As the exam fever rises, so grows my so called creative streak wider, prompting me to write this book review of the book I just recently read and greatly adore! So here it goes…my inconsequential opinion on the latest addition to the chick-lit bookshelves- Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan. I can practically hear my friends who have read the book shout with glee and the ones, who haven’t, groan in unison as I have been bombing them with spoilers since the night I finished this book. But I shall promise to keep spoilers to a minimum as my friends might bludgeon me to death with my own law books!
This book is shorter than Chauhan’s earlier ones, [and more expensive!] a mere 400 pages to Zoya Factor’s 500, but definitely faster moving than 450 in Battle for Bittora. Those Pricey… is about Debjani alias Dabbu Thakur, the 4th daughter out of 5 alphabetically named daughters of a retired Judge, she lives in a posh locality, is a champion of the feared wild dogs and cats of the colony and has aspirations to overcome her clumsiness and shyness and step out of her eldest sister, the posh Anjani’s shadow, escape the dramatic criticisms of Binodini and is supported it in this scheme by her youngest sister Eshwari. Well it won’t be an Anuja Chauhan book if it did not have a hunky male protagonist would it? Enter Dylan Singh Shekhawat, son of Brigadiar Shekhawat of the proud 14 Rajputana Rifles and Juliet Lobo, a Mangalorean catholic lass who dared to elope with a Rajput officer. Dylan has the best of the both worlds, the Rajput courage [I do not claim authorship of this stereotype!], the southern brains [stereotype x2] and sensitivity that his Maama inculcated in all her 3 sons.
The book is set roughly in the 80s and is not just a love story, it is about family and the trials they put you through, it is about taking the risk of standing up for the truth, of not letting pride come in the way of happiness. I would call this book my favourite out of all the three books by Chauhan, it will make you chuckle at odd times [so make sure no one is sleeping near you] but not send you into guffaws like the previous two. On the other hand, it deals with a topic which is at odds with the cheery goody-goody note of a romantic novel, where Zoya Factor dealt with India’s obsession with Cricket, Battle for Bittora dealt with electoral politics and the corruption in it, Those Pricey…takes on a further serious topic which I shall not reveal to you…but this does not take away from the book its humour, sweet moments and over all charm. Characters like the dramatic Chachiji who laments about her husband and curses people with termite biting their derriere, a cousin who would rather open a gym than study law, twin nephew and nieces named Monu and Bonu and a mother who tries to keep everyone happy without being walked on remind us of all our families and distant relations as every average Indian family have either one or all of the above!
The female protagonist Dabbu is like most women a little low on self-esteem but high on dreams. She is not quick to judge nor is she coy and afraid to abuse and does not live just to have a love story. She is a woman who tries to rise above her weaknesses as a human and try to keep peace in her family full of oddballs. Don’t ask me how I got so much seriousness out of a chick-lit novel, I just did!
Moving on to dear Dylan, out of all the male protagonists Chauhan created, he is the most described. Nikhil Khoda and Zain Altaf Khan had an air of mystery around them and there wasn’t much to clue the reader about whom they were as people, at least to me. But Dylan is shown as a multi-faceted man who might run from commitment like most men, but still retains his sensitivity, he loves his mother and family but is most definitely NOT a maama’s boy. He makes the mistake of trusting the wrong people in his zeal for his work but he also knows how to love and forgive slights to his ego. He is not the traditional macho man, but someone who would also appeal to a sapiosexual person!
I seem to have developed a soft spot for the book as like Dylan I too am a product of crazy genetics, as my friend calls me, a state Hybrid. I am second generation mixed-marriage progeny and tend to imagine my Grandad and Grandmom on my mum’s side in the position on the Brigadier and his wife, of course there is some tweaking with regards to who is from where in my family’s story, but none-the-less I see the similarities. Dylan and his brother’s find their relatives on both the sides a little strange from their little family, the southerners have preconceived notions about the northerners and the Hindus actually believe the stereotypes perpetuated by Bollywood movies like Julie about Christians. These are things I can attest to.
The book best described in one word is REAL. Maybe not to so much my generation but definitely to our parents’, Campa Cola, warm summer nights spent on terraces with the family, DD being the only TV channel aired. Ask your parents will definitely agree nostalgically to them.
If you want to “ooh!” and “aah!” about a hot guy and make dreamy eyes while reading a book, then get your copy of Those Pricey Thakur Girls as soon as you can! But kindly don’t bring your brain along for the ride as this is no mindless mushy romantic novel, if you don’t understand Hinglish, keep a friend who does handy and lastly get ready to finish the book in one sitting for you will not be able to put it down!