“The Bride Who Would Not Burn, A Play on Dowry Deaths in India” by Rajesh Talwar – Book Review


I’m not someone who likes to read plays. Most of the time I just get lost. This one was very different. The Bride Who Would Not Burn is a play which talks about a big issue in a nice humorous way.

Blurb –

Young and attractive Poonam who lives in Model Town, Delhi has an arranged marriage with Ravinder who manages a shop together with his father in Ghaziabad. The boy’s family have expectations of a fat dowry from the marriage. Ravinder hopes to set up shop independently in an expensive commercial area. Poonam’s mother Mrs Bajaj has hidden her financial status from the family her daughter is marrying into. When that family’s expectations of a large dowry are not met, things turn sour. Very sour.

And they are now about to turn smoky and acrid as Mrs Arora the mother-in-law starts to scheme and plan on how to use a kerosene stove to get rid of her daughter-in-law.

Will Mrs Arora succeed in her designs or will Poonam escape an attempt on her life? This is a very serious theme but the play is written out like a comedy.


My Review –

This is a story is an Indian girl called Poonam Bajaj, who like a lot of other girls follows her parents and gets married to Ravinder Arora. Their match was not made in heaven but was made by a nearby Pundit (priest) whose entire interest is to fill his pockets and has no interest in look at compatibility of the two individuals. Like any other Indian wedding, it is more a marriage of the families than two individuals.

Mrs. Bajaj, Poonam’s mother who is a widow wants to fulfill the wishes of her husband and get her daughter married early. She doesn’t have a lot in her bank account, still gives a lavish wedding reception and also gives a handsome dowry. Poonam wants a nice and a cozy life with her husband.

Mrs. Arora, who is Ravinder’s mother wants only a big fat dowry. Ravinder is a true mom’s boy and is also looking at money more than love. Mr. Arora on the other hand, wants a nice life from both his son and daughter-in-law and totally understands his wife’s intentions.

There are scenes in the play that are really real. There are a lot of girls, who still juggle between cleaning house, take orders from mother-in-law, cooking and also pressing mother-in-laws feet. This is reality and not just a soap opera.

The book talks about the double standards of Indian society, i.e, if a man knows martial arts, he is strong and brave but it’s not good for women. If a man has a sexual appetite, no one will say a word, if a woman has a strong sexual appetite, she has low morals.

So what do people do when they are not happy with the dowry that their daughter-in-law brings? They abuse her, beat her, blackmail and the worst of all, and try to even finish her. In Indian women are still burnt or beaten to death for dowry.

All these issues are written really beautifully by the author. The play is written in a very simple way, there are small details which keep the reader’s attention and compels the reader to think and ask a lot of questions.

Rajesh Talwar has tried to educate the readers of a serious issue in a really simple and humorous way. Maybe over a period we might be able to get rid of such dirty practices from our society.

I truly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to all the people in India.  It’s a quick and an easy read with a very sensitive message. Totally loved this book!

I won a review copy from The Tales Pensieve as part of Reviewers Programme. Register on #TTP for lots of #book fun and activities.

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