Sunday, November 06, 2005

Head vs Heart vs Hair

Mere paas Lexus hai, bangla hai, dollar hai... tumhare paas kya hai?

Mere paas? Mere paas baal hai.

That, in a nutshell, is the reason call-centre worker Shyam manages to win back his lady love Priyanka in the Book That Must Not Be Called Literature . But which every-under-25 is going to read anyways.

Chetan Bhagat's "One Night at the Call Centre" is a book that I would classify as 'flick-lit'. Why?

Well, often a movie gets just 3 stars out of 5 but junta goes to see it because it's 'good timepass'. The same applies to this book. It has its flaws but in the end the reader gets his 95 bucks worth.

And, it's 'flick-lit' because I bet it's going to be made into a movie some day. Just like Five Point Someone. Note in particular the climactic scene where hero-on-motorbike chases the Qualis with Priyanka in it and proposes to her at a red signal.

Sigh! It's like Chetan envisioned the Bollywood screenplay even as he typed out those paras in MS Word.

Hairy thought
Warning: spoilers ahead for those who have not read the book.

But let's get back to the hair - and how it won Shyam the woman of his dreams. Priyanka, bowing to her mum's wishes gets engaged to one Ganesh Gupta - engineer at Microsoft, owner of Lexus and of Amaarikan style bungalow with in-house swimming pool.

Fortunately, Shyam locates some pics of Ganesh on the internet which show his emerging bald patch. You see, in the original pics shown by the ladkewallahs, this fact had been cleverly hidden by a 'touch up'.

Priyanka doesn't like the fact that Ganesh has been deceptive and decides this isn't the guy for her. Which is fine, people break off engagements for even more trivial reasons.

The babe's not happy about being under pressure to tie the knot with a total stranger in less than a month. If you ask me she's practically looking for an excuse to get out. And there are residual feelings for ex-boyfriend Shyam anyways.

But my question is this: What if Ganesh had been a little more studly?
What if he had a wonderful, full head of hair? (Think 'Monsoon Wedding' and Parvin Dabas). Would Priyanka still have ditched the NRI groom for the 'man she loved'?

Chetan said in an interview that he really agonised about whom Priyanka should choose in the end. He asked around and most girls said they would go for love over money/ comfort/ status/ meri-mummy-ki-choice.

This is what Bollywood believes too but honestly, I could never understand how Kajol could prefer Prabhu Deva to Arvind Swamy in 'Sapnay'.

I think women are romantic creatures - but on the other hand, practical too. There are enough instances in real life where they make rational decisions about whom-to-marry.

It's not impossible to fall out of love with the idea of love and fall in love with a 'suitable boy'. For every Priyanka, there is a Manasi...

Mansi has a fascination for grooms from IIT. Her current boyfriend, a graduate from IIT now earns more than Rs 5 lakhs per year. She recently met another eligible bachelor, also an alumnae from IIT who claims to earn more than Rs 12 lakhs per year. Mansi who is apparently very serious about her boyfriend says, "Had the guy who earned Rs 12 lakhs shown interest in me, I would have ditched my boyfriend."

But of course, this is a book. And like I said, it's written to be made into a movie. And books and movies need 'happy endings'.

So Shyam gets Priyanka - and Ganesh should go get a hair transplant. And maybe, in a further quest for coolness, start working at Google!


  1. Yea, Five Point Someone was horrible. I wasted my money on it.
    I can't imagine how dumb books get popular.

  2. 5 pt someone was a bit childish, but then it was his first book and children have their charm.
    This book screws Bhagat's chances of being taken seriously again, unless he comes up with much better books in the future.

  3. hmm.. u wrote abt the climax! :-(( i was plannin to read that book. not after purchasing it :p

  4. And maybe, in a further quest for coolness, start working at Google!

    Right on!!!!

    This made my day :)

  5. Don't know about the book...but this post is funny...:-)

  6. rashmi it seems taht with trhe success of your blog site u have got even more cynic,
    stop being an ugly critic.the fact is that a person cannot match hi/her first it arundhati roy,sulman rushdie...chetan RASHMI BANSAL

  7. hmmmm.....nice post rashmi.Actually someone told me that most of the scenes in the book were set in daytime....even when its about a call centre....

  8. Chetan Bhagat sucks! Thinks too much of himself and his books, the first of which was crap.

  9. I donot agree...I enjoyed both the both of them in single sitting...

    Chetan is not writing some textbook or sth for which he shud follow some rules or sth...

    He is a story teller and he has all liberty to tell his story his way...

    anyhow...opinions !! :)

  10. I havent read Chetan Bhagat's second venture, but five point someone was aimed at those who have been into an engineering collge and have stayed in hostels. It has appealed to me because of a feeling of the nostalgia. Another book, Abhijit Bhaduri's Mediocre But Arrogant might find takers among the crowd who has been in a B school. So such books are quite junta specific, and may not find a universal appeal inspite of 2 second ads on MTV.

    I would like to read the opinions of people who have worked at call centers, before judging this book.

  11. Chetan Bhagat is like david dhawan! full masala potboilers tht earn bk their returns in da first weekend, bcos ppl hv nuthin better 2 do than get da best mind-less entertainmment at the lowest available price! :D
    his books r just 2 b read n then, forgotten :P

  12. i guess a novel on IIMs maybe just around the corner!! after all IIMs are gaining more media attention than IITs these days!

    even i bought the book bcoz of the 95Rs price tag, and then literally gave it away to a friend.

    Call centers seem hot these days. Theres even a serial called India Calling in the wings havign some dimwit trying to create the Jassi magic. uh uh...

  13. That what happens when an MBA writes a Book. He starts thinking of what his target market would be like. And unlike movies, one don't have to buy twice to read twice sop why write book that one would read repeatedly. I think it was a very intelligently written book and it was intended to be that way. He is a smart writer. Reminds me of Jack Higgins.
    Maybe he will write some good book as well. He is just starting and he has a particular way with the words. or maybe he will be a famous bollywood script writer

    The movie angle particularly amused me a lot, and that's what wrote in my review as well, that he won't need a new script for the movie.

  14. Ehem.. what is with you people. Juts because he isn't no literary genius , doesn't really mean he isn't an author.

    He is one of the highest selling Indian Authors. Doesn't he deserve any credit , like AT ALL ?

    I quiet enjoyed 5.someone , as well as One night at the call center.

    He's created a niche for himself. Like most authors , his readers will be loyal.

    He has tried to instill some sort of meaning into his book. That's where i think the book falls a little below expectations. Its still not got 5.someone's witt , or it's amazingly hilarious situational comedy.

    Its still a good book. b

  15. After reading your blog-the same day I bought both the books and finished it in 2 days-enjoyed it cos it was my kind and especially I could relate as it is so

  16. Had this been about a book that was obscure and never saw the light of the day, I wouldn't have wasted my time and energy on something like this. But, given the high popularity levels, both of the book and this blogger, I just could not stop myself. I am sorry to use ur blog to vent out my anger at abook which made me feel that every rupee that I spent on that book was the most monumentous waste I have made in past few years.
    I have been in this industry for quite some time and have grown on quite comfortably. The best the book manages to do is to pick up one call center as a backdrop and speak of emotions that any B grade Bollywood potboiler survives on. If it was another Ekta kapoor soap or a Rivoli cinema type flick, I would have laughed it off. But the very fact that the author sells his alma matter along with his name and has managed to snatch a large popularity sends dangerous signals about the future of literature. As it is, the average level of awareness has dropped down like hell and I see people groping for ideas when asked to speak for 2 mins on A Fan, we don't need money-hounding frauds who look at books as another cathartic platform of their past miserable experiences.
    A call center might not sound to be an intellectually stimulating place at the entry level like the software industry (I guess that is what the IITs produce in high numbers, software professionals), but going ahead, it is as good a place to perform and excel as any other and beyond everything, it has got the highest presence and scope for transparency.
    Someone who knows nothing of Rs 3,500 a month jobs can afford to look down upon call centers, but they have not only went out to change many financial lives, they are hopes for several people who just need an honest day's work to make decent money meeting all the social and ethical norms.
    Please avoid reading such books and please do not promote such things

  17. Anonymous11:50 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. Anonymous11:53 PM

    Can't really say I agree with most folks here.. and this is the reason why... Have posted on my blog... No point repeating..

  19. I think i am in love with Chetan Bhagat's attitude.
    The book isnt very interesting but it has many things we see happening in our day to day life
    We cant change many of them but yes since it happens with most of us, it gives a mesaage to keep ourselves happy and "FAILURES" are just the part of the BIG game.

  20. A late comment, but what the heck, I just finished the book.

    I found 5.someone better than this one though there is not a stark difference between the two. Both are stories written in simple plain English which i presume most of the people still like to read.

    Lets face it, if he had written something like a "to kill a mocking bird" there probably wouldn't have been a post about it in the first place.

    I wont criticize him or the book because I think he's an intelligent guy. He knows what most of the people will like and everyone likes a quick and a cheap read. He writes keeping niche segments in mind (I think) 5. for IITians , One night for call centre executives. And of course the idea of books into bollywood movies.

    He's the intelligent one over here who’s minting money! Not us.

    And guess how I found your blog. I googled "ganesh gupta microsoft award"

  21. Anonymous12:00 AM

    Personally, I think that his books could have been a lot better, but he's just an IIT grad who doesn't know any literary techniques.

    Objectively, the first book could have done without the excessive use of the f-word and words like "screw", "damn" and all.
    For the nostalgia part, well, read the book "The Class" and then come back, fps and this are in different leagues altogether.

    One night.. sucked cause
    i) God doesn't just CALL you on your mobile
    ii) SOOOO many bad things can't really happen to a group of friends in one day. Maybe "ONE WEEK @ THE CALL CENTRE" would have been better.
    iii)NOBODY, I mean NOBODY can get away with what Vroom and co. did at the end.

    btw I too searched for "Ganesh gupta microsoft award"!!!

  22. Well.....d bukks wer cud anybdy lemme knw if dey found "Ganesh Gupta's" Pix ?

  23. Like what Viren said, "he's just an IIT grad who doesn't know any literary techniques," I have to agree. But, maybe we should look at the message or theme of the book instead of picking on the small details.

    And as a female and a romantic, I do not find it hard to believe that Priyanka would choose Shyam, a guy who loves her for all her flaws, over Ganesh, a guy she barely knows who cannot even be open and honest with her.

  24. well i too cant find ganesh wer the hell is he?????

  25. hey ..i hav read this book..i knw its bit late bt i would rank it as " MAST " as i enjoyed a was quite close to many of us lives..isn't it ..well thanx chetan for making it more real :)

  26. Well ON@CC is something which you don passby every odd day... yeah it has a bit of childishness n some romance n some not so good drama but all in all its a buk which i think is worth reading if at not worth making it into a fim... it has got a tinge of patriotism in it which i liked the most....
    Chetan Bhagat u rock...
    P.S when's ur third book due... n wat it wud be... now u hav covered call center n IIT now atleast go into engineers... or something

  27. I really liked Five Point Someone..! One Night..not so much..!! Five Point Someone is hilarious and it exactly portrays what all of us have faced in our academic one point of time..!! One night was a tad melodramatic...with the phone call from God...but what the heck..its a book..and when we can easily digest the sci-fi of Michael Crichton..and the legal issues of John Grisham...why not just sit back, and applaud the efforts of an author who's atleast trying to make us smile and re-live some aspect of our lives through his books..

  28. @ Viren: 'The Class' is a very very good book..I have read it..!! Its a fantastic book..but you can't compare Eric Seagal with Chetan Bhagat...they come from entirely different fields and their expertise lies in different fields..!! Somehow 5.someone feels closer to home...cos that's how Indian univs are...isn't it..?

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  32. And Rashmi, you could have talked about that part of the book where Vroom and Shyam plunge into some 'operation blah blah blah' to save the call centre! Wasn't it extra filmy for the main bay guys to respond to each deshbhakti-coated call of Vroom in unison?! I liked f.p.s. and i liked this story upto the God's call scene, (yes, the story reminds me more of a screenplay than just a story :))...but it ended like an over-dramatic seventies' bolly movie. Chetan Bhagat mixes serious stuff with fun, comedy, a little sex and humor well in both f.p.s and 'One night @ the call centre', but 'One night...' makes me laugh in disappointment, for it has got stuff about the late-night-working people and their sukh-dukh-life ishtyle, yet it ends with such unnecessary dramatic noise! I feel sad for the book to end like this because I liked every 'my past dates with Priyanka' and Chetan's observation...and sometimes Vroom's ideas about how-to-run-India made sense, really! ;)

    P.s. what was the point to introduce the book with that 3-question questionnaire? Someone please essplain!


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