No love stories, please! by writer Imran Siddiqui, is a collection of contemporary short stories which are completely different from many other contemporary Indian urban stories that I have read. The stories give a blunt message to the reader along with questioning his/her morals and degrades the hypocritical nature of the Urban Indian society, especially the society of modern day Mumbai in the last 14 years of its evolution, as the ‘so called city of dreams’.
The writer of No love stories, please! has really done a very good job in scrutinizing social norms and customs in India, especially among the middle class section of modern India. Imran Siddiqui has used the medium of fiction to even highlight the many atrocities committed upon young aspiring girls who wish to create a name for themselves in the world of cinema or get substantial roles in popular television soap operas. Imran Siddiqui who has had a lot of experience in the field of theatre, television and writing, has crafted these stories around certain real events which he has witnessed either directly or indirectly. Gang rape, molestation, casting couch sessions, poverty and many other social issues have been tackled by Imran Siddiqui in a very blunt and brash way which is of course the emerging style of contemporary literature in urban India these days.
The stories are crisp, philosophical in nature and raw like the wounds of a soldier who has just returned from battle…In this case however, the battle is between new India and her old morals; sexual compromise and middle class values; capitalism and growing poverty…all this seen, through the scrutinizing eyes of the writer. Ingenious… very original …and not for the faint of heart.
It is hard to put down the book, I myself finished it in a day’s time at one sitting after teaching at my tutorial.
There are many stories which have made this book a novel work of art but, I will only mention a few which I personally fancied to whet the readers appetite to read more of the writer’s work. ‘My Meeting With Suzy’ is one story which truly brings to light so tactfully the grim poverty in Mumbai whose hungry belly grows bigger and bigger while the main capital which the city produces rests in the hands of a favored few. The symbolism in this short story is elegant with a bit of the sinister reality that defines the tragedy of this piece of literature. ‘An Evening at Band Stand’ is also a well written piece describing the ‘pick ups’ that happen on a large scale in this area which actually is just a rocky beach with a pleasant scene of the Arabian Sea, but which has over the years become the spot for many young men and women to enjoy themselves without supervision of adults. The market has cashed in on this area by building cafes, club houses, pubs, hotels etc., to entertain the youth who flock to this area in large numbers, throughout the week, especially on Saturdays. ‘Sting Operation’ is an out an out laugh riot for the stark reality it outlines about some false holy men of India who are actually ‘demons’ in disguise.
You will find a lot of intellectual matter to chew, along with understanding the way Mumbai has evolved over the years since the beginning of the 21st century. All in all, a good read especially for the youth whose minds are clouded by the false reality that is projected by Bollywood and mainstream television.
Copyright ©2016 Fiza Pathan