Saturday, September 19, 2009

Book Review: Dollar Bahu

Title of the Book: Dollar Bahu

Author: Sudha Murthy

Genre: Fiction, Drama

Language: English

Price: Rs.150/-

Pages: 142

Publisher: Penguin

Original Book: Dollar Sose, written in Kannada and later translated in Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malyalam and Gujrathi

About the Author

Little did I know about Sudha Murthy other than she is the wife of Narayan Murthy, the software industrialist and the founder and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies. My first exposure to her literary activities is through this book where I got to know she is a prolific writer in English and Kannada and is the recepient of several awards for her philanthropic and literary activities including the Padma Shri in 2006. Sudha Murthy was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in North Karnataka. She did her M.Tech in Computer Science and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation.

Main Characters in the Story


A Sanskrit teacher and father in the story


A housewife and wife of Shamanna

Chandra Shekar

Eldest son of Shamanna and Gouramma, A Civil Engineer by profession but later honed his computer skills to become the green card holder.

The Dollar son who moved to the United States of America


Second son of Shamanna and Gouramma.

Works as a clerk in a bank


The youngest child and daughter of Shamanna and Gouramma

Vinutha fondly called Vini

A school teacher and wife of Girish


The Dollar bahu and wife of Chandru

Story Summary

The story is about a Indian family where Shamanna, the head of the family is a Sanskrit teacher earning modest salary and a sensible and contented man. Gouramma, his wife, worked hard to keep the domestic expenses within the budget, but she was extremely ambitious and always dreamed of gold jewellry, cars, a big house, servants.....But Shamanna's priorities were different from his wife's. He wanted his children, Chandra Shekhar, Girish and Surabhi, to have a good education.

The eldest son, Chandra Shekhar moved to the USA on work and became enamoured of the comforts and charms of the American way of life very soon and decided to stay back in US until he got the green card. The second son, Girish worked as clerk in a bank and was happy and contented with his lot.

Vinutha marries Girish and starts living with his family in Bangalore. She adjusts to her new family well, looking after her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, not taking to heart her mother-in-law's and sister-in-law's constant picking.

The problem starts when Girish's elder brother Chandru, who is in the US, decides to get married. Being an NRI he is flooded with marriage proposals and finally marries Jamuna, who is from a rich family. Vinutha has to listen to the constant comparisons made between her and Chandru's wife, the 'Dollar Bahu', whose husband earns the valuable dollars that has brought the family its recent affluence. Vinutha slowly loses her peace of mind and health.

Then Gouramma decides to visit her US-based son and daugther-in-law for her daugther-in-laws's maternity care. Once there, she sees how liberating life can be and saw the world from a different perspective, but she also begins to understand that mere dollars cannot buy the love and respect that she gets as her due back in India. She also realised that sweet talks can be deceiving and realised her stupidity of falling prey to Jamua's evil mind and wealth and regretted her own rude attitude towards Vinutha.

Gouramma decided to return to India and now America was no longer a fantasy land for her and for the first time in a year she felt at home when the flight landed in Bangalore. When she reached home she realised that Vinutha and Girish had shifted to Dharwad the reason being as Gouramma's arrival to India drew nearer Vinutha was sinking into depression since Vinutha was worried that after a year-long stay in America, she can never be a good daughter-in-law in Gouramma's eyes, her best efforts notwithstanding. Gouramma realised her mistake and was moved to tears.

The invincible Dollar had fallen............

Critical Analysis

The story reminds me of the phrase" The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". The author has vividly put across the typical story witnessed in many houses with engineers after the software boom where every house wants its son to be an NRI and every house wants its daughter married to an NRI. There has been contrasts and comparisons throughout the story be it with the contrasting nature of the two brothers, or the contrast nature of the two bahus and the contrast of the east meets west which forms the epicentre of the story.The author has maintained the balance very well without upholding or degrading any culture or contrast of the two countries and proves the point that one cannot have the best of both worlds and has left it to the reader to ponder. The plot of the story is very well written and concludes that though 'Money speaks Honey' but at the end it also corrupts the way people look at each other and how it can tear a family apart. The author through this book has conveyed that 'It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, and at the same time its good to ensure that one hasn't lost the things that money can't buy'.

My Take

Recommended: Yes


  1. WoW, this is brilliant. Very detailed review of book & i liked the format of the review you have put up.
    Now Im sure i want to read this.

  2. @ Shambu.. This is my 1st review of a book in my life.. If u want to read the book u can borrow it from me :)

  3. Hi,

    Very nice review. After ur review I am also thinking of reading this book. And don't mind to borrow the book from you ;)

  4. Hi Archana,

    Good review and short summary of the story.


  5. Hiii Archu... very nice superb book review... given that its ur first attempt...its simply super cool :)... i wanna read the book now :)

  6. A good review, thanks for sharing this info across.

  7. Good review. I think i will be borrowing the book from you when we meet up , if you have not given it to someone else

  8. Coool babe, now it really makes me wanna read this book!

  9. astute observation + succinct articulation = excellent review. u just cost mrs. murty a book, u covered it all :).

  10. what a nice way of a review.....i will be sure to read the book.thnx

  11. thanks for the review ..its really good

    i hve read this book . . for writing a book review .this helps a lot :-)

  12. oh!!!nice 1 btw wats ur favourite part of the story????u made it easy for me instead of readin the whole book!!1

  13. Superb writing by Mrs. Sudha Murthy. She truly is a good writer... Short and simple book to read

  14. it is very nice story she show that how dollar effect on India

  15. nice story,... and this has helped me a lot in completeing my project ...