“IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU” is SWEET, YET, LACKS THE PUNCH
Genre: Romance/ Fiction
“IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU” is the first novel by Kritika Malhotra. Set during school times, the story starts with a breakup of the protagonist, Maully, with her boyfriend. As expected, Maully is sad and broken, but she decides to move on, with the encouragement of her friends. Very soon, she spots a handsome lad, Keyur, and instantly gets attracted towards him. But, Keyur is in love with Neha, despite their breakup. Keyur requests Maully to pretend to be his girlfriend, for just one day, so that he can make Neha jealous. Maully reluctantly agrees, and they both meet Neha, who comes along with Viraj. Keyur’s plan works, and Neha is jealous to see Keyur and Maully together. Ultimately, Keyur and Neha confess their love for each other, and are together again. Meanwhile, Viraj spots Maully, and gets attracted towards her. One fine day Viraj proposes to Maully, to which she agrees. The story slowly moves forward, coursing through the school practicals, the board exams, IIT preparations, farewell parties, few sex scenes, thus strengthening the love between Maully and Viraj. School ends, and Maully and Viraj take admissions in different colleges. While the lovers get separated, the friends get united, as Keyur takes admission in the same university (Delhi University) in which Maully is. From here, Maully’s attraction towards Keyur and distance from Viraj increases. Finally, a stage comes in Maully’s life when she is in a dilemma to choose between Keyur and Viraj. Now, I leave the details of the climax for the readers. Read the book, and find out.
As a first time writer, Kritika Malhotra has done an okay job. She picked up the concept of “school-college-love-breakup-chiclit”, a tried and tested one, which is already successful with Indian readers, and did fair justice to her story. Maully’s character is well sketched, and few scenes have been written brilliantly. I personally liked the long message (full of slangs) which Maully, in anger and frustration, sends to Viraj, after she finds out something bad about him. It reminded me of Kareena’s dialogue from the movie Jab We Met, but Maully’s dialogue proves far more powerful. The climax of the book is well thought, and well written. As I said earlier, the character of Maully has been sketched very well – her expressions, her thoughts, her feelings, her dilemma, her frustration, and her love are very well expressed. Not to forget, the poems in the book are really good. Lastly, the editing is decent (not flawless though, but still better than many other books).
Now the weak points…
Lack of fresh ideas is damaging Indian readership quality! Every second book, I pick up, is about “college-love-breakup-heartache-chiclit”. Fiction gives writers a freedom – a freedom to explore new ideas, a freedom to write much more than just an everyday-lifestyle-love-breakup chiclit.
Coming to the weak points of this book… The story offers nothing new, and the narration is weak, especially during the first half of the book. There is hardly any spark in the love story of Maully and Viraj, or Maully and Keyur. Unnecessary sex scenes, between the school going couple, may not be liked by all. I maybe sounding orthodox; I am not against the love making scenes. But scenes should justify the situation and romance. Moreover, I don’t know how many would love to read about school practicals, farewells, exams, admissions and ragging. Avid readers may/might/will get bored. I appreciate the writer for using numerous complex words, highlighting her strong control over the language, but what is the use if a layman has to consult a dictionary every now and then? As a writer, we should write for the readers. One more thing, which I want to point out, is the lack of punctuation. Consider the difference:-
“How are you finding NC tattoo girl?”
“How are you finding NC, tattoo girl?”
The comma, after NC, conveys that the question is being asked to someone referred as 'tattoo girl'.
Punctuations play an important role in literature, but most Indian writers tend to skip them.
And lastly, I didn’t expect the writer to use Durjoy Datta’s style of writing. I am hugely disappointed. The ease with which Durjoy writes his love making scenes in his stories is commendable, though I do not support his usage of slangs (f**k, a$$hole) in literature. Modern/ Young writers are just blindly following the trend set up by Bhagat and Datta.
Overall, Kritika Malhotra’s “IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU” is sweet, but could have been better. Being a first time writer, she has done a decent job. She has potential. Few scenes are well written, Maully’s character is adorable, poems are good, but everything else is disappointing. I am going with a generous and motivating 3 out of 5 stars for Kritika Malhotra’s “IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU”.
Verdict: One time read. It is Sweet, but lacks the punch!!!