Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale : Book Review

Title      : Milk Teeth

Author : Amrita Mahale

Genre  : Indian Literature

Page    : 312

“You need two things to succeed in this city, dress and address”

-Kartik Kini



Childhood allies Ira Kamat and Kartik Kini meet again as adults on the terrace of their dilapidated building, Asha Nivas in Matunga, Mumbai, where they grew up and their parents still reside. A meeting is in progress to decide the fate of the establishment and its residents. And the zeitgeist of the 1990s appears to have touched everyone and everything around them.

Ira is now a journalist on the civic beat, unearthing stories of corruption and indolence, and trying to push back memories of a lost love. Kartik has recently moved back to Mumbai to work as a consultant in a high paying American Company, who is leading a secret, agonizing, exhilarating second life. Between and around them throbs the living, beating heart of Mumbai, city of heaving inequities and limitless dreams. Meanwhile, after deciding to get married with the support of their parents, Ira and Kartik’s relationship is tested when her former boyfriend Kaiz re-enters the picture.

How important it was even for a building to be a good neighbor, a good citizen, a responsible member of the community, a part of a whole; but eventually, buildings were built by people, for people. When social fabric of the city itself had undergone such upheaval in the past decade, how could one hold bricks and mortar to higher standards than flesh and blood ? 

-Kaiz Dewani


Milk Teeth is the debut novel of the author, Amrita Mahale and this book has been long-listed for The JCB Prize for Literature, 2019. Milk teeth is one of most appreciated books by the critics and obviously it deserves all the appreciation in the world because books like these are rare and they should be treated like a gem.

Milk teeth is a wonderful tale of Bombay City. This book takes place in a period when Bombay was still transforming itself to Mumbai City, the city that never sleeps. This book precisely take the reader away to the Bombay of 90’s. The explicit manner in which the author has described Bombay in the 70’s and 90’s was mind-blowing. Even the people who have never been to Bombay and knows nothing about it and its heritage can also feel the essence of the city deliberately. The author has undoubtably taken us all through the roads of Bombay on a tour and most importantly to Matunga. At the end of the book the readers will almost feels like they have lived a lifetime in Matunga, Bombay. It’s worth telling Bombay/Mumbai is the first hero and the main character of the story.

Coming to the human characters, the story revolves around three characters Ira, Kartik and Kaiz. All of them struggling and suffering in their very own to find their place in the city which they have been calling their home for so many years. The way Ira loved their home Asha Nivas and Matunga was really relatable because wherever one may go whatever one may do but the place in which one has been born and brought up will always have an emotional tie with them, knowing or unknowingly. This has been amazingly established through the eyes of Ira and all the other characters who live in Asha Nivas. Kaiz’s love for the architecture of old buildings of Bombay and the way he admire and look into the soul of the buildings was strikingly beautiful. How he hated new buildings and changes was amusing. The insecurities and unsettlement of Kartik was really heart-wrenching and undeniable. The book focuses on more pressing issues via these characters like class differences, caste inequalities, communalism, demolition of Babri Masjid, Bombay riot, Bombay blast, problems faced by gay community, problems faced by muslims and gentrification. All of these narrated in the background of economic liberalization, transition between tradition and modernity, the changes in the political scenario of the country. These three lead characters of Amrita Mahale had so much to convey to the readers through their life and thought process.

The dialogues and the passages written in the book was point blank and candidly truthful. There were a lot of treasurable phrases and lines, and the readers will never be able to simply stop themselves from the highlighting those lines. The author also spoke about the childhood in the 70’s, a peaceful childhood before the dominance of technology, it will definitely be nostalgic but at the same time it was also brutally honest because it not only pointed the good parts but also the bad ones. The regretful part of the childhood which people rather not tend to revisit ever gain.

The book touched all the mishaps which still cease to stop till now, as aptly as the author has named the book Milk Teeth, the 90’s were the period all the evil’s of today’s India got rooted.

“So for most practical purposes, the communal violence that started after the Babri Masjid fell came to an end after the blasts, but the spell of peace that followed felt like hate was only shedding its milk teeth”

-Ira Kamat

My views

This book was an ultimate eye opener. I totally loved the book, I loved the fact the author has spoken about these pressing issues in a bold manner without hesitation. I love the way she had pointed out the problems in the society. I loved each and every line of this book. All the issues highlighted in this book are still as sensitive as it was back then, still it’s difficult to marry out of caste or religion, still muslims are treated as second graded citizens and I can’t even imagine the life of LGBT community back in the 90’s, even now it takes lot of courage to come out but in the 90’s same sex relationship were unknown of and taboo to talk about.  How difficult it must have been to hide one’s own sexuality with no one to talk to and rely upon, it was really heartbreaking. The aftermath of demolition of Babri Masjid was one of the most awful things to have happened in the country and that pain felt by Kaiz was inevitably raw and painful. And the intensity of unrequited was written down remarkably. I liked all the three characters. A book with a lot of details, depth and emotions.

I would suggest this book to everybody who call themselves a reader and to people who think there isn’t any problem in their country.

This book is a must read.

My rating for this book would be 3.9 / 5 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I hope you will love this book as much as I did.

Do read this book and tell me how you feel about it on the comment session below.

Click here to buy Milk Teeth

“Imagination was the force that freed the mind, unchained it from reality. If you were poor, you had much to escape from, o you needed imagination. If you were rich, your reality needed little tending to, you could afford to dream away. But the ones in the middle, where was the room for it in their lives ? It was action, not imagination, that was their best shot at a big step forward. For middle classes, the mind and the body had to run along together, like railway tracks, to let them move forward”

-Ira Kamat

Happy Reading Folks!!!

~ Meenu

Listen to the Book Review on Podcast

Amrita Mahale’s Milk Teeth was long-listed for The JCB Prize for Literature. The author had spoken about many pressing issues in the country through the fictional world she had created. And this book is a must read for everybody!!


  • Meenu Annadurai

    Meenu Annadurai is the founder & editor of The Nerdy Bookarazzi. Meenu is a Customer Specialist by day and a writer by night. She published her debut novel 'A Place called Home' with Half-Baked Beans which is now available on Amazon. She is insanely addicted to her bookshelf and super possessive about them. She is in a serious relationship with her current Book Boyfriend. [email protected] Annadurai Meenu

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