Book: Love, life & all that jazz…
Author: Ahmed Faiyaz
Publisher: Grey Oak in association with Westland
Year of Release: 2011
“But the truth is that critics are by definition critical. That’s their job.” – Frank Blank
Ahmed Faiyaz attempts to tell a very contemporary tale of four friends – Sameer, Tania, Tanveer and Vikram – since they graduate from college to the time they settle down into ‘happily ever-after’ lives. Personally, I do not believe that a term as ‘settle down’ really exists, or for that matter ‘happily ever-after’, but there are just too many books (and movies), that end in this fashion, to ignore it completely. The story traces their lives from 18 July 2003, when they are raw, fresh graduates experimenting with their careers and love lives, to 20 April 2009 when they are wizened, successful and married or almost married. The story is set in and around Mumbai.
Through its characters, the story seeks to bring forth the various issues that trouble a twenty-something in today’s time. Sameer and Tania are college sweethearts who fail to make their long distance relationship work when Sameer leaves for his MBA to UK. Post their breakup they try to find love in someone else, only to realize that they are incomplete without each other. Obviously their respective lovers had to be wife-beating, abusive scoundrels and I-Just-Met-This-Guy-And-Slept-With-Him bitches! Sameer’s character also introduces issues related to successful, young, working professionals in foreign countries – (had it been Punjab instead of Mumbai, Yash Chopra would have definitely considered it for his next ‘absolutely fresh’ movie) – but the importance given to the problems in his love life far outweigh any other issue that his character was supposed to bring forth.
Vikram is the spoilt brat of a rich and famous family in the first part, whose only objective was to fire cheeky lines and get more and more women to his bed, and the completely changed, suave and socially responsible corporate scion in the second part who shuns his father’s business to start off as a venture capitalist. And in that process he finds a model whom he ditches because she decides to shoot for a men’s magazine, a lot of other girls, and finally an air hostess whose description reminded me of the heroines of the late 90s – a hot babe who is also a very nice person inside (I know of a lot of hot babes and also a lot of nice people. It is the count of the intersection set that worries me.)
Tanveer is the typical stereotyped middle-class guy with a family that does not approve of his love for his landlady’s only daughter – who by the way is also beautiful and a very nice person inside. Like all middleclass guys – in our literature and in our movies – he sacrifices his love for his parents and family responsibilities till life teaches him to stand up for his self, courtesy a 9-5 job, an evil manager and the melancholy of his life post his breakup.
The book promises to deliver a lot. It raises many issues that bother the young generation of today but explores none. It just revolves around the love lives of four graduates who, as it may appear from the story, have nothing better to do than fall in and out of love and sleep with others in between. They live a rich sophisticated life, dine at expensive restaurants, get quality foreign education and, when they become serious enough, start their careers at top of the corporate ladder, thanks to their established businesses and angel investments. (Tanveer was not rich but gets the post of CEO, thanks to his friends, anyways). A book dealing with them hardly gets to explore the real issues that a twenty-something faces in today’s time.
The book is not refreshingly different from other literature in its genre but is a nice read. The story chugs at a comfortable speed for most part of the book. The characters have been portrayed well and their lives unfold slowly but surely making them into what they are at the end. The camaraderie between the friends and their reaction to the conflicts that they face are well depicted. The dialogues are a little lame but there is not much digression from the topic. The book is well divided into parts. The English is racy and it makes for an easy read. If you are looking for a light read on a lazy afternoon or a big fan of current-generation of Indian novels, here’s one that fits the bill perfectly.
Best Part of the book: The quotations at the start of every chapter. They made for an interesting read. (Hence, I put one for the review!)
Worst Part of the book: As you would have realized by now, the book is only about love. There is very little mention of life beyond it. And there is hardly any jazz.
Final Rating: 3/5
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