Book Review – Love, Life & A Beer Can! by Prashant Sharma

The book, Love, Life & A Beer Can! has been written by debutant author Prashant Sharma, an alumnus of Delhi College of Engineering (2007 batch) and IIM Lucknow (2009 batch). He works in an MNC bank. The inspiration behind the book was the thought that one moment of madness could change whatever you have done in life – good or bad. Besides, he always wanted to write a book. He enjoys watching movies and cricket.

The book, Love, Life & A Beer Can! revolves around Raj; in a society which lays over -emphasis on education and educational achievement. Raj aspires to become a Bollywood actor or a cricketer all his life. The book describes Raj’s journey with three of his friends – Sandeep (nicknamed Saand), Ram Niwas (or Rondu) and Lokesh (or Chotu).

Raj Malhotra, 5’10” tall, skinny, fair, spectacled, and weighing 49 Kgs. does not really fit into the category, whom one would imagine as being an actor. On top of it, he has never been on stage, forget about performing in a play. Guess it’s just the charm of the glamorous city of Mumbai that allures him and calls him to Mumbai. Born and brought up in Delhi, Raj loses his parents at the age of 3 when they fall off a crowded bus (as he grows up, he hears another version of the story, which is, that his parents were pushed off by someone in an act of insanity) and is hence taken care of by his paternal uncle and aunt who are a childless couple.

Like all parents, Raj’s parents (his uncle and aunt) want him to excel in studies and earn a very high income, almost oblivious to the fact that he could have other dreams of his own – of being the next Shah Rukh Khan or Sachin Tendulkar. Hence begins Raj’s journey in the rat race in which all of us run willingly or unwillingly. Even though Raj tries his hand at acting and moves to Mumbai for a short period of time, he soon leaves just before his engineering college is about to begin and has faced a number of harsh realities in the Tinsel Town- gay photographers, the infamous “casting couch” and was almost on the verge of being a porn star!

At the engineering college, he meets his friends for life – Chotu, Rondu and Saand and they together begin their journey of love, friendship, pink slips at the job, trips to Nainital, Goa, prison and their constant efforts and desperation to lose their virginity.

Again, in a society that lays too much emphasis on education, Raj is forced by his parents to join an MBA college where initially he does enjoy the professionalism – punctuality, group projects etc. and then finally ends up hating the same.

Finally, Raj marries a girl from his MBA college whom he does not love but ties the knot under societal pressure. He does finally fall in love with her after an extra-marital fling and the birth of his son to his wife.

All in all, the book falls in the now popular category of mass-market fiction involving college life sprinkled with a handful of friends, a few love affairs, harsh professors and a stinking existence, had it not been for the friends. Though the book has a few hilarious incidents, it is not very well structured. The protagonist in the book narrates some incident at his job, then suddenly postpones it for later and moves back to his engineering college days and pre-placement days. He talks about them and then moves to the MBA college and then back again to the engineering first year and so on, throughout the book. At the end of it all, one does get the entire story but it distracts the reader from the flow when the author jumps from one incident to the other in a non chronological order.

The only surprise element in the book is when Raj kills a man by pushing him off a crowded bus to avenge his parents’ death. A fact that he keeps mentioning throughout the book, though only in the end we get to know who that person was.

All in all, not a recommended book in my opinion, though the author could be appreciated for his good narrating skills (even though they are in a non chronological order), not a bad attempt for a debutant author.

Akanksha Sharma