Monday, June 20

Review: मित्रो मरजनी / Mitro Marjani

मित्रो मरजनी / Mitro Marjani मित्रो मरजनी / Mitro Marjani by Krishna Sobti
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mitro Marjani - Krishna Sobthi

I bought this knowing nothing about the landscape of Hindi Literature of that time. Mitro Marjani, hailed as a novel that shot the writer to overnight fame, is very underwhelming. Am not sure whether it is because I belong to a different generation than the ones that would've read this when it first came out (first published in 1966).

Even considering from a straightforward feministic POV this novel echoes typical attitude that is attributed to the radical thoughts of womanhood which somehow indeed always lands in sexuality. The protagonist Mitravanthi a.k.a Mitro is the daughter of a prostitute who got married into Gurudas family, a typical traditional family which puts family values and honor over everything else, and needless to explicitly mention, Mitro is everything opposite to the values that the Gurudas clan upholds. She doesn't have any inhibition to speak what's in her mind and to who, even if the listener is male. This of course was considered very un-family like in those times.

Every dialogue that Mitravanthi speaks is projected like a dragon spitting fire and the reaction of the family members depict the same rightly so. Mitro is brutal, narcissistic (fascination with her own body) and quite open about her sexual feelings. One fascinating aspect however is how Mitro is projected as imperfect right from the beginning and the author doesn't bother justify why is it so. There are no gut-wrenching, soul-crushing backstories to why she is the way she is rather it is very abstract.

But this novel appears to lack the depth to be hailed as one that will stay in your heart. The entire prose is driven through conflicts, quarrels, disagreements and of course physical abuse by the spouse which is quite common during those times. This more or less looks like the saas-bahu serials that encroach our TV bandwidth from time to time. This would've been a good substitute for all the women who might not have had the avenues for such entertainments but I think it is suffice to say this novel has failed to withstand its test against time and just looks like an old tale of fascination written by your Grandma.

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