Imagine my joy (and apprehension) when I finally stumbled upon a copy of When Dimple Met Rishi in my school library, the book that people had been going nuts over at Goodreads. If you guys didn’t know already, I’m Indian, and it makes me absolutely crazy, excited, and understandably scared that this book features Indian MCs and a view into our vast culture. Unfortunately, besides this fact, the romance, characters, and overall writing did NOT do great things for me.
I finished this book quick because it was entertaining and easy to read, but the writing was repetitive and the plot was practically nonexistent. The book had practically no direction but still happened to remain as predictable as typical dramatic Bollywood love story. Basically nothing happens for 75% of the book and then when something finally does, you’re so bored that you don’t even care about continuing. Especially since you already know what’s coming. I mean, it only took 2 days to get through this book, but halfway through, I was this:
Dimple and Rishi, I will say, have pretty realistic goals, flaws, and personalities. Dimple is passionate and independent, but is rebellious toward her traditional parents (specifically her mother) who tend to focus more on her appearance and acquiring husbands than her interest in coding and computer science. Rishi, on the other hand, is much more welcoming and embracing of his culture, but has trouble expressing his true passions to his parents. The characters themselves were too inconsistent for me to be invested in, but I could relate to both of their insecurities and fears about who they were and what others wanted them to be. The secondary characters, however, were altogether unnecessary. Besides adding a dash of cringe (which every Bollywood movie contains, let’s be real), they served no purpose but to stir up drama that had nothing to do with the message of the book or the plot.
The romance, in my humble opinion, was the worst part of the novel. After Dimple and Rishi’s token awkward meeting, their relationship was honestly so rushed and unrealistically progressed. I do like how the typical roles are reversed in this: Rishi is the more sweet and romantic type, while Dimple is a bit more cold and detached. I liked that, but as soon as the ‘romance’ part of the novel kicks in, their personalities go from 0 to 100. Dimple’s character becomes wholly inconsistent and Rishi’s personality only adds on the unbearable amounts of cheese that this couple has. It was just a little too romantic, too cheesy for me to enjoy.
As for the Indian rep, I was pretty satisfied with the few details here and there, but it all soon descended into a stereotypical, forced mess. The cliched overprotective, marriage-obsessed Indian mother makes yet another appearance, and the whole concept of arranged marriages was exaggerated. No Indian parents in their right mind would look for potential suitors for their 18-year old daughter, in fact, it’s a whole lot more realistic for Indian parents to stress and add pressure on their children’s careers and education nowadays. Lots of young Indian people I know are far more invested in their education and struggle from peer pressure, parental pressure, and the stress of keeping up their stereotypical image of being ‘smart’. And, arranged marriages can happen, but it’s such a random concern in this day and age, especially considering the ages of Dimple and Rishi. The tiny references to Hindi movies and Indian food, as well as the snippets of Hindi were cute at first, but later became a little too forced for me. Sometimes I could relate to it and other times I thought it was too much, but I do give credit Menon for trying to add in a bit of our tradition in there.
In conclusion, When Dimple Met Rishi is an engaging and easy-to-read Bollywood-inspired rom-com that anyone can pick when they’re in the mood for something light. I sure as hell hope y’all find it more charming than annoying, which is unfortunately not the case for me. Once again, I bid you good luck!