March 2, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding' by Bhavna Rai

 It seems Bhavna Rai has stayed in more than seven countries and it is this experience that shows in her debut novel 'Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding' (Interesting title!). And going by the title, I was anticipating a Priyadarshan movie kind of a drama but I was not prepared for what was to follow.

An interesting prologue lays the foundation for a promising story. A motley of characters crop up right at the start seeking your attention. We have Anand Sharma, a self-made successful entrepreneur, who owns one of the largest security company, Intellicom. Anand is someone who shifted to the states and made it big there, working with GE, then setting up his own venture. Anand's company manufactures an innovative device that allows customers to directly transact form their computers by swapping their credit cards. 

Enter Neel Kapoor, the new manager at Indysoft technologies, working with two others and reporting to a perfectionist kind of a boss. Neel has given up his big American dream to look after his ageing parents in Delhi and hence has taken up a job with Indysoft. Of course, along with him he brings along his American girlfriend, Jenna, who has given up everything with the hope that Neel will marry her one day. Jenna seeks a transfer from Letsfly, a BPO and shifts to their Indian outsourcing branch where she leads the operations and even manages to identify a big discrepancy in the system with the way scripts. Jenna catches hold of Rajat, a team-leader in the same organization for running malicious scripts and making away with customers' credit card details by using an innocent accomplice, Suman Agarwal. Suman who was deeply in love with Rajat gets blackmailed by him and coerced into doing the dirty job for him due to a MMS scandal featuring her and her blackmailer. Yeah, she has a sister, Monica, who is pregnant and develops labour during the wedding of her friend, Sheila. Both Sheila and Monica alongwith Jyoti and Tanya are a part of a larger group of females, one which includes Tara Mehra, the girl in the middle of it.

Tara Mehra has an unforgettable past. Hooking up with many guys when she was studying in the states until she found Anand, whom she dumped unceremoniously, not realizing how much he loved her. Anand, of course got over her and made it big, realizing that his status was the only reason his lady-love dumped him. Tara vows never to love anyone and toys with a lot of hearts in the process, including that of one of her close friends, Varun. And this continues until she meets Neel, who manages to impress her with his intellect and wit. 

During the wedding, Rajat barges in with a revolver to avenge his humiliation and Neel and Tara are forced together by the turn of events in a hospital as Monica tries to deliver her baby. That time Jenna has moved to the States to celebrate Christmas with her family and also unravel a deeper mystery of the motive beyond the fraudulent transactions. A mystery she cracks alone and ends up meeting Anand to give him the details of the entire thing and what follows is an engaging and surprising ending.

The most engaging character was Jenna. Her sweet nature and hardworking attitude, and a will to give her relation a try no matter what that costs her, grabs your heart and in the end, you sympathize with her as her boyfriend never gets time to see her and is only obsessed about the Intellicom deal that he should win to prove his caliber. The main story is however based on only three characters,i.e. Anand, Neel and Tara and the others are mainly secondary characters though Jenna's/Suman's/Rajat's POV also ends up taking part in the story though the author uses third person narrative. 

It is said too many cooks, spoil the broth. The author confuses the reader initially by bringing out character after character in what is basically the story of three individuals. Similar sounding names or rather too many characters to keep track off initially might put one off initially but the story grows on you as you cruise along. Another drawback was shifting view points in different paragraphs, a technique I haven't seen many Indian authors use in commercial fiction. Also flashbacks emerge out of nowhere and it takes sometime to get used to the flow of the story. There are various subplots involved and they seem to fall in place during the wedding, so you will need some patience to read through and understand what is going around before you get the hang of it. Scene changes are not highlighted through the use of an asterisk or two and one wonders how a new character suddenly starts talking until you realize it's a different scene altogether but I guess that may be an editorial mistake, so let's not arrive at judgments too soon.

However, set against the backdrop of the IT industry boom (like Sundip Gorai's 'HDS', thankfully no LORD emerged this time!), the novel manages to stir a thought or two. I really liked the subtle use of metaphors and analyzing feelings of the primary characters. In one instance, the author intelligently uses raindrops on a glass window (one falling down to be immediately replaced by the other) to showcase Tara letting go of her past. The author manages to display the contrast between America and India through Neel and Jenna's mannerisms. The dialogue is crisp and to the point and the author does not waste much time in actions except for the narrative. It was a more than decent story, surely one of the better reads this year and the author has done well to showcase her knowledge and writing skills at the same time. Overall, a worthy read with a surprising ending. Rating? A sure-shot 4/5!

Get it from Flipkart.


6 comments:

yasho said...

So you reccommend this? I have out it on my list...danke :)

Faraaz Kazi said...

Considering you liked 'Hickory, Dickory...'-Yes!

aakshat said...

That was a very interesting, personal, yet balanced review of a book that has long been on my To Buy list.

Faraaz Kazi said...

Thank you.

bassyc said...

Here's my review of FFAFW: http://goo.gl/yHjxc
Please go through it. Thanks.

Faraaz Kazi said...

Thank you, Bastab. That was a refreshing take :)

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