Karan Seth, star photographer at The India Chronicle, is in Bombay on a private mission: to immortalize the city in a unique photo-record of its hidden faces. In the pursuit of his ambitious dream, Karan finds unlikely allies: Samar Arora, the eccentric pianist who inexplicably spurned limelight at the peak of his career; Zaira, whose shy elegance belies her status as the ravishing star of Bombay's silver screen; and Rhea Dalal, whose seductive melancholy born of unfulfilled dreams and a childless marriage draws Karan into a tender but twisted affair.Then tragedy strikes, unexpected and gruesome, tearing the four lives apart. As a murky murder trial ensues, peeling the layers off the vibrant, pulsating city, Karan is exposed to a Fitzgeraldian world of sex, crime and politics. Utterly disenchanted, his life shorn of love, he abandons his twin passions?the camera and Bombay?and heads to England in search of restitution and normalcy. Yet, like the flamingoes of Sewri, who unfailingly give in to the strange, haunting pull of the great metropolis, almost in defiance of the travails it brings them, Karan too knows that he must return to his old loves . . .
The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay is as much a razor-sharp depiction of contemporary urban society and its obscene obsession with celebrity and sensation as it is an affecting tale about love's betrayals and the redemptive powers of friendship. Acerbic and elegiac by turns, and potent in its portrayal of Bombay in all its allure and menace, it confirms Shanghvi's prodigious skill and range as a storyteller.