Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review : Miss New India

Title : Miss New India

Author : Bharati Mukherjee

ISBN : 978-0-618-64653-1

Anjali Bose or 'Angie' is introduced as a 19-year old, born in an orthodox middle class family in Gauripur - a small town in Bihar, India. This does not conclude her description, she also happens to be attractive - not the traditional Indian beauty though, very smart, ambitious, extremely fluent in English and with some streaks of rebelliousness. Her expatriate English teacher, Peter Champion identifies these characteristics of hers and encourages her to dream big beyond the almost predestined arranged marriage on the cards for her. From time to time he boosts her self-esteem and stimulates the desire in her to write her own destiny rather than watching her destiny being written silently without her consent. But finally it takes one disastrous experience in the marriage market which was enough to push her to take the extreme step of leaving the confines of her home to set off to Bangalore . Bangalore - one of the fastest growing cities in India, the new IT hub, the land of realizing the dreams.

Anjali sets her feet on the new promising land with Peter Champion's money and his introductions to a couple of contacts of powerful people who could help her in forming small footholds initially. She finds herself in a huge crowd of aspirants to be call-center service agents who are given American names, taught to speak like Americans, familiarized with America's geography - in short, trained to comfortably put up the garb of a regular American for specified working hours. Her Bangalore tryst turns out to be a huge roller coaster ride where - she is seduced into the freedom and modernity that the city has to offer to its inhabitants, the trickery of one of the co-residents pushes her into troubled waters and the gloomy side of independent life does not remain alien to her.

Some of the characters in the story just add more clutter and confusion without going anywhere and give an impression of half thought-out and half-baked effort. The character portrayal and the description of relationships that the protagonist has with her family, her teacher and her friends lack believability and depth.

Despite aiming to be a story reflecting the predicaments of many wannabes from small towns struggling to make it big in life, the narrative falters miserably. On many occasions it takes drastically melodramatic turns leaving the whole story line far removed from reality. The story spanning 300 odd pages bringing out the journey of Anjali Bose should have been able to establish some connection of the readers with the protagonist, on the contrary, the readers are left with no feelings whatsoever for a puzzled and lost Anjali.

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