Friday, August 9, 2013

Chick lits and us

Part I: Those Pricey Thakur Girls.
If I wanted to see an exaggerated Nayak meets DDLJ, I would go back to that time and see some stellar performances instead of reading a plot bristling with weakly constructed characters.
Debjani is a lover of losers. Dylan is a hot shot journalist. Stereotyping takes another level with the use of ‘football’ and ‘playing guitar’ as the allegory for saying cool. The ‘chick lit’ as this category of light, fluffy reads for women is described, plays at two things: 1) Light read equals to absolute no brainer and 2) Cloying clich├ęs are excusable so long as the construct of the character who employs them is hot.
Some questions begin to claw at my brain from the inception of these characters into the book. Why are the women in the book so silly? Why does the protagonist Debjani think that it is a good idea to invite the furor of the state in the most Bollywood-esque style? I am all for rose tinted glasses and love and romance but when a book fails to connect with you on basic levels like the character’s construction, it fails. And for the longest time I could not figure out what it was, was it the factual inaccuracy of the 80s that I minded so much or was it the annoying, if not pricey Thakur girls reiterating that they did not have a clue of what was really happening around them. Is it because Indian chick lits are detaching themselves far too much from the deeper meaning of romance and love? The book certainly has its funny moments and some of the lines in the Dilli vernacular crack you up but by the end of the last ‘fall from the roof on the shamiana to save chachiji act’, I could not, but be glad that this over the top circus was coming to an end.

Enter Devil Wears Prada. Lauren Weisberger, also understood as (if not known as) the wand bearer for all things flashy and chick-lit in the American world, wrote this book in 2003. With the movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway as the leads, turning out to be blockbuster (and also one of my all time comfort movies), I finally decided to settle down to reading it. Two things I noticed again: 1) The movie for me was infinitely better than the book and 2) That has never happened to me before from what I recollect.
It stems from the fact that the visual appeal of an office with the sheen of Runaway, the ‘Clackers’, the shoot room with an all-access to designer fur coats, bags and boots is far more, than a trajectory created of a myriad of designer labels across the book. The movie stood for hope. It brought forth the fact that a ‘Miranda Preistly’ also had a human side which surfaces, even if for nano seconds. The book was, au contraire, a shattering of that happy bubble. Despair and misery are after all, as real as happiness.

Revenge Wears Prada. The Devil Returns. But does she? A lot of sodden diapers, a life and magazine that clearly indicate the loss of ‘that’, that set Andrea apart from Emily or even Miranda and a presumptuous husband later, this book made me pledge never to read a chick lit again. The grim details of Andrea’s sweat and nausea are what Lauren talks most about in this book. Miranda Preistley barely returns. Apart from a swift scene or two where she promises to wreak havoc merely by looking on, there is none of the crisp Miranda Preistley soliloquy that Devil Wears Prada had, that this book offers.

Maybe chicklits are just not my thing. Or maybe, just maybe, we need better chick lits that actually make us proud to be funny, smart, sometimes psychotic and not so smart and yet real women. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed about these books in this post are strictly personal. Each to his own and the hard work of the author is obviously recognized. Thanks :)

1 comment:

  1. I am as it is very skeptical about chick lits (even though I find the term kind of offensive, it is almost like a license to write junk). I am reading through your "The Woman Series" and really liking it.



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