Thursday, December 18, 2008

Book Review :Q & A

Remember Harshvardhan Nawathe? The guy who won one crore rupees on Kaun Banega Crorepati and instanly became a celebrity. The book Q & A by debutante author Vikas Swarup talks about another person who won five billion rupees on Who Will Win a Billion but the person did not become a household sensation, instead he was arrested and accused of cheating because he is an illiterate poor waiter and how could and illiterate eighteen year old know the answers to such questions. That is the premise of Q & A. The protagonist Ram Mohammad Thomas ( yeah! this is his name) is rescued by a lawyer to whom he explains that he did not cheat but just got plain lucky and he knew the answers as each of the question had something or the other related to his real life experiences. Then he narrates his story and explains how each question is related to his life. The book is an easy read, the plot is fast paced though illogical at times and it is more like a movie script. The narrative tells us how he was adopted by a christian priest, orphaned again, sent to a juvenile home, picked up by a gangster, how he worked at various places as a servant to an Australian Diplomat ,an aging actress Neelima Kumari, a contract killer and finally as a waiter. There are numerous typical Bollywood potboiler sequences and connotations like the tragedy queen Neelima Kumari (resembles Meena Kumari), the lucky coin (ala Sholay), Armaan Ali (looks like a gay Salman Khan), adultery, friendship, betting, cricket, train dacoity, prostitution, sexual abuse, poverty, love and even black magic voodoo! The epilogue is touching. It also shows us the dark side of India which is not 'Shining'. The poverty of slums in Dharavi, the lives of always-taken-for-granted-and-assumed-as-theives servants and the ills of child labour and their sexual exploitation.The timeline of events were not sequential which sometimes were confusing. The book drags a bit towards the end. Still, the book throws numerous surprises and I ended up having a smile on my face. The book has already been made into a movie Slumdog Millionaire by David Boyle and is making waves everywhere. A.R.Rehman's music score has been nominated for Golden Globe for the film and there is a huge possibilty that it could even win an Oscar. The book is not great but not bad either.I found it better than the Booker Prize Winner The White Tiger.A good effort by a first time writer. Read it :)

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