Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Beaten by Bhagath!: A Tale of Two Writers by S. V. Divvaakar

Title : Beaten by Bhagath!
Author : S.V. Divvaakar
Genre : Fiction
Publisher :
Leadstart Publication
Pages : 193
My Rating : 7/10
Reviewed For :
Author / First Reads Challenge 2013 / South Asian Challenge 2013 / IQRC 2013


‘I’m sure you can do a much better job than Bhagath!’
When BB hears these inspiring words from his sexy lady boss, his staid life as a successful analyst in an MNC goes into a tailspin.
Bitten by the ego bug and smitten by her, BB sets off on his quest to write a book that’s better than India’s greatest writer Dr.Bhagath’s blockbusters. Nothing unusual about this for BB, who likes a good fight. Except that he and Bhagath had been classmates and friends at college.
What follows is a roller-coaster voyage of the debutant author and his book, with all its twists and cul-de-sacs. Brushes with publishers, celebrities, retailers, book chains, and competition with the alliances among giants, mark the challenger’s journey, upping the stakes at every stage.

Will BB catch up with his famous friend?
What will their encounter be like?

Written from inside the ring, ‘Beaten by Bhagath’ is a gripping tale ...the first-ever about the unseen side of the wonderland of Indian fiction

My Review:

Beaten by Bhagath is one of those reads that can be termed as a “book of facts” about the current and ever-expanding publishing industry in India. Through his protagonist, the author presents before us a full, if a little cynical, picture of the world of a debut author, his struggles as his book clambers into the world of fiction & publishing, every small accomplishment that seems like a herculean win, the disaster i.e. failure waiting to happen and its aftermath. S.V. Divvaakar (SVD) like many of the budding authors, muses if there is indeed a winning formula to writing fiction and if at all, it exists then what it might be.

BB, an executive in a MNC is happy spending his days on the side-lines whilst writing reports and earning profits for his company.  However, an off-hand compliment from his sexy lady boss (talk about woman power!!) on his writing skills and creativity sets off our protagonist into action. To top it up, the lady boss unknowingly sets the stakes high for BB by comparing him with the country’s most successful and prominent writer Dr. Ketan Bhagath. But what we don’t know is that best-selling author Ketan Bhagath & our protagonist, BB go a long way back. From hostel room-mates to partners-in-crime to classmates to friends in college life, BB & Ketan (K-10 as he was known then) have had a couple of colourful years together. However, in the present day, boosted by a single compliment, BB immediately takes this impulsive decision not only to pen down an entire novel but also to beat Bhagath in his own game i.e. Writing. And thus armed with an aggressive obsession to churn out a read better than K-10, BB sets off to explore the dangerous and unknown minefield i.e. the Indian Publishing Industry. What ensues is the ride of BB’s life with sharp curves and steep inclines as he moves through the various phases of his literary sojourn.

The most applaud-able fact of this read is that, SVD not only takes us through each phase of publishing – from the initial exhilaration of deciding to become an author, to going into a panic mode whilst deciding a plot, to writing down the actual book, to finding a decent publisher, to promoting it quite effectively, to the book finally making its way into the hands of the readers, to hitting the hard reality – but also lays out the facts bare – as they are – without sugar-coating them. SVD draws from his own experience as an author and has broken many myths about publishing with this read. While most of us believe that the author’s work is done after he/she lands a publication deal, SVD points out that the journey is actually uphill from here for the author. The author not only has to handle the hullabaloo around the publication and promotion of his book but also has to keep up with the latest technology & maintain his presence on the various social platforms. The readers also get a glimpse into the working methods of online stores, leading chain bookstores, the stocking & distribution of books and the advent of eBook market.

Another highlight of this novel is that it is sharply satirical with each chapter giving an elaborate view of the kaleidoscopic publishing industry.  Also, you will laugh out loud at the cleverly twisted names the author uses for different publishers & e-sites throughout the narration. This read clearly etches out the struggles of a debut author & portrays their emotions, hurdles, backbreaking work, time, patience & resources required on the author’s part quite vividly. However, SVD also provides some very useful & important tips to the aspiring authors out there.

Coming to the plot, it itself is a bit of a drag at the outset & threatens to run off its course with BB going back into the past. However, the plot picks up pace once we come back to the present before losing its charm in the end again. Most of the characters are under developed since they are created with the sole intention of providing a specific lesson and then they vanish into thin air. Also, there are a couple of parallels drawn between a book and many things, which might not go well with book lovers.

For newbie writers planning to get published and surviving in the literary world, this book is your guide. For others, this novel does take some patience at the beginning, but as you proceed, you will get to know the pattern our publishing industry.

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