Shreya Kaushik is a student at the Indian Institute of Management, who wants to follow the trajectory of its most famous alum – Aditya Kapoor, the ‘Paperback King’ of India, a massively successful writer of pulp books that have been made into films. When Aditya comes to his alma mater to speak on his success, their strong personalities cause the two to clash. Shreya manages to quickly win over Aditya, however, and soon, he takes her under his wing. Things are complicated by the fact that Aditya – though happily married – is tempted by his beautiful young protege.
My Thoughts, Let Me Show You Them
The very cover of the book proudly says that it is ‘soon to be a motion picture’, and once I was done reading it, I knew exactly what kind of movie it would be, right down to the director and the kind of treatment it would get. This book is exactly what you would get if you distilled a Madhur Bhandarkar – or Abbas-Mustan – movie into a paperback.
There is something to be said for a book that makes no bones about its pulpy, immediate nature. Ravi Subramaniam knows that this isn’t a book for the ages, it isn’t a classic that will be dated in a few decades by its references. So he throws caution to the wind and mentions by name people like Nirav Sanghvi of BlogAdda (when Aditya Kapoor is holding forth on how bestselling authors market their books) or Chetan Bhagat (when talking about famous popular writers) making it easier for readers to connect with what they see on the page.
The plot moves along at a brisk pace, the two protagonists meet, and before you know it, they are cavorting in an extramarital affair. Things fall apart, and Ravi uses the Popular Bollywood Thriller formula of bringing together many threads, all leading to the one person you would have least suspected, for hidden motivations not hinted at anywhere – which, in my opinion, is not what a good thriller is about.
It’s also a little strange that the villain’s denouement should come by way of a poem written about them in their college magazine – which Aditya remembers word for word. I understand it’s tempting for an author to push a poem they slaved on into their novel, but it was stretching the boundaries of suspension of disbelief to ask me to accept that Aditya had an eidetic memory which a policeman used as proof! It would have been more realistic to have him produce said magazine and wave it around as proof, with his audience reading it over his shoulder, or some such.
Ravi also uses the conceit of the bestselling author being ‘bad’ at writing sex scenes, which leads to Shreya seducing him. Unfortunately, Ravi is not much better at writing sex scenes than his imaginary author is, so those were long, long portions of the book that I skipped, which is never a good sign. Pro tip to anyone writing sex scenes: never, ever refer to a woman’s breasts as globules. Or orbs. Ew.
In the end,I finished the book in a day, and I was left feeling a little like I had had a bit of street food, when what I really wanted was a full meal. It satisfied my momentary hunger for a good story, but I felt like it could have been more.
Shreya, for example, was a caricature of the young, ambitious go getter. We’re used to seeing the same character on our silver screens as a soulless male social climber, here, she is female, but not without a nice Freudian excuse for her bad behaviour – her parents split up when she was a child, her mama never loved her much, daddy never keeps in touch,which is why she does what she does. Okay then. So there’s no such thing as personal responsibility. Aditya as a character, gets an actual arc, even an aborted one, which I felt Shreya also deserved.
I would have liked to see a more nuanced portrayal of the character – Shreya felt very two dimensional and flat, rather like the character types we see in the Abbas-Mastan films. It’s a shock twist to see Katrina’s character is in cahoots with the villain in Race, but you never get any character motivations or insight into her thoughts or feelings. I would have expected that this being a book, and Shreya being one of the two main characters, she would get a more well sketched out background, which sadly, didn’t happen.
In closing, I liked the way Ravi ended the book with the title – the last four words of the book are ‘the bestseller she wrote’, which brings a nice circular feeling to the book. And as usual, I liked BlogAdda’s going the extra mile and getting autographed books out to the reviewers – makes you feel special. =)
Why You Should Read It
This is a ‘good enough’ fast paced thriller – as paav bhaji is to the daal-chawal-sabji-curd-pickle-papad full meal kind of good writing. Read it for a quick, breathless, masala thriller.
[music| I Bet My Life: Imagine Dragons]