My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Love forever @ Rajpath Approved …. As proposed by Kalpana Mishra, I give this book three and half stars. Thank you Tushti Bhatia and author for providing me a review copy.
As they say love is blind but in this case it is not so. Both protagonist Shalini and Kartik are very driven, intelligent, sensible and level headed. Their love is anything but blind. It is sweet simple love story, a classic office romance.
Shalini Pahilajani (surname is a tongue twister. Can’t figure out how to pronounce it) is a very intelligent and hard working girl. She is selected as a group B officer in Central Government and posted in a ministry located in one of the many Bhawans scattered around Rajpath. Kartik Vats is also posted in the same bhawan. Hence the name Love forever @ Rajpath. I will come to second part later. Shalini is a Sindhi whose family came from Pakistan during partition. Shalini does not want to marry as she thinks the marriage is against women and they are made to suffer and tortured on various pretexts. Kartik Vats is a Bihari and also very intelligent. He is besotted with her and finds excuses just to talk to her. As luck would have it Shalini is preparing for Civil services with Public Administration as optional. Kartik also pretend that he had Pub Ad as optional and thus they start interacting. As happens in all love stories he proposes and she accepts. Funny thing is that he proposes in a very official language on a note sheet (a green color note sheet is used for intra office communication) and she accepts. As the custom in central government offices she write “APPROVED AS PROPOSED”. Hence the second part of title. Then as usual chores of getting families ready, caste and regional differences, janam patris (natal chart) etc ensues. Finally when the families agree comes the tragedy. Kartik is kidnapped for jabariya shadi (forced marriage). How the two deal with it forms the rest of story. As expected all is well in the end.
Language if book is very simple. The romance is set in government office between two mid level government servants so it is subdued. Being a central government employee myself I can relate with the narrative. They are very traditional and please don’t expect any thing like corporate romance. There is no pre marital sex. There is only one kiss and that is all. It is all very north Indian if I can say. Though the girl is born and brought up in Delhi she has a very conservative outlook. Some stereotypes are mentioned like Biharis by Shalini brother Uday
“Suppose after marriage he shows his true Bihari colors?” Uday said.
“What are true Bihari colors?”
“If he beats you up, does not bother about you, might seek a lot of dowary or if his family does not accept you then..”
Similar apprehension is shown by Kartik family who thinks Sindhis are Pakistani and stingy.
But Kalpana did not stick to stereotypes and debunked those.
The book is debut effort of author and it is very commendable. Dowry is a burning issue and this led to this horrendous custom of Jabariya shadi in upper castes of Bihar. In this some goons kidnaps an eligible bachelor and they marry him to a girl at gun point. What happens afterwards is anybody’s guess. This is not a usual love story. The hero almost married another girl.
Shalini is very head strong and sticks to her ideals. She is ready to sacrifice her love also for her beliefs. Kartik on the other hand comes our as a honest but weak person. He has his reasons for that but still I felt he should have supported Shalini when she needed him most. She did not even care for her own safety to rescue him and he became so blind that he only saw her actions after he is rescued. So Shalini comes out on top.
A very good romantic novel with a message against dowry and girls’ education. Waiting for another novel from Kalpana.
P.S. The pairing of Bihari and Sindhi is inspired by a real life Bollywood super star. None other than Sharughan Sinha. Kamoshhhh
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