I recall the first time I came across Vikas Swarup’s Q&A in the huge Landmark at Spencer Plaza in Chennai. That was in 2005, and I remember being fascinated by the blurb, though not enough to buy it right away. I made a mental note that I should read it sometime. It got added to the ridiculously long reading list in my head.
Some time ago, I heard about Slumdog Millionaire, and how it was a movie being made out of Q&A. And then, I read the rave reviews it had received, and how it was the next big movie. This brought the book to the top of my reading list, and into my shopping cart on Indiaplaza. That was when Angie lent me the copy she had, and I finished it a single, albeit interrupted, reading session.
Reading the book was supposed to be my prelude to watching the movie. I read the book rather hungrily, for the idea of the book had had enough time to work a sort of magic within me over the years. As I read the book, I was dragged into it, and followed the adventures of RMT, the protagonist as if I were reliving my own. The story was engrossing, and it was, to use the ultimate cliche, unputdownable. True, it was a feel-good story, but then it has stories to put a dozen Bollywood potboilers to shame. At the end of the book, I felt strangely elated, the way one feels after a good emotional whipping. Like the Greek classics were supposed to be, the experience was a cathartic one for me.
Vikas Swarup is a master story-teller, and his voice never interfered with the protagonists. If i were a protagonist, I would kill for a writer like him to tell my story. The book is actually a dozen books, woven together by the extraordinary protagonist to whom it all happens. In spite of this, there is a natural flow to the book that cannot be denied.
With the book read, I was thrilled at the prospect of watching the movie, especially given the reception it has had till now. Naturally, I went looking for it on IMDB, and when I read the synopsis, I felt rather like the time I watched The Spy Who Loved Me. Having read Ian Fleming’s sensitive and subtly psychological story, the girls-guns-and-gadgets screen version which had only the protagonist’s name in common with the original story was shocking, to say the least. Slumdog’s synopsis seems to suggest that the only thing in common between the book and the movie is that both somehow portray a guy who takes part in a game show.
I will wait for the movie before i say anything else. And yes, I will complete my purchase, for I want to own this great book.