An IAS officer tries to chronicle aspirations of the Indian youth. He shares his views with Priya Adhyaru-Majithia
After chronicling the turmoil of a bureaucrat and demystifying the Indian bureaucracy, Vipul Mittra now moves on to capture dreams and aspirations of six college-goers in his second novel, The Dream Chasers.
Vipul is cosy donning various hats. He is a bureaucrat, writer, world traveller and an avid film buff. He conceived and executed the now internationally famous Khushboo Gujarat ki Campaign. As Tourism Secretary of Gujarat, Vipul Mittra is credited for “dreaming” up a campaign that has seen a dramatic rise in number of tourists to Gujarat. With ‘dream’ being his pet word, Mittra has now imaginatively travelled to a college campus to capture the dreams and aspirations of the modern youth.
The Dream Chasers addresses the young Indian reader. So, the tone is contemporary and conversational. The story line is simple. The novel is about six friends and their campus moments. Pursuing their MBA — Viraat, Sandy, Karan, Mallika, Preeto and Vandana — a small gang of six is united by their carefree camaraderie and optimism. The book ably captures the fun, romance and idiosyncrasies of student life.
The novel moves at a fast pace. There are several twists and turns. We see the friends travelling across the country. From bikes and trains to planes and houseboats in Srinagar, The Dream Chasers has it all. However, sometimes, the vanilla flavouring gets too apparent. While his first book, The Pyramid of Virgin Dreams, appeared more original as Mittra seemed comfortable in his own skin penning bureaucratic behaviour and experiences, The Dream Chasers sees him trying a little too hard to relate to college life. To Mittra’s credit, the extraordinariness of ordinary campus life is portrayed well. However, the novel misses emotional manifestation. There are several bits where the writer could have exploited emotions beautifully, but the moment simply flutters by.
Read this for example: “Two shadows lay entwined on the cushion. Sounds of soft gasps filled the air. One of them was definitely Abhilash. Obviously, Abhilash had not been star gazing. Abhilash was rolling on the cushion with someone. Passionate kissing sounds were clearly audible… Even though it was dim, there was enough light for me to recognise the couple that lay there kissing passionately, groping and rolling on that dirty cushion. They were Abhilash and Mallika.”
Viraat’s heart smashed to smithereens when he witnessed this scene, but the reader remains a distant onlooker, unmoved and unable to feel the agony of the protagonist’s heart. Mittra says his book is an artwork of creative realism. “I am a dreamer. However, I think the dreams worth chasing are those that you dream with your eyes open. Vandana reveals the gist of the book when she says, ‘The heart is just a pump. The brain is what controls everything. Take control of your life’.”
What is interesting is the 5-minute video teaser for the book. Designed by Mittra’s 22-year-old son Mehul, who has already assisted known directors like Shekhar Kapoor, Rakyesh Mehra and Kunal Kohli, the promo that has gone viral on Youtube is the first-of-its-kind that has been done in Gujarat.
The write up appeared in Ahmedabad Mirror as a book review on Sept 29, 2013