‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ by Anuja Chauhan is one of the breeziest reads. It is knitted in a simple setting with some drool-worthy love moments. In my complete dislike to the usage of Hindi blatantly in an English work of fiction, this book gave me an overwhelming dose.
There seems unwanted and superficially crafted ‘Hinglish’ (mix of Hindi and English) sentences, as it is popularly known, perhaps to entice Indian readers. The language and the technique are primarily aiming at producing a screenplay. It is a shout-out to the Bollywood producers to make this book into a movie, there is indeed all the masala that one would need.
The author clearly wanted to write her own version of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice in ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’. Thakurs who replace the Bennets in the Indian setting, have five beautiful daughters. Minor deviations from the Pride and Prejudice are lent, so the elder three daughters have been married and the younger two now take the center stage in the Thakur household.
Chauhan’s version of five Thakur sisters is jumbled up with the Bennet’s so that the eldest Anjini is the most beautiful just like Jane Bennet but acquires Lydia’s nature. In the honest twist of things, the names of the daughters are kept alphabetically from A to E (ensuing laughter from the audiences, sorry I forgot this is not a movie – pun intended).
The story is primarily about the fourth borne, Debjani Thakur. When you read about Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, she is ‘the second of the Bennet daughters, she is twenty years old and intelligent, lively, playful, attractive and witty – but with a tendency to judge on first impressions.’ Debjani is 23 years old and imbibes all qualities of Elizabeth. The first time she encounters Dylan at her doorstep is the beginning of her ‘prejudice’. Lydia Bennet’s shoes are filled by one Chandralekha Thakur who has run away with some Estonian and is living abroad. Thakurs have severed their ties with the daughter after the shame that she is brought upon the family.
Then there are minor, clumsy and loud characters that are ready to give you laughter. These characters are the Aunt, Uncle, their maid, some dogs, a suitor, and a shopkeeper. Dev as one of Debjani’s suitor is built on clumsy lines and reminds of Mr.Collins. Ofcourse, the juxtaposed ‘Pride’ is found in Dylan Singh Shekawat, one of the three sons of the Rajput Shekawats. His mother is a Christian from Mangalore. Dylan is a rip off from magnificent Darcy. He is a journalist and has committed the sin of writing the column on behalf of his editor which read the headline, ‘DD’s dumb doll doesn’t please at all’.
Next comes the setting. There is an obsession with naming almost every tree that is there on the streets of Delhi. A take on Doordarshan as Darshdarpan and convenient acronym ‘DD’ is played upon. Debjani is a newsreader on DD. The story is based in the time of 1980s; two years post Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And, Dylan is the diligent journalist, who has widely covered the riots in Delhi. The tit-bits of narration wander between DD newsroom, Dylan’s newspaper journalism and the youngest sister’s school. In between, there is even a ‘Netherfield’ Ball parallel at the Shekawat’s place as the parents celebrate their 30th anniversary.
In conclusion, the story is the course taken to achieve a relationship when Dylan overcomes his pride and Debjani overcomes her prejudice.
‘Pride and Prejudice‘ was published in 1813 and ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls‘ was published in 2013. I found the year ‘13’ to be fascinating, leaving aside a gap of 200 years!