Sequin-sandalled Gulabi arrives in Mumbai from her village, armed with fourteen suitcases—all filled with suitably garish clothes—with a single-minded agenda at hand. She must find a suitor within six months or succumb to an arranged marriage with a man chosen by Mummyji and Papaji. Her heart’s desire is to snag a Bemba—B.E. MBA, of course. Thus, when she lands a room in the house of a Bemba, she is elated: her quest is off to a good start, especially if we ignore the part about dangling out of a seventh-floor window.
Anyhow, Gulabi, with her unflag-able spirits, sets out determinedly to win the Bemba’s heart, but fate has other plans in store. In fact, fate—and perhaps Gulabi’s dubious grasp of what she calls ‘Queen’s English’—royally fork things up, pardon the French. She finds herself in the possession of a human head that has been separated from its body, and in the crosshairs of dangerous criminals who will go to any lengths to get it back from her. Armed with her dickensary (that multipurpose object, not just to look up words, but also a formidable weapon in times of strife) and an indomitable spirit, Gulabi is determined to not back down. Village ‘belly’ turns into a super spy as she sets out to keep her head—literally as well as metaphorically—and bring her body-less companion’s killers their just deserts.
The thing about Gulabi is that when she sets her mind to something, she does it. Whether future-husband-hunting or delivering social justice, it’s a safe bet you’ve never met a protagonist quite like Super Spy Gulabi!
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- It’s funny. Very funny, even. One even spots the smatterings of satire woven into the story. Jane De Suza is clearly a whiz at playing with words, which isn’t surprising given her background in advertising.
- Gulabi is unrepentantly ditzy. She is arguably the most feminist heroine I’ve met in any recent read. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so suffice it to say that she makes no apologies for ‘taking up space’, she makes her own decisions, and she doesn’t let anyone speak for her. Oh, and she does her own stunts!
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- The plot is rubbish. Leave your disbelief at the door.
- There were plenty of deus-ex-machina-type points in the story—something convenient or completely unbelievable and impossible happening to get Gulabi out of a tough spot.
- The story went on for too long. It could have been a taut, rip-roaringly funny romp at half its length perhaps.
Who needs a plot when you have a kick-ass heroine?!