Saturday, June 06, 2015

Anuja Chauhan - Those Pricey Thakur Girls

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Those Pricey Thakur Girls is about five daughters of Justice Laxmi Narayan Thakur (retd), who owns a lavish bungalow on Hailey Road in Delhi. They are named in an alphabetical order, Anjini, Binodini, Chandralekha, Debjani and Eshwari.  Anjini, Binodini and Chandralekha are married.  Debjani has just started working as a newsreader in Desh Darpan, the state-sponsored news channel. Eshwari is in the final year in Modern School.

The story is set in the late 1980s. Justice L.N. Thakur is called BJ by his fond daughters.  Their house is flanked by a similar house that belongs to his younger brother Ashok Thakur.  Ashok is deep in debt and has sold his house to a contractor who is planning to pull it down and build multistory apartments in its place.

His wife, Bhudevi is upset about this, and also by the fact that her husband is sleeping with her cook. BJ's wife, Mamta, has to spend her days pacifying her sister-in-law and also dealing with the marital problems of her daughters.

There are plenty of typical family scenes in the novel with ghosts, past grievances, vexed relatives, married daughters with problems, nosey children and mongrel dogs frequently making an appearance. In the midst of everything, there is one Dylan Singh Shekhawat who is wooing BJ's fourth daughter, Debjani.

He is a journalist and is keen on exposing the guilty people involved in the 1984 Sikh Massacre.   Through him, we get to relive our memories of the politics of the day, An attempt by the then government to pass an anti-defamation bill to muzzle the press, and the ongoing case against the guilty in the Sikh massacre are written about.

In fact, the backroom chatter in media about these two cases and some other issues are very convincing. Also very convincing is the picture of a middle-class family in an upmarket area of Delhi.

The characters in the novel practically leap out of the pages, so well etched are they.  The language is firmly Indian English with a lot of vernacular thrown in.  It does not rankle, rather it makes you feel as if you really are listening in to a bunch of people talking.  This is the way we talk these days, with a lot of Hindi peppering our English, or a lot of English peppering our Hindi.

The plot has elements of family drama, romance and a thriller.  The thriller part was so gripping that I was almost sorry when we came back to the romance.  At no point in the book did the proceedings get boring.  This one is a page-turner guaranteed to keep your finger wet.

On the flipside, the author spends a tad bit too much of her time raving about the physical beauty of the hero. There are plenty of graphic curses and talk.  I have not heard such explicit talk among the middle classes. The heroine is a bit of a wimp.  WHY don't we get a spunky heroine who gets the guy?  It merely establishes the stereotype that the sweet girl makes a casanova see reason and think about wedding bells.

These few irritants notwithstanding, this author is certainly in for a long haul and I am certainly going to buy more books by her.  She is never going to bore me, I know.


Raja Swaminathan said...

Excellent review, Ava.

Crisp as usual, giving enough (but not more than enough) for a reader to get a feel for whether to read the book or not.

You should do more book (and film) reviews.

Ava Suri said...

Thank you, Raja. You are always so encouraging.

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