One Night @ the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat
A mystic call…
One Night @ the Call Center, a fiction of Chetan Bhagat, is written in the setting of India. As it is a story of youngsters, love, career, and frustration the youth took much interest in the novel when it was first published in 2005.
A Hindi film was also made based on this novel titled “Hello” in 2008. This novel starts with an interesting style. The novelist was traveling on a train from Kanpur to Delhi, in his journey, he heard the story from a co-passenger and promised to write a novel on her story.
The whole story extends a night only and the action takes place in the office, Connexions Call Center. Along with love, inner conflict, and social crisis, the fictionist has brought mysticism here.
It’s about a tale of five youths and an uncle, Military Uncle working in a call center. The youths of the story are worried about their career as the story begins with their frustration. They are suffering from identity crisis.
For their customer’s convenience, Shyam Mehra has become Sam Marcy, Radhika Jha as Regina Jones and so on. All are always afraid of losing their job. If the call lists decreases and the company gets no new contracts, they will lose the job.
Everyone is seeking to do something better. Shyam and Vroom are working for a website so that they can impress their boss and get a higher position in the company. Esha is trying to be a model. It is her dream, dream of being famous.
The novel is written in the first person narrative style. Being the speaker here, Shyam is a dynamic character who suffers inner conflicts. From his mouth, the readers know the background of the story.
One of the main themes of the novel is love. Two love affairs exist here. One is of Shyam and Priyanka and the other is of Vroom and Esha. But in both couples, there are some complications. Another character, Radhika also loves her husband much but she comes to know he has a girlfriend. So, her conjugal life is on the wane. Marriage and identity crisis also play important roles as the theme of this fiction.
The most interesting episode of the novel is “The call from God.” Vroom with his colleagues, met an accident. The car carrying them was hanging on the rods. There was no hope of external help. And then Shyam’s phone was ringing and the call was from “God”. “God” wants to calm them down.
Once, “God” asked them how many calls they receive every day and which one the most important call is. Being an ex-agent of a call center, the writer of the review was also shocked for a while. They couldn’t answer. “God” said the call from him we ignore as it is very easy to ignore.
We can’t listen to his call since we are distracted. Being busy with our every small and big task, duty or responsibility, we can’t listen to his call. It is not important to us whether the duty truly deserves priority or not. We can only listen to his call when we fall a victim to the situation like hanging on the rods.
Listening to the problems of all, “God” advises them four rules for success. Most people possess the first two but the last two have to be acquired. The first two are a medium amount of intelligence and a bit of imagination. And the other two are self-confidence and failure.
Failure is the most painful one. None wants to fail, especially when they are fighting to succeed in the career. But we must face failure to be successful. It gives a lesson, makes us strong and respectful to all. Here lies the secret of success in the opinion of Chetan Bhagat.
Though the novel has received much positive criticism, there are some negative feedbacks and lacking as well. Very simple and our daily life story has been described here along with an episode of the conversation with “God”.
This episode has two opposite reactions from the readers. Some find it is unique and there is a teaching and other think it has made the story funny. However, this novel gives young people a new view to look back to their life and boost their life with the lesson from “God.”
The writer of this review is an alumnus of Institute of Modern Languages, University of Dhaka.