Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book Review # 12: You've Got the Wrong Girl

My rating: ●●● ø
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
You've Got the Wrong Girl
India: Hachette, 2016
376 pp. ₹350
ISBN: 9789350095805

Summary: A girl, put off by the pomp and show of a big-fat wedding, decides to take a stroll in a garden adjoining the venue of a wedding happening somewhere in the vicinity of Taj Mahal and takes notice of a boy who seems like rehearsing a hate speech. Following a long, meaningless yet interesting conversation, they both make out. Revealing nothing about each other, they part, with the girl taking a promise that the boy will never search for her. Letting every detail of that night out to everyone in the form a book, which eventually becomes a bestseller, while still trying to preserve it for himself, he’s, after good three years, now poked for a sequel to the first part. The first part was not a fiction. The second part could also not be a work of fiction. The boy now wants to look for the girl to complete his ‘love’ story. He has an ex-girlfriend who decides to come back. There is a whole lot of intriguing twists and interesting mess. Everyone deserves a love story.   

What really clicked? The title! It really intrigues a casual onlooker to further nosedive deep into the story, the message and the end.

My takeThe book spans in three units – book one, book two and book three – all comprising of the perfect masala brewing in the protagonist, Dushyant’s life. Dushyant is an author by fluke, and ends up getting the plot for his first book following the incidents happening in his life. His girlfriend from school ends up getting hitched with his best friend, and this causes him to gatecrash their wedding. While he rehearses his hate speech in a garden adjacent to the venue, he ends up meeting Diya, a mysterious girl who is bored of the wedding and needed a break. They make out without really letting out much information about each other, including their names and part promising they won’t try to look for each other.

The rest of the first part would seem more of a drag where the author is being convinced by his publishing manager and his close aide, Bhaskar, to come out with a sequel to his first book which entirely talks about this fling with a stranger and the aftereffects it had on his mind.

The second and the third part talk about how he finds the girl, clue by clue, and what goes on when they meet in a super shady, red light area of Kolkata, Sonagachi, how things f*ck up further due to misunderstandings which occur when his ex-girlfriend decides to come back to his life and how every character in the story, be it Bhaskar, Pri (sister), Dad and Mom (of Dushyant), Anjali (the ex), Vicky, (the best friend) and Shonali (assistant of Diya in an NGO where she works), have a definite role to play which contributes to giving a pace to the story.

The story gets terribly lengthy and verbose defining the first night that Dushyant gets to spend with Diya and further references to this sound clichéd all the while. The author has also added a lot of drama to the story using the Vitamin ‘sex’, which has only made the story something to stay glued to.

The story, towards the end, gains momentum and kills the reader with twists and turns which lead to the protagonist finally meeting his lover and coming clean, confessing his love. As they say, ‘everyone deserves a love story’, the protagonist ends up securing his, making the wrong girl, who actually was the right girl for him, his forever!

The author's writing style has improved leaps and bounds from her last release, Sita's curse. The well-researched parts of the story, including description of the places unexplored in Kolkata, narration of the connection of the protagonist with Kalidasa's Abhigyan Shakuntalam and of the hi-fi weddings all seem perfectly fitted together, each having a message to convey in the bigger meaning of the story.  This book by Kundu shall make you stay entertained to the last page, while also giving you occasional spaces to yawn and can-but-won't skip. 

Final word: There are some stories which, despite being predictable towards the end, do not sound clichéd and this book is one from the lot. This, my second read from Kundu, is a great work of fiction which stands on a whole lot of research, sound logic and all sorts of nonsensical feelings one goes through while falling and being in love!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Largely Inquisitive

‘Check your dupatta and don’t let it fall off your shoulder’, Ma reminded Alka as they set out for a blind date, to meet a prospective family they might want to extend relations with. The Khanna’s have been looking for a groom for Alka for quite some time now, seven months to be precise, but have not been able to meet someone who would even closely satisfy the expectations of four members of the immediate family and the rest forty-five of the extended one. This particular prospect looked close enough to the ideal and, thus, everyone was interested to know more about them.

Kudos to the Internet and the startups mushrooming today, for they have not left any possible thing one could think of having done not having a way out online. From finding a groom to getting married to planning a kid to finding a lawyer – Google has an answer to all. Internet had played a role massive enough in the life of Alka that now she was about to meet someone she might just end up sleeping with for the rest of her life. That was only one of the aspects of the married life, she knew, but a grand one she just couldn’t let her thoughts off from.

Alka had always been an average performer throughout her life, according to her parents. She never scored ‘excellent’ to top in the class nor she cleared any of the famous entrance exams post high school. Therefore, her parents never expected big out of her and, surprisingly, so did Alka. She had a different perspective of looking at her life. Though she never topped any exams taken in school or post that, she still held a successful career of a data analyst, thanks to her keenness in mathematics. She was getting decently paid, not even close to what her ‘better performing’ classmates were, but decent enough for her to spend and save. She never attempted at the impossible but always expected great things to happen to her despite that. All her life before this day, she had had a lot of ‘close’ friends she used to hang out with, but none of them was ‘ideal’ enough for her parents to let her settle with. Thus, this day.

A family of four met a clan of three, all trying to fit awkwardly in a table for six in TGIF, Rajouri; thanks to the weekend and discounts up everywhere that successfully pulled out even the non-shoppers to come out and shop and, also, eat. While the families were busy in exchanging pleasantries, the two, Alka and Nakul, were just able to exchange glances. She had studied his profile on merishadi.com, tried to find him on every social media possible – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GooglePlus, LinkedIn and, even, Tinder and she believed he would have done his part of investigations, too.

She was here on a purpose – either to find a better person than all her past beaus or to prove her parents wrong. She had gulped whole bunch of articles learning how to behave on your first date, like how to impress a family on your first meeting with them, how to drop subtle hints to the boy that there’s more to you, how to catch the ideal fish and how do you know he’s the one. Internet, once again, could play a massive role by being a sound informer to her. After having a pizza with a brick-like base, topped with chicken crumbs and a lot of cheese, it occurred to the elders that they should let the two speak to each other in private. Thus, a long walk down the aisle leading to the staircase and back.

This time, these moments, Alka has been waiting for this since the time they met. She finally waited for him to break the ice. With semblance to a corporate interview, Nakul began interrogating Alka about her life, her present and her plans for future. She bounced the same questions back at him and found him to be quite interesting. A few questions, some jokes and the meeting ended there.
The families liked each other as much as they had liked the profiles about each other on merishadi. Time flew and the two asked for more time and space to fill up with them unfurling. Long chats, unending text conversations and frequent phone calls had helped these two strangers know great deal about each other. Internet, once again, was her savior as she could talk as well as see him online for as good as free. She just loved technology and the time she was born in, when it is blooming at an unmatched pace.

There was a road which they were both treading on, the road which at first glance seemed really dark, and the one which was lightening itself up with each step taken forward. However, this road had a drawback; it lost all its sheen for every step taken backward. Nakul was forthcoming in revealing everything about himself, how he was not good with girls, or rather with the girls who did not find him interesting enough unless he had started earning, about how his relationships with these girls could never lead to any fling and how he only dreamt about the ones he could possibly hitch with but couldn’t, thanks to his lack of self-confidence.

In spite of him being extroverted about his life, Alka was smart enough to always weigh everything before she spoke. For her, the fact that their vibes matched was pretty much enough for them to start living together. It didn’t matter to her if he was new or a player, for she was prepared to never be judgmental on any grounds. Nakul, on the other hand, was largely inquisitive about her past, as he didn’t have any ‘darn happening’ thing ever happened to him and he, anyway, held a right to be informed.

On a final meeting before their marriage, Alka had to ventilate her thoughts out on what she feels is right. With tone full of pragmatism, she said, ‘I see this coming life together as a long vacation, the one which will bring us many surprises, happiness, tears and challenges along the way but it will be happy as long as we only tread forward. There’s a clear line of differentiation in time before I met you and the one after it. What really happened back then would always sound like a story to you and I’m no good a storyteller. So, the questions you’ve deep in your mind but never put forth, about my virginity, about how I came to know about sex, about how I ‘felt’ about my body changing and if I ever took any stupid steps to get answers to this inquisitiveness will all be interesting subjects for us to talk long on, but the ‘real’ answers for you to believe in will neither be blown nor they will be shown. You’re welcome if you, too, are willing to look forward on the path, while having interesting tête-à-tête over bottles of beer chilling right now, somewhere in the future.’

Nakul had no reasons why he should still be inquisitive about the ‘stories’ from the past.

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