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February 8, 2013

Notes on 'Urban Shots - Bright Lights'

Edited by : Paritosh Uttam

Rating : 2.5/5

Urban Shots Bright Lights, a collection of 29 urban tales by 21 writers is a collection of short stories edited by Paritosh Uttam, author of Dreams in Prussian Blue and editor of the first Urban Shots collection. This anthology contains stories contributed by various authors and captures the numerous hues of life in modern urban India, alive with a cacophony of sounds, kaleidoscopic colours, dizzying heights, blinding lights and a fast paced life.

'Amul' By Arvind Chandrasekhar is a beautifully narrated first person account of a terminally ill girl.The sensitivity with which the innocence of a class five student is captured and subtly combined with the harsh reality she is facing is wonderfully reflected in the writing. Alabama to Wyoming, by Paritosh Uttam mocks Indians' USA obsession, as well as our presumed right to cheat Americans of their money, all in the backdrop of a visit to the Taj. The Wall by Saurabh Katiyal is an evocatively written description of ennui that strikes a young corporate executive and is most heart warming. The Raincoat by Rashmi Shah is a sensitive narration of mother and daughter relationship to make the ends meet. The Bengal Tigress by Malathi Jaikumar is based on subtle emancipation of women similar to her previous works. Mr. Koshi's Daily Routine by John Mathew is a touching and plaintive portrait of a sad, bitter man forced to conform and compromise all his life because of the demands of family and expectations.

The Weeping Girl by Kunal Dhablia and Jo Diktha hain, Woh Bikta hain by Sneh Thakur are predictable and you can see their climax from a mile. It's All Good by Ahmed Faiyaz does nothing to redeem his writing ability, being a silly little morality tale on spending beyond your limit set in a sales dept in an organization. In fact, apart from Mr.Perierra which tricks you into a sentimental hole, remaining 2 other stories by him (Across the seas & Good Morning Nikhil) raises questions the process of putting in below average stories in order to allow one author to give family tributes. Even Ready, Jet Set Go! seems to be borne out of popularity of other mass market fiction writers rather than contributing any genuine pathos.

There are few gems in the book, rest of them fails to match up to that high. As is the case with most anthologies, some stories were better than others. This will differ for each person, of course, based on personal taste. However, all the stories maintain similar writing styles, being informal even when talking about serious issues. The brightest thing about the book is the front cover which brings around the central theme effectively.

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