‘The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad’ by Twinkle Khanna : Book Review

Twinkle Khanna’s first attempt at fiction, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, was forecasted to be a phenomenal read, owing to her success as a columnist. The book doesn’t fail your expectations.

The virtue of nepotism in bollywood made me question the credibility and ability of our very own Mrs Funnybones, as just another star wife with a privilege, sans any talent. Guilty as charged for this terrible mistake – for it was her satirical tone, cheeky sarcasm and critical commentary that made me ultimately appreciate her column and unique style.

Twinkle Khanna’s first attempt at fiction, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, was forecasted to be a phenomenal read, owing to her success as a columnist. The book comprises of four short stories and is a light read. The first story, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad is about a gangly young girl who questions the patriarchal norms of her village. The story is about rural women empowerment and briefly touches the issues of female infanticide and dowry. The young feminist’s abandonment of stereotypical notions of womanhood and rejection of feudal mindset ultimately revolutionizes the entire village. While Khanna managed to pen down a fast paced reformatory fable, the story moved along a familiar road and reminded me of my old story books.

The second story, Salaam, Noni Appa, revolves around an elderly woman Noureen Machiwala and her struggles with societal norms when an unexpected door of love is knocked upon by Anandji. The protagonist, Noni Appa finds herself in a strange position when love crosses her path years after her husband’s death. She grapples with the baggage of morality and questions like ‘what will people say?’. Even though a part of the story seemed nothing short of a so-so episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the rest of it was delightful. It made me happy to read that ultimately love won without any sermon of ethics. Binni, Noni Appa’s younger sister was a lovable character whose funny and quick comebacks not only portrayed the special bond that the sisters shared but also made the story worthwhile.

The book tries to portray simplicity through intricate descriptions. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad is a collection of short stories, consisting of minute observations of day-to-day life and unorthodox protagonists.

The third story, If The Weather Permits is about a Christian Malayali girl, Elisa Thomas. Being a Malayali myself, I’d say Khanna painted a very stereotypical picture of a Malayali household with meen moilee. The story of Elisa Thomas revolves around orthodox parents who propagate the cult of domesticity and encounters with strange strangers who eventually become her husbands. The resonance with this story was the least and when it ended abruptly, I was left alone to formulate a coherent explanation. Despite the witty retorts and deliberate attempts to tickle the funny bone, this story was bittersweet.

The fourth story is called The Sanitary Man From a Sacred Land. It is based on Arunachalam Muruganantham, an inventor, social entrepreneur and reformer of women hygiene. It is a fictionalized account of how Bablu Kewat, (his alter ego) successfully invents a low-cost sanitary napkin machine and changes the lives of women by freeing them from the taboos associated with their natural biological function. The story of the menstrual man is not only brave, but also inspirational.

Khanna’s attempt at redefining feminism is commendable. From Lakshmi to Noni Appa to Elisa to Bablu, every character breaks stereotypes.

Khanna’s attempt at redefining feminism is commendable. All the four characters are beautifully written. From Lakshmi to Noni Appa to Elisa to Bablu, every character breaks stereotypes. But the feminist in me is left wanting for more. Short stories are difficult to write and often exclude various significant emotions because you have to keep it short. This inherent curse makes it difficult for the readers to connect and involve themselves with the book.

The book tries to portray simplicity through intricate descriptions. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad is a collection of short stories, consisting of minute observations of day-to-day life and unorthodox protagonists. The strong undercurrents of feminism are visible through the rebellious teenager, old lady who rejects societal norms, the girl who belongs to herself and the menstrual man. All in all, it’s definitely worth a read and Khanna’s first attempt at writing fiction deserves an appreciation.

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