Mee and Juhibaby
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‘[Mukherjee] captures with sensitivity and humour the fragile equations in a marriage, between mothers and daughters, friends and lovers—and equally, the world of Hindi cinema. This is also the tale of four cities—Benares, New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. A rich and engrossing saga.’—Shabana Azmi
Mee’s mother, Juhibaby, is the unwanted child of constantly travelling jatra artistes in rural Bengal. Growing into a ravishing sixteen-year-old, she is married off to a family in distant New Delhi, where Mee is born. Mee’s life is a far cry from Juhibaby’s, as she grows up in a respectable middle-class family and goes to an upmarket convent school. But what she inherits from her mother is a love of acting. She follows her star to Mumbai, where she becomes a successful Bollywood actress. But a failed marriage and a bruising rejection by a movie mogul derails her into a world of alcohol and promiscuity.
As she struggles to make a living as a TV writer, Mee gets to know that the mother from whom she has long been estranged is now blind and ailing, in an old age home. Mee rescues her, and mother and daughter find it in their hearts to forgive each other and forge a sort of bond before Juhibaby’s days come to an end.
In this accomplished debut novel, Susmita Mukherjee gives her characters a startling reality in prose that is vivid, compelling and immensely readable.
Susmita Mukherjee is an actor. A graduate of the National School of Drama, she has done pioneering work in her thirty-five-year-long career in theatre, films and television. She founded the Natak theatre company in 1988 and her script, Nati, has played to full houses at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai and elsewhere. She has acted in over 100 films. Her most recent, Sold, deals with child trafficking. It was directed by Oscar-winning director Jeffery Brown, and released in the US in 2016. Susmita has also written several short stories, and is working on her second novel.