Source : Times of India
“I thought Paro: Dreams of Passion to be a funny social comedy but it was interpreted as something that could weaken, if not destroy, the moral fibre of Indian society. Some people started calling me Begum Paro in those days. It was taken for granted that it was not fiction but some form of confessional narrative. And it became an urban hobby to figure out who was who in the book,” said Write India author Namita Gokhale on writing the cult classic Paro and the reactions it garnered in the 1980s, at the launch of the double bill edition of Paro and Priya.
First published in London by Chatto & Windus, Ms Gokhale’s Paro shook up the Delhi society in the 80s. It was followed by a sequel Priya after 25 years. Now, years later Paro and Priya have been launched again in a double bill edition in Delhi, a city which figures out prominently in both the novels.
Speaking about the Delhi of the 80s and the original publication of Namita Gokhale’s Paro in 1984, columnist and TV personality, Sunil Sethi said at the event, “In the 80s you couldn’t get a telephone connection, and it was an age when people queued up in the morning to get their daily milk. It was the year when Indira Gandhi was assassinated; overall it was a very turbulent decade. And then entered in our lives, this slightly seductive, quick talking, socially adept, sexually unabashed creature called Paro. The book caused disquiet, amazement and shock! How could Namita, a married woman with two small daughters, write this scandalous novel?”
Praising Ms Gokhale for writing the cult classics, Mr Sethi further said, “Many people think of Paro and its sequel Priya as landmark novels because nobody has really captured the 1980s as dangerously and comically as Namita.”
Years after being published, the novels are still read and talked about. “Much water has flown in the Yamuna since then and it’s drying up now, times have changed, but we haven’t — because human nature is almost always a constant. Twenty five years after Paro, I wrote a sequel called Priya. I’m grateful that they are now together… I can’t believe that after so many years, today this comic novel has been read by so many generations because it takes no time for social comedy to date,” Ms Gokhale added.
Published by Penguin Books, Paro and Priya double bill edition was launched by Sunil Sethi along with author Namita Gokhale at French Institute in India, New Delhi on April 4, 2018 in a gala event attended by the who’s who of the literary world including author William Dalrymple, Write India Director and author Vinita Dawra Nangia, among others.