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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Complete / Convenient by Ketan Bhagat


On GoodReads, I have received a message on GoodReads from some person, named Subhasis. It read somewhat like this,

I read your reviews and find them
really interesting and genuine. Contact me
at *some e-mail ID*

I had no idea what he was talking about. Anyway, I had decided to mail him, at least to know the subject of the deal. To know about the person, I clicked on his name, which directed me to the GoodReads page of author Subhasis Das (the author of Mom Says No Girlfriend and The Bowled And The Beautiful). That got me curious. Authors usually contacted me to get their books reviewed, the mysterious message from him suggested something completely different. Filled with curiosity, I mailed back him.

The basic summary of the exchange that took place through the mails and phone call, which followed that, is that Subhasis Das, other than maintaining a never ending profile of artistic value - like reading, writing, travelling, writing scripts for stages, directing, acting in plays and the list continued on with no end in sight - is also up for blogging (http://subhounplugged.blogspot.in/) and is going to post a interview of 'Chetan Bhagat' talking about his new book. I was taken aback. I was a hard-core fan of Chetan Bhagat. How is it possible that I didn't come to know of his new book? I asked him the same. He replied that it wasn't 'Chetan' but 'Ketan' Bhagat - the younger brother of 'Chetan Bhagat'. That was very curiosity-evoking. But I was still unaware of my role there.

He went on to explain that the authors he interviewed gave him a signed copy of their book and wanted his review. Being a close pal, he can't express the pros and cons (the latter mainly) without any inclination, in case there were any. "So that is where I come in," he had said. "I send you a signed copy of the book and you post a Honest and Unbiased review of the book on our behalf." Then, my role in the whole was made crystal-clear. Well, I was not disappointed by the deal. Instead, I was very happy for signed copy part. So I readily agreed. Post that incident, there was no communication between both of us since a long time, because he was out of town for a very long time and I was too busy reviewing other books to mail asking about the whereabouts of my copy.

You can read Ketan's ever first online interview over here: http://subhounplugged.blogspot.in/p/ketan.html
Trust me, it is not half as much as you are thinking it to be. Subho's witticism added spice to the otherwise monotonous interview.

A few days later, I received a message on Facebook from the author, Ketan Bhagat, himself. I was stupefied at how the author got to my FB profile, because I nowhere mentioned about my FB details - Neither on my blog, nor on my GoodReads reviews. However, with Subho's copy nowhere in sight, I accepted the author's offer on FB. Though he said that it was not possible for him to sign my copy, he promised to sign it whenever he visits Hyderabad. I didn't think the chance would ever tap at my door, but when it did, I was rejoicing myself with my friend at Goa!!

However, there was no news about the book from author either. Like thrice before this, the publishers himself contacted me to get the new releases of Srishti Publications to get reviewed. Again, like thrice before this, I readily accepted this. I knew, from this source I was sure to read the most awaited book of the season. I had really high stakes from the brother of the Legend (at least for me) - Chetan Bhagat.

Finally, I recived my copy of Complete / Convenient only after returning from my South-Indian rendezvous, by which time I had lost the chance of getting my copy of the book being signed by the author. Anyways, the exclusive bookmark had made up for the signature of the author.

This is how book holds the first record of having multiple names in the Reviewed for section. That's enough of blabbering for now. Let me get on with the actual review. ;)

Plot (from GoodReads):

How is life outside India? Like they show in ‘Karan Johar’ type of Bollywood movies!

How is life in India? Like they show in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ type of Hollywood movies! 

Have you ever wondered why NRIs long for India? Sitting on their pile of dollars, freedom, cleanliness and convenience, they often talk about the land full of scams, jams, crowds and corruption. 

Just like a real life is full of fantasy dreams, can a fantasy life be full of ‘reality’ dreams? 

What is it about an Indian life that fascinates those living outside it… even those who voluntarily left it themselves? 

Welcome to the world of Kabir, a twenty-something software sales professional aspiring to relocate overseas. Charming, humorous, street smart and interesting, Kabir is a typical boy who loves life. The kind of boy usually Ranbir Kapoor plays in movies. Living in Mumbai with his best friend, who is his complete opposite and a walking-talking ‘excel sheet’, and in regular touch with his forthright girlfriend and family in Delhi, Kabir’s life is full on. 

Elated on being transferred to Australia, Kabir quickly gets married and hops onto the next flight to Sydney. Dazzled by the glamorous free-spirited Aussie world, the newly-married honeymooning couple soon find themselves living a life beyond their rosiest imaginations. A quick professional success acts as a further icing on the cake. 

But as time flies and the humdrum of married and professional life take over, realizations of loneliness and helplessness underlying an envious NRI life begin to surface. Worst come, the relationships left behind are beginning to wither. As his best friend and family battle through unexpected crisis and Kabir himself gets embroiled in professional challenges, balancing between the two worlds – Australia and India – becomes a stressful lone battle. 

Based on emotions that every NRI and people related to NRI go through, “Complete / Convenient” sensitively journeys through characters and situations that the author, like every NRI, personally experienced during his stint out of India (including four years in Sydney).

About the author (from the book):
Ketan Bhagat is a thirty-something common man, who stands out as uncommon to his mastery with words, smart sense of humor and lively demeanor. The art of storytelling seems to be in his genes.

Ketan joined Satyam Computer Services (the company that Mr Ramalinga Raju made famous and infamous) post his MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute in 2001. After a year and a half of trying to learn programming and Tamil, destiny finally took mercy on the young, frustrated North Indian and made Satyam show him a little bit of the world - Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.. Now back to India, this erstwhile NRI is brimming with emotions, struggle and anecdotes. Creative at heart, Ketan has done stints in television (anchor, script writer) and print (articles in national dailies) during his college days. Few years ago, he helped his brother Chetan Bhagat script a Bollywood movie too.

My take on the book:
Cover design:
Though the name of the author created a great hype in the Indian literary industry, the cover design of this book was a complete put off. The orange colour is peculiar enough to attract some attention, but then the mixed sceneries in the cover picture seems pretty messy and disappointing. Nonetheless the design held a close association with the story inside the covers.

there is more to men than bromance
Well, I don't know the very meaning of the word, bromance, up until now (I just Googled it). Even after knowing the meaning I am still hazed at what the title actually was inclining to. I tried hard but couldn't draw a conclusion of the connection between the tagline and the story.

Srishti Publishers. They have been supporting this blog since some time. Since this blog has received recognition, they have provided us with five books till date. I am very thankful for that. I could even be generous with my reviews about their books, but as per the policy, I can't do that and have no intention of doing that for the next coming decade, either. Not that, they have asked me for that. They have contacted only asking for the shipping address and gave my space till I posted the reviews of the book. In simple words, I like them.

On the other hand, I was shocked to notice that the author has published his book in Srishti Publishers, other than Rupa, which are his brother, Chetan's publishers. Well, after reading the online interview from Subho's blog, I got the answer for my question.

The best thing about getting a book from the publisher is that they send you a exclusive bookmark of the book!

The book being close to 400 pages thick, the number of words were thicker, too. Many of which meaning I didn't even know. First of them being, leitmotif, followed by many other words, which I am sure will never be understood by my little brain.

Story and other aspects:
From the plot and the description from the backside of the book, the story was pretty clear to me.

The protagonist gets a job in Australia. Like any other average Indian would, he pounced at it readily. During his stay there, he realises that he had done a mistake by leaving his loved ones and friends back in India and returns back to India.

Well, in short, that was it. The story could have been this simple and, maybe, also interesting if the book isn't 400 pages thick and the font size is so small, with an average of 33 lines per page! To top that there were no  chapters in the book. Instead it was divided into different parts - five, at most. It was distressing to a read something in such a huge stretch. Not even the change of scene were indicated with a period. It was a torturous read. Add to that, the small font which squeezed the life out of time. I always hated the petty descriptions. It was more of a Australian guide to people who are going to visit Sydney. It was only in the last part of the book it felt more lively. There were more emotions. It also had descriptions, but overlooking that it had emotions, a good pace and some intriguing aspects.

The title of the book was also a disappointment. I always think that use of symbols in a book's title is not recommended because it is how people read it, "Complete slash (or worse, forward slash) Convenient," when it actually meant, "Complete or Convenient." Even then I couldn't find a concrete reason for the selection of the title until came across this line in the story, which read something like this,

Living there (outside India) it feels convenient, but being here (in Indian) feels complete.

Another aspect I disliked about the book is that the author used many phrases - note that it is not words but phrases - in the narration. I don't know whether it is a major aspect to make a note of, but it was bothering me since the very inception of this read. Few words like bhai, ji, etc were acceptable and also some expletives could given a green flag, but the entire phrase in Hindi could be disturbing. At least, it disturbed me. What if the reader doesn't understand Hindi?

Other than that, the book needs a good deal of editing. There were many quotation marks missing throughout the narration.

Final Verdict:
I don't know. It was kinda average read with a best part boring and little part intriguing. Anyway, Ketan's trial at witticism was doing good for the book. Indeed the opinion differs from person to person.

I would definitely recommend to all the NRIs and also those who are planning to go abroad for work. This could help you solve some dilemma, which is referred in this book as, 'The Peak' - the dilemma choosing countries - India over other country - for their livelihood.


Title: Complete / Convenient

Author: Ketan Bhagat

Tagline: There is more to men than bromance

ISBN (edition I've read): 9789380349923


Read between: 15-07-2013 to 20-07-2013

Reviewed for: Subhasis Das (of subhounplugged.blogspot.com and the author of 
                                                              Mom Says No Girlfriend)
                             Ketan Bhagat (the author)
                             Arup Bose (the publisher)

Publishers: Srishti Publishers

MRP: ₹ 195

Pages: 373

For the best deal of this book click this: 

Or check this out... Complete/Convenient  

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