Neelesh Misra is a name to reckon with in radio. The Neelesh Misra Show on Red FM is immensely popular among the masses, and people long to listen to the tales narrated by Misra in his inimitable style. He is also a celebrated writer in Hindi and an acclaimed lyricist.
Neelesh Mishra has spearheaded a project called the Gaon Connection, India’s biggest rural media platform, and is also the founder of Mandali, which provides platform to emerging writers in the country. The book ‘Storywallah’ is a collection of short stories, penned by the writers belonging to Mandali.
I must confess, I agreed to review this book, smitten by the beautiful cover of the book. Translated for the first time in English, this collection represents the best of Mandali writers. Often, when stories are translated, the basic emotions behind the words get lost in translated. This has been true for many Bengali stories I have read in English (barring a few notable examples). However, these stories strike a chord, may be because I have not read the originals.
These stories, 20 of them, tell the tales of modern India, as well as Bharat. From the small towns and rural settings, the stories move to the hustle bustle of big cities like Mumbai and Delhi. They introduce us to ‘homesick yuppies’ who long to reconnect with their hometowns, old lovers who reconcile against all odds, parents who learn to adjust with their grown-up children, or the mother-in-law who uses questionable tactics to bond with her distant daughter-in-law. There is a story involving a war widow who learns to stand up to family, and also how fate brings two strangers closer.
While we empathise with the divorced girl as she confronts her dilemma, we also appreciate the bonds of trust and friendship in together. Then, there is the unconventional take in ‘The Overcoat’ where a girl finds the true meaning of life, through someone else’s life.
There is an undercurrent of love flowing through each of these stories. Relationships dominate the narrative. The conventional disdain of anything out of the ordinary is questioned. Ties are tested against the changing tides of time. Love is an experience, which no matter how much you wish to ignore, will always be a part of your existence. Credit goes to the Mandali for taking us through the various facets of it.
While some of these stories could have been written (and edited) better, the effort and initiative is highly commendable. And the credit, for sure, must go to Neelesh Misra, for without him the Mandali would not exist.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
P.S. This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme
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