As the novel begins, Bhagat is roomed with an attractive stranger aboard a train. She promises him a story, if he’ll create a novel, about six call center employees who receive a call from God. Dejected about their impending job loss and wounded from their relationship failures, the six employees head for a drink only to find themselves precariously positioned in a life or death situation upon their ride home.
A convenient phone call from God on a cell phone with fortune cookie advice and life philosophy spurs the characters forward. The novel’s struggles are conveniently solved as the story races towards its cloying ending.
Picture an Indian version of The Office with a dash of Bollywood, and One Night at the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat comes to life. Although the novel fails to break new ground, it does give voice to India’s rising youth through the lens of the booming growth of technology call centers. Young perspectives on their mind numbing work, changing relationships, and India’s increasing globalization with a dash of humor provide interest in to what is otherwise standard fare.
Chetan Bhagat’s One Night at the Call Center is an enjoyable though predictable novel focusing on six employees and their relationships while working the evening shift at one of India’s technology call centers. Shymal, who uses the name Sam when talking to American consumers, works at a generic call center on the outskirts of Dehli. Working alongside a lonely old man, an aspiring model, a neglected wife, an angry idealist, and his ex – girlfriend Shymal is at his wit’s end as the firm looks to layoffs to save costs.
Shymal finds himself contending with Priyanka, his ex – girlfriend newly engaged through an arranged marriage to an overseas Indian. His co-workers have their own difficulties, and they find themselves dominated by an incompetent and self – serving boss. With the threat of losing their jobs, the colleagues trade barbs and complain incessantly about their American consumers. Over the course of the night they scheme and prod each other wondering if they will be employed in the morning, and if their various relationships can be salvaged.
The last fifth of the novel falls flat as Bhagat employs a Deus Ex Machina to wrap the story and provide its characters with life altering perspectives. The ending is picture perfect Bollywood and is never in doubt while also providing The Life of Pi type profundity. Although the novel’s onset is entertaining, and Bhagat has a good sense of dialogue, the ending feels rushed and forced.
This article first appeared HERE.