Let me be honest. I had never heard of this book when the author contacted me for a review. After a few recent disappointments in books, I knew better to keep my expectations low, so when the book arrived I was neither too excited nor too eager. And this worked out well because I was pleasantly surprised with the book.
Bala takes the plunge is about Bala and the plunge here refers to his attempt at entering the matrimonial world. Bala is a single man living in the United States and earning a handsome salary. He wants to find a bride for himself before his parents find one and force him to marry her. The main thread of the book is how Bala tries to find a woman, but we do get glimpses of Bala’s childhood and his life back in India.
The book is generously peppered with humor. Humor is a difficult genre (didn’t I say the same thing in my last review) and Durai scores well here. He is witty and humorous. His play with words leaves you laughing your heart out. There are some places where the humor looks too stretched. It looks as if Durai was trying too hard to come up with something witty. The jokes involving the gay character are examples.
Durai builds memorable characters. Bala evokes your emotions – you sympathize with him when a girl rejects him and rejoice when he finds a new candidate. Bala’s mom and dad add the right amount of humor required. Bala’s colleagues and his numerous potential candidates add variety and keep your interest perked. Even here the gay character was an eye sore. Also, I felt Bala’s colleagues could have used some more depth.
Our guy, Bala, is a big Rajinikant fan and I am guessing, so is the author. You will see dialogues from Rajini’s movies come up here and there. For someone like me who is not familiar with Tamil and Rajini’s dialogues, it’s interesting to read them in English. Every time I read a dialogue, I imagined Rajini delivering those lines with one of his well-known style.
I felt the ending was too rushed. It was obvious what was coming, but the way things culminated – it was a bit less dramatic and less romantic. Durai could have given more justification to Bala’s decision and made it more realistic.
A book’s cover makes the first impression on a reader’s mind. Durai’s book fails in this category. The book cover (at least the edition that I read), designed by Kedarnath Gupta, is tasteless. It does not depict the humor that the book is full of. The colors are drab and uninteresting. At the first glance, it was hard for me to even read the title and the author’s name.
Melvin Durai was born in India and is settled in North America. He writes humor columns and has won many accolades. For someone who was not brought up in India, Durai paints a realistic picture of India and the Indian culture. Melvin’s debut book comes as a breeze of fresh air when many Indian writers are attempting at writing books and failing. The book is short and sweet – it tickles your funny bones. For the small price, the book is value for money. I hope Durai takes this forward and writes a sequel. It will be interesting to read Bala’s take on the matrimonial world.