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Shala is a Marathi novel set in the 1970s in India, during the time of the Emergency. It is narrated by the protagonist, Mukund Joshi. The plot revolves around Mukund and his first tryst with love, and it is blended in with the ups and downs that mark one particular year of his school life.
Mukund is a confused fourteen year old boy hailing from an average middle class family. He is in the ninth grade and has three close friends - Surya, Chitrya, and Favdya. He has a huge crush on Shirodkar, a beautiful girl studying in his class.
But Mukund lives in an era where the orthodox nature of society discourages social interaction between boys and girls. As such, Mukund is forced to be clandestine in his attempts to win the heart of his lady love. He keeps his pursuit of love a secret even from his best friends. And as Mukund is fighting loneliness and despair in love, his friends are undergoing similar phases in their own lives.
Shala talks about those bittersweet schooldays when one is desperate to grow up and feel liberated from the shackles of a restrictive and judgemental society. Narrated from an adolescentâ€™s point of view, it explores several topics including infatuation, love, discipline, the education system, the inevitability of separation, and the ironies of life.
Shala was first published in the year 2003. It has been adapted for a film called Humne Jeena Sikh Liya, and for a single-act play called Ga Ma Bha Na. In January 2012, a Marathi film based on the novel was also released.
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