New Delhi: In life you never get what you deserve: you get what you negotiate. Vikas Swarup, the author of Q&A, the novel that inspired the Oscar-winning film 'Slumdog Millionaire', has come up with another page turner - 'The Accidental Apprentice'. As plot-driven narrations go, 'The Accidental Apprentice' has the hallmarks of a successful screenplay and might just hit pay dirt as 'Slumdog' did in 2009.
From the start, you cannot help but notice that the 'Apprentice', which sets a fast enough pace, would make a better movie script than a novel. It has all the ingredients of a paperback you would perhaps finish on an 18-hour train journey.
Sapna Sinha works in an electronics store in downtown Delhi. She hates her job, but she is ambitious and determined to succeed, and she knows without the money she brings in, her family won't be able to survive. Little does she know it, but her life is about to change forever.
As she leaves the shop on her lunch break one day, she is approached by a man who claims to be CEO of one of India's biggest companies. He tells her he is looking for an heir for his business empire. And that he has decided it should be her. But there are seven tests she must pass. And then the biggest lottery ticket of all time will be hers.
What would you do if, out of the blue, a billionaire industrialist decided to make you the CEO of his company?
The premise is so flimsy that you will find yourself rolling your eyes throughout and can spot the prime suspect from a mile away.
The seven tests from the 'textbook of life', as Swarup's main protagonist calls them, are everyday events that would not require prior preparations. There are many loose ends in this thriller but you have to give it to Swarup for keeping his reader hooked till the end of this page-turner.
Is Vinay Mohan Acharya, one of India's richest men, playing a cat-and-mouse game with Sapna? Will she escape all this with her life? Despite yourself, you will catch yourself thinking how this story might turn out on the big screen. The film rights for Swarup's second novel after Q&A, Six Suspects, have already been sold.
Along her way she meets memorable personalities, from a Bollywood superstar to a Gandhian social worker, who will strongly remind you of Kareena Kapoor and Anna Hazare.
Slumdog Millionaire was one of the biggest films of the decade and changed the lives of the Indian actors who starred in it, including Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Dev Patel and Irrfan. Kapoor bagged Hollywood roles after his performance as the mildly obnoxious host of the hugely popular game show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'.
Pinto went on to star in 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger', 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes', 'Trishna' and 'Immortals' while Kapoor bagged 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol'.
Book: 'The Accidental Apprentice'; Written by Vikas Swarup; Published by Simon & Schuster; Price: Rs 350