The premise of this story from Prem Numbers really struck me as fascinating. Snyder gives us an actor who is famously known for a role of dispensing soft wisdom and being morally unimpeachable, and because of that, the actor is bound by “endless moral clauses in his contract.” Ranvir’s not allowed to drink, to smoke, to utter foul language, and certainly no dating. Basically, the role is so above reproach that he has to live a life to match, despite not being an actor who should absolutely get to be himself. I remember reading something similar about the actor who played Superman on television, and how stymied he was in the public view.
Under this career and culture crush, the last thing Ranvir needs to do is bump into a woman who appeals to his baser side, but that’s what happens, and a quickie in an airplane lavatory ends up becoming an ongoing series of hook-ups when they can arrange to be in the same place at the same time. Snyder builds on this relationship of convenience—a relationship opposed to the role he plays in many, many ways—with deft touches, and we stay in the man’s mind as he struggles with anxiety over getting caught and also over losing something that might be the best thing he’s got.
As the characters reveal more and more of their real selves to each other, and the reader gets glimpses of who Ranvir and Aarthi are when they’re together, the dichotomy only gets more and more distant. It’s a clever set-up, and an even more clever execution, alongside some hot Snyder erotica. Trying to hold on to two things when one of them opposes the other is a huge tension, and the ultimate release in the last few lines was palpable.