The Zoya Factor
By Anuja Chauhan
Well…to begin with – I must confess – I’m not a cricket fan. At all! And I was very hesitant to pick this one. But barely two pages down and I was absolutely hooked.
The story is about Zoya Singh Solanki, a client servicing executive with a leading ad-agency, who was born at the exact moment that India clinched the World Cup – 25th of June, 1983.
While working (shooting for an ad to be more precise) with the Indian Cricket Team for a particular brand (of soft drink) Zoya happens to prove “lucky” for the team, having shared breakfast with them on the day of the match. And later her brother (Zoravar) and her dad affirm her “luck” factor when they reveal that having her grab a bite with their team before any cricket match helped them win.
Soon the cricket team (except the captain- Nikhil Khoda) begins to believe that she really is “lady luck” who will help them win the World Cup. And the cricket board decides to give her an “official status” to ensure she has breakfast everyday with the team as they venture out to Australia for the World Cup.
What follows is a series of ups and downs in Zoya’s life – she falls in love with Nikhil Khoda; gets christened as “Zoya Devi” by her huge fan following (especially the Indians); companies/brands want her as their brand ambassador; she falls prey to sabotage; and faces the usual defamation (for being “ethical”) only to rise again.
The language is free-flowing and mighty colorful, if I may add. Certain choicest terms added flavor to the scenes making them hilarious and absolutely lovable. The use of “Hindi” and “Hinglish” words/phrases gives you more than just a reason to connect with it.
Each character is well thought of and well written. Zoya (Gaalu) and her love for fireworks, her colleagues – Vishaal, Neelo, Monita, Monita’s kids, her husband, Zoya’s father (Vijayendra Singh Solanki), her chachas- Mohindra, Gajendra (Gajju Chacha) and Yogendra (Yogu Chacha), her chachis –Rinku and Anita chachi, Eppa (their fifty plus maid), Meeku (their pet), and the best of all – Zoravar (her brother) and his wise-ones, and definitely their house “Tera Numbar” in Karol Bagh. Not to forget the young men in blue (cricket team) – Zahid, Bala, Harry, Shivee, Vikram, Laakhi, Nivi, Robin Rawal and the handsome skipper- Nikhil Khoda; their pista-eating agent/manager – Lokendar (Lokey) Chugh; and of course the president of the cricket board Mr. Jogpal Lohia.
Since this is a pure work of fiction I cannot say how relatable the instances are – but the situations and the characterization makes them come alive.
Anuja’s writing is absolutely fresh; her sense of humor quirky; and her thoughts – out of the box. I laughed even while reading the “acknowledgement”. I highly recommend this one. An extremely refreshing read.
Confession: At a point, I google-d to see if I were lucky in any way, being born on the 13th of Dec. – but most information pointed to the gruesome tales of deaths all over the globe! Bah!