Vikas Swarup’s spectacular debut novel opens in a jail cell in Mumbai, India, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is being held after correctly answering all twelve questions on India’s biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school could win such a contest. But through a series of exhilarating tales Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question.
Swarup takes the interesting plot device of aligning each chapter with one of the questions on Who Will Win a Billion? — India’s answer to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I love the idea that small details in our lives will someday matter greatly, and Swarup is creative in his application of that thought.
However, some of the chapters become repetitive or melodramatic. There is little suspense, since we know that Ram answers the questions correctly and if he had cheated, there would be no real story to tell. I felt that the film was superior to the book because the suspense holds throughout the film, and I felt the love story was told in a more compelling way in the film.
In the end, this is one of only a handful of times that I’ll recommend people to watch the movie rather than read the book.
If you’d like to discuss the book with us, or watch the film version, join us at Read2Reel, Tuesday, November 18 at 5:30pm. See you there!
– Review by Marleah