One Night @ the Call Center
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|Cover artist||Chetan Bhagat
|Published||October 2005 Rupa & Co.|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Pages||267 (11th imprint)|
|ISBN||81-291-0818-6 (Paperback edition)|
|LC Class||MLCM 2005/00074 (P) PR9499.3.B|
One Night @ the Call Center is a novel written by Chetan Bhagat and first published in 2005. The novel revolves around a group of six call center employees working at the Connexions call center in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. It takes place during one night, during which all of the leading characters confront some aspect of themselves or their lives they would like to change. The story uses a literal deus ex machina, when the characters receive a phone call from God.
The book was the second best-selling novel from the award winning author after Five Point Someone.
The book begins with a frame story which recounts a train journey from Kanpur to Delhi. During the journey, the narrating author meets a beautiful girl. The girl offers to tell the author a story on the condition that he has to make it his second book. After a lot of hesitation, the author agrees. The story was about six people working in a call center. One night they got a phone-call from God within the story, which comprises the bulk of the book, relates the events that happen one night at a call center. Told through the eyes of the protagonist, Shyam, it is a story of almost lost love, thwarted ambitions, absence of family affection, pressures of a patriarchal set up, an insight on the lifestyle of youth of this country and the work environment of a globalized office. Shyam loves but has lost Priyanka, who is now planning an arranged marriage with another; Vroom loves Esha. Esha wants to be a model, Radhika is in an unhappy marriage with a demanding mother-in-law, and Military Uncle wants to talk to his grandson; they all hate Bakshi, their cruel and somehow sadist boss. Claimed to be based on a true story, the author chooses Shyam Mehra (alias Sam Marcy) as the narrator and protagonist, who is one among the six call center employees featured.
A phone call from God is one of the salient features in the novel. In order to cheer themselves up, all the lead characters of the novel decide to go and enjoy at a night club. After enjoying for a while, they leave for the office. While returning, they face a life-threatening situation when their Qualis crashes into a construction site hanging over a mesh of iron construction rods. As the rods began to yield slowly, they start to panic. They are unable to call for help as there is no mobile phone network at that place, but Shyam's mobile phone starts ringing. The phone call is from God, who speaks modern English. He speaks to all of them and gives them suggestions to improve their life, and advises them on how to get their vehicle out of the construction site. The conversation with God motivates the group to such an extent that they get ready to face their problems with utmost determination and motivation. Meanwhile Vroom and Shyam hatch a plan to throw Bakshi out of the call center and prevent the closing of Connexions call center, whose employees are to be downsized radically. When they emerge from danger, they have clear-cut goals in their mind. On returning to the call center, they carry out their plans with dexterity.
The themes involve the anxieties and insecurities of the rising Indian middle class, including questions about career, inadequacy, marriage, family conflicts in a changing India, and the relationship of the young Indian middle class to both executives and ordinary clients whom they serve in the United States. There is an aspect of self-help in the book as the author invites readers to identify aspects of themselves and their lives that make them angry and that they would like to change.
Translations and Adaptations
This book has been translated into Hindi and is published by Prabhat Prakash. It was translated to Sinhala by Dileepa Jayakody and published in 2009 as ' The book is also adapted for film titled Hello in 2008.
- "चेतन भगत की पुस्तकों के हिंदी संस्करणों ने मचाई धूम - Oneindia Hindi". Oneindia.in. 5 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2011.