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Book Review: Urban Shots

Thirteen writers explore five common themes of relationships, love, friendship, angst, and longing in this carefully compiled anthology. Urban Shots, as the title suggests, offers snapshots of Urban India. It lets you have 28 bite-sized glimpses of life as led today in our metropolitan cities, and encompasses almost every possible facet.

Paritosh Uttam, besides having edited Urban Shots, has also contributed the maximum number of stories—10 to be more precise. His are the shortest and the most hard-hitting, ones that can’t be forgotten soon. Amidst many established authors the new ones like Kunal Dhabalia and Kainaz Motivala more than succeed in making their presence felt.

Helter Skelter: Urban Shots
Urban Shots book cover.

Even with the varying lengths and multiple writing styles, the stories are aligned in such a manner that one doesn’t need to make an effort to snap out of one and move on to the next. One short that is starkingly unique and defies the conventional form of storytelling is Bishwanath Ghosh’s Women In Love, which is solely narrated via halfalogues, yet it manages to convey a lot more than an explicit account of a conversation ever could. On the other hand, Hasmita Chander’s The Enlightened One would have worked better had it been cut down a bit—being too long, it ends up looking a little out of place. Other than that, these short stories flow seamlessly.

The book spans across all segments and age groups. While Ahmed Faiyaz, Prateek Gupta, Sahil Khan, and Naman Saraiya show us the more affluent section of apple pie eating, guitar strumming, Nikon D5000-wielding young people; Malathi Jaikumar and Rikin Khamar through their stories depict the dilemma faced by those who migrate from rural areas. Similarly, where on the one hand Paritosh Uttam ventures to showcase geriatric problems, on the other Vrinda Baliga makes us see through the eyes of a child the consequences of marital strife.

Urban Shots miraculously manages to retain a vivid freshness about it, despite covering the familiar and mundane. It unabashedly portrays the good, the bad, and the ugly that exists in our society today. Many stories exuberate hope and optimism; some remind you that you could, at times, run out of them. In this assortment, whatever emotions you’ve ever felt, you’ll find each one of them described here, all wrapped inside lovely tales. Do pick up a copy and immerse yourself in this fictitiously realistic dizzying world which is in no way different from yours.

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Would you like to have your story featured in the second edition of Urban Shots? Click here to enter the Urban Stories 2011 competition!

Chinmayi Bali is, for the time being, delirious about the fact that she's no longer a closet writer. Making candles brings her joy. She still hasn't gotten over her childhood dream of becoming a movie theatre usher.

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