Atulya Mahajan had sent across this book to me more than 6 months back. There were a couple of times I began to read it but due to my busy schedules at work, I couldn’t move forward. But finally, the day came and the book was read and done with in the space of just a couple of hours.
“Amreekandesi: Masters of America” is Atulya Mahajan’s first ever novel. But he is surely not a novice on the literary scene. He has regaled millions in India and across the world through his satirical comments, jokes and blog posts on social media since quite a while. So when I got to know about his book, I was more than excited to get hold of it. Does it work? Let’s check it out.
The blurb goes like this:
Atulya Mahajan’s debut novel Amreekandesi: Masters Of America is a story of two Indian boys with the same dream of making a career in America. With a touch of satire, the story relates how these Indian students meet in the US while they are searching for their fabled American Dream. The protagonists of this novel are Akhil Arora and Jaspreet Singh, who are fated to become friends in this foreign land.
These two characters come from different states in India – one is from Delhi and the other is from Punjab. Akhil Arora is portrayed as a young engineer studying in Delhi craves freedom from his overbearing family and wants to prove to them that he is capable of managing his own life.
Jaspreet Singh comes from a small town in Punjab and calls himself Jassi. He wishes to live the American dream, akin to the movie American Pie. Jassi and Akhil meet in Florida and become roommates. While studying in the States, they take up jobs for survival. They become close friends and share their hopes and dreams with each other.
Both of them are on extreme opposites as far as their perspectives are concerned. Akhil, is an ardent patriot and he wishes to return to India after spending a few years abroad. On the other hand, Jassi does not want to carry on with his Indian identity as it makes him feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. So, he has a plan to look for an American girl and settle down in America. While Akhil falls in love with Nandita, a girl he met on the flight; Jassi’s dream of living an American life is shattered at every step.
In Amreekandesi: Masters Of America the author has included his witty insights and humorous anecdotes. While chronicling the classic experience of an immigrant, the author highlights the identity crises and survival in a foreign place. He highlights how people change when they live in a foreign land.
The story is set in those times when every parent used to dream of sending his / her child to the USA. It was regarded as the land of dreams; the land where everything was perfect; the land where all the dirt, pollution and excesses like these from India were absent. The story rolls in flashback and we are introduced to two very different characters.
If one is a simple, studious and well mannered guy, the other is a guy whose main aim in life is to woo each and every girl he sees. If one wants to get away from his nagging parents and excel in life, the other wants to excel in sleeping with at least a good number of women and enjoying life to the fullest. Sentimental parents, a sweet little love story, life in a new land, defending your country against foreigners; the story brings forth all this and more.
Atulya has paced the story quite effectively with an equal dose of satire and serious drama whenever the need arises. Readers these days are normally exposed to IIT kind of love stories. But this one is quite different from them in terms of the setting and the style and therefore, it works big time. The fact that Atulya has studied in Florida State University and knows the surroundings at the back of his hand, it has surely helped him to pen the characters and the concept beautifully.
From where I see, there is no downside to this book at all. The only thing I could point out is the fact that since Atulya has always dabbled a lot in satire, some of his audience may have expected a lot more satire in the book than there already is. But then as a writer, it’s been a pleasure seeing him give equal importance to dramatic as well as satirical sequences. It quite clearly shows the skill and the effort he has taken to pen down the book.
Whether it is the determined Akhil, the ‘trying-to-be-a-dude’ Jaspreet, the cute Nandita or the ‘so-called-stud’ Priyank, all the characters in the book are quite life like. The way Atulya has created each of them, you would surely imagine any of your friends in their shoes.
Go for this one if you are game for light hearted entertainers! You won’t be disappointed!!
Rating – 4/5