When I got this book from Indireads, I was pretty excited. I have read Haveli by Zeenat Mahal and really loved her play with characters. She builds her characters up throughout the story. Here too we started with a love stuck girl, Zoella. Then her family problems are introduced along with her talents and by the end of the story not only is she married, she has a glamorous career too. A fairy tale in the true sense.
The story starts with a beautiful scenario of kite flying. The atmosphere has been well created and every time they shouted 'Bo Kata', I too wanted to join in. We do have such scenes in India during the spring festival, Basant, Makar Sankranti and on Indian Independence Day. That feeling of kite flying has to be experienced to even imagine it. Zeenat must have had some such beautiful experiences in life which she has echoed in her writings.
This story is about relationships. Not just between the husband and wife but also the parents. Many of you might feel that the role of the parents are given too much importance in this short love-story. But form the culture we come from, they are. All our love, fights and emotions are co-related and Zeenat has done a fabulous job is taking us through the journey of Zoella's household.
A young girl gets married under strange circumstances. Though Zoella was in love with Fardeen from the time she had set her eyes on him, he on the other hand hardly knew of her existence. Zeenat brings this out very cutely when he tries to remember her name at the beginning itself. But again as in all love stories, Fate plays her role and the story of the Beauty and the Beast starts.
Fardeen too feels the effects of a forced marriage though he does end up with a better deal at the end of the bargain. But now, his heart too is captured by this Florence Nightingale in his life; and he wanted to have a fresh start with her. But Zoella had been insulted too many times. Now her heart has closed up against his love. Will he be able to revive it?
When things stopped for a bit....
Zeenat took us from scene to scene with an ease. The back drop of the story created a lot of visualisation for us as a reader. If I stick to only Fardeen's and Zoella's love-story then I would say that there is nothing new. In fact, it just formed the basic skeletal of the story and the main theme was 'Family Matters'. The secondary characters were too powerful. Swaba dominated the scenes and at places Zoella ended up looking like a country bumpkin. Lines like, "Every passing day, she withdrew more into herself and distanced herself further from the rest of them." were repeated to show the relationship between the two protag. Was the repetition needed? It was the totally the secondary characters who carried the story to the next level. All I saw was Fardeen being the cold guy and Zoella being the good wife. Take two: Zoella being the cold woman and Farhaan trying to have sex with her.
I found the story moving forward after Zoella became stronger. There were moments when the feminist in me found Fardeen a huge MCP but then I suppose all our Macho characters are. What this story lacked are incidents between the characters. Most of the incidents involved the secondary characters. Did Fardeen and Zoella do anything else besides baiting each other?
Besides the above said line, I found no fault with the editing of the story. The grammar was impeccable as is with all Indireads stories.
The Role They Played ....
All the depicted characters of this book are well etched. Zoella's mom is the epitome of 'majboor' moms. (Dependent moms) that are scattered all over our societies. All their lives they work hard for their family and in the end they have to spend blurting out dialogues like “Daughters are daughters. No daughter-in-law can ever come close.” Such a cliche from the perspective of a daughter-in-law. :P But then this is exactly what happens and Zeenat has brought this about well.
All the other characters are very distinct. Ami, Swaba, Salaar and of course Fardeen and Zoella all have a voice of their own. Except Neha. I personally felt Neha as a vamp was a bit forced. She reached everywhere they landed. How? Who was her informer?
As they spoke ....
This is truly Zeenat's forte. Her dialogues are really superb and witty and more than the plot of her story, binds the readers to the story. I simply loved the interaction between Zoella and Fardeen in the little seduction scene played out by Zoella. "Seduction isn’t as easy as you’d think, and I’ve never done it before.” - this dialogue was hilarious.
The sense of camaraderie between Zoella and her in laws was really well portrayed.
Beauty and the Beast ?
Now this is one question that makes me always stop and ponder. What is an original story? Shakespeare lived in the good ole' days :D But yes if you must dissect this story - theme was not original but the treatment of the story was.
A contemplative Thought
"A husband’s regard was crucial in their hypocritical society, and knowing that, Fardeen had made sure her family knew that he valued her. Not that she needed validation from any man."
I loved the word - hypocritical.