Oflate I had given up my policy of reading a book over a week / 10 days because I get only the weekends for reading, so let me use the same to fullest. This weekend saw me catching up the Chetan Bhagat's best seller "One night at the Call center (ON@TCC)", which I bought for my friend Renuka on her request but couldn't meet her after that. This movie was made as Bollywood movie "Hello", starring Sohail Khan, Sharman Joshi, Gul Panag, Eesha Khoppikar, Amrita Arora and Salman Khan in the Guest Appearance, directed by his brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri. The best part about Chetan is his simple yet fluid writing style that makes the story flow smoothly. His vocabulary is not intimidating instead is arresting and captivating the reader's thoughts. ON@TCC works well for its approach towards the Indian youths and ends with a positive attitude. Not to miss in the whole book is the Chetan's male chauvinist humour, sarcasstic take on woman behaviour at various instances.
Let me skip the "story" of how this ON@TCC was born, which is quite boring and even takes away the charm of the novel. The story is about 6 Call Center employees - Shyam, Varun, Priyanka, Esha and Radhika and how their life takes a drastic change on that fateful night. The whole story is taking place in a single night with the flashback part thrown in between. On a fateful night, the call center employees get a call from the God which changes their course of life. What was it about & how is the rest of the story.
Chetan manages to get so many topical issues raised in the due course laced with the humour. Example is the Vroom's assignment on previous job - "Why Don't Politicians ever commit suicide?". In our country actors, scientist, businessmen and commoner commit suicide but had we ever heard a politician committing suicide?" Chetan tries to make it a point that Politicians are not feeling anything and it is unfortunate that our country is being run with people who are apathetic or not feeling towards us. May be Chetan wants to make it a point that because of the apathy by the rulers, our country is unable to get on the tracks of being a model country for the world.
Chetan's intentions is in the right place in the novel. i.e to make the Indian youth to harness their power, realise that there is much more beyond the "Spending Power" which the Pizzas, Colas and overpriced shoes are targeting at. Chetan wanted to make the alarming call to the Indian youths that they are being corrupted / spoiled by these BPO things with their potentials not being fully utilised. He also had elucidates the racism angle in handling the business calls. The call from the "GOD" makes some valid points to make the Indian youth realise their inner calling. Never mind whether getting a call from GOD is a rational thinking or not, but the questions put forward and the replies are thought provoking.
Through out the novel, Chetan manages to poke at the women psyche at whatever the chance he gets in the story. Even in the time of distress "Only the women have the special area in the brain which tracks of what their friends worn in last fifty times", "When a girl calls a guy Teddy Bear, she may like that guy but not attracted to sleep with" are a couple to instances to quote for the example of Chetan's humorous take on girls. But through the Radhika's episode he manages to build a positive note for the young women.
However when we think of what we had read, we should accept that this book is full of cliches and sometimes kiddish. The men in IT are either reckless or callous, whereas the women in IT are sex fiends. The episode of the WASG gang teaching a lesson to their boss Bakshi is really childish. I too wish that I can access my boss' PC as simple as that. Also the travel angle towards the end of the story is far removed from the reality. Above all the final pages where Chetan means to say that there was a divine intervention in writing this novel is really humorous. The Bollywood-ish union of Priyanka & Shyam just takes away the magic / sway which Chetan managed to hold till then.
To sum it up, ON@CC may not be a path breaking novel, but it reaches its target audiences - Indian youth, without intimidating with complicated vocabulary. Also Chetan had written in such a realistic manner that Indian youth can identify with the same. Also the right pricing of the novel made sure that it reaches as much as readers as possible. Kudos Chetan! After reading this book I want to read the next two novels of CB - Three Mistakes of Life & the recent "Two States" as well as watching the (Pathetic) screen adaptation of ON@CC as "Hello".
Publishers: Rupa Publishers
Price: Rs. 95/-