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Booktalk - Along The Way

Do you love masala movies? If you do, then you’ll definitely like Along The Way. To be true to the style of the book, it is the story of one Mr. VSA Tanikaburla by Mr. TGC Prasad. Venkata Subramaniam Adisankara Tanikaburla, also called as Venkat or more jovially as VSAT is our hero - who starts off as a very unassuming third year mechanical engineering student at NIT, Kozhikode and ends up as a... easy to guess if you like or at least have watched a masala movie - especially the Telugu or Tamil varieties.

When you watch one such movie, you can predict what will happen next. This book is very similar, since it is full of cliches of the ‘boy-meets-girl’ kind and has everything - love, friendship, family, sorrow, trials and triumphs, except one thing - fights. In spite of the cliches, I couldn’t help laughing at the so many humorous digs at friends, girlfriends, parents, in-laws and most importantly - managers at workplaces. And our hero is honest enough to be “vocally self-critical”(learnt this phrase during my own appraisal!).

The book is taut. You are never aware of the 350 pages until you come to the last page. Some of the portions though are quite artificial. Especially the places where our hero turns into a hero, saving the day. And there are mistakes galore. Hopefully, Rupa, the publisher, will employ an editor to proofread the book once more before they send in another edition to print.

This book is a page-turner, no doubt. But honestly, this is not a book that is going to win any literary prize; for popularity, may be, but definitely not Booker material. For that very reason, this is a book that will keep you entertained for a journey that spans a few hours. There are no philosophical conundrums that will leave you confused; no uncomfortable passages or questions that create a moral dilemma in you; not even tough words that need a dictionary to crack. Instead, all you have are characters and incidents that you can relate to.

That is an important factor, which makes this book appealing - you can identify yourself with at least one of the characters or recognize similarities with people you know in these characters or recall similar incidents you have encountered. It’s like exclaiming: “Hey! This character is similar to my own friend or boss or grandad” or “Hey! I’ve been through a similar situation - during my courtship or interview or at the workplace.” I call this the “Hey!” factor (with the ‘!’)

TGC Prasad, therefore, has given us a book whose characters and events weave in and out of our own lives. It is worth a solid 3 out of 5 stars. It is a movie that you dont want to end. It is a book that you feel like you have lived - are living.


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