29 December 2011

Fate, Fraud And A Friday Wedding by Bhavna Rai

Neel and Anand
I didn’t like the title of this book but Bhavna Rai emailed me a link to a teaser on her website and it promised a lot of action. So I decided to go ahead, and must say I was very impressed. It wasn’t just the fast-packed action and the well-thought-out and carefully-built-up plot. It was the authentic detail of setting, and its unusually perceptive application of everyday situations, that I felt made this book really stand out.
At one point I worried a little about one of the main characters who has studied at New York University – but is totally disconnected from the letters of credit and purchase orders at her father’s import-export business where she works. Until I realised that the whole point of being an import-export heiress is that you can go abroad to study and get a good education without ever caring a bit about tedious necessities like LCs and POs.
Other people and situations in this book are equally genuine. We get to watch a client presentation by an IT outsourcing firm, see how the team thinks and reacts, and how the client team behaves. And to observe the eccentricities of a call centre floor – but also the dynamics at an ‘exclusive’ golf club in Delhi, and a havan conducted in the hope of resuscitating a failing business. There are possessive and emotionally castrating parentsand I loved the instructions their son gives his long suffering American girlfriend before taking her to meet them.
Bhavna Rai showcases the social changes catalysed by the fast-opening Indian economy well. And her focus on the many different man-woman relationship formats in this book does a really good job of exposing human needs and points of vulnerability.
I enjoyed this book so much that I almost didn’t get irritated by its numerous clichés and clumsy proofreading. I asked Bhavna Rai what she’s working on now and was very disappointed not to hear that there’s another blockbuster on the way soon – instead, she said:
Some ideas have been taking shape, but I haven’t committed to any of them, yet
Hurry, will you, girl!

When I told her I found this title annoying she replied,

My manuscript was initially entitled "What time is it in Delhi?" but then it was suggested to me that I need a more descriptive title which is when I changed it to the alliterative title it now has.
And when I asked her which authors' books hers should be displayed alongside in a store, she said:
I'm part of the new breed of India's contemporary writers, so probably alongside Chetan Bhagat, Karan Bajaj and Advaita Kala.
Well – this I definitely do not agree with.
If it was my store, this book would be next to Jeffrey Archer’s, not Chetan Bhagat’s.

Now … rereading what I just wrote, I suppose I should clarify, for the record: Bhavna Rai didn’t pay me. And I don’t know her at all – in fact, we aren’t even facebook friends (yet). And I’m wondering whether I should be embarrassed about all my lavish praise. But perhaps not – because I know I’m unlikely to be so very effusive while writing about a well-publicised book by a well-known author.


  1. Worth reading eh?

    Of late I have a phobia - new writers in dozens in English. Now who is going to pay to find out what is trash and what is good to keep.

    Thanks to Reviews like you, we can save our pennies and our piasas and party instead!


  2. Hey Julia - 'worth' is subjective ... some people read just for fun, some to learn something ... still ... you can't even get a movie ticket at the price of this book :-)