Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If God was a Banker

If God was a Banker

Ravi Subramanian

After many months, I could get to read a novel thanks to a long flight and here’s my account of it.

I somehow tend to like stories that are told in more than a few flashbacks and therefore I enjoyed the story telling style (even the 2 or 3 amateur stories written by me in my blog are told in a flashback). But all along I could get the feeling that the plot is a complete pickup from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. While Ayn Rand pitched the two protagonists on the creative profession of architecture, the author here pitched his two on the hottest career of our times – banking. It’s been a long time when I read The Fountainhead, and I don’t recollect if we had anyone who can be labeled as God for both the protagonists. This seems to be the only difference between the two novels – here we have a God (who never showed any godliness except that of forgiveness) for taking care of both of them.

Sundeep and Swami start from the same professional backgrounds – management diplomas from IIMs. But it is surprising that Swami was shown to be way too modest even after spending 2 years in IIMA. It did not feel very nice to know that my alma mater was shown not instilling enough aggressiveness in its students. Anyway, Sundeep filled the vacuum. A few other things seemed to be not correct chronologically but one would not have given them any importance had the author himself not made it too realistic by using certain names especially of organizations.

The story could have been more to my liking if it had a little less of the excessive explicitness of sexual encounters of one of the protagonists. At times it seemed that the author is trying very hard to emulate Khushwant Singh but then Singh’s novels have a much smoother flow.

Enough of negative criticism. I did like the novel for its style of story telling. The pace was good and emotions seemed real. It also captured the politics, dramas etc that go on in banking circles – just that there were no inter-bank scenes. They are pretty common too and I wished they were captured somehow.

In the story, Sundeep and Swami, pass outs of IIMs join a foreign bank in India and in the first week impress their boss – Aditya who plays the God. The two take different paths to success – Sundeep takes short-cuts to climb up the ladder and pocket the moolah as well, while Swami takes the hard way full of sincerity and hard work. And as any Bollywood movie would reach its climax, Sundeep gets trapped in his own actions and is asked to give resignation by the bank while Swami is elevated to higher posts. Aditya, the God comes to the rescue of Sundeep as he did in past for both Sundeep and Swami despite Sundeep’s bad behavior with him during Sundeep’s rise.

All in all, an OK one time read, but don’t do the mistake that I did – purchasing the novel. Read it by borrowing it.