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Age of Vice: Summary and Ending Explained

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age of vice book ending explained

Note: the following guide contains spoilers, as well as references to critical plot points and the conclusion of Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor.

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor, published in 2023, is the first part of a trilogy exploring the intense world of violence, wealth, and politics in North India in the early 21st century.

The novel blends thrilling action with social awareness, delving into the lives of Sunny Wadia, a wealthy mafia heir; Neda Kapoor, a journalist attracted to Sunny; and Ajay, a young man pushed into becoming an efficient assassin due to circumstances. In a morally challenged world of economic disparity and ambition, the three protagonists grapple with the difficult choice of preserving their souls.

The intersecting lives of Ajay, Sunny, and Neda raise important questions about the role of violence in systemic inequality and the cost borne by marginalized individuals for the benefit of a few.

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

Deepti Kapoor, a former journalist in Delhi, draws on her experiences growing up in North India for her novels. Her understanding of the contradictions in modern Indian society is shaped by her years as a reporter.

Age of Vice is Kapoor’s second novel; her first, A Bad Character, was short-listed for the prestigious Prix Médicis étranger. Currently residing in Lisbon, Portugal, Kapoor brings a unique perspective to her storytelling.

In this guide we will go through the complete summary and ending explanation for Kapoor’s latest novel, Age of Vice. Enjoy! ✨

Summary | Ending Explained | Book Club Questions

Age of Vice Summary

The story starts in chilly February 2004, in New Delhi, Gautam Rathore, where a spoiled son of a wealthy royal-turned-politician, accidentally runs over and kills five sleeping people. Despite being responsible, Gautam escapes consequences, and the blame shifts to Ajay, Sunny Wadia’s bodyguard. Ajay is sent to prison awaiting trial, accepting the blame on Sunny’s insistence. Ajay’s loyalty to Sunny stems from a tough childhood in an impoverished Dalit family in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Born into the lowest Hindu class, Ajay witnesses his father’s death and sister Hema’s assault by village authorities. Sold into domestic slavery at eight, Ajay encounters Sunny at 19, hoping for a life transformation. Moving to Delhi, he rises through the Wadia household, unaware of the dark deceptions within.

Ajay discovers Sunny’s strained relationship with his father, Bunty Wadia. While Ajay admires Sunny, he’s unaware that being close to the Wadias exposes him to betrayal and deceit. Bunty Wadia collaborates with corrupt Chief Minister Ram Singh, monopolizing state businesses and embezzling public funds. Vicky Wadia, Bunty’s more corrupt brother, runs illicit activities, including human trafficking. Ajay’s visit to Vicky’s mills triggers suppressed childhood trauma. Vicky reveals the Singh brothers, linked to Ajay’s vengeance, work for him.

Sunny’s association with journalist Neda Kapur strains his relationship with Bunty. Bunty resents Neda’s investigation into his firm’s demolition of slums for luxury skyscrapers. To punish Sunny, Bunty raids his apartment and nearly kills Neda. Sunny seeks funding from Gautam Rathore to realize ambitious urban transformation plans.

On the night of the Mercedes incident, Gautam dashes Sunny’s investment hopes, leading to Sunny’s furious reaction. Sunny has Ajay chase Gautam’s car, and after witnessing the tragic event, he takes an incriminating photo of Gautam unconscious in the Mercedes. Gautam and Neda are taken away, and Sunny asks Ajay to be inside the car to create a false story that Ajay was responsible for the pavement-dwellers’ tragedy. Later, Sunny shows Bunty the manipulated evidence, finally earning his father’s respect.

Bunty, to protect his interests, sends Neda to London, threatening her parents. Unaware of Neda’s fate, Sunny believes Bunty’s lie that she lost interest in him. In London, Neda discovers her pregnancy and, misled by Bunty, terminates it. Dinesh Singh, son of corrupt Chief Minister Ram Singh, reveals the truth to Sunny, leading to a chain of events. Sunny gets kidnapped by Vicky Wadia’s henchman, Sunil Rastogi, who beats Sunny, suggests Vicky might be his biological father, takes ransom money, and escapes.

Following these revelations, Sunny turns against Bunty, aligning with Dinesh Singh and agreeing to marry Farah Dhillon for her wealth and connections. Meanwhile, Vicky coerces Ajay in prison, threatening Hema’s safety. Doing Vicky’s bidding transforms Ajay into a mere shadow of his former self.

When Ajay gets compassionate leave for Sunny’s wedding, the narrative threads converge. On the wedding night, Ajay is tasked with killing Sunil Rastogi, but he manages to escape. Dinesh Singh exposes his father and Bunty for corruption, leading to their arrest. However, Vicky Wadia, seeking control, orchestrates Bunty’s murder by Sunil Rastogi, removing the obstacle to the Wadia fortune.

To reclaim control of his life, Ajay flees Delhi for a fresh start, but the novel ends with a hint that his quest might face interruptions.

Age of Vice Ending Explained

So, what happens at the end of Age of Vice?

The book concludes with a violent shootout, emphasizing its thematic focus on violence. Sunil Rastogi and his boss, Vicky Wadia, play significant roles, with Vicky emerging as a puppet-master of the plot. Recurring motifs, including luxury cars, guns, and Ajay’s sister’s photo, reappear. The rapid shifts in scenes during the wedding celebrations resemble cinematic cuts, highlighting Kapoor’s visual literary style.

Chapter 17 opens on Sunny’s altered wedding day, indicating a change in his indulgences. While previously overdosing on partying, Sunny now seeks a high from drugs and sadism. This marks a departure, as Sunny, unlike Gautam and Vicky, was not cruel to women before. In this section, he coerces two young women into a humiliating act. Drugs symbolize moral and spiritual corruption, culminating in Sunny’s overdose on Xanax, reflecting his internal unraveling despite gaining his father’s respect.

Other characters, too, undergo transformations. Ajay, having killed Karan and witnessed Prem’s suicide, now turns to whiskey and prison-provided Mandrax. In London, Neda uses vodka to cope with her nerves, hinting at her past struggles with addiction. The characters’ reliance on substances becomes a manifestation of their shared trauma. The complexity of their evolving personalities adds depth to the novel’s exploration of corruption and its consequences.

In the last chapters of the novel, the story digs into repeating patterns, time cycles, and how people get caught in complex webs. A clear example is Bunty Wadia’s final car ride, mirroring Sunny chasing Gautam’s car earlier. Both incidents end tragically, with the Mercedes causing deaths and Bunty dying in a police SUV, while the true culprit slips away.

Despite seeming sophisticated, Bunty reveals a darker side. Vicky discloses Bunty’s role in a past violent incident, challenging their differences. Even though Bunty criticizes Vicky’s wrongdoings, Vicky points out Bunty’s willful ignorance, exposing their shared guilt. The novel uncovers surprising similarities between these characters.

The portrayal of Ajay and Sunny as doubles becomes evident, with their positions facing each other indicating blurred lines between them. Ajay sheds his deference after four years in prison, challenging the clear distinctions between him and Sunny. Ajay and Sunil Rastogi share parallels as pawns manipulated by the wealthy, but Ajay maintains some decency compared to the ruthless Rastogi and Vicky.

These pairs show that people are shaped by their actions and choices, even in a harsh universe.

The idea of Vicky being Sunny’s biological father gains strength, especially when Vicky shows a ring belonging to Sunny’s mother. Dinesh and Vicky’s collaboration highlights the intricate connections between corruption, political power, and wealth.

The novel ends with Vicky in control, representing the peak of the age of vice. In this tough era, Ajay, a marginalized character, is repeatedly pulled into a dark world of inequality. However, Ajay’s changes in Part 5 suggest a glimmer of hope. Despite being deeply affected, he starts questioning and letting go of his self-negation. This hints that Ajay’s story might take a different turn in the next parts of the trilogy.

How did you like the ending of the novel? Happy reading! ❤️