Book Review: The House That BJ Built

What a hilarious, witty and enjoyable ride! I have absolutely fallen in love with Anuja Chauhan’s writing. I loved reading ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ but I found the sequel ‘The house that BJ built’ even better. Humour and creating a sense of nostalgia seems to be Anuja’s strengths and she used her strengths well to write a book that will have you constantly cracking up.

The story takes a leap forward from ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’. BJ is now quite old and is living at 16 Hailey Road with his beautiful granddaughter Bonu Singh. Bonu was orphaned at a young age when she lost her parents and twin brother in a car accident. She runs a successful fabrication unit and is determined to prove with her own success that her late father might be a failure at business but he had a keen sense of business. And then comes along Samar Singh, the brilliant Bollywood director, Bonu’s childhood crush and the stepson of her aunt who promised BJ on his death bed that he would get the house sold and divide the money equally between the Thakur sisters and Bonu, the late Binodini Thakur’s daughter.

The Thakur sisters are keen to sell- with Eshu, the posh Newyorker being jobless; Chandu, the bald and spiritual and yet spiteful; Dabbu, the renowned newsreader and the ever beautiful Anjini who is now the head of the family. But Bonu is adamant not to sell remembering how her aunts had refused to sell when her parents were in need of money. And that’s not all…The Thakur sisters also face a tenant crisis and a shocking property dispute case from none other than their uncle and beloved cousin. The story is nothing extraordinary but the way it has been treated with generous doses of romance and humour makes it a delightful read. And then there’s the intriguing story of Pushkarni Thakur’s death.

Bonu Singh’s character has shaped well and I loved her kickass feisty attitude. Samar is hot, charming and intense. No wonders Bonu is hopelessly in love with him! The Thakur Girls are all so similar and yet so different. But the best character is that of Bhudevi, the chachiji. She is simply hilarious.

One thing that really irritates me about contemporary Indian writers is the use of Hinglish. I wasn’t quite comfortable reading Hinglish in ‘Those Pricey Thakutr Girls’ but in this book, the Hinglish just seems perfect. The way Bhudevi or Gulgul speaks in Hinglish- the effect just increases many folds.

The family drama revolving around a property dispute beings back a sense of nostalgia. It reminded of my grandfather’s house in a posh sector of Chandigarh and how the skyrocketing prices of property later on brought friction between the family members.

And just to give you a glimpse of the humour:

Samar is forced by his studio to add an item song in his movie and he tells his lyricist to come up with something creative.

‘See, I’ve done a full analysis on this,’ he tells her. ‘And currently, there seem to be five kinds of item songs. A, based on names—like Sheila, Munni, Chameli, Jalebi, Billo-rani etc. B, based on items of clothing—like chunari, choli, ghoonghat, ghagra, ghughroo, etc. C, based on geographical locations—like UP-Bihar, Agra-Viagra or Dilli-ki-sardi. D, based on slyly horny metaphors. And finally, E, based on pretentious pseudo-Sufi, Urdu porn.’ 

And the brilliant lyricist doesn’t disappoint, it seems!!!

‘Yeah,’ Samar grins. ‘And peacocks and a tiger and snakes and, as you can see, guns. We’ve gone all out. This qawwali is right in the beginning of the film. Zeeshan, playing the young Thakur, is having a decadent bachelor’s party in the haveli the night before his arranged marriage to his simple village wife.’

‘It’s an Aur Jee,’ Biren Tring explains to her kindly. ‘An Aur Jee is a very big, sexy party, in case you didn’t knew. The main punch of the quwaali is…’

He trails off, looking expectantly at the fat, south Bombay 3rd AD, who screws up his eyes and reads out, in a slightly pained voice:

Upar waale ne diya hai sab kuch, magar

Dil maangta hai thoda aur jee!

Aur jee, aur jee, aur jee, aur jee!

Aur jee, aur jee, aur jee, aur jee!

‘How…how nice,’ breathes Bonu, rendered practically speechless. 

Those Pricey Thakur Girls couldn’t have got a better sequel than this. A sizzling romance, an emotional rollercoaster, a laugh riot and a murder mystery- all rolled in one. Entertaining and Breezy… go for it!

Title: The House That BJ Built

Originally published: 2015

Author: Anuja Chauhan

Genres: Domestic fiction

No. of Pages: 410

Preceded by: Those Pricey Thakur Girls

© 2018 Shaloo Walia All rights reserved



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