‘Complete/Convenient’ by Ketan Bhagat, Srishti, Rs. 195, pp. 373
Nothing sells like popularity and fame; so, if Chetan Bhagat shot to prominence through his ‘Five Point Someone’ it is his younger brother who tries his hand on writing through his debut rather marathon novel ‘Complete/Convenient’.
How would you like to be a part of a typical rich Punjabi family with their inimitable life styles and fun and frolic especially if there is going to be a wedding? The first fifty two pages are full of such mindless incidents of joint Punjabi family and the marriage of Kabir Kapoor with Myra at Delhi. Kabir with his MBA degree, handsome personality and intelligence gets in Satyamev, a corporate in IT. He is posted at Sydney, Australia and joins there soon after the marriage.
How would you like to take a tour of Australia and its beauty? Every nook and corner, every street and building, every beach and mall, every event and loneliness in the foreign land have been chronicled in detail in this book. Story? As such one cannot find any engaging story line or events turning up. It narrates the lifestyle of a typical Indian IT professional in a distant land. But, that land is neat, clean, rich, disciplined, preserving nature’s bounty and beauty unlike India. Nevertheless, apart from the natives, even those of Indian origin like the old Vishi, live like islands in that big continent.
If the initial pages are taxing with the usual stuff of celebrations and silly fights of Indian Punjabi marriage on which we have had enough in the movies, the later pages drag with excruciating insipid details and stretch the patience of the reader. So after tasting two years of the foreign land life which was ‘convenient’, the hero Kabir grandly returns to his native land India to lead a ‘complete’ life. Yawn!
So we have the handsome bright and sincere hero, his pretty and sexy wife, the indifferent dad, the garrulous mom with exceptional culinary skills, a loving sister, a sincere friend who is always in distress, the loud mouthed and nosey uncle, a rich but lonely old man, the scheming office colleagues, their terribly bored and frustrated wives, etc.
Ketan Bhagat writes with ease expressing the minutest of the minute info with gusto. The book is more of an autobiographical essay than a story with a strong message or plot.
Majority of the young Indian population prefers to migrate to developed countries because they are cleaner and convenient ambiance both environmentally and socially; therefore, this novel makes very little impact on the average reader. Further, most of those who takes the slightest chance to move for onsite assignments are not of Kabir’s clan with a flourishing business in India; they come from middle class whose Eldorado is USA, UK, Australia or Singapore to name a few. Even, if it is Timbuktu, our boys and girls are ready to jump at the offer.
The so-called, much deliberated ‘loneliness’ is more of psychological than societal or physical in our families now. Today, joint families are passé even among middle and lower middle classes in India.
Under such circumstances, ‘Complete/Convenient’ is just redundant.