There aren't many fiction books written in India that have an eye on seeing a Bollywood adaptation going for them as well. This is the reason why it is all the more striking when one comes across 'Nick of Time', a first time effort by author Komal Mehta, who spins a love triangle with, as expected, a twist. With her film background further helping the cause, one can clearly sense that Komal, who is young in age as well as heart, was clearly enjoying the sheer essence of love while penning this one.
In her 250 odd page story which is set in an upmarket locality of Chandigarh, Komal introduces her three prime protagonists - Alehya, Vicky and Shagun. Alehya and Shagun are childhood buddies and while latter is all set to be married to Vicky, Alehya detests his very presence from the younger days itself. Shagun feels that the two should patch up before she gets married; Alehya believes that it is an impossible idea and Vicky, who once had a crush on Alehya, believes that it is asking too much to be friends with her.
Of course a plotline like this could have turned into a high voltage saga as well. However Komal intends to keep it all light hearted with quite some fun element added to it. She makes the incidents as identifiable as they would to a 20 year old while the spoken language is the kind that instantly connects one to the urban setting that the story belongs to. So while she doesn't take much time to set the stage for her characters even as you know where the story would eventually heads towards, you are willing to take the ride as there are quite a few smiles thrown in.
However one does feel that there is quite some time spent in bringing these characters together and then placing them at crossroads. Yes, agreed that for a novel, it is rudimentary that characters follow their own space. Also, there is a definite time period in which the story moves (it unfolds in the days of celebration that are leading to the D-day i.e. wedding) which means a story can reach its culmination only on a designated date. Still, if this book indeed has to find its way into a cinematic format, it is of utmost importance that there is constant interest level maintained through one episode after another.
In fact it is this very episodic feel that at times starts seeming a little too repetitive. Constant bickering of Alehya and Vicky, reminders of their back story, Shagun's repeated attempts at bringing them together, to and fro movements that follow - one just wishes that the movement in the story is a little more rapid. Of course what happens mid-way through the book is on predictable lines but even after that, the Act II follows a similar graph. Series of incidents start seeming similar and one just wishes that there were certain dramatic twists in the tale, which don't quite emerge.
Still, what has to be admitted is that despite its own pace, 'Nick of Time' never really fails to keep your interest level aside. There is an anticipation factor that remains constant right through the book as you really wish to know how the journey taken by three characters would eventually come to a logical conclusion. With good romantic moments thrown in for good measure (without anything turning out to be overtly mushy a la Mills & Boon), Komal tries to make the journey of her characters as real as possible.
Real push comes towards the penultimate moments though when each of the three characters find themselves in a common space. To safeguard any spoilers being revealed, it would suffice to say that this is the best part of the book and has just the right dose of drama, humour and romance to it. In fact the manner in which the trio meets is simply superb and lends a 'paisa vasool' element to the book. Moreover, it has an Imtiaz Ali stamp to it and one only ends up wondering that if ever decides to adapt the book for a film of his, there is a set up ready for him and waiting to be exploited.
If you are in love or just wish to join the journey of three youngsters in their mid-20s who are discovering love, 'Nick of Time' could just be the right companion.
[The book would soon lead to a major motion picture]
Price: Rs. 150