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Sunday, May 4, 2008

One Night @ the Call Center or ON@CC

One Night @ the Call Center or ON@CC is a novel written by Chetan Bhagat and first published in 2005. The novel revolves around a group of six call center employees working in Connexions call center in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon in Haryana. It is filled with a lot of drama with unpleasant things happening to all of the leading characters. The story takes a dramatic and decisive turn when they get a phone call from God.
This is the second best-selling novel from the award winning author.

Plot introduction
The story begins with a train journey from Kanpur to Delhi, During the journey, the author meets a very beautiful girl. The girl offers to tell the author a story on the condition that he has to make it into his second book. After a lot of hesitation, the author agrees.

Claimed to be based on a true story, the author chooses a person named Shyam Mehra (alias Sam Marcy) as the protagonist, who is one among the six call center employees featuring in the novel. The remaining are Esha Singh (Eliza Singer), Radhika Jha (Regina Jones), Varun "Vroom" Malhotra (Victor Mell), Priyanka and Military Uncle. All of them belong to the same team and their manager is a person named Subhash Bakshi, who is a very cunning and negative person.

and the narrator of the story.He lives in Gurgaon, Haryana with his parents. He is portrayed as a very ordinary person, someone who can be easily related with. He used to have girlfriend called Priyanka who works in the same Call Center as he does. He loves her even after breaking up and is quite frequently shown dreaming about the good and bad times that he spent with her.

One of the main reasons for his break-up was that Priyanka's mother did not approve of Shyam as she felt that in order to wed her daughter, Shyam should at least be a team leader. Shyam tries hard to become a team leader , but his current manager Bakshi dissapproves him saying that Shyam is not a go-getter. Shyam feels that Bakshi is very bad under, yet he continues to work since he has very few options. Shyam works with Vroom on a Troubleshooting Website, which he feels he should be able to get the required recognition that makes him eligible for the post of teamleader.

Shyam also has a temporary girlfriend Shefali whom he doesn't approve of completely, but still hangs on to go ahead with life. She is a hopelessly romantic girl and quite stereotyped.

Priyanka is a typical. She loves Shyam, the protagonist of the story, but breaks up due to difference of opinion and also due to her mother's constant disapproval of Shyam. Priyanka is frustrated with her mother and has a difference of opinion on almost everything. Priyanka is a woman who strongly stands against whatever she feels as irrational and wrong.i.e.,a pure form of feminist who can become the president of women's liberation society. There are two incidents that justify her behavior 1) During a date with Shyam, she reprimands an old lady who curses her daughter in law. 2) When she slaps Vroom for abusing Esha . Priyanka later breaks up with Shyam due to his incompetence and "too compromising" attit She still continues to work with him ,to see him go-strong one day and when he finally does,she approves him once again.

Vroom's original name is told to be Varun Malhotra. He is popular with the former due to his fascination for high speed and cars. A media person by heart. He stands for what he feels is right and rebels against whatever he finds unethical. His call centre alias is Victor Mell. He is portrayed as a confused but patriotic person, who is dissatisfied with himself. Vroom has strong anti-American feelings. He is infatuated towards Esha, but she doesn't approve his relation as she wants to go ahead with career in modeling. Later he finds out that she slept with a fashion designer in order to get a favor from him. In fit of rage he belittles her in front of his team. Later on he apologizes to her after being seriously reprimanded and slapped by priyanka.Varun worked with Shyam on a Troubleshooting Website which happens to be a big success but he eventually finds out that his boss bhakshi has taken all the credit for it and he plans for revenge.

Esha's full name is Esha Singh and her Call Center alias is Eliza Singer. She is shown to be a highly attractive girl with aspirations for a modeling career.Esha has trouble getting opportunity as she is considered not tall enough to be a good model. Though she had feelings for Vroom, she disapproves the relationship fearing that he would might find out about a misdeed she has done in the past and he might eventually ditch her.

Misdeed: She accepts for a sexual favor from a fashion designer in order to model in a fashion show. But after being ditched by the fashion designer after the sexual favor is satisfied, she feels betrayed(even though she still doesn’t leave behind her modeling aspirations)

Radhika is a married woman trying hard to keep things together at her home. Her husband often works away from home. She takes care of her demanding and extremely traditional In-laws during the day and does her work at the call center at night. Although this tends to get too demanding, she never complains as she loves her husband. Later she finds out that her husband is seeing another girl behind her back and she plans for divorce.

Military Uncle
He is the only elderly person in the team, who handles clients via chatting. He lives separately on his own after parting ways from his son who has broken up ties with him due to misunderstanding.

His full name is Subhash Bakshi and is shown to be a bad person in the book. He tries to show off his management skills by using lot of management jargon. Bakshi is a typical bad boss who thrives on the achievements of his team members and constantly demotivates them with all types of rhetoric.

Major themes
One of the salient features of this novel is that all the characters featuring in this novel have a dramatic and disturbing event during the night when they receive a call from God.

Shyam's woes
Shyam is very upset to learn that Priyanka is engaged to a person called Ganesh Gupta, who works at Microsoft in the US. To add to his woes, he is horrified to learn that Bakshi had cheated him, and Vroom, by submitting the Troubleshooting Website to the Boston centre as his own without crediting himself and Vroom.

Priyanka's woes
Priyanka is first happy when she is engaged to Ganesh Gupta, who works for Microsoft. But is furious when she hears that her parents have planned her marriage the very next month; which she feels is too early. Both her mother and Ganesh press her to agree to this proposal. She is even more saddened by the fact that Shyam was eavesdropping on her conversation with Ganesh. When Vroom and Shyam show her that Ganesh had forged his pictures to hide his baldness, she disapproves Ganesh for having cheated her.

Esha's woes
Esha had earlier done a compromise by sleeping with a designer to get a modeling contract. However the guy turned out to be opportunistic as he betrays her by telling that she can't become a model due to her height. He also tries to console her by sending her some money. Esha feels terribly betrayed and tries to suppress the mental pain by inflicting herself with physical pain by purposely cutting her skin.

Vroom's woes
Vroom is shocked to learn that Bakshi has cheated him and Shyam by submitting their work as his own. To add to his miseries, he overhears Esha telling the other girls that she had slept with a designer to get a modeling contract.

Radhika's woes
Radhika, who loved her husband very much, is shocked to learn about his dark side. When Vroom calls up her husband portraying as a radio jockey and asks him to dedicate roses and a song to someone special, he chooses his girlfriend over his wife. Radhika who listens this gets terribly upset as her husband has betrayed her.

Military Uncle's woes
Military Uncle tries to be nice to his son and grandson. But when he sends some pictures via mail to his grandson; his son loses his cool and asks him to keep out of his life. This leaves Military Uncle heartbroken.

Phone call from God
The phone call from God is one of the salient features in the novel. The author has represented god as a friendly figure rather than a boss. He is shown as speaking in modern English rather than the stereo-typical pure English or Latin that one usually encounters God saying. The circumstances in which the characters of the novel get a phone call from God is discussed in the next paragraph.

In order to cheer themselves up, all the lead characters of the novel decide to go and enjoy at a night club. After enjoying for a while, they leave for office. Midway through the journey, Vroom starts to feel nauseated after drinking alcohol and so they stop and venture out. Vroom throws up and also breaks the window-pane of a shop thus spreading an alarm. They rush out of the place in fear. While returning, they face a life-threatening situation when their Qualis crashes into a construction site hanging over a mesh of iron construction rods. As the rods began to yield slowly, they started to panic. They are unable to call for help as there is no mobile phone network at that place. In this situation, Shyam's mobile phone starts ringing.

The phone call is from God. He speaks to all of them and gives them suggestions to improve their life. After that, God also advises them on how to get their vehicle out of the construction site. The conversation with God motivates the group to such an extent that they get ready to face their problems with utmost determination and motivation. Meanwhile Vroom and Shyam hatch up a plan to throw Bakshi out of the call center and prevent the closing of Connections call center, whose employees are to be downsized radically.
Posted by Bookworm at 1:51 PM |


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