Doordarshan gave me a traumatic childhood. I remember what a bully my brother used to be, he would catch hold of my hand even as I would start imitating a furious windmill. I knew what he was up to. I could just see the devil in his eyes, that glint. I would cry out to my mom for help but she would just smirk at me, chide him a little and go back to watching TV. One of many reasons which made me think if I was really adopted.
Making me forcibly drink milk was another.
“They picked you up from a garbage bin” My brother’s words, harsh but possibly true, would ring clear in my ears.
“Nooooooooo please no…” I would shriek but he continued pulling me by my arm towards the TV screen. I thought the creature in the screen would just suck me painfully into its ugly hell of a mouth. I kid you not.’
Before you accuse me of being a drama queen, watch the video and if you still fail to understand what I am talking about, may this alien of a creature suck you.
And I just pray it’s not a very painful affair(but only on grounds of humanity).
See, this is what I was talking about. It still gives me goosebumps. Now, you might ask why am I suddenly all about my bloomer days, well the thing is I just finished reading Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan and it made me nostalgic. There was a time when we didn’t need to beat each other black and blue for the TV remote, the time when we were at the mercy of a sole lonesome channel Doordarshan, it was later followed by it’s – ahem- more fashion forward, broad minded counterpart, DD metro and somehow life became dream like, too good to be true.
Those Pricey Thakur Girls is about Justice Laxmi Narayan Thakur and his five alphabetically named daughters. All a source of worry for the Judge sa’ab but for various reasons. Anjini, married and (un)settled, whose first words had been ‘I sabse pritty’ has since not grown out of them. She has entitled herself the role of the axis around which the whole of earth rotates. Binodini, the most irritating of the lot is married and the match is made in heaven. She wants to live and die in her hissa of the property. Chandralekha, has eloped. period. This is what she remains, an eloped figure, nothing is ever discussed about her. The Debjani, the intended heroine of the novel and the Judge’s favorite, who had long been under the effect of supta vastha (some error of horoscope) has just landed a job with DD, India’s only news channel, as a news reader. Eshwari, the daughter in her teens, the Modern school Barakhamba one. Need I say more?.
It all starts when Investigative Journalist Dylan Singh Shekhawat writes a column in his newspaper ridiculing Debjani, the newly appointed newsreader at Desh Darpan(DD) calling her miss Dolly-Dotted chin, plastic and unwinking. Dylan, whose failure to fall in love((Aren’t such heroes much in demand) has given him a image but predictably falls for our very own lover of losers Debjani(why?why?). Yeah the same Dylan who would normally shudder on saturday morning at the sight of his hot friday night date. The novel has tried hard to encompass everything under the sky. You name it, it has it. Irresistible hero. check. Equally irresistible but clueless heroine. check. Puppy Love. check. Extra marital affair. check. Politics. check. *insert you choice*. check.
The novel mostly was fun to read.
The judge’s near eccentricities
-‘What ruddy histrionics,’ the Judge mutters as he stirs his evening tea. ‘ I live in a house full of Meena Kumaris. It’s just one persons rant in one miserable publication. Will somebody tell that girl she is overreacting?’
-Stop him, Shekhawat, stop him! Arrey don’t run down those mongrels…my daughter ties rakhi to them! That’s better nobody dead or maimed. Haan you! Young man! Arrey what hello-sir hello-sir? come out of the car. You know how to play kot – piece, don’t you?’
The chachi’s love for everything beyond the realms of natural
– I just have to take one of her pubic hairs, stuff it into a halved nimbu, add a drop of AN’s blood, then tied a rakhi over it and burn it in the sink. He will lose all lust for her immediately.’ She cackles happily.
Eshwari’s and Satish banters
‘I wanted to ask you something’
But Satish is busy having a crises. ‘Shit help me Bihari. I can’t remember what amma asked me to get. Coffee? Condoms? Cockroach killer?’
‘Soap maybe?’ Eshwari hazards pointedly. ‘Deodorant? Nose plugs for herself?’
What I don’t like though is the heroine(Debjani) herself. She comes across as somebody who is strong minded and quick witted to begin with and does make you chuckle with her subtle jokes.
‘Is that mole real?’
‘Yes. its real,’ she flashes. ‘what did you think? That I painted it on before the news bulletin because I want to look like Aruna irani?’
But soon it all fizzles out leaving us with a mere shadow of Dylan’s expectations. Yes she is drab, incapable of feelings for people’s suffering(of course other than her beloved dog). Dylan supposedly falls for her brutal honesty but that honesty itself comes from her foolishness. I would have retired peacefully(from the job of reading this novel that is), with the satisfaction of the only heroic act she does, had she not ruined it by saying
‘If I’d known, I probably wouldn’t have done it.’
There are loose ends. Justice has not been done to certain characters who could have been a strong aspect of the story and were abruptly put on the back burner. Anjini’s for instance. One of the five sisters never and I mean never appear in the novel as Chandra’s elopement is taken too seriously by the author, And the sneaky ventures of the judge were fed raw and therefore were puked out at the end of the novel with least satisfaction.
Verdict: Even though the novel isn’t the best example of immaculate or superlative writing, I still enjoyed it and is surely worth a read.
Lines that struck the perfect chords: ‘It’s horrible.’…’Like the ghost of a dead baby crying for his phantom momma. And that logo – it’s like a massive unwinking eye – I think it’s the conspiracy to mass-hypnotize the whole country into mindless submission.’
And I knew instantly what Eshwari was talking about. We became best of friends from that moment on.