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October 14, 2015 / subramanyam

This Sister will steal your heart.


Few months ago, I accidentally watched a serial called Mera Naseeb on Zee Zindagi channel.  This is a Pakistani serial and this was aired by Zee Tv for some time in India.  Not that I am an avid serial watcher (I do watch some Indian Serials with my family when I have no other option) but I liked this particular one as it had a strange plot.  Here are 2 sisters who are born on the same date(to different mothers) and are raised in the same household.  One of them is very beautiful while the other one is a very opinionated and independence-seeking girl.  In spite of all the differences between them, they both share a bond that even real sisters wouldn’t.

I watched a few episodes and I had the curiosity that made me go and search for the plot on the Internet, the results shocked me to the core.  While I wanted to know as to what the plot was all about, I came to know that this plot was plagiarized from the book of an Indian author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  In fact, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni herself took to social media on this.  Here are a few links in this regard.

http://www.firstpost.com/living/sisters-skin-zindagi-serial-close-comfort-chitra-divakaruni-novel-1738967.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tv/news/hindi/Chitra-B-Divakaruni-My-story-was-stolen-for-TV-show/articleshow/43602263.cms

The legal battle and Indo -Pak enmity might make the matter more interesting but then I was more interested in the plot than anything else. This made me buy the book “The Sister of My Heart” on Kindle.  Here is the blurb of the book.

From the award-winning author of Mistress of Spices, the bestselling novel about the extraordinary bond between two women, and the family secrets and romantic jealousies that threaten to tear them apart.

Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction. Her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of that same family. Sudha is startlingly beautiful; Anju is not. Despite those differences, since the day on which the two girls SISTER_BRITISHwere born, the same day their fathers died–mysteriously and violently–Sudha and Anju have been sisters of the heart. Bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend, the two girls grow into womanhood as if their fates as well as their hearts were merged.

But, when Sudha learns a dark family secret, that connection is shattered. For the first time in their lives, the girls know what it is to feel suspicion and distrust. Urged into arranged marriages, Sudha and Anju’s lives take opposite turns. Sudha becomes the dutiful daughter-in-law of a rigid small-town household. Anju goes to America with her new husband and learns to live her own life of secrets. When tragedy strikes each of them, however, they discover that despite distance and marriage, they have only each other to turn to.

Set in the two worlds of San Francisco and India, this exceptionally moving novel tells a story at once familiar and exotic, seducing readers from the first page with the lush prose we have come to expect from Divakaruni. Sister of My Heart is a novel destined to become as widely beloved as it is acclaimed.

My Take:

The blurb more or less covers most of the stuff I wanted to say.  The book starts well, but the pace of the story is slow.  The author takes her time to do the initial set up.  The story is slow in these parts.  For a male reader, it is tough not to put the book off, but then the moment Ashok makes an appearance the game changes. Suddenly you see that the plot is taking a different turn.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni keeps you guessing and makes sure that one bouncer or the other is thrown at you with every M_Id_381785_Chitra_Banerjee_Divakarunipassing chapter.  The author is an expert when it comes to the portrayal of complex emotions and that is very much evident in the book.  I have not read stories in which the protagonists and all the main characters are women and yet the story keeps the male reader glued to it.  That indeed is awesome stuff. There is something in the story that makes us love and identify ourselves with the characters.  You sense the excitement of Anju when a boy comes  to see her for the wedding.  You feel the guilt of Sudha when she learns a family secret.  You identify yourself with the head of the family when she makes a complex decision.  My personal favorite in the story, however, was pishi, I liked that character a lot.

The only parts where I did not like the story was that I didn’t see a man who was worth some respect for a long long time in the book.  I started developing a feel like this book is of the women by  a woman for the women only. Men look good only in parts, this might be my personal bias, but I wanted to mention it as I felt it.  Towards the fag end, you see something special and that makes it a good ending but then an average reader might think that good men are almost not there as far as the book is concerned.

That is a minor and ignorable glitch for a book that celebrates sisterhood and handles complex emotional and relationship issues with aplomb.

Read this book when you want to immerse yourself in a good story.   I am happy I read such a beautiful work. Let me say it again this is indeed exceptional writing. Never read a book by a modern author where the work is so close to the reality and is narrated so well.

Note :

I started with Mera Naseeb didn’t  I ? Yes, the script of the serial was plagiarized.  They just adapted the story line to the Pakistani circumstances and made the serial.  It is unfortunate that these people chose to be copycats and copied such wonderful book.  Shame on the people who did this. They should have given the original writer the due credit and then made the serial. Unfortunate that this would again go into the Indo-Pak bashing game.  Again cheers to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni for writing a book that connects with people of all countries.

Image Source : http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51b81078e4b018d977c2fada/t/51c489c6e4b04f9194649c6d/1371834823073/SISTER+BRITISH.jpg

Incidentally this is the 400th post on this blog.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Srikanth / Oct 24 2015 7:17 am

    Copying the plot with or without authorization is not a new phenomenon. Do you remember the hugely hit TV series in E-TV called Antarangalu? The best part of the plot is a direct rip-off from “The Mayor of Casterbridge” by Thomas Hardy. The plot then goes off the rails and goes into the daily serial territory after the point. What protection did Thomas hardy get?

    The most interesting part of this question is the Intellectual property protection available to Indian authors/publisher outside of the country. Do we have a trade agreement with Pakistan to reciprocally honor IP? If know, then it sucks but there is not much that can be done. It would have been nice to at least credit them if not pay royalties.

    Like

  2. subramanyam / Oct 28 2015 1:46 pm

    Agree with you Srikanth.

    Like

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