The plot is unoriginal, the writing flat and unimaginative, the characters thinly disguised cardboard cut-outs and there isn’t one passage that will move you to emotion. There’s no reason to believe The Gamechangers will be anything but a bestseller. It’s like Chetan Bhagat with a generous helping of malice and spite.
With fiction of truly good quality, you never quite know where fact ends and fantasy takes over; you can’t quite tell where a perfectly real situation was deliberately twisted into something that tells you more about a character or puts two in conflict. You’ll have no such problems with this book.
Based on the Fake Indian Premier League (IPL) Player blog that hung around the second IPL season, in 2009, like a viral infection that takes forever to get out of your system, the book begins cheerfully enough, painting exaggerated caricatures of the men who star, in real life anyway, in the IPL. It swiftly degenerates into a lengthy and largely unasked-for justification for the blog. The premise of the blog — which the book conveniently ignores — was the assertion that a player, or someone with close access to a player, was providing a peek into aspects of the IPL that otherwise go unreported. The blog purported to tell the stories that no one else would, or could.
When this proved to be untrue, the blog ceased to interest, as it wasn’t a case of the truth being disguised as fiction — in this case to keep lawsuits at bay — but fiction pretending to be the truth.
The book self-indulgently makes the blog the centrepiece of attention during the course of a global domestic Twenty20 tournament called the Indian Bollywood League or IBL, with names of real-life characters being changed in a tiresome attempt to be cute. Even if you can go past the obsession with the blog, the inauthentic descriptions of supposed machinations of the IBL chairman, the one-dimensional portrayal of cricketers and cricket board officials and the laundry-list treatment given to matches and scores is a strong turn off.
One of the reasons reality shows are so popular is that they satisfy the base cravings in us. They offer a window into seemingly normal people behaving in a completely abnormal fashion because of the situations they’re placed in. But watching a TV show is one thing, and reading a book quite another. Reality TV doesn’t work in the written format, and The Gamechangers is proof of that.