The lucid sketch of Srishti Chaudhary’s “Once upon a Curfew” carries the same substance and charisma as the timeless appeal of Rajesh Khanna in 1970s when he ruled over the hearts of people in India. Her constant mention of him in the novel illustrates his magical era that suddenly gets overpowered by the turbulent and testing times of the Emergency imposed in 1975.
The story is comprehensible, well researched of its time, giving a sense of political thriller which of course, it is not. Indu and her sister Amita, inherit a flat from their grandmother in 1974. After much ado from the family, Indu converts the place into a library for women and a space for them to learn many things while her fiancé Rajat is in London studying Management for two years. She meets Rana, who helps her structure the library and takes charge of arranging the new events there. Having to meet him almost every day, she comes closer to him and finds him witty and attractive.
Although, the author describes their quaint tender fondness, it disappoints in calling their relationship love, more so, when Rana claims another girl to be her girlfriend. The spark between them is devoid of any distinguished bustle involved and far from the comfort of romance, yet, the characters resonate with whimsical real time characters. The pacy narration keeps the reader involved. When all seems to be in control, the Emergency threatens their relationship. At the same time her eager fiancé lands in the country, ready to marry and take her to London. The situation is jeopardised with unanticipated chain of problems. Indu, with her rationality and luck changing to her side, copes with the situation emerging out a winner.
The book is a good change from the usual predictable romantic fiction in the country.
Publisher: Penguin EBury Press