Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan
A few years back I had read her ‘The Zoya Factor’, and I kind of liked the quirky story. That blended all the happening elements of happening India then while sticking to the trademark superstitions. I missed her next book. But picked up this one Those Pricey Thakur Girls for some light read. The blurb sounded interesting with a story of five daughters named alphabetically in the Delhi of late 80s, or should we say just before liberalization. Well, I think I would prefer her first book to this one. But nonetheless, this one is also quite readable.
It is a rom-com or romantic comedy between the 4th daughter i.e. Debjani and Dylon Singh Shekhawat a journalist working on 1984 riots. The story revolves around the Hailey Road, where the girl’s extended elite family lives. At most, it moves to CP and it’s chaat wallahs. Or for some news snippets to other parts of Delhi, and for few minutes to Mumbai. You get a very good feel of how Delhi was in the 1980s. When Doordarshan was the only TV channel when people still traveled by buses primarily. When outing meant going out for an Ice cream and Gol Gappas. And when families and friends used to be still in your vicinity and not spread across the globe. At least not as much.
It was also the time when newsreaders wore Saris and flowers in their hair when they read as expressionlessly as they could and were instant celebrities.
There is a meeting of the two characters, their falling in love over a game of cards and many other incidents. Acceptance of the same by families etc. But wait a love story can not be that simple. So there is a parallel track with the younger sister and her boyfriend. And stories somewhere get mingled and create confusion and required drama. For the happy ending, the things get sorted out in the end. And till the next book comes you can assume they lived happily ever after. There are action sequences that seem to be the written like a screenplay. And I would not be surprised if this book goes on to become another movie. Supporting casts have clearly etched out characters that magnify the protagonists’ characters.
Most of the times the story is gripping. And you find yourself turning pages. At places, it gets a bit slow and you want it to move faster. But then I found myself telling myself that this is a story of the 80s and will move at this pace only.
Anuja’s forte is easy writing, a flair for humor and an uncanny ability to connect two diverse worlds. She is one of the better storytellers of our times and has certain quirkiness in her storytelling. She seems to have an affinity with superstitions as her first book was completely drawn out of that. And this book she keeps referring to Supta-Vastha or the sleeping state that the protagonist Debjani is coming out of. She has a lunatic character, the girls’ aunt, who is devoted to doing all kinds of occult things to get rid of assumed fears. I feel somewhere this makes her stories absolutely rooted in India. As these kinds of people and these beliefs exist in most of us, whether we accept it or not.
Enjoy Those Pricey Thakur Girls when you are in a mood for a light reading.