Bala takes the plunge is a story of the great American dream of the Indian middle class. How we as a society measure the success of our children by their capability to get into engineering/medical and the secure the most coveted US Visa to perform desk jobs while earning in dollars.
The protagonist Bala is another scapegoat of this great American dream by his civil engineer father. His ambition of being a movie director and cast his all time favorite super star Rajnikanth in a movie was sold for a engineering degree from a college in Chennai from where he moved to USA. The entire journey from being an aspiring director to a qualified engineer to a US resident and a director of a different kind (director of manufacturing in a fitness equipment company) is filled with funny incidents and quips ranging from the lines in US consulate to the status Corel dinner sets in Indian homes.
The second phase of the book, which is longest one, unfolds in US where the focus shifts from a struggling engineer to a well settled lonely professional desperate for a female company. The story revolves around Bala living in constant fear of being dominated again to marry to someone of his parents’ choice. The funny journey of Bala seeking companionship in sales girls of the grocery stores, matrimonial sites and finally in his pet dog which he named America.
The story finally converges towards it end when he comes back to India on insistence of his parents to see fair and lovely (pun intended) girls chosen by his parents. There his life takes some dramatic turns and he finds the love and probably a greater purpose in life.
The strength of the book lies in the humorous narrative done by Melvin, who has exploited the common incidents which happen in life a funny take. The tragedy and desperation of the protagonist Bala is the chief source of comedy which continues to tickle every time he fails to find love in his life. An area where Melvin could have improved the book is the pace of the narrative or the story; when the first part of the books are fast paced and riveting making a good build up while the second part loses the pace and grasp on the reader who has the pace in line with the build up.
Also there are multiple references to Rajnikath and his dialogues from various movies, which might add a distinct flavor to the book for someone who understands and follows Rajnikanth and Tamil.
Summary: A nice read to enjoy on a journey or a flight. If you are a Rajnikanth Fan and know Tamil movies it’s the icing on the cake..