Indian Romantic Novels would also figure in the Wikipedia definition “The romance novel or romantic novel discussed in this article is the mass-market literary genre. Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." There are many subgenres of the romance novel including fantasy, historical romance, paranormal fiction, and science fiction. Walter Scott defined the literary fiction form of romance as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents".”
The following is a perspective on the Indian Romantic Novels as it applies to the famous Indian Novel “Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar” written by debutant Indian author Kochery C Shibu.
In the context of Indian Romantic Novels Wikipedia defines “Chick lit or Chick literature is genre fiction, which “consists of heroine-centered narratives that focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists.” The genre often addresses issues of modern womanhood – from romantic relationships to female friendships to matters in the workplace – in humorous and lighthearted ways. At its onset, chick lit’s protagonists tended to be “single, white, heterosexual, British and American women in their late twenties and early thirties, living in metropolitan areas.” The genre became popular in the late 1990s, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit. Chick lit critics generally agree that British author Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) is the “ur-text” of chick lit.
Indian Romantic Novels are seen in two categories. The first being Chick-lit. In the case of India Chick-lit made an entry after establishing itself successfully in the US and the UK. It will not be out of place to say that the Chick-lit in many ways is like the formula Hindi movie. There were certain conventions which developed with the genre as the ingredients of the success recipe. The recipe and the formulae were developed from the context of the American and British Societies where these had indeed become run away successes. The novels eulogized the liberated woman and of course she was also the central character. These bold and often heroic women were sold with the concept of successful feminism as the main stay which suited the American and British audience.
Romantic Indian Novels for centuries love has defined love outside the ambit of marriage we have numerous contexts when it comes to feminism. Indian Romantic Novels of the yester years have had the tradition of associating goddesses with gods and more often than not the goddess name is taken first followed by the Gods name. Given the language and customs and traditions and value systems which vary so much from North to South and from east to the west and further nuanced by religion, we do have a variety of contexts which interact with any concept of feminism. With that comes the dilemma and identification problems for the readers with specific focus recognition and applicability outside the major metropolitan cities of India. In many sense the Chick-lit in the Indian Romantic novels remains mostly an imaginary world where one has to disassociate from the real to relate.
Originally Chick-lit as it evolved in the Us and UK was based on the strong identity of a modern woman who is live to the realities around her and sensitive to her needs as a woman. Indian Romantic Novels in the form of successful Chikc-lits have been mostly experience driven where the authors have converted real experiences in life with love life in to a novel.
It is for the discerning readers to see the genre in Indian Romantic Novels as seen chick-lit in relation to the social realities and contexts. In many ways Chick-lit as also a victim of the formula and ‘stereotyped’ approach across cultures.
The Indian Romantic Novels made splash in the publishing world with “Almost Single” by Advaita Kala. This was almost two decades after the roaring success of “Bridget Jones Diary “ by Helen Fieldings. There was also the phenomenally successful “Sex and the City” by Cadance Bushnell. There were a series of women writers like Tisha Khosla, Anuja Chauhan, Swati Kaushal, Rupa Gulab, Nishat Fatima and Meenalkshi Reddy who set the stage. The 1991 economic liberalization and the job opportunities and the affluent working women in Metro cities made a good back ground. These novels focussed on the lives of single High Income Group (HIG) working women in metropolitan cities. The line between, humour, satire, sarcasm and caricature being very thin in many settings. These new generation Indian Romantic novels was built mostly around the coming of age and independence in the life of a working woman. The ups and downs in the career and her romantic life and the finding of Mr Right gives the back ground for these novels. In many ways the Indian Romantic novels classified as Chick-lit also became a way of representing shallow writing.
In many ways Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar could be classified also among Indian Romantic Novels. The Indian Romantic Novels as in this novel has a setting in the hydro electric project work site in the remote Himalayas and related to events happening in the 21st century and some which have happened in the 20th century. Romance between Khusru and Rekha and the passionate love between Nanda and Khsuru forms the back bone of this Indian Romantic Novels. Whilst the novel itself is fictional the events could happen in the real world as we live today. This is in contrast with many non Indian Romantic Novels typically set in an imaginary world or universe that as the reader would understand is not true.
In this Indian Romantic Novels the famous Indian Author has maintained the traditional separation between the fiction and the non –fiction stories in this novel. The lines may be blurred at times with more over lap than mutual exclusion. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is well researched and has the necessary ingredients and the elements of truth which are grounded well to the background which makes it a very interesting read amongst the Indian Romantic Novels. The reader would be able to connect with the events of history and the people who were affected by the time and events being referred to. The fiction and the creative imagination starts with the fictions stories bringing to life a set of characters and events which are near real. The truth of the circumstances and events is presented by the author by using his fictional characters in the novel. It is an interesting but challenging aspect of writing when the imagination and fiction stories are used to bring about significant understanding and conclusions about the truth and reality among the Indian Romantic Novels.
BOOK REVIEW OF KOCHERI C SHIBU'S 'MEN AND DREAMS IN THE DHAULADHAR'
AKSHAY JUDE ROZRAIO
This book by Kochery C Shibu can be called as a collection of many stories whose charecters have been artistically crafted into a central plot. The book is set in the backdrop of the magnificant Himalayas. The narrative style of the writer is very descriptive that one can actually pictorise every scene very clearly. The description is infact too detalied that sometimes one might just feel a bit boring, especially in the beginning chapters with litte too many chrarecters been introduced and the past explained. One might feel that the empasis in charecters is too much focussed that the story line actually deviates from the central plot.
But by the middle of the book the author picks up the right momentum and focuses on a few central charecters, They are Khusra aka Shahzeda, who is a displayed boy fom Kashmir who has a past of terriorist history and whose past generates the thrill and suspence in the story. Rekha, a dancer by heart and doctor in profession in search of her love of life. Nanda , an engineer from Kerala who finds the Dhauladhar an answer to his messed up life. Other main charecters re Mangu Ram and Mukesh.The story is centralled around a hydro electric project in the area. The detail of the project is boring for the layman but talks volumes about the authors huge expertise in the area.The charecters of Kushru and Rekha have little to do with the project but thier personnel life is what adds thrill to the book.
The book tries to capture varied human emotions of joy, fear, loneliness, livelihood and highlights the indominatable human spirit and the power of dreams.The novel attempts to capture the life, aspirations, problems of different people who comes from vareid walks of life to do something which would create a difference in thier lifes and the author has been able to do it to a large extend if not completly. But the novel seriously lacks a strong central plot and the too swift flow of thoughts create a bit of confussion. But overall the book is a good reading experience.