Love, Peace and Happiness

One of the critical aspects for the success of a story is the ability to draw the reader into it. Usually the authors achieve this through the strength of the narrative. But you would expect something more from an expert marketer. Whereas stories usually involve the reader as a passive participant, Mr. Rituraj Verma leverages internet to involve the reader as an active participant in the story. He gives his readers the opportunity to come up with alternate endings for the stories on the website promising to incorporate some of the endings in the next print of his book. This is a new paradigm in story writing that I am sure will be replicated by many writers in the coming years. This has been done by movie makers to some extent, especially in Malayalam movies. They have different endings for the same movie at different locations based on the crowd sentiment at different places. But this is the first time I have seen readers participating in the story writing process.

Mr. Rituraj is an experienced marketing professional and that is reflected in the book. More than literary aspects it is the marketing aspects that make this book extremely fascinating. He seemed to have gone about designing his book like a marketer would design and sell a product. To start with, he seems to have got his market research right. The book has all the aspects that sell well in India today: love, sex, parent child relationships, new age philosophy, IIT, IIM, reality shows etc. Then the branding through a catchy title: ‘Love, Peace and Happiness”. It kind of conveys the theme very well. The name reminds one of ‘Love, Sex aur Dhoka’ and ‘Dil Dosti etc.”, movies with similar kind of themes. Then we have this innovative concept of actively involving the reader in the story leveraging the internet. It will be interesting to see publishers and other authors taking up this concept and developing it further.

In terms of content, the themes are those that Indian audience can relate to. The narrative is very simple and the stories maintain a reasonable pace that manages to hold the attention of the reader throughout. Some of the characters are memorable. He also manages to keep the reader’s attention by creating linkages between the different stories. Though the book is a collection of individual short stories, characters from one story make their appearance in other story or in some way are related to characters in other stories. So reader has to flex his mental muscle to remember the other story in which the character made an appearance, sometimes going back to the old story. This again keeps the reader awake. Of course these linkages seemed contrived at times. But I feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

To maintain the balance of a review, one can’t but help point out deficiencies perceived. The first thing that comes to your mind is that he is no magician with words. This is an advantage as well, as it helps connect to a wider audience rather than being restricted to a select class of people. Another aspect was that I could not personally relate to most of the situations in the stories. The story is supposed to be about middle aged middle class folks. But I have encountered no such situations in my life and that of my friends. It seemed quite alien to me though I belong to the class the book is supposed to be about. It seems more relevant to younger or more affluent circles. Or could be it is just me as the author claims the stories are derived from personal experiences.

All in all, if not from a pure literary angle, it is definitely worth a try for the marketing aspects. 200 pages in big font and simple language and priced at around 150 Rs, it taxes neither your time nor your finances. Though if the author wanted to involve me in the pricing like in the story endings, I would have suggested a price of Rs. 95 like Chetan Bhagat books.


Someone is Special said...

Hmm.. I think the same TF. In the coming days readers will be given a choice I believe. 150 is little hight for a book of 200 pages, 100 should be okay.. Once again liked your review.. :)

Someone is Special

The Fool said...

Thanks, SIS.

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