It is really strange how some people come into your life, lay dormant for a while and then one fine day they decide to spring back, zoom straight into thick of things and become an active part of your life. Amit and I go back a couple of years. My first book was just released then. So, I guess it was around end of 2009 when he sent me a friend request. I accepted it as we shared few common friends. And as it always happens on FB, promptly forgot all about it. However, he did not. We kept interacting in spurts. He would throw volley of questions about book publishing and the like. I tried to answer him to the best of my knowledge as being a first time author myself, I understood his concerns. His first book was released soon after – Flight of Hilsa. I came to know through our common friends (and him) that the book was doing extremely well. And within few month of its release, it was already in the national best sellers list. To admit frankly, I thought he was boasting. However, slowly I noticed his book was indeed quite visible in all the major stores. People were talking about it. Now, I was curious and wanted to find out for myself. What is in the book that made it a national bestseller within few months of its release? The figures he quoted me were triple of the sales figures for my own book which was doing quite well for itself too. And so as soon as I got an opportunity I bought his book, promptly kept it on my overflowing bookshelf and again forgot all about it.
After few months, Amit again got in touch and this time he sent me an invitation to attend the release of his second book. I was really zapped. Within 9 months or so he was out with his second book. I asked him the title and he said – ‘Chapter 11.’ Strange title, I thought. (Of course, I did not know what Chapter 11 meant or was about. Neither did I inquire). However, I went for his book release function. Heard him. And somehow found myself believing him and his words. He spoke about importance of Moral values. Importance of being honest, forthright and being humane. The next day I took out ‘Flight of Hilsa’ finished it in few days. Next, it was ‘Chapter 11’ and again I finished it in a couple of days or so.
And friends, I must admit both the books were quite enjoyable and engrossing. Here is why -
Flight of Hilsa –
I personally feel, is a must read book for all the women,. It narrates the tale of a young woman, Avantika, a talented artist who has a vision and determination to fulfill her aims. She wants to be a great Painter. She struggles, loses out but does not give up. Her boyfriend is rich and can give her the world. But she refuses his help. She wants to make it on her own. After much struggle and a chance interaction with a boatman she achieves more than she ever wanted. But from here on her attitude towards people and life changes. She sacrifices her beliefs, ethics and even loses her original self in giving interviews, attending parties and interacting with the ‘who’s who’ of the Glitterati circle. But then as fate would have it, she receives a huge blow when her close friend dies followed by another shock when she learns that the man who had awarded her all her prestigious projects had withdrawn the contract just because she was no longer with his son. The son whom she found she did not respect or love. What happens after this is best left unsaid. All you girls out there pick up the book and find out! J
The book touches upon issues like true love, changing beliefs and values, meaning of success and other such relevant topics sensitively. As a woman reader, I enjoyed it completely. Although at places, I found it a tad too long with some quite technical terms that distracted me a bit from the main story line. However, the thing that kept me wondering throughout the novel was, how did Amit manage to project a woman’s character and emotions so well? If I had not known better, I would have thought that the book was written by a woman author. In my opinion, on the whole, he did a fabulous job.
Chapter 11 –
By now I had warmed up to Amit. and saw him in a new light. In fact, I was in admiration of his writings. A regular reading of his blog made me aware that he had a candid style of writing and wrote on different topics which were interesting and appealing. So when I started Chapter 11, I was already expecting it to be equally good as ‘Flight of Hilsa.’and his blog topics. But he proved me wrong. It turned out to be even better. Except the technical terms that he used throughout (and quite liberally) played spoilt sport for a layman like me. Also there were too many characters so I got mixed up. Those are the only negative remarks as a reader I have for his otherwise quite an appealing and different story line.
This time round the story was about a young handsome man from Udaipur called Virendra Vikram Singh. The thing that I like about Amit’s characterization is that all his characters appear very real. No hero or villain. All have dark shades and are equally vulnerable to temptations. In fact, Virendra Vikram Singh or VVS, though the main protagonist is projected more as a villain in the beginning. He is a Rajput from Udaipur, dreams of working in an MNC, has a simple and beautiful wife but does not mind flirting outrageously with his female colleague in his small town office and later having a steady live- in girlfriend when he shifts to Delhi, he does anything and everything his boss Sandy, who himself has very little values or morals asks him to do, just to stay in his favour and save his own skin. He even hacks another agency’s software in order to extend a favour to a friend. Though for doing this he gets into massive trouble. Other such small and big happening bring out the fact that VVS is not a very refined fellow. He does what he feels like doing. It has nothing to do with the Society’s norm or general sense of right or wrong.He is also very clever.
Anyway, throughout all his misadventures and wrong dealings readers are presented with the base story of a corporate house that has declared bankruptcy and filed for Chapter 11. VVS joins the company the same day it declares bankruptcy. The engrossing story narrates and highlights how the top management tries to fill its own pocket. How each see to their own individual benefits at the cost of the lower level employees and the company. Corruption, Back biting, Scheming, Money laundering, Wasteful expenditures on mindless official parties all are permitted by the so called top bosses with just one aim in mind to ‘make hay while the Sun shines’. Ineffective leadership and irresponsible behavior results in the company making losses after losses. It’s a poignant tale of what people go through when a company is not run efficiently and when it is declared bankrupt. What happens when a Corporate and its top management forget that companies are made up of people.
In the name of downsizing the company, its senior management gets rid of people at the bottom level. People who would not last if their earnings are taken away, have no options and choices and would feel the impact of job loss 10 times more than the people at the top. As readers we feel disgusted by the unjust behavior of the corporate honchos.And while we are seething with anger at the sad situation and feel bad for the regular employees of CommTech, the bankrupt company, VVS steps in the picture as our hero, openly taking the real villains to task, naming all the top people who were gloating with the fact that they had managed their exit from the scene well and bringing them to book in front of the entire company.
Of course, his passionate speech and exposing the real culprits does not help the company or its employees in going bankrupt. The story end in a sad note. (I know it sounds very idealistic but I sure do hope that real life stories end in a better way). The strongest message that comes out from the story is that we as a Society must be honest and compassionate towards each other. I will strongly suggest everyone (including of course, those from the corporate world), to read this book. As for Amit Shankar, I look forward to some more interesting tales from you. And this time round I won’t be nonchalant about them. J