Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: Bankerupt by Ravi Subramanian

Book: Bankerupt

Author: Ravi Subramanian

No. of Pages: 320

Genre: Fiction, thriller

Publisher: Penguin Books India

The source of the copy of this book was again different. The marketing agency got in touch with me for a review and sent me the copy. I had read Bankster and had liked it so when the offer to review Bankerupt came up, I grabbed it.

Bankerupt has all the elements of a movie and it would be interesting to see someone like Bhandarkar attempt it … it would be on the lines of his movie Corporate which depicted corporate espionage. Bankerupt has that and a lot more with a twist as the battle moves from the corporate to the academia. It has the glamour of swanky investment banking corporate lifestyle and at the same time the seriousness of academic research and life and not to forget the gun-manufacturers adding the 'danger' side to the story.

So let's take a look at the different threads the story has:

1. Killing spree in US schools where student opens fire on other students and teachers. This sparks off debate on gun-control and ease of availability of guns. The gun manufacturers are worried and so are those who have put their money on them.   

2. The internal politics of MIT where becoming a tenured professor can be quite a struggle and the funding and grants for research can be pretty difficult to get

3. An ambitious investment banker in India married to an academic researcher wife who shuttles between Boston and Mumbai trying to manage her precariously balanced married life. Add to it their individual moral inclinations and attitude towards earning money and relationships can get muddy.  

4. An old man who hits upon a business for his retirement only to find that it has become a money spinner … so much so that he can't even manage it (the money I mean)

5. A shoe manufacturing company owner who wants to sell the company at a high valuation but his track record does not inspire the price he expects. The people who 'turn around' things to make the company suddenly very very profitable and lucrative (for themselves of course) and their fate add to the elements of the story

There are several other aspects to the story and I might get blamed for putting plot spoilers in the book review if I say any more ...

What I want to highlight here is the sheer number of facets the Bankerupt story has and how well Ravi has managed to weave them into an intricate pattern which emerges only when you have covered a lot of ground.

I did get the feeling that in the climax (which throws up an entirely different picture – and which hits you like a sledgehammer) some of the facets get an orphaned treatment and they are simply closed with a few remarks – almost as if they are inconsequential. Wish they had been given some more space and more elaborate closure … but then having multiple climaxes in a novel has never been a trend. 

Ravi develops the characters slowly and you see different facets of the characters as the story proceeds. You don't exactly label them as Hero or Villain because they don't really fall in to that category … they all just have shades of gray; which makes them seem very very real. The characters themselves throw up some surprises and one particular confrontation I was waiting for in the story never came. Was it an opportunity lost or was the novel exceeding some hypothetical page limit the publisher placed on the author ???

On the whole, the story has all the elements of a Bollywood potboiler – love, deceit, greed, fraud, murder … someone in India should consider getting a movie out of Ravi's book. We have a dearth of suspense movies in India and Bankerupt has a pretty interesting twist in the tail of the tale.


  1. Thanks a ton for a wonderful review. Am glad you liked it. Just a quick question... which confrontation are you referring to... A confrontation between Aditya and Cirisha? If thats what your referring to, then i did consider it, even wrote a few pages detailing it, but then i dropped it from the final manuscript, for i felt it was cutting down the pace of the book. If there some other incident you referring to, then would love to hear from you.

  2. @Ravi - That was close but I was not referring to Aditya-Cirisha confrontation. I was looking forward to reading about Cirisha-Narayanan confrontation AFTER the Aditya-Cirisha confrontation. THAT would have been very shocking for Cirisha - truly devastating kinds.