Please forget for a while about the hullabaloo on the Danny Boyle's movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' in recent times since the movie like the protagonist of the novel keep sweeping countless awards in the international scene; just sit and read the inspiration for the movie, the book of Vikas Swarup with the original title 'Q&A'.
The novel 'Q&A' is a racy thriller in a way; it depicts the life of an orphan boy Ram Mohammed Thomas and his travails and tribulations leading him from the despicable slums of Dharavi to the winner of millions of fortune in a television game show.
The ingenuity of the author to weave a novel with thirteen independent and desolate questions and their answers on assorted subjects, which were answered by the boy from the slums of Dharavi is amazing. The protagonist character has been intelligently etched by the author and the strange way the questions come to him for which had answers through memorable events of his unenviable personal life.
The narration of Vikas cruises through in an exceptionally lucid language mounting situations in each episode and the answers for the queries he faces in the quiz lie in their centres. The novel's strong point is its brazenness in the depiction of the lives of the characters of varying shades; an innocent orphan, an apparently masculine hero who is gay, a good but weak Christian father, an yesteryear actress who wants to defy ageing, a phony army man, a ruthless trader who pushes the orphaned children into begging, a callous business man, a frustrated astronomer, a gambling professional killer bring the strong and light moments to the novel.
The romantic episode appears only towards the end. As usual, she is golden hearted but impish Nita in a brothel. An accidental liaison ends up in serious love. The completely non glamorous central character and his dreamy eyed friend Salim run through the pages in flesh and blood.
It is really amusing to comprehend how the answers for the questions in W3M (Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) are hidden in the odd and unfair game of the hero's life that spans from the chawls of Ghatkopar, slums of Dharavi, posh suburbs of Mumabi to diplomatic enclave of New Delhi.
The novel emphasizes the uncertainty of life especially in the most chaotic milieu of Indian society and the importance of Madame Luck to smile.
In the Prologue, Ram tells his lawyer when confronted about his knowing all answers for the questions. He says it is luck. Smita asks Ram:
'You knew the answers?'
'Yes. To all questions'
'Then where does luck come into the picture?'
'Well wasn't I lucky that they only asked those questions to which I knew the answers?'
The movie also reiterates that; Luck which is the very important element in a man's life.