An entertaining read.
The (In)eligible Bachelors is London-based author Ruchita Misra's debut novel and she has certainly taken her maiden bow in style. Given all the buzz around the book, yours truly tried her bestest to lay her hands on a copy ... by hotfooting it to some of the popular bookshops, and even participating in giveaways and contests, yet TIB remained stubbornly elusive. Then Hitesh of bookreaderslounge.com, the Good Samaritan that he is, informed me that Blogadda was giving out copies as part of their book review program ... and I, needless to say, promptly seized the opportunity with both hands. Err, rather by putting thumb to keyboard. And in due course became the happy owner of a copy. So thank you Hitesh and thank you Blogadda!
About the Book: Arranged marriages are complicated things. So are mothers. And so are relationships. Kasturi Shukla is a fresh MBA graduate with a great job in hand. She is also geeky and single at twenty-four. The biggest sore spot in Kasturi’s life is her dominating, arranged marriage-obsessed mother now hell-bent on getting her married at the earliest. Does Kasturi find love in one of the rather weird but IIT/IIM boys that Mum manages to 'shortlist'? Or perhaps she can follow her wildly beating heart that seems to be set on the Greek God incarnate that her boss, Rajeev sir, is? With office buddies Ananya and Varun by her side, the hilariously fumbling Kasturi embarks on a rip-roaring journey to find Mr. Right.
The (In)eligible Bachelors, which chronicles Kasturi's daily diary through this time, is a riotous adventure of adrenaline, laughter and guffaws. It is also an invaluable lesson in love, family and friendship.
1. A witty take on the system of arranged marriages, the marriage market that rules the Indian society.
2. A witty and humorous easy-to-read writing style makes for a good read.
3. The creative chapter headings arouse the what-next quality.
This is a fun story and makes for a light breezy read. The book jacket cover catches your attention instantly and makes you want to read it. And since for a debutant author 'first impress-aan izz laast impress-aan' ... Ruchita must be displaying all her pearly whites. The icing on the cake is that the first print run sold out in less than a month's time, while the red cherry on top is that Bollywood sat up and took note, so very soon we may get to see Kasturi Shukla on 70 mm.
The book is in the form of diary entries written by Kasturi (the protagonist). She is forced to meet several so-called eligible bachelors by her melodramatic mother whose sole aim in life is to get Kasturi her second Masters degree... as soon as possible. These meetings and what happens before and after make for some humourous reading.
TIB plays out as a predictable Bollywood love story, sticking faithfully to tried-and-tested formula. As far as the book's plot is concerned, there is very little that can be called original. In fact, there is nothing fresh or ingenious about the storyline, yet the book leaves an impression and makes you laugh. For this, all credit should go to some clever writing on Ruchita's part: fast-paced, engaging and liberally sprinkled with wit and humour. We have come across: 'Women don't admit their age. Men don't act theirs,' many times before, yet we wouldn't mind reading it again in this book. Simply because it blends in with the narrative and doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. The characters are relatable too and do not stretch your imagination. Not much suspension of disbelief either.
It looks like Ruchita actually enjoyed writing this book... and it shows. I won't play the spoiler by giving out any more than I already have, except that heaven/fate has once again mixed up its apples and oranges.
You can find echoes of: Jab We Met, Dil Chahta Hai and Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na mixed with a wee bit of Dostana and a dash of Sabrina. All this plus dollops of Ruchita's imagination and witty writing style results in this book-version of the popular ice cream desert: Sundae. You will enjoy the mix-and-match flavour.
Frankly, The (In)eligible Bachelors is a warm-hearted story that is tailor-made for the silver screen. There is fun, humour, wit, friendship, romance, ruthna- manana, heartbreak; office capers, quirks, courage, ice cream, coffee, maggi, chocolates, aloo parathas; red rose, long drives, late night clandestine conversations with 'mum'; accidents, some raw dishum-dishum, hospital, operation, drama queen mummy, sari-test, LSD, Pita-ji, Bhaloo ... and hold your breath, even a ghust appearance (as in: ghus jao!) from the famous Indian Institute of Ponytail Management, IPPM - of 'dare to dream beyond the...' (in)fame.
My twopence worth: Kasturi's role is tailor-made for Genelia D'Souza with Anushka Sharma/Pareeniti Chopra coming in a close second. Saif Ali Khan as the smooth charmer Rajiv Mehrotra (though I am not sure if he has chocolate-brown eyes). Second choice: Bobby Deol. Third choice: Ayaz Khan (Sushant Modi of 'Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na' fame). Konkona Sen Sharma, Sandhya Mridul, Minisha Lamba or Anaitha Nair (Aliya Bose of 'Chak De India') can play Ananya with aplomb. Kasturi's mother has to be either Kirron Kher or Ratna Pathak Shah, while veteran actress Vibha Chibber (Chak De India, Ghajini, Ek Hasina Thi), Ila Arun or Bharati Achrekar (Wagle ki Duniya) will suit the role of Ananya's mother perfectly. Shahid Kapoor as Dr. Purva Dixit. Nirav Mehta (Jignes aka Jignesh Patel from 'Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na') as Varun. Jayant Kripalani or Farooque Sheikh as Kasturi's father. But for the stellar role of Pita-ji, I can think of none except Ritesh Deshmukh. On second thoughts, even Sharman Joshi or Aftab Shivdasani may be a good choice. However, I have absolutely no clue as to who can carry off the role of 'Bhaloo' though.
Umm, that's my choice for the cast. What's yours?
My Rating: 4/5.
Suggestions: The book feels good to hold, but there are quite a few editing errors... and they make their presence felt. Not done. Could have and should have been pruned out.
The accident bit works well, but the chase and dishum-dishum bit does not quite blend in. Perhaps a mugging incident, an encounter with a thief or an intruder may have worked better. However, that does not take away from what is essentially an entertaining read. And no, I am not going to classify this as "chick lit" simply because no novel with a male-protagonist-and-male-author combo has ever been classified as "mutton lit". Or "beef lit" for that matter. You get the point, don't you?
Before I wrap it up, I must confess that I am quite keen to watch The (In)eligible Bachelors on the big screen. And I look forward to Ruchita's future writings with interest.
Details of the book: The (In)eligible Bachelors/ Author: Ruchita Misra/ Publisher: Rupa/ Binding: Paperback/ Publishing Date: 2011/ Genre: Fiction/ ISBN-10: 8129118637/ ISBN-13: 9788129118639 / Pages: 252/ Price: INR 195. [INR 146 @ Flipkart.]
Picture: The book jacket cover of The (In)eligible Bachelors. Courtesy: link.