Book Review: 60 Minutes By Upendra Namburi
Going by the cover of the book and the praise showered on it, a reader would definitely want “60 Minutes” to stay true to its name and praise. But it is anything but that. The book is about the rivalry that exists between two ‘hot shots’ of corporate world; a romance that goes sour and turns into jealousy; pressures of a contemporary urban lifestyle and how it can take a toll on you, your mind and your life; It is also a book that delves into the world of stock market and how it is a make and break situation for many; It is also a book that shows how ambition can turn ruthless at times; It is a book of too many things woven into one. All the drama enfolds in plain 60 minutes.
The book travels between the present, past and then back to present. By the time, you fathom what happens in the book, you are clueless. While trying to be ‘racy’, the book becomes a confused mess with situations whose descriptions go on and on and on. Basically, you just want to say “Enough, that’s it!” The author, Upendra Namburi, tries to touch upon several subjects of relevance and debate but in the end, it all becomes a messy affair.
Set in Mumbai, the book has three main characters- Agastya, the chief marketing officer of an FMCG company- BCL, who is all set for the most important product launch of his career, which is scheduled in 60 minutes; Maithili is Agastya’s love interest or mistress to say the least, who threatens to disclose their affair to his wife and the media if he does not come up with 15 crores in the very 60 minutes during which he has his product launch; the third most important character is Sailesh- Agastya's arch rival who is the chief marketing officer of Stark, BCL’s arch rival and biggest competitor. While Agastya is waiting for the biggest product launch of his career, Sailesh is all set to do anything to stop Agastya from this product launch and he too precisely has 60 minutes to destroy his rival.
60 minutes begins at 2.30 pm, exactly 60 minutes prior to the product launch of BCL. As Agastya brainstorms hard to figure out a smooth launch for his company’s product, Maithili storms into his cabin and claims 15 crores in the next one hour, else she goes to his wife and the press. Yes you got it right. Just like Bollywood movies, Agastya is married to Nandita and has two children too. Nandita is by far the weakest character in the book, who is oblivious of Agastya's first marriage and does not suspect his infidelity at all (Agastya is her “pati parmeshwar” after all). She appears and disappears from the story just like how the words disappear from a sheet of paper as you erase them.
The independent and stern Maithili is a confused character in the book. She is strong and yet attempts suicide. She reminds you of the vamps that you see in Ekta Kapoor’s serials or Bollywood movies. She is seen sleeping with Agastya at her will despite fighting with him, abusing him and challenging him. If that’s not all, she is also in a live-in relationship with Ismail, an alcoholic divorcee, who abuses her and she meekly surrenders to him. The third protagonist, Sailesh hardly has any background story apart from his professional life. He is married to Tanya, who as the story unfolds is seen sleeping with (yes you got that right) Agastya. (This man loves to sleep around with women)
The author, Upendra Namburi tries desperately to build the characters and their background within the ‘racy’ 60 minutes. As a reader, I struggled to keep tap with every now and then flashback scene. What’s worse is by the time you know what is happening, you return to the past, and trust me it has absolutely no sense what so ever to the current story. Corporate politics, share market and most importantly sex are the so called ‘essence’ of the book. The sex depicted in the book is violent with screaming, biting, pushing and beating all put into one. The best part is all the women put up with this violent sex willingly.
I took up this book because I had to review it. Sadly, after reading this book, the choice for the second book review was absolutely a nightmare. The book is a mere caricature of Bollywood movies. Either the author is too influenced by such Bollywood style drama or he was just plainly attempting at it. The descriptions are so vivid, about everything from the background stories, to how the corporate hierarchies work and not to forget the adrenaline rush one gets when placed in front of the stock market situations.
The book is 360 pages long and it is far-fetched to the core. With an experience in sales and marketing, Upendra Namburi tries to offer a peep inside the inner machinations of a competitive business. But he fails to make an impact with his story as well as the characters. Read it if you have no other choice in the world.