Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vikas Swarup's "The Accidental Apprentice"

The third novel by Vikas Swarup of "Q & A" (Slumdog Millionaire)-fame, "The Accidental Apprentice" is a novel featuring convenient co-incidences and plot machinations about an ordinary salesgirl Sapana Sinha who has to face extraordinary events in her life. A filthy-rich tycoon, Vijaya Mohan Acharya, approaches Sapana out of the blue one day and proposes her to become the CEO of his company which has budget of billions of rupees. The catch is that she has to pass seven tests that examine her worthiness to become the CEO. Sapana reluctantly agrees to the tests and thus embarks on a dangerous journey which changes her life forever. The novel hurtles ahead on a fast pace and as the plot thickens, readers are sucked into the story. Many characters come and go as Sapana moves from one test to another. Contemporary issues like hunger-strike against corruption, media-circus, organs-donating rackets, exploitation of child labor, corporate rivalry, the truth of reality shows and so on are introduced as tests Sapana goes through. Friends turn out to be having hidden agendas and perceived enemies turn out to be friends. Happenstance and chance play major roles in propelling the narrative forward and cheap filminess appears now and then. It seems that Swarup has started playing to the gallery and has invested his talent in churning out tawdry novels after the success of "Q &A" which was a serious commentary on the dark side of modern India. The two successive novels (the second being "Six Suspects") are merely its pale copies.

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