Chetan Bhagat’s second novel (the first being ‘Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT….which I haven’t read yet, but soon will) - One Night @ at the Call Centre - compels you to read, ponder, chew upon, discuss and read again, and then try to read the earlier book written by the author. A clear indicator that the book’s great!
Bhagat weaves a web that revolves around three commonly-Indian phenomena: the present rage over income-generating BPOs, the increasing needs of middle-class households and a sense of confused spiritualism that pervades the modern Indian. He probably succeeds in wooing his audience abroad too, since anything Indian is exotically accepted today.
The story revolves around six characters Shyam Mehra (the central, at cross-roads youngster), Priyanka (his one-time love), Esha (a wannabe model), Vroom (an ex-journalist), Radhika (a housewife) and Military Uncle (who’s been ousted by his son and daughter-in-law) who work the night-shift at a BPO. Their lives are intertwined in the eight-to-ten hours that they spend together at work, when they go about sharing their personal and professional problems and trying to get at solutions. It leaves the reader with a sense of belonging (like ‘this is me and you that the author is talking about!).
The work-place also takes a breather from work, through a series of flashbacks that talk of Shyam and Priyanka’s courtship days and their eventual break-up (a bit stretched at times).
One night, when it seems that the group’s problems have compounded and reached a point of no return, Shyam gets a helping ‘call’ from God himself. This is where Bhagat scores maximum points. The reader is hooked! Of course all’s well and ends well. The reader is left with a holy-righteous-and-patriotic feeling. Now when you feel good, you would obviously want to spread the good word, and nothing better than a ‘word-of-mouth’ sales pitch. Jokes apart, please pick up the book for all the positive energy that it exudes. The language too flows as an easy-worded conversation between the author and the reader. A must-read!!!! - Fanny Chakrabarti
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