’60 Minutes’ by Upendra Namburi is a corporate thriller/business fiction. It’s an excellently conceptualized and well written book. If you are interested to know what happens at the top echelons of FMCG companies, this book is a must read. The story that the author has weaved around the corporate setting, and the pace with which the events unfold, is very good. Except for the last two chapters and the small font size, I loved this book.
From the cover: “Rival chief marketing officers and their running feud, a romance gone sour, an addiction to the adrenaline rush of the stock markets . . .” These three aspects reach their pinnacle and torment the protagonist, Agastya, for 60 minutes. His decisions and actions during that one hour will determine almost everything in his life.
The book has a solid story. I loved the way each aspect of the story was introduced, as we read and where ever required. This is one of the best corporate thrillers set in India that I have read in recent times, and the pace picks up quite early.
I loved the characterization – there are no black and white characters (read: good/bad people). Everyone, including the protagonist, is shown as they actually are in real-life: greedy and scheming. They end up playing a deadly game with huge rewards, but equally huge risks. Now include rivalry and (personal) revenge – you get a lot of drama and masala.
The last two chapters were a big disappointment for me. (Note: Spoilers ahead.) How can someone, who lost 14.9 crores to extortion, and lost the secret (for which the money was extracted), still be “friendly” with the extortioner? How can someone, who is mad about taking revenge on his rival (because he slept with his wife), ask – “Did you enjoy my wife?” suddenly, in the end? Characters don’t change platonically in an instant! What was the need for the character of Priyanka, and why did she do what she did?
The lead character, Agastya, though excellently characterized, doesn’t draw the empathy of the readers. We are not able to root for him (or anyone else) in this novel. People are as absurd as they get, but I guess that’s how it is in real life, and hence (maybe) the characters work. You should read this novel to understand what nonsensical levels people go to achieve their selfish ends. Also, this novel doesn’t move us emotionally, but in this genre, I was not expecting it to.
This is the side of corporate life that needs to be exposed to people and I appreciate the author for doing that. Altogether, an excellent book buy the author could/should have presented a better (more believable) climax.
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