This novel on the thrills of growing up is powered by a heavy dose of male hormones and foolishness
BETWEEN THE COVERS It is a story of three B-school buddies whom we first encounter riding a decrepit scooter in the middle of the night. The book goes on to recount their adventures—and misadventures.
Acountry’s literature, not surprisingly, often resembles the macrocosm in more ways than one. If India’s democracy, for example, can be described as “vibrant, noisy and colourful”, so, too, can its fiction industry. And, like the macrocosm, the Indian fiction industry also has its own Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The former is peopled by the likes of Amitav Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri, but the popularity and clout, of course, belongs to the members of the literary Lok Sabha—people like Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi and Anuja Chauhan. Now Amitav Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri, like the good Dr Manmohan Singh or Arun Jaitley, are all very well, but the thing is they will never ever win a popular election. The Chetan Bhagats, on the other hand, are the ruling Mulayam Singhs and Jayalalithaas of the literary world, simply because they are the ones who resonate with the voting/buying public. Vipul Mittra is a recent entrant to this literary Lok Sabha. His The Dream Chasers is the story of three B-school buddies, Viraat, Sandy and Karan, whom we first encounter riding a decrepit scooter in the middle of the night, clad only in dirty, perforated chaddis, on their way to Omi’s dhaaba for a dinner of leathery parathas. The book goes on to recount their adventures—and misadventures—propelled by a mix of male hormones, foolishness, dope, angst and a common adoration of the gorgeous Mallika Mattoo.
This could have been the recipe for a wonderful comingof- age novel, but you realise pretty early on that it’s not going to be that. There are no real insights into that acheful, yet magical, stage of life which the book sets out to explore, none of the bittersweetness of transition. Instead, what we get is a dreary preoccupation with breasts and bras, whether in situ, or hanging on clotheslines, interspersed with low- altitude humour and scatological observations of things like third- class railway lavatories and assorted dermatological afflictions. The plot is too predictable, the characters too unformed, the style too adolescent. It is a book, ultimately, for 17-year-old males. It will, no doubt, get easily elected to the boisterous Lok Sabha of Indian fiction.
THE DREAM CHASERS
by Vipul Mittra Random House Price: RS 199 Pages: 284