By Jayanad Ukey. Grade: B
“When The Signal Turns Red” is the debut work of Mumbai based IT professional, Jayanad Ukey. For a first book, the author has done a fairly good job keeping things simple and sweet. The book has a well designed cover depicting exactly what the author has intended to convey through the book.
Girish and Prajakta are in love. Very soon Girish will be joining the numero uno IT company of the country. He prepares himself by buying expensive clothes and other accessories he had always dreamed of. He and Prajakta have together planned to build on a good bank balance and then meet each others’ families to talk about marriage, probably after a year or two. Unexpectedly, the families get involved before Girish can join the IT company. Against all odds, the couple manages to convince their family and an engagement date is fixed. But destiny has other things in mind. A global catastrophe mars their plan which leads to the engagement getting annulled. Will Girish find a way out of his predicament? Will he ultimately win Prajakta’s hand or will he move on in life, learning to live without her?
The main plot involves the story of the two lovers, Girish and Prajakta, both engineers by degree. Having able to convince their parents about their love for each other, Prajakta and Girish are on their way to getting engaged as soon as they join their respective jobs. But as luck would have it, both almost lose their jobs throwing all the preparations into a mess. What is in question is how the two would stick and fight the adversities.
The story is quite simple without any significant diversions due to subplots. The language is simple and easy to understand. I loved the part where the author gives a truthful depiction of the receding economy and the effects it has on the common folks. Also the depiction of the entire Indian marriage scenario is handled really well. The first meeting of the parents, the nervous condition of the two lovers and the expectations from both sides are well depicted. The characters remain a little sketchy as psychological delving into their minds is not done and it leaves them a little flat and one-dimensional.
It is the dialogues that are not very smooth and free flowing and often seem contrived and forced. The dialogue and thought tags are used a little too liberally and literally. Also, the book contains certain unnecessary detailed descriptions of actions which could be avoided, especially the descriptive news reports about the economy and its backlash. Keeping things a little less obvious would have made the narrative crisper. The author could have omitted these descriptions of scenes and added a few college flashback scenes to give a good background to the otherwise linear plot line. Also, the end seems a little too abrupt and hurried. A few more twists would have been better as the resolution seems too easy (a little too much of poetic justice, perhaps?). The repetitive use of the phrase “the retired army officer” to refer to Prajakta’s authoritarian father could also be done without.
In a nutshell, the book is a short one which is a good read for bus or train journeys when you need a light book to keep yourself occupied or a light read to break the hangover of other heavier books.