Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review: The Journey of Om by Chandru Bhojwani.

About 4 weeks ago... when I received a mail from debutant author Chandru Bhojwani... enquiring if I would be interested to do a feature on his book - 'The Journey of Om' (JOM)... I had heard of neither. But the write-up in the mail... gave me some insights which sufficiently piqued my interest. I agreed and he offered to courier a copy across. When even after a week the promised courier hadn't arrived... I enquired... and discovered that... he was having difficulty getting his hands on his own book!

Apparently... half of the review copies (purchased by him) were taken by his mom and distributed amongst her friends and family. (Must be the X-mas season *wink*) Result: he ended up running short... and was relegated to pounding the pavement, trying to find the odd copy here and there... 'like a junkie looking for a fix'! This was an eye-opener for me. I never knew that authors have to buy their own books! After all they are the creators and sole developers of the intellectual property that forms the basis of all publishing and book-selling business. Yet they lie at the bottom of the food... oops 'book chain'. Must say... it's an unfair world. I also understood the connection between the publishing industry and the footwear sector *wink*

In a year's time... JOM has gone in for a second publishing... that I must say is fantastic news for any author... especially a first-timer. 'Coz it is difficult for first-time authors to get published. "If only someone would just read my manuscript," they plead. Fortunately Chandru was able to get some copies from Flipkart... and I finally received the courier earlier this month. Making JOM my first book of 2011 :)

JOM makes for a surprisingly pleasant read, an entertaining read... and a light read. The writing is simple and not overly flowery. The narrative switches from the past to the present and back many a time, yet it does not spoil the pace. It is not soporific... like some award winning books by first-time authors... who have gone on to become celebrities... on the strength of those very books. In JOM... the characters, the events and situations they find themselves in and/or around them, the language, the works... will ring a bell... with the reader... who will get to taste a slice of life in 'The Journey of Om'. The author uses real-world language and expressions... the "guys kinda language"... which enhances the effect and makes it more identifiable. It is hard not to relate to JOM. It is very contemporary. It is essentially everyone's story. Even Chandru claims that the book contains some bits and pieces from his own life. But which bit or which piece... my guess is as good as yours.

Do not get mislead or confused by the name 'The Journey of Om'. It is not a spiritual journey nor is the cosmic Om being discussed here. Om - an Indian writer in NYC - is the name of the protagonist. Not Makhija, not Kapoor... OK! It is about his journey... or rather trials and tribulations when he 'falls' in love... and his attempts to 'rise' in it... or rather from it. You see... the oh-so-romantic guy discovers that his girlfriend - Preeti - has been cheating on him. Nice name Preeti... don't you think? Not Zinta, Sabarwal or Jhangiani though. But then it takes two to tango. Is Ravi the 'Raavan' here... or are there latent causes too? After all... when you point one finger, three point back at you.

"Devastated by his beloved's betrayal, Om collapses both physically as well as emotionally and with that, begins his arduous battle for peace. Torn between love and anger, Om inadvertently starts to lose his grip on life, as he knew it causing his world to spiral out of control. Hoping to recover, Om turns to his closest friends, Arun and Mona. However, instead of gaining support, he bears witness to the trials, which have besieged their lives."

Mona craves for love, marriage and a family... complete with a loving husband and kids. Is she chasing after a mirage? Will Arun chuck his Market Research job and accept the offer made by his girlfriend's father? Or will he choose his self-respect? Will he self-destruct? What does Gope - his pa-in-law to be... have in mind? What is Arun's take on Om... who is like a bro to him? What is it that Mona tells Om... prompting him to respond with an incredulous "Really"? What is the 'benchmark' that Om refers to? Well... read the book to find out. Somewhere along the way Om develops a very close 'friendship' with firangi paani. He becomes a reluctant agony uncle to Arun... who is determined to keep his 'drunken mistake' from Rakhi... his girlfriend turned fiancée. He watches as his pillar of support-cum-agony aunt-cum-closest friend Mona disintegrates in front of his eyes. He takes basketball duel to another level. Hell hath no fury like a man scorned. Hell hath no fury like a man devalued. Hell hath no fury like a man who has lost the love of his life. Hell hath no fury like a man who has been cheated on.

You get to read about: The Desi Guy's Kryptonite: Ram Ram HAIR-e-ram, Stankonia, Klingon, Digger, Gamer and more. No doubt you are familiar with 'Yummy Mummy'... but do you know what a 'Rummy Mummy' is? Have you heard of 'Owl Aunties'? 'L'Oreal Aunties', 'Google Aunties', or 'Hari-Om Aunties'?? Read the book... to know about them (courtesy... The Mind of Om) - and I'm sure you'll recognize the types. The last one has no relation to the protagonist though! The short articles in the middle are immensely readable and humorous... displaying Bhojwani's wit and perfect journalistic acumen. The column "The Aunties" is one that most of us would be able to relate to. "Observations" make for some entertaining read. While the article titled "The Break Up" (sorry Sandra and Ryan... there's no proposal here) provides some expert advice/tips on recovering from/surviving breakups. Echoes of 'Jab We Met'... after the 'final partition'!

I have mixed feelings regarding the ending... though I quite enjoyed reading the book. The open-ended climax... left me to ponder. Methinks... an open-ended climax scene is a brave attempt by an author... and leaves the reader to assume and wonder... and hope that the story would end as he/she had desired. They have their own charm though... and activate the gray cells too. What might appear offensive or unappealing to some may be quite the opposite for others, so 'to each his own'. Rather... to each his own climax scene! What? Do tell me... what ending you would like to see.

Om's character is well fleshed-out. So are Preeti's and Mona's. No 'Mona-Tony' here I say. But I wish some more ink was spent on Jim... the guy who would rather not know what meal he's having every night. We find that Jim, Arun, Rakhi, Preeti, Om and Mona are friends... yet it is hard to comprehend and/or reconcile his character's actions in the end... given the description of his personality. What is amiss is the depiction of the transformation process... in Jim... for him to take the plunge. This forms a void in the plot. We know that 'opposites attract'... but we also want to know about the how, what, when, where and why. Even the path-breaking 'Dil Chahta Hai'... took pains to take us through the journey of Akash (Aamir Khan) and Shalini (Preity Zinta); Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni); Siddharth aka Sid (Akshaye Khanna) and Tara Jaiswal (Dimple Kapadia). Right?

Monica (not oh my darling) - is everything that you would expect a hard-nosed magazine editor to be. She is one tough cookie... and her dialogues thoroughly entertain. While 'Cyber-Man' Sunil's character unravels gradually. So does Radha's. But who is Jaymee? Is she a 'sure thing'? Easy! Easy! No bling!

Suggestion: I feel that the cover could have been done better... instead of the abstract art that we find there... to suit the contents of the book. As we all know... visuals are important in choosing a book... especially by a debutante author... where... 'First impress-aan izz last impress-aan'!

My Rating: I'll give JOM a good 3.5/5. A promising debut novel... with a blend of intrigue, humour, wit, romance... the works... in a neat package. Chandru Bhojwani is one author to watch out for. For sure! Happy reading!

Parting shot: I see JOM having a lot of potential for the big screen... with some tweaks of course. That the author's initial is C.B. has nothing to do with it... I assure you.

The Director: The usual suspects... KJo, YRF. Even... Abbas Tyrewala, Imtiaz Ali, Ayan Mukherji. Or... Nagesh Kukunoor. I know Nagesh doesn't exactly possess the Midas in his touch off late... but he has given us some very good films: Iqbal, Dor, 3 Deewarein (3 Walls) and the charming Hyderabad Blues (great casting comprising of little known amateurs and supposedly shot in 17 days with a tiny budget of Rs. 2 million). He still has what it takes to continue on that path. Infact... Om's brief tryst with Anita reminded me of Varun (essayed by Nagesh himself) with his young cousin in 'Hyderabad Blues'.

Note: Chandru tells me... that my review ranks as one of his favourites. So much so that he has already listed it on his website (link) and forwarded to his reader base. *I'm taking a bow*

He also says... that the new print (of JOM) will be sporting a new cover... and that hopefully we will see it on the big screen and soon. Cheers to that!

Details of the Book: The Journey of Om (Paperback): Chandru Bhojwani, pp 287; Rs. 175, Cedar Books - Pustak Mahal.


  1. If there is a simple, yet compelling way to tell a story about complex human relationships, this is it. Through effective narration of every day life events, 'The Journey of Om' unfolds an intricate plot and a powerful world of emotions so effortlessly, it feels unintentional.

    The gentle pace and build of the story is delectable. The authors' ability to empathise is contagious and makes 'The Journey of Om' essentially everyone’s story.

    With so much to relate to, you’ll be excited about the next chapter before the one you’re on ends.

  2. Hi! :)

    I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I did, too when Chandru (yes, he's that nice to even let me call him on a first name basis..hehe) asked me to review the book for him some months ago.

    Btw, I enjoyed your review. It's a bit lengthy but I liked it all the same. ^_^

  3. hapi new yr 1st f all :)

    nice right up.. u sure gave a gud revw for d buk.. i mite jst look 4a copy myself.. seems interesting..

    hvnt been in d reading writing mode off late.. guess 2 lazy 4 eithr f dem... plus d cold kinda turns my laziness in2 hibernation :P.. hopefully will hv smthing 2 write soon...

  4. @ Deepa Asnani: Welcome to my blog!

  5. @ pachuvachuva: Welcome to my blog! Good to know that you enjoyed this review. However it is not 'a bit lengthy'... the blog format/template gives that illusion...

  6. @ Sobhit: Thanks... great to know that you find this review helpful :)

    P.S. Good to know that you came out of your hibernation... for a few minutes atleast... to read this post and leave your comment :D

    P.P.S. Its high time you fed your blog... the poor thing is starving :(

  7. Heyyyy... a kewl space you have here. Lovely. U are soooo talented. I'm glad you liked the small work that I'm doing. :)

  8. @ Sharmi Ghosh Dastidar: Muchas gracias... and welcome here :)

    ... Your blog is where we get to learn about fabulous movies... which help us in making our choices. Result: we get to watch some gems both from the B&W and the colour era. Keep up the great work :)

  9. liked the review and would love ot read the book although with the proposed new cover....

  10. @ Anjaanrahgir: Thanks... and welcome to my blog!

  11. sounds like a great book..will check it out on flipkart