Thursday, December 25, 2008

Vikas Swarup - Q & A

I got curious about this book after I read about Slumdog Millionaire, an award winning movie by Danny Boyle. It was based on this book by Vikas Swarup.

Ram Mohammed Thomas is an orphan, abandoned as a newborn by his mother outside an orphanage. He is lucky to fall into the hands of a priest who is the best father he could have had. But an unfortunate chain of events force him to lead an eclectic life, trying to survive the misfortunes that befall him.  On a positive side, his experiences give him enough knowledge to be able to win the biggest prize ever in a quiz show.

The format of the story is interesting. Right at the first, Ram Mohammad is arrested for cheating in the quiz show he has just finished filming. The show has not been aired yet. He is bailed out by a young lawyer, Smita, who is willing to save his skin if he can prove he did not cheat. Ram tackles each question and shows Smita how his an experience at some stage in his life helped him learn an answer to each question. The story is meaty and goes forward quite easily.

What makes the book so pedestrian is the lacklustre style. It is the most un-beautiful language I have read in recent times. Even some crappy chicklit I read a while back was decently styled compared to this. I wish Vikas Swarup had taken some help, I don't think he lacked any. Surely it was his clout as an Ambassador to wherever that helped him in getting his book published in the first place.

Apart from the crappy language, at times the episodes seem a bit jerky, but I suspect, had the style been better, the jerkiness would have been ironed out.

It is a pity, because the idea is good. Ram Mohammed Thomas is an everyman sort of a fellow. His nomadic lifestyle, and exposure to different homes help him absorb knowledge. For instance, it is from his stint in the home of an Ambassador that he learns the Australian language, and also the meaning of the term persona non grata. It is from his stint as a servant of a famous but faded film star that he learns which movie won her the national award for best actress.

Alas Alas !

Now what remains to be seen is Slumdog Millionaire and if it is any good.

15 comments:

Bedazzled said...

somehow i liked this book .. read it almost 1 year back,so it's all a lil hazy now .. but yeah i liked it !!

avdi said...

daz.. i didnt so much.. mayb the weight of expectations.. no.. i just didnt like the lacklustre language.

Smita said...

Hmmm... I dunno how affected am with language...but I for sure am not picking the book, may be will watch the movie only :)

avdi said...

haan yaar.. pata nahi kab picture aayegi..

ghajini dekhi?

Smita said...

Nopes, may be on 1st...

Slumdog is releasing in Feb I guess

avdi said...

ist ko pic???? arrey koi dhamakedar party karo.. after all vee bhi wahin hai..

Oxy said...

Movie downloaded hai.. will watch soon.. And did u see that for Hindi adaptation they have renamed it to 'Slumdog Crorepati'.. haha.. anyways let's see..

Happy New Year

avdi said...

haan. mujhe bhi mil jayegi. i feel the movie and book are quite differnt. ab maza aayega dekh kar.

couchpapaya said...

maybe one of the few times one can say the movie is better than the book, by all accounts it is doing very well. havnt seen it yet tho ... i hate terribly written books too, one of the reasons why i havnt been able to read bhagat's books!

avdi said...

Right you are CP. Another movie that was better than the book was - The Sound of Music. The movie was so amazing, and the book so humdrum. All Maria does is to recount her various illnessess and pregnancies in detail. And the Captain Von Trapp is pretty unglamourous. I have noooo idea who read the book and imagined the movie.

couchpapaya said...

didnt know sound of music was a book!! sometimes these hwood types really get it right. another case in pt, english patient, ploddiest book ever, but heart-stoppingly romantic movie ... seen it?? also, must say i liked namesake the movie better than the book ....

picked up the basu trilogy, really enjoyed simoquin & manticore, but plodding through unwaba :( did u read the last one??

avdi said...

I liked Namesake. I dunno why it really struck a chord in me. Maybe because of all the angst I suffered as a kid due to my name.

Oh yes, Maria Von Trapp did write a book, it isnt popular though. I chanced upon it in the State Library and pounced upon it eagerly.. hehe.

Hey, I thought maybe I was the only one who wasnt enjoying Unwaba Revelation too much. I abs loved Simoqin and enjoyed manticore. But the magic is missing in Unwaba. Actually it is lying unfinished. I guess I should pick it up and find out about what happens in the end. I hope he doesnt kill Kirrin. He is my favorite.

Oxy said...

dekh li.. fundoo hai... I have read so much on it on PFC that I feel like pulverizing all those who wrote against it.... Yes it has its own flaws here n there but u do nit picking and u cant enjoy the movie then..

Srini said...

Wow nice blog... You know what? I watched Slum dog at the Lincoln theater Manhattan just few weeks back in NY :)... a great movie...I am not sure about the book, but I feel people need to just take a look at the way its been shot ...I still think of the amitab bachan scene from the movie :)

avdi said...

Thanks Srini, A lot of ppl are smitten by the movie. I cant wait to see it.

 
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