Author: Sidin Vadukut
For anyone in India who has been a blog writer/reader for most part of the decade gone by, Sidin Vadukut is no stranger. His blog Domain Maximus is one of India’s most popular, if not THE most popular blogs in India. (That would be Amit Varma, no Sidin?). None-the-less despite having been a blogger whose frequency won’t exactly lead you to believe that the internet is an instant medium; Sidin has more often than not produced post after post that has been worth the wait. As a wannabe novelist who was given his first break in print by Sidin himself I’ve always considered him as someone I look up to. Reviewing Dork – Sidin’s debut novel was thus a case of tables turning (well kinda).
After failing to save enough money to buy the book when it was launched at The Kala Ghoda Festival by the beautiful Gul Panag (will you make fraandsheep with me please?), I didn’t manage to get my paws on my very own copy of Dork till Sidin dropped by in the city once again as part of his book tour. Three sittings of an hour or so each later, I’d managed to finish the book which says something about how engaging the book can be if it hooks you. At the same time though, it felt like the book ended too quickly and a tad too abruptly which is understandable from the writer’s point of view considering there are two more books to go in the trilogy and giving too much away in the first installment itself would leave nothing much for the rest. But from a reader’s perspective, it seems like Varghese exits stage right without a proper goodbye which is a bit of letdown in comparison to the fun and frenzy of the final 30 odd pages.
Earlier on, the book starts in similar manner with our hero Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese trying to impress the corporate fat-cats on day zero of campus placements at WIMWI. With a mixture of Zen Yoga, Pranayam, and utter disconnect from the outer world Varghese sits for one ‘successful’ interview after the other (including one that is relayed live to Singapore!) until he lands a job with a company that’s shoulders and head above the other mid-level consulting firms in India (with a robust work pipeline) called Dufresne (Dew-Frain). Liberally using his artistic license to create a character that’s often too weird to be true, Vadukut manages keep the chuckles flowing with gaalis and gags on every page. Though the shtick does wear thin on a few occasions, the author manages to pick up the pace every time it begins to slacken,( or when he realizes that he has just written 18 pages worth MS-Excel jokes!) and credit must go to him for this.
Pretty soon our Malayalee Engineer-MBA lad lands in the big city with grandiose dreams of making passionate animal love to his long-time crush Gouri Kalbag (who to his misfortune finds him at his worst moments), and of course a larger than life target of becoming an associate with Dufresne in record breaking time. The fact that he is going to achieve these seemingly insurmountable feats is a given, and that he won’t reach there without a comedy of errors and a few happy co-incidences is as certain as a Chetan Bhagat novel debuting at No.1 and staying there(defying all common sense). That coupled with the fact that most of the humor is utterly contextualized could have been a perfect recipe for disaster if Sidin was not as gifted a writer as he is. The never-ending, borderline psychotic, breathless sentences that Varghese types in his diary each night keep the reader sufficiently distracted enough to not notice these flaws (and that Vadukut has cleverly written a short cut novel).
To cut the guy some slack on the other hand, some of the gags are ROFL worthy in their truest sense. One waits for Varghese to get drunk and pass out, only to find out the mess he has created later (like Frankenstein’s monster with an MBA and a low tolerance for anything more than two pegs). And despite the fact that there isn’t much room for other characters besides Varghese, characters like Jenson, Anandakumari , Yogita Kale and Kanjany Ammamma (May her soul rest in peace!) manage to steal the spotlight every time they’re allowed to take some print space away from Varghese. Sidin’s real gift however lies in his ability to make you choke with laughter at seemingly irrelevant details (such as Rosita’s pointy underwear or the husky, but not like Rani Mukerji voice of a hot young subordinate).
All in all, neither the story nor the lead character are utterly novel. Einstein for example reminded me a lot of Albert Brennaman from Hitch who may just go the Michael Scott from The Office way in the next part or so. Still, Einstein has a voice of his own, and his unique approach to life is one that will keep a satisfied reader from part one engaged enough to return for part 2.
That Vadukut has managed to create a character that is likeable and fun to follow only raises expectations for the next part. And given his tendency to go all Baby’s Trip To China with sequels, one sincerely hopes that the author will be able to churn out a tighter, longer sequel (with a tad more attention to peripheral characters and out of office scenarios). Definitely put me down for a copy of Dork II and hopefully next time, Gul will make the fraandsheeps with me also.
Overall Rating: 8 on 10.