SUPERBOOK: Making the Minister Smile

It is about Chris Stark, an American football player and his adventures in India.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 12:13 IST

Making the Minister Smile
Anurag Mathur
Price — Rs 200
Publication — Penguin

Anurag Mathur has his own inimitable style of writing best typified in his book The Inscrutable Americans. Remarkable for its subtle humour and a distinct style of Hinglish, or should we say ‘English as it is spoke’ by many of us Indians, the book that describes the travails of a young Indian student in the US, was a great success.

The present novel, Making the Minister Smile takes off from where the earlier novel trailed off, but with a difference. It is about Chris Stark, an American football player and his adventures in India.

Stark’s family has a business collaboration with the company of Ram Avtar Kapoor in India and the young American is here to gain first-hand experience about the labour problems crippling KapCo, Kapoor’s company.

The book is a fine description of the underbelly of the Indian political system and the impressions that Chris gathers about it as an observer-participant. It reminds, though in patches only, of another great work, Rag Darbari by Srilal Shukla in Hindi. A strike by workers, led by the militant trade union leader Prabal Kumar, is imminent in KapCo.

Kapoor tries hard to convince the workers, but in vain. Kapoor’s principle of three Bs — Butter them, Bribe them or Bash them— have proved to be unsuccessful. Exasperated, Kapoor meets Sevak Chand, the minister in charge of the department concerned. The strike begins and the efforts of the management to break it is ably thwarted by Prabal Kumar.

Surprisingly, the police force stationed there does nothing as Kumar’s men bash up the loyal workers who try to enter the factory. His secretary informs him that unless Kapoor made the minister smile, there was not much hope for him. From then on, Kapoor tries to find a way to make the minister smile and it makes for hilarious reading.

Finally, Kapoor negotiates the blind alleys. Prabal Kumar is badly vanquished. The strike is called off. Nobody seems quite sure how it all has happened, but alone in the comfort of his office, the minister, Sevak Chand, has a big smile on his face!

First Published: Apr 15, 2006 12:13 IST