Author: Vikas Swarup
Publisher: rbooks (The Random House Group)
Price: Rs 268
If Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire hadn't won the Oscars, former Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup's book, Q&A wouldn't have received the kind of global recognition it has now. But blame the marketing for it because the book is a must-see, even if you've watched the movie. And thankfully, Boyle's screenplay is an adaptation, not a simple copy of the book.
The game show is here (Who Will Win A Billion?), But the questions are different. Unlike the movie, the book is not about "What does it take to find a lost love?" This is about the life of Ram Mohammed Thomas who only focuses after answering 12 questions on the quiz to win the moolah. The producers suspect a criminal act and Thomas is brutally thrown into a prison cell. There is no way that Slum Thomas could have known who Shakespeare was or the name of Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal's father, the show's producers say.
A woman introduces herself as Thomas' lawyer and takes him to her house. He then begins to recount the events in his life which were the key to answering all of the show's questions.
Through the book, Swarup makes an important point – that knowledge can be gathered from sources other than literary, that education is not only about academics or books, and that a mere curiosity to based on the things around you can make you more informed than most colleges. graduates.
Much like the movie, the book exposes the belly of India. But unlike the movie where long camera shots and stills overlapped to show the dark side of Mumbai, Swarup doesn't lean much into the imagery. He just jumps from one description to another – robbery and murder on a train, crippled children to turn them into beggars, arrogant strangers oppressing their servants, brothers who support their sisters in brothels, and wealthy women who deny their own children. in modern Indian society – in a down to earth way. Bad things happen here, but does anyone care?
Oddly enough, the book is as much about ignorance as it is knowledge. It's about the fine line that separates the rich and the poor and how each party is ignorant or even apathetic to the other's needs and wants.
What really makes the book interesting is the end, when you find out why Thomas came on the show. It's different from the movie, well almost. Reading the book is an adventure in itself. It's racy, colorful, and with just the right amount of spice that makes it brilliantly entertaining. It's a winner. If Swarup can live up to it in his latest novel, Six Suspects, you'll have to wait to see.