a place where a plethora of people are busy pushing through life trying to make a living as they go past their luck and go looking for love in the most unlikely and wrong places.
Milind Mahadik, is the centre of Yudi’s obsession. He is a semi-literate office worker and half of Yudi’s age. Through him, the author brings to light some of contemporary issues that plague India- religion, the caste system, masculinity, and class. Yudi says there’s no difference between gay men and Bhangis and that both groups are ‘untouchables’. He continues to say that he is he is a homosexual, gay by caste, and by religion. He stresses that he is an outcast and that as one, he only finds that his friends will also be outcastes.
Even though Yudi continues to theorize romantically, Milind finds that he isn’t a part of Yudi’s world. When Yudi comes to the acknowledgement that it would be impossible to keep Milind with only love, he offers financial benefits as well. To add to the circle, Gauri, an ageing, whiskey drinking artist is in love with Yudi. This text, even though some of its parts aren’t as elegant as a reader may want, is written in a persuasive manner.
The narrative continues to wonder how an affair that’s founded on deceit could morph into something that’s beautiful. It goes on to state that it is the thieves that spoke lies and that the basis of gay love in India was lies. In the end, the book aims at painting a picture for people who’d like to see the entirety of Mumbai rather than movie stars and Malabar Hill. This book was written for those who do not have the patience to leave pages unturned as they search for a true Mumbai. 

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