Nautanki Saala | Mohua Chinappa | Book Review

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There are short stories and there are tiny tales. And somewhere in between lies a parallel universe of stories taken from the very sinews of life’s bones. Yes, I am referring to the ones where you know and yet you pretend that you don’t, subtly accepting the qualms and curveballs life throws your way. Nautanki Saala by Mohua Chinappa is an assimilation of such parallel tales, poring through the many deep, labyrinthine passages of life.

Nautanki Saala

Neelam Sharma
Mohua Chinappa


You know it is really funny and awe-inspiring sometimes that life simply peeps at you unabashedly and uncannily from corners you least expect it to, silently making its presence felt-subtle and omnipresent—but still there, very much alive, waiting away with bated “breath.”

You guys are wondering what has gotten into me today, aren’t you? There is this book of short stories by Mohua Chinappa titled Nautanki Saala that has stirred a pool of emotions inside the folds of my very soul. Sometimes some tales occur; other times they are born out of the regular rigmaroles of life, the daily wanderings that make it what it is. Mohua’s bundle of short stories belongs to that nook of it where one can perhaps only marvel at the enigma and magnitude of what aspects of life stand in store for us at each and every turn and juncture. Whether it be a curve ball or a lemon, one surely needs to take it in their stride and, at the same time, “go with the flow,” as I call it, soaking in the many teachings that life decides to throw our way.

A beautiful, stark, and intricate assimilation of life’s many instances, Mohua has splayed a bouquet that has both the rosy coloured filters that make life beautiful as well as the “thorns,” aka the so-called jagged junctures, which, albeit difficult, make life worth conquering the challenge it throws at us.

Each and every story Mohua has given us spoke to me in a different tone. Coming to the tale “Biswas will never speak about her,” yes, surely one where one simply cannot pinpoint one issue. People like Wajiri crave love, compassion, and respect and, most importantly, lose that “will to live.” How justified is their situation? They simply disappear into oblivion as a mere number, a statistic, and nothing else. Perhaps there is not even a tiny feather that stirs or moves when they “move on,” ending their lives on a note that is barely visible but intently discernible.

And there was the other one, the titular one, Nautanki Saala. Malti’s predicament is something that is sure to leave many teary-eyed, perhaps with a qualm or two-namely how our society, which has been patriarchal forever, still doesn’t seem to proceed and shatter the chauvinistic attitude. Why is it that a decent life, commanding love and respect, is so difficult to give to all? Isn’t it something so basic that needs to be given to all, akin to a birthright? Uff, this one shook me to the core as well.

Be it Caged Bird, Ati Shundori, The Other Girl, or even stronger ones such as Rage of Rejection, each one had an emotion attached to it, a raw feeling sure to shake your heartstrings. Mohua has used a fluid, lucid form of narration, and yet, I could sense so much between the pages, lying quietly between the folds of each story, like a musical note perhaps more in the form of a twang than a teeny sweet jingle, waiting to be discovered, to ride upon like waves.

Related: Book Review of Potpourri: A Motley Bunch of Long and Short Stories by Ranjit Kulkarni

Surfing my waves through the different modes, I realised that indeed, life is not the bed of roses we consider it to be; there is much more to it. A marked woman, a mystical one of the lot, showed me how a woman tries and yet fails to learn that it is ok to “desire.”

  • What the body remembers – a tale that I’d say was Mohua’s bold take on the lack of intimacy in marriages, is definitely a strong ground that might make you evoke a discussion or two, challenging the pre-set norms of society in this regard.
  • Tethered Wings – one of my personal favourite tales, actually resonated quite a bit with me. Exploring the cage of women-the one that they have knowingly set around themselves in a silent submissive act of surrender—is what I could smell through, in this story, which I felt was a mirror to many ideations that have been harboured by our generations for ages now.

Take any tale, each and everyone was full of something, subtly there, taking you on a journey in the common bylanes of this life, yet making you wonder what lay yonder if we decided to step beyond and explore. Making you question and challenge your comfort zone, here is Mohua, with her potli of “Zindagi,” basking your soul in warm sunshine and making you a guest in blizzards you may have barely imagined.

So, I hope you guys liked my book review of Nautanki Saala by Mohua Chinappa

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Adios Amigos!

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