WRITING STYLE: 2.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 2.5/5
Sankalpita had earlier reviewed Abhay Nagarajan’s “Corporate Atyaachaar” on BookGeeks, and she was not very generous with her review. I had even questioned her because the cover, and the title, were very catchy. When we received The Paperback Badshah from Srishti, she asked me to review it. Having read S.V. Divvaakar’s “Beaten by Bhagath” which touched upon the life of a struggling author and the nitty gritty of the publishing industry, I was excited to read this book, which I thought, would give further insight into how a struggling author struggles to get his book published. I thought it would make me more sensitive towards the debut books that I keep reviewing here. Unfortunately, Sankalpita’s predictions came true and this book came around to be a boring read and a poorly written work.
Nowadays 100 rupee books are flooding the Indian market. Every goddam person with a PC and half an ounce of imagination is becoming a published author, and their books too are selling because of the affordable price point. The Paperback Badshah is the fictional story of one such wannabe, Raghu, a 20-something boy, who works in the financial industry. His dream is to be a published author, like his role model, Tilak Bhatia aka TB, the Chetan Bhagat’s version in this book. To realise his dreams, he quits his job and decides to concentrate his entire effort on his book, which is still in the initial stages.
He is taunted by his parents and relatives; supported by his friends and superiors. In his endeavour of finishing the book and getting it published, he attends a creative writing workshop by Biryani Begum and meets Roma, a damsel in distress, who turns out be very different from what she appears to be. He also meets Sweety, a bulldozer of a woman, who hates men and gives unsolicited advice. As the story progresses, Raghu finishes his book, but, can he get it published? Will the book sell? Will readers like the book? You will have to read the book to know all these.
I was disappointed with the characters in The Paperback Badshah None of them made me laugh. Raghu’s family ties were strange. Sweety came across as an obnoxious woman bent on controlling everything around her. Raghu’s friends and bosses too, were forcedly funny. I found a brief respite during Biryani Begum’s writing classes and Babu Jagannathan Prasad aka Jaguar’s motivational classes.
The book is a comedy but, most of the jokes in it are PJs and I only laughed at how poor they were. The book failed to appeal to my sense of humour. I will not be surprised if ninety of a hundred readers enjoy this book because this is the trend today and I don’t hold it against Abhay for not writing a literary classic. An author has to write a book that sells, not a book which strikes an emotional chord with readers of Oscar Wilde or Joseph Heller or Wodehouse. In the The Paperback Badshah, a reviewer reviews Raghu’s book – “I am shocked at the alarming fall in the quality of Indian fiction writing in today’s times.” Well, you get my point.