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Love, actually

Itisha Peerbhoy, author of Half Love, Half Arranged

Itisha Peerbhoy, author of Half Love, Half Arranged  

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Itisha Peerbhoy’s novel is a humorous tale of a 30-year-old girl in search of a husband

Rhea Kanwar is single at 30. She lives with her eccentric family. And her staid life revolves around work and her girlfriends. Until one day she realises that she needs to get married and get a ‘life’. The protagonist in Itisha Peerbhoy’s debut novel Half Love, Half Arranged, sets out on a journey in finding her husband, the ‘arranged’ way. With every man she meets, Rhea hears wedding bells, but her bubble of dreams burst and she soon realises each has a peculiar oddity. “I started writing a love story. Then I wondered what is different about this love story. I thought of a 30-year-old girl, and then it took a life of its own,” says Itisha, , who is a communications consultant and has previously worked in advertising and has a background in theatre.

Half Love, Half Arranged is peppered with some outrageous humour. “I find it difficult not to be funny. All my writing has a glint of humour. I liked writing some of the very funny scenes: the last scene of the book, for one,” says Itisha, who can say the funniest things, with a straight face.

Rhea’s family, including her mother and her gaggle of sisters are particularly entertaining. “My mother is from a Marwari-Punjabi family. Much of what they say is reminiscent of what my relatives would say when I would visit them in Delhi. Those voices replayed in my head.” The book captures the eccentricities of a typical Indian family rather well. “I read out my book to my friends. They said they could take any of the dialogues and translate them to Tamil or Kannada because it is so typical to the Indian mentality.”

The plot is formulaic, but Rhea is refreshingly different. She is on the healthier side, but that doesn’t make her any less confident in her sexuality. “Plus-size women have never been celebrated,” contends Itisha. “The heroines on Stardust covers were always svelte. Being fat was even more unforgiving then. It is only now that there are more options for plus-size women. I don’t believe in the sanitisation of beauty. You are not teaching children that women look different, which is important.” It wasn’t Rhea’s character, however, that Itisha liked crafting the most, but Rhea’s mother’s. In fact, she didn’t like Rhea at all. “When Jane Austen wrote Emma, she didn’t want to write a character she liked. I didn’t like Rhea. There were times, I wanted to slap her and say, ‘oh come on! Pull yourself together!”

Ask her the one thing women should keep in mind, whether they are in a relationship or not, and Ishita says: “Whatever happens, don’t lose touch with your girlfriends.” Half Love, Half Arranged is a Penguin Books India publication.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:52:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/love-actually/article6676082.ece

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