Wednesday, 7 November 2012

One Night @ the Call Centre - Chetan Bhagat

Date of Reading: 08/04/2008
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher: Reader's Digest Selected Editions
Place: Australia
Year: 2007

          I have never seen a single Chetan Bhagat fan who loves this particular book. As I am not an admirer ( and also this is an edited version of Reader's Digest), that might be the reason I find this his best work. Other day I attended a pre-Ph.D synopsis presentation on anti-globalisation in Indian literature and this was one of the selected works. It seems I am not alone.
          What is special about this one? All his other works are quite evidently autobiographical in which IIT and its entrance examinations play a major part and so this is a fresh breeze. More over,   there is the added element of supernatural; call me old fashioned, but I like a little bit of deu ex machina. Sometimes an outer help is relieving in this fast paced world. Like in 'Canterbury Tales' Chetan has succeeded in bringing together a section of Indian society in a simple setting. There is the weeping lover, sighing money maker, victimized daughter and daughter-in-law and the estranged father. On running after the much desired fame, money and reputation, they have forgotten something -- conscience and inner peace. This is their story of  finding what is needed most; simple with no adornments but truthful. 
    The author is travelling alone in the Kanpur-Delhi night train. Soon he is joined by a beautiful girl who has read his first book. She offers to tell a story on the condition that he must write on it. Chetan, though at first reluctant, agrees to hear her.
           Story revolves around a single night in a Call Centre. Six people work there on night shift at that chosen time -- Syam, Vroom (for Victor), Military Uncle, Priyanka, Radhika and Esha. Author takes the part of Syam and writes this story.
          Each has their own unique problems to suffer. Syam has just broken up with Priyanka after a long relationship and is not yet recovered. Seeing her everyday at work is not at all helping. Besides, their boss Bakshi is behaving rudely after taking credit for what Syam and Vroom has done together.
          Priyanka is compelled by her nagging mother to drop her relationship with Syam and now she is engaged to Ganesh, a man chose by her mother. Marriage is fixed for next month and that makes her worried as she does not know this would-be-husband guy that well.
          Radhika has passed over these jumping the broom troubles, but the married life is nothing as expected. For her husband's traditional family she has changed to sari, still that won't help with the mother-in-law problem. The old woman pours her husband's ear with her faults; in this particular night she finds out that her much beloved husband keeps a girl friend.
           Esha is in modelling too, and she has slept with a man in order to go forward in this career. Instead, the man sends some money as compensation and now she is haunted by guilt. She cannot meet Vroom who has an earnest interest in her.
          Vroom's parents have quarrelled today also, and that affects his mood. He has taken this job only for his money interest and is consequently can't find any satisfaction. Military Uncle, the quiet man, has a different woe to tell. He did not approve her daughter-in-law's modern ways and this conservatism has separated him from the family. Now he misses his grandchild.
          On the heap of this the news comes that they may lose their jobs too. To relax they go out together in the car which meets with an accident due to Vroom's uncontrolled, angry driving. The Qualis is struck in metal rodes and underneath is a deep pit. 
           Mobile does not have any signals, but Syam's  mobile suddenly beeps and the caller is identified as God. He makes them promise to live by listening to their inner voice and indirectly help them to escape. That makes a change.
Chetan Bhagat
          Their plan succeeds in saving the company and Vroom and Syam decide to start a web designing company together. Syam is joined with Priyanka, Radhika divorces her husband, Esha gives up modelling and devotes wholly to the Call Centre and the Military Uncle is rejoined with his son's family.
            Chetan guesses that the one who is sitting beside him is Esha. Soon the girl disappears, it was GOD.
--- the Bollywood movie 'Hello', directed by Atul Agnihotri, is based on this story, but produced an average response in Indian box office. 


  1. Yeah, not a fan of CB either. I don't think I've read his last 2-3 books. Still I do think what he has done, and mostly by some excellent marketing by the publishers and himself, is make people sit down and read, people who normally do not read. So I guess that's the silver lining to this cloud. I can only hope that once people reading his books begin to like reading in general, they move on to much better works.

    1. Sure, he is the only one who writes about the present problems of the youth and his books are affordable too.

  2. Hey there! I found your blog through Book Blogs. I'm your newest follower! :) I hope that you will stop by for a visit when you get a chance. Have a great night!

    Leigh Ann
    MaMa's Book Corner

  3. Hello - I found you on Book Blog and I'm following you. I hope you consider following me. I like your big font!

  4. This was the first book that I read by CB, year was 2007 i guess and i was working in a BPO company and had extensive night shift work experience, while reading, i could completely emphasize with Shyam, i remember starting reading at 8 p.m. and finishing late at night/early morning at around 2 am....absolutely loved it.....i immediately started looking for his celebrated 5 point some one, which i found and read one year later, and could not relate or enjoy as i had done with one night @ call center...after that read 3 mistakes of my life which i did not enjoy at all.....have not read any CB book after that....My uncle who is a literary critic also liked one night@cc when i brought this to his attention.....

    1. Same feelings here too DeeKay. Try 'Two States', which is much better.

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  8. this may be irrelevant question here, but i m struggling hard to remember the name of Novel i read long back.
    If anuyone know this Novel Name and writer, please send me at

    Writer's father gets posted to another place and writer does not like it because every time he has to make new friends and by this time his father gets posted to another place again.
    There he meets group of 4 people and falls in love with one of the girl and story starts.
    after their bachelors, they get job in jewelry showroom in Hyderabad. Their Boss gives them heavy assignments and they dont like him. One day they realize that one of gal has affair with the Boss but it was not true. He was a good man. They feel it hard to face her , but they become friends again.

    Thanks !


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