Review of Parineeta written by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay
Parineeta (which means a married woman in Bengali) is a love story written in 1914 by Sarath Chandra Chattopadhyaya or Chatterji. The story set in old Bengal , in Calcutta to be precise , is about an affluent family and the consequences of a so called love affair ...It was a bold story for that time when India was too set in its class and caste issues .It was very difficult or rather impossible to cross over from those boundaries , and when it happened it led to chaos .The author Sharath Chandra was a social thinker and this novel came as a protest against the caste and class system that was prevalent at that time...
Earlier in the 1950's a film was made based on this story which had great actors like Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari playing the lead roles.It was a superlative film and was true to the story written by the author .
In the later years in 2003 or 2004 another film was made based on the same story which was good in parts, but the story had been changed to suit the modern taste of the audience so the end result was at best a hotchpotch...
The story of Parineeta
Lolita or Lalita is a poor orphaned girl of 15 ,being looked after by her uncle Gurucharan who lives in a rambling old house inherited from his ancestors.
Gurucharan is an impoverished man ,having married off 5 daughters , now ailing and without any steady income .He takes substantial loans at different times from his affluent neighbor Nabin Roy, a successful and aggressive land lord who is only interested in making more money and hoping to take over Gurucharn's ancestoral house at some stage , since it is already mortgaged to him.
His only son Shekar, westernised , well dressed and a highly educated lawyer ,is very friendly with Lolita .They are attracted to each other and Lolita is in love with him. She is careful not to reveal her feelings to him, whereas he treats her like a child .Circumstances bring them closer and on one of those fateful moonlit nights Shekar puts a flower garland that Lolita had made for the diety, around her neck and kisses her on her lips playfully. He forgets all about it and moves on . But For Lolita it is a commitment as sacred as a marriage. According to Hindu traditions , exchanging flower garlands and any kind of physical interaction or intimacy signify commitment for life , and more so for Lolita.She believes that she is married to Shekar and that it is her duty to wait for him endlessly if it comes to that...
Lolitas family has a visitor Girish, a student and son of their affluent family friend ,who feels sorry when he learns about Gurucharan's pitiable financial status and health condition, gets ready to help him out , since he is already on the verge of loosing his ancestoral property to the cunning Nabin Roy. Lolita and Shekar have some misunderstanding because of all the issues involved - mainly Girish and his importance in Gurucharan's household, and Shekar's father's greed...
The story gets a little more complicated when Nabin Roy decides to get Shekar married..
My views about the author and the story of Parineeta
This is an amazing book, a true classic tale set in Old Bengal. It is an endearing socially relevant story set in the early years of twentieth century, and to the readers of the 21st century ,some of the customs and traditions may seem outdated. The child marriage issue is dealt here in a very practical manner. Sharath Chandra was a social thinker opposed to many such practices . His style of writing and the language used is simple and down to earth and touches one's heart. Almost all his stories are based on social issues that matter in every day life and gives a clear picture of the status of women in India before independence.
Sharath Chandra Chatterji was one of India's best novelists who narrowly missed a Nobel prize for literature. By the time the Nobel committee decided to nominate him , he died and Nobel prize cannot be given posthumously ..
Sharath Chandra deals with the finer aspects of romance in a very sensitive manner. Lolitas plight after her "marriage" and her helpless situation with no one to confide in and her lack of means makes you feel utterly , truly sorry for her. But, later you realise that she has inner strength and resolve which is what Sharath Chandra has highlighted about Indian women. Under stress they are able to hold their own and gather strength from whatever little is offered to them. Their entire life revolved around the house and the kitchen - either at their parental home or later after they wed by the age of 14 or 15 sometimes even earlier at their in- laws place. Sharath Chandra Chatterji made a strong statement with Parineeta about the subservient and an almost non existent status of woman in the olden times. He was criticised by many those days for being far too westernised and trying to change the traditional values upheld so far. But there were many others especially the educated women who lauded him for his efforts in trying to change the status of women through his writings and to this day he is respected for his views .
Sharath Chandra was a committed person and he did much more in the way of empowering women in India especially in Calcutta and Bengal than anyone else at that time.
His novels are timeless and are being discussed to this day by social thinkers and educationists in India..
I give this book 5 out of 5 probably 6 if that was possible..